The Absentee God?

A friend of mine recently asked, “Homo sapiens has been present [on this earth] for at least 100,000 years and probably longer . . . . So man, who had the mental and physical characteristics [to be considered made in the ‘image of God’], had to wait 98,000 years to hear the truth and be taught ‘the Way.’ For 98,000 years, he was denied truth and free to live in any manner he desired. The concept of a god watching this go on for so long and then, a mere 2000 years ago, [decide] to enlighten man, just seems odd to me. Why not let his creation get the benefit of this wonderful message sooner and not have to wallow in ignorance? I know you can’t speak for God, but it’s this aspect of theistic [evolution which] I am questioning.”

Good question. And it recalled to mind an article by Dinesh D’Souza that I read recently. Although D’Souza initially ignored this question, posed in similar fashion by atheist Christopher Hitchens during their debate, he revisits the question after considerable thought and research:

Here is the thrust of Hitchens’ point: God seems to have been napping for 98 percent of human history, finally getting his act together only for the most recent 2 percent? What kind of a bizarre God acts like this? . . . The Population Reference Bureau estimates that the number of people who have ever been born is approximately 105 billion. Of this number, about 2 percent were born in the 100,000 years before Christ came to earth. “So in a sense,” [Erik] Kreps [of the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research] notes, “God’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect. If He’d come earlier in human history, how reliable would the records of his relationship with man be? But He showed up just before the exponential explosion in the world’s population, so even though 98 percent of humanity’s timeline had passed, only 2 percent of humanity had previously been born, so 98 percent of us have walked the earth since the Redemption.”

D’Souza goes on to discuss some other issues connected with this concept, such as possible reasons behind the apparent explosion of civilization approximately 6,000 years ago. Good stuff. Speculative, but still good.

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3 Responses to The Absentee God?

  1. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for that .. very timely post as I was just having a conversation on this. I’d never heard of D’Souza’s point before … not the whole answer of course but certainly helpful. Thanks.

  2. D’Souza’s point is good, but there’s another thing that needs to be addressed. Hitchens’s argument assumes we know that God’s salvific work only operates by explicit post-Resurrection faith in Christ who has been witnessed by the church.

    There’s a difference between saying that this is the way we have been given to witness to Christ’s salvation and saying that that is the only way that Christ’s salvation operates. Hitchens is still thinking of salvation mechanistically, not personally. Who knows how God has worked/is working to bring Christ’s salvation to those who, through no fault of their own, were not in the “right place at the right time”?

  3. I was thinking the same thing, Jonathan. Remember Romans 2.12-16?

    All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

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