Human Development

Written by:  Robert D Brinsmead

Changing the world suddenly in an apocalyptic event, even it were a divinely driven apocalyptic event, is a profoundly anti-human idea. It makes no difference whether the apocalypse is a secular one along Marxist lines or a “Second Coming” along Christian lines. We know that God’s rule is a Rule of Love, and there is no rule of love without human freedom.  This understanding is essential to understanding any satisfactory theodicy. Love means that God has enough faith in the creation to allow humanity to positively develop, learn and progress

It is said, for instance, that Rome could not be built in a day. Not even God could build Rome in a day because Rome is a human society.  It takes time to develop a human language, a human culture and a human character. This development can’t be imposed even by Almighty God.  While God ‘s spirit is present as an influence in human consciousness,  it is humans themselves who develop a human character.  Humans are left to develop a language appropriate to their needs.  Humans must develop a culture to serve their growth and development. This takes time. Not even God can short-circuit the process.  No language can be developed instantly and no culture can be developed instantly, despite that primitive Biblical myth about the sudden confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel.

By the same token, God could not instantly create a human being in God’s own image, with a fully formed character language and culture. Not if humanity was to be truly human!  It has been endlessly speculated how long it might have been before Adam fell from his mythical status of moral perfection after he was created.  I think it was Luther who speculated it was after a couple of weeks. It was at least before he sired  any children.  But it would not make sense to propose that God held such a recently created being responsible for the “Fall” ( with consequences for all subsequent humanity) when Adam  would have been  immature, undeveloped in character and culture.  We don’t hold babies morally responsible for their behaviour.  This mythical Adam was obviously only a baby in terms of experience and development.  God could no more make a perfectly mature human being in a day than God could make Rome in a day.  Oh yes, we might childishly imagine that some arbitrary Monarch in the sky might do such  magical things, but not the God whose rule of love means a domain where freedom reigns.

As Morowitz puts it in The Emergence of Everything, “It seems to me antireligious to lose patience, as some people do, with a god who took 12 billion years rather than six days to create the universe.” (p. 53)  The old creation narrative not only flies in the face of the reality of scientific facts, it flies in the face of human reality.  It has taken humanity thousands of years to develop a language, a culture and an advanced civilization.  As one small example, it has taken humanity thousands of years to progress medical knowledge to the point of understanding that disease is not caused by spirits that get into us, but by germs we could not see until we had the technology to see them.  Neither germ theory or atomic theory dropped from the sky in some “special revelation.” A lot of history had to pass under the bridge until humanity began to unlock the secrets of bacteria and atoms.  God has done no cheating in this learning process – like doing our human homework for us. So yes, as Morowitz puts it, “The authors of the Old Testament were vastly off in dating the origin of the universe and the solar system at 6,000 years ago.”  It is interesting to note that Hindu scripture had a much clearer view of the vast reaches of time involved in creation.  I would suggest that one reason why creation could not be such a sudden thing is because, as Morowitz puts it again, “the universe is not totally determined; neither is it totally random.” (p. 193).  That is an excellent observation.  Putting this in a more theological way, I would say that creative love takes time. Why has God taken so much time in creation?  That is because it has all been a work of love.  The freedom-giving nature of love means that human development is “not totally determined; neither is it totally random.”   Think about that one for a while!

Now if those old religious ideas about the sudden arrival of a complete and perfect humanity about 6,000 years ago are a load of mythical codswallop, then we have to see that the related ideas about the sudden apocalyptic end of the world along with the creation of a new world and a new humanity are equally mistaken. Both are profoundly mistaken because they are profoundly inhuman and profoundly contrary to the reign of love.