I’ve put this in GQ because I’m pretty sure it must have a commonly accepted theological answer of which I’m unaware.
My question is: Why, assuming at least of our monotheistic religions is actually true, did God wait so long before revealing it to the masses? No-one knows for sure just how long humanity has been around in its current form but the general consensus seems to be that homo-sapiens preceded all the prophets by a great many thousands of years. What was God doing in that time? This question was put best by Christopher Hitchens and I quote him here verbatim:
Why did God watch so many people suffering, dying in childbirth, dying of toothache, with a life expectancy of about 20 years, swept with plague, and famine, dying in Brazil, China, Australia, countries not known to the writers of these testaments, and then decide only a few thousand years ago that it was time to intervene? And have his son torn to shreds in a remote part of bronze age Palestine, and then wait a few thousand years for the Chinese to find out.
What, in other words, happens to all those souls who, through no fault of their own, died before the word of God could be made available to them? Are they in Heaven? Hell? Limbo? Were they all redeemed by the crucifixion and then judged independently? What is the Jewish/Christian/Muslim answer to this question?