A timeline of history answers questions like, how old is the Universe? What is the age of Earth? How old is humankind?
The timeline of history is a running controversy between science and religion. Archbishop Ussher and Stephen Hawking did not see eye-to-eye. Can we reconcile them? What do real science and real theology reveal about the age of the Universe, Earth, and Humankind?
There is much more that could be said about Genesis 1 but the last 13 posts have given us both an overview of God and His Creation including mankind in His image, with our double purpose, relationships, and rulership. Genesis 2 will add flesh to this skeletal overview and indeed the rest of the Bible is the story of bringing God, mankind, relationships, and rulership into perfect harmony.
Today’s post is an appendix. It answers one of the basic questions many people wonder and even fight about. How old is the Universe? Earth? When did Earth come into existence? Was this development gradual or sudden? How do you explain dinosaurs and pre-historic beings? All the questions about the chronology of the Universe and the timeline of living beings on Earth all the way up to ourselves, humankind in the 21st century.
The timeline of history is a vast subject which includes many aspects broached in blog posts over the last 4 years. This post will bring all that information together. This is where Science and Religion run into conflicting answers each interpreting events in a different light.
In Inventory of the Universe, I discussed scientific evidence regarding the formation of the Universe and Earth at great length. For the details, you can read Genesis Creation and the Cosmic Big Bang, Science, and Theology in Agreement … Finally. From these writings you know I have a great respect for true science as well as for the Bible and what it truly indicates. IF both of these two sources of knowledge, give correct results then they have to meet. There aren’t two ways the Universe and Earth came to be. There’s just one way.
Science laughs at religion and religion laughs at science. That conflict can be resolved. Here’s the timeline of the history of the Universe. I will only be taking some highlight periods that we are familiar with. There is absolutely no intention of fixing dates intended here. These are approximate periods of time.
- 13.8 billion years ago. The Big Bang sets the Universe in motion. This is done by God and referred to as ‘In the Beginning…’ in Genesis 1.1
- 4.5 billion years ago. Earