Since they didn't bother to acknowledge God, God quit bothering them and let them run loose. And then all hell broke loose: rampant evil, grabbing and grasping, vicious backstabbing. They made life hell on earth with their envy, wanton killing, bickering, and cheating. Look at them: mean-spirited, venomous, fork-tongued God-bashers. Bullies, swaggerers, insufferable windbags! They keep inventing new ways of wrecking lives. They ditch their parents when they get in the way. Stupid, slimy, cruel, cold-blooded. And it's not as if they don't know better. They know perfectly well they're spitting in God's face. And they don't care—worse, they hand out prizes to those who do the worst things best!
Today I was talking with a guy that I meet with on a regular basis. Great guy, struggling with life and purpose and direction, but is so close. We were chatting for a while drinking our coffee black, because that's the only way to drink it, when the topic of ignoring God came up. Now this is a smart guy, one of those guys who is almost too intelligent, but he asked me a question that seemed ignorant until I started to think about it later on this afternoon. "How can God be present in our lives(punish/love us) if we ignore his existance?" This is one of those conversations that was more about listening and letting him work stuff out through verbalizing his thoughts so I didn't give him an answer. I really didn't have a great answer at the time, but I think this passage in Romans 1 kind of sums it up.
With the knowledge of God, but not the decency to care about his love towards us we will know, deep down, that life isn't right. We will understand the joy of his love and realize what we have in return for sacrificing that joyful relationship. Why do we spend so much time trying to manipulate and ignore the Thing that is best in our lives?
An answer to my friends question; seems to me that it would be more a realization of our lack of commitment to him than his lack of presence in our lives.
Just some rambling thoughts.