Monday, January 12, 2015

Catechetical Question: Why Did God Wait So Long?

With the offensive taste of an anti-Catholic book on pilgrimage still in my mouth, I am reading Eric Metaxas’s new book on Miracles to cleanse my palate. It’s very good eating.

In an early chapter, Metaxas writes of many scientists who are devout Christians, thus demonstrating that a life of faith and a career in science are not irreconcilable. He notes that the Big Bang theory is generally accepted now, even by Christians, and reels off recent confirming evidence.

This led me to the following question: If you accept the Big Bang theory, which says the universe began about 14 billion years ago, then why did God take so long to make man?

Genesis says it took God six days. Science says fourteen billion years. Explain.

I think I know what you’re going to say: Time is different for God than it is for man. For you and me, fourteen billion years would be a long time to wait for a friend to show up. I get antsy when my wife is fifteen minutes late coming home.

Still, say that for God fourteen billion years is like a few hours for us. Why all the protozoans? Why the dinosaurs? Why did human civilization begin to rise from the ooze only a few thousand years ago?

I can give you an answer, but please don’t expect theology.

I think God must have been lonely.

The universe without man is an awesome creation, and God must have reveled in it for a while (short while by his standards, long by ours). Even the movies tell us the universe is amazing. “The Tree of Life” and “The Theory of Everything” contain mind-blowing meditations on God’s handiwork. “2001: A Space Odyssey” and even “Fantasia” aren’t bad either.

But having pressed the start button on all that wonder—those galaxies, those nebula, black holes even—God made man. Because after enjoying the beauty of his own creation for several weeks or billennia, God realized that nothing in all that infinite vastness knew Him. 

God suddenly felt like a stranger in a strange land, the way I felt my first day at the college to which I transferred at midyear, realizing that not a single member of my class knew who I was. 

I was lonely. So must God have been.

We were created to know God and to love him. Isn’t that what the Catechism says?

But then, imagine the disappointment of our Creator when—after only a few hours, human hours at that—we rebelled. We said we knew better. God had mustered all his ingenuity, developed alone in the lab for fourteen billion years, to create a friend and lover who might reverence him, and we said, Sorry, God, we got this.

I might have been angry too. I might have thundered like the Old Testament God for at least a few thousand (human) years. Only then might I have put myself together well enough to make a peace offering.

God finally did make us an offer of peace. The name of the offering, of course, was Jesus Christ.

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