Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Will God literally keep His promise to Abraham?

"The Lord took him outside and said, “Gaze into the sky and count the stars – if you are able to count them!” Then he said to him, “So will your descendants be.”"  Genesis 15:5 (NET)

That is God speaking to Abraham.  Do you expect Him to keep this promise literally?

At the judgement, can you see God say to Abraham?
"Abraham, come and look in my left hand and see that there are 102,503,329,470,927,138,981,467 stars.  And now look in my right hand and see that you have 118,954,304,761,927,724,647,301 descendants.  I was true to My word, spoken to you so long ago.  I fulfilled My promise to you."
I googled for 'how many stars are there', and I found several articles that all said that our best estimate is between 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 and 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.  That is, "something like 1022 to 1024 stars in the Universe."

There are about 7 billion people alive today.  That's 7,000,000,000.

Assuming a purely Darwinian world view ("humans" have been around for about 50,000 years, etc.) will give you the largest possible number of humans who have ever lived.  I found one reasonable article that gives that number at 106,456,367,669.

I tried to take the nifty chart from that reasonable article and extrapolate how long it would take to make 1022 people.  I futzed with Excel for nearly an hour (at 1am).  It's harder than it might seem.  (If anyone knows how to do that math please let me know.  See the chart in the middle of this article  for a starting point.)

But to get from 100,000,000,000 to 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 has got to be something on the order of hundreds of thousands of years.

But that is assuming that every human who lives is a descendant of Abraham.  There were people who lived before him, but not really that many, especially compared to the huge numbers we are talking about.  But we have to decide who all counts as descendants of Abraham.

Biological descendants probably includes everyone of Middle Eastern descent, at this point.  Spiritual descendants would include all Jews, maybe all Christians, and maybe all Muslims--all three religions call Abraham 'father'.  Either way would limit you to counting only some portion of the total population.  That means that you need tens of thousands more years to get enough descendants.

Do you believe that the Lord could tarry that long?

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