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If there is a creator God, why did it take him 13 billion years to create humans?

(122 Posts)
TooBusyByHalf Sun 15-Mar-15 00:34:43

Thinking a lot about God. I'm an atheist, but sometimes unwillingly. But the idea of God just makes no sense to me. If there was a (Christian for the sake of argument) God, it would seem (from the Bible) that it's all about us (mankind). In which case what were the 13 billion years before Moses / Jesus for? Or you could ask the same question of all the time that the earth existed before there was life, or from life to Homo sapiens etc etc. I've been reading stuff people have written about why they believe in God, but no-one ever addresses that question.

justyeh Sun 15-Mar-15 05:45:57

To god 13 billion years could be a week..seems a long time to us because we measure time in a different way.

Eminybob Sun 15-Mar-15 06:11:53

According to the bible, there weren't 13 million years before man, there was no evolution, no dinosaurs etc. There was Adam and Eve and God created Earth in 7 days.

Which all rational minded people know not to be true. One of the very many reasons why I don't believe anything in the bible, and I don't understand how Christians pick and choose which bits they choose to believe. Hence my atheism.

PatterofaMinion Sun 15-Mar-15 06:58:27

I'm afraid I don't know and I also struggle with various aspects of these things...I'm totally agnostic if I'm honest. Not a clue.

One thing though, my feeling is also that it makes no sense, but then, what does? How did we end up here anyway? Why is the sky blue? I know some of the literal reasons but really, why blue and not green, why do we have hands, why are worms so can go on and on. None of it makes any darned sense smile God or not.

My overarching sense is that God and the bible and various holy books are all allegories, all supposed to provide instruction in a subtle manner a bit like folk tales and fairy stories, but aren't literally true.

Same as 'God' is really just a word for 'good'. Yunno, it's all about being nice to each other, whether there's a big ol' beardy man up in the sky or not. Some people just want to think of it in that way though as it helps them to live well.

DeffoJeffo Sun 15-Mar-15 07:23:21

I don't know really but I do think God is kind of outside of time somehow. To me it makes more sense that life as we know it was somehow created than just randomly popped up! I think it's ok not to read Genesis literally - it was written for Jews millennia ago, if it had been written like a science text book or would have been longer than war and peace and confused them completely. Hence the more simple/poetic nature of it.

niminypiminy Sun 15-Mar-15 07:49:42

I think you're right DeffoJeffo, that Genesis is poetic rather than scientific. Back in the 4th century St Augustine said that it was ridiculous to read Genesis literally as an account of how the world was made, and that it is a story, a poetic story, about God and our relationship with him. It doesn't make any sense to me to read it any other way.

I think you are right too that God is outside of time and outside of space. One of the things both believers and atheists do is to try and make God smaller, and one way that we do that is to make the story of creation all about us. I often think about a notice a colleague of mine used to have on his office door: 'just because I'm doing nothing for you, it doesn't mean I'm doing nothing'.

So the idea of God as 'big ol' beardy man in the sky' is one way of making God smaller, and reading Genesis literally is one way of making God smaller, and trying to have all the answers to everything is one way of making God smaller.

God is as big as a never-ending why, as big as the wonder of creation, as big as the gap between our hopes and dreams and our reality ... and as small as a newborn baby's tiny fingernail; he's the beginning and end of all things; he's infinitely distant and closer to us than our own jugular vein. We find God in paradoxes and questions because he's beyond what we can truly comprehend, and we find him in stories and poetry because these are our best way of coming close to his mystery, and we find him (if we are Christians) in each other's eyes because he made himself one of us, for one short lifetime.

Like a stick in the stream beginning the flow that changes the course of a river, that short lifetime changed everything. We can never know everything about God and what he has done - and what he was doing for all that time before humans came on the scene, but we can know what he did in that moment when he was born, lived, died and came again as a human being.

TooBusyByHalf Sun 15-Mar-15 10:07:57

Thanks for the thoughtful replies.
Patter, I completely agree about allegories. And I certainly have a strict sense of morality which you might say is based on the judeo-Christian theory of right and wrong. Which no doubt I learnt from my Christian parents as well as the rules of the society we live in. (Though my socio-political values are nothing like my parents' -- though to be fair we probably just have very different views of how to get to a similar destination).
So yes the god is good thing I get - though not why conceptualising a God would make it easier to be good.

Niminy, your post reminds me of the article Giles Fraser wrote in the Guardian in response to the Stephen Fry Gay Byrne interview a few weeks ago. Like you, he was at pains to point out that God is not a bearded sky-man but he didn't say what God is. The trouble with that kind of explanation, from my perspective, is that it just doesn't explain anything at all and makes believing even more impossible.

I don't want to upset anyone given that we're in Lent and all, but your final para I think encapsulates why to me it makes no sense perfectly. For 30 years out of a few billion, god came to earth as man, died and came back to life and then rose up to heaven. Really? Why? (To save us from our sins) How can any of that be interpreted as anything other than a story to big up the human place in the universe to the extent of making us it's raison d'être. And if that is the case, then why did it take 13 billion years to get round to creating us?

headinhands Sun 15-Mar-15 10:46:44

if it had been written like a science text book or would have been longer than war and peace and confused them completely. Hence the more simple/poetic nature of it.

