What might god have been doing if he’s been too busy to pay attention to the evolution of the Earth over the past 5 billion years? I’ll get back to that question later when I discuss the possibility of alien civilizations. With billions and billions of other stars out there, he really could have been very busy elsewhere in the universe. The bible indicates that creating the Earth took as long as the rest of the stars combined. OK, but who’s to say that he didn’t start making the other extra-solar planets after he was done making us? Even if he spent only one day on each solar system, that could add up to a lot of god-days. Granted, the first few planets might have taken longer than the later ones, assuming he didn’t make too many changes to the design, but what would be the point of billions of identical planets? He had to have at least been making some tweaks to each one. Everything has got to take time, even for god. But let’s get back to Earth.
I’m going to stop saying “if you believe in god” and just going to assume that you do, because most of the humans on this planet believe in one form of god or another. Granted, the beliefs vary widely and conflict with one another, so when I need to make distinctions between the various deities of the main religions, I’ll let you know. When necessary, I’ll refer to god as the C-god, J-god, or the I-god for the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic versions of god, respectively. I’ll refer to the Buddhist and Hindu belief systems as the B-god and the H-god even though they don’t really believe in the same kind of god. I think I’ll generally avoid the ancient Greek and Roman gods and most of the other extinct gods, especially the ones that advocated the sacrifice of virgins or the eating of still-beating hearts cut from the chests of their enemies. I’ve got to make some sacrifices or this blog will just get too long and confusing.
So, as you can see, it is possible that god has either been playing around with life and the geology of the planet for several billion years, has created it to appear as though it has, or has been too busy or tired to even pay attention to it.
This leads to a more existential question. Does it matter what happened before humans were here to observe it? Is everything else irrelevant? If only humans have intelligence and/or souls, then maybe I’d be inclined to say yes. If plants, animals, insects and other creatures also have intelligence and/or souls, then of course it matters, or should matter, to god.
In the Old Testament, god is very insistent that humans worship, obey, and love him. If that was all he wanted, I think animals could have been made to do the job without all the backtalk. Monkeys and dogs certainly are smart enough to know that they need to obey the leader of the pack. It would not have taken much convincing to show them who is boss and to give them reason to love him. Occasional thunderbolts for discipline plus abundant food and sex would do it. Hey, it’s good enough for me. There is evidence that even some dinosaurs lived in herds. What better than to have a herd of giant, powerful, creatures that all fear and obey you? I can see that plants just would not do, what with their cult of sun worship and all.
But no, god apparently wanted to give us enough intelligence to allow us to question him and enough free will to be able to do whatever we damn well please and still have the capacity to worship, obey, and love him. But that’s not all. He wanted creatures that were so intelligent that they could find a way to pass on believable stories of him to future generations so that he would not even have to visit Earth for hundreds or thousands of years at a time and they would still be able to remember him. Presumably, he is very busy. And when he did visit the Earth, he must have wanted to be able to limit his audience to a few select individuals who could then pass on the messages. This is curious, because while ancient man did not possess mass media technology or the Internet, god certainly would have been able to appear in the clouds and broadcast his message to everyone loudly and clearly. He could do so now if he wanted to finally settle the constant squabbling about what he really did say and what he meant. Personally, I would recommend god schedule a special show with Oprah, stage a few miracles, answer questions from the audience, and lay down the law, so to speak.
This problem of having to believe stories that are hundreds or thousands of years old is referred to as faith. It must be a special quality he was looking for or he would not have been keeping his existence so secret for so long. Unfortunately, there is a problem with having too much intelligence and still maintaining a strong faith, especially when your intelligence shows you contradictions and inconsistencies in the stories. Throw in some scientific evidence that undermines them and you have a really big problem. But let’s assume that science is there for a reason. Maybe science is really there to confirm the existence of god, but we’re just not advanced enough to get there yet. Or it could just be something to keep us busy, like sports and TV.
In future posts, let’s investigate the problem of faith in god with some thought experiments. Let’s assume that god expects everyone to happily follow his rules even if they are not told exactly what the rules are, how they apply in special conditions, or even if there are any rules at all.