Every professor of physics alive today has gone from crapping in a nappy to understanding black holes within 25 years. If we as humans can instruct other humans in the finer points of string theory then god has no excuse for giving us some folklore and poetry to work out the truth.

IndigoBarbie Sun 15-Mar-15 14:59:25

Aren't we all 'god coming to earth for an experience?'

We just don't know that?

For humans things are presented in a locked down, linear A to B existence. For god, it all exists at once.

Chilliplantbox Sun 15-Mar-15 15:10:21

I don't understand why, if it is easier for some people to believe than others (brought up in the religion, comfortable life etc.) 'God' is so unforgiving of those who don't believe. Surely if he was all that, he would just approve of people who live their life the best they can.

TooBusyByHalf Sun 15-Mar-15 15:14:10

Sorry indigo, call me thick but I don't understand your post. What is god, for you?

OutwiththeOutCrowd Sun 15-Mar-15 21:47:04

Suppose God exists.

Current thinking in science suggests that space and time were created when the universe was brought into being by the Big Bang. If God initiated the Big Bang, he would have to exist outside of space and time, as others have mentioned.

Apparently God was happy to wait for the long slow process of evolution to eventually produce human beings and, in any case, having a different relationship to space and time would not have experienced the wait as we would.

Apart from that, would God be particularly interested in human beings over and above other aspects of his creation?

In my opinion, it’s unlikely that God would view humanity’s appearance on planet earth as the main event in his universe and all that came before as just a very long lead up to that. He wouldn’t be so speciesist, nor would he be so geocentric. He would have been equally interested in the planet and its inhabitants before human beings arrived and – as will eventually happen in all probability – will continue to take an interest when humanity is extinct or has evolved into a different form. And more than that, should there be life on other planets, he would be just as interested in that as life on earth.

In short, the unfolding of the universe would be significant to God in toto, not just the brief interlude when humanity is around on planet earth.

While God would almost certainly be the ultimate egalitarian with no preferred species or planet, the bible is a book with an anthropocentric and geocentric viewpoint and the picture it gives of God is of a creator with a special interest in humanity and planet earth. This is hardly surprising - it was written by earth-dwelling human beings.

I can just imagine two dolphins having a whistle-chat about mankind.

Flipper: So it’s in their holy book that they’re in charge on God’s behalf and God created them in his image.
Bubbles: Ha ha, get them and their delusions of grandeur!

Looking further a field, I can conceive of little green aliens living on a distant planet having a similar conversation if they happened across our bible, just as we would if they had a holy book that suggested they were the special ones closest to God.

Sorry, if I have drifted away from the original question!

headinhands Mon 16-Mar-15 07:01:56

little green aliens

You only have to look to the other earth religions to see the farce though. "I happened to be born on the bit of earth and at the right time that happen to be worshipping the real god" etc. Every believer has it right, every believer's god is real and they know because he talks to them etc.

CaffeLatteIceCream Fri 20-Mar-15 14:52:07

God is outside of time and space

This makes no logical sense whatsoever. People say it thinking it sounds impressive, but it is meaningless and makes their god even less likely to exist, not more.

If God is a thinking, rational agent who existed before we did, then he HAD to have time. Time has to apply to God just like it does us.

Thinking, planning, acting & creating all takes TIME - moments have to pass, things have to happen, there has to be a before, during and after in order for the causal chain of events that would bring a universe into existence.

So any thinking agent outside of TIME is logically absurd and nothing more than gobbledegook.

Any creating God must be subject to time.

And "outside of space" is equally inane. Is God just a conciousness? How does he think and store memories? That takes space of some description. Otherwise he IS his memories, not seperate from them...again, logically absurd.

Although, I know what the religious response to this is...."Well, we don't know, but....." Well, if you don't know, and can't even explain, why make bald statements like "God exists outside of space and time"?

And, what does it matter if the Bible is largely made up of allegory, metaphor and poetry? So are all of Shakespeare's plays, and we have nobody claiming they were written by the creator of the universe. The Bible is exactly what it seems to be...primitive people using myths to try and explain (to them) the unexplainable. We can forgive their ignorance, they couldn't have known any better.

But we do...or should.

OP...Moses did not exist. Virtually no one mentioned in the Bible can be demonstrated to exist. That includes Jesus.

Never mind waiting 13 billion years to create about waiting more than 100,000 years before clueing people in to Christianity?

God does not exist. And in the unlikely event there is a creator, it is not Yahweh.

Holepunch Fri 20-Mar-15 15:06:39

I have no idea, but it has always been amazing to me, that the Bible written XX? years before Darwin was born got everything in the right order, even if the timescales aren't quite right.

AGnu Fri 20-Mar-15 15:08:28

Maybe it didn't. Perhaps it all happened really quickly & we're just trying to measure time according to the speed things happen now & so it looks like it took a lot longer... <Wanders away musing gently to self>

BigDorrit Fri 20-Mar-15 15:30:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PortBlacksand2015 Fri 20-Mar-15 15:33:38

Because everyone is allowed to fuck up once every 13 billion years grin

CaffeLatteIceCream Fri 20-Mar-15 16:24:16

They got things in the right order??


They imply the heavens (space) and the Earth were made pretty much at the same time. Clearly not.

They say that everything was "dark". It wasn't. The early universe was bright and hot.

They say the land was made after the waters. No. Early Earth had no water.

They say light was invented after the Earth and "waters". Obviously not.

They say that God separated the light and dark. This would have seemed sensible to them because they considered light and dark to be two separate things. We know better. Presumably God would too.

All this light and dark stuff was invented before the sun. Separating days and nights is senseless without an existent sun.

The "firmament" is total fiction. It refers to a wall or barrier holding the stars in place.

They say the first living things were plant life. This is not true. They also say land animals were created before ocean life. This is wrong. The first life forms of any kind existed in the oceans.

And all before the sun is even created!

I could go on, the right order! Hardly.

Call it poetry, metaphor,'s still wrong. Primitive people can be forgiven for this, but God? If he's inspiring information to be handed down to generations, shouldn't he make sure it's right?

OutwiththeOutCrowd Fri 20-Mar-15 17:04:55


I am an atheist like you but, nevertheless, I would like to take issue with your dismissal of the concept of outside of space and time. According to current scientific understanding space and time were created at the moment of the Big Bang. There was no space and time in which the universe was created. Instead space and time were part of the creation along with matter and energy.

So if God was the prime mover in creating the universe, he was not operating within space and time. In that sense he would have to be outside of space and time.

We are creatures limited by our perceptions – we cannot conceive of a reality outside of the three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension in which we perceive ourselves to be immersed. We cannot even readily conceive of the fact that space and time are interrelated through Einstein’s special theory of relativity because the effects of this relationship are very small in our normal realm of experience. For us, objects are extended in space and phenomena occur through time but there may be a deeper reality beyond the experience of our senses that operates in a very different way.

CaffeLatteIceCream Fri 20-Mar-15 20:49:50

Well, I agree with your first paragraph. That has nothing whatsoever to do with anything I've said.

Your second paragraph begins with "if"'s pure conjecture. For an atheist, you rather oddly seem to be assuming the existence of this god, and going ahead and just asserting that if it exists, it must do outside of space and time.

I would agree - and the fact that this is logically impossible when we understand what time and space actually is is one of the many reasons I don't believe a creating entity brought the universe into existence.

Do you understand that anything that creates something must exist before that thing it's created?

Do you understand that before is an application of time?

Do you understand that the act of creating requires a chain of causal events - to go from something to nothing being one. What is "time" if it is not the progression of causal events?

Therefore it is absolutely logically impossible for anything that created the universe to be outside of time. Logic 101.

It NEEDED time to go from a situation where no universe exists to one where it does.

And your last Any reasoning atheist already knows that we don't kid ourselves with half-arsed excuses like "We are limited by our perceptions". How is that relevant to anything?

Any evidence for this God? Nope.

Do the arguments for his existence "outside of space and time" stack up logically? Nope.

That's it.

CaffeLatteIceCream Fri 20-Mar-15 21:01:36

Another stupid argument is:

Who caused God?

No one. God exists outside of space and time where the notion of "cause" does not exist. He's timeless and eternal*.

Except it does, because he caused the universe outside of time and space. So anything God does is caused, but he isn't.


*Is he timeless or eternal? They are mutually exclusive.

CaffeLatteIceCream Fri 20-Mar-15 21:03:18

Oh...and "outside" space and time?

Anyone want to give that a little thought?


OutwiththeOutCrowd Fri 20-Mar-15 21:06:50

I am not arguing for the existence of God. I am an atheist, as mentioned. I am arguing for the possibility of an underlying reality that we do not perceive directly. I wonder if you are familiar with the work of David Bohm, the physicist? He did important work in quantum mechanics and thought that space and time were constructs of the mind. He wrote of an underlying reality he called the implicate order in which everything was interconnected and the explicate reality which we could perceive with our senses which unfolded from that underlying reality. In his view, space and time as we perceive them were part of the explicate reality. He used these ideas to explain some of the paradoxes of quantum mechanics.

CaffeLatteIceCream Fri 20-Mar-15 21:17:13

Your argument is nothing more than "we don't know what we don't know".

This is entifely irrelevant to anything. It's merely "what if?" Is a starting point of science, but to use it as justification for any belief is unscientific and irrational. Surely you know that?

David Bohm - yes, I've heard of him. His ideas (of the sort you talk about) are not taken seriously by the wider scientific community, I'm afraid. Pseudoscientific claptrap unsupported by an evidence.

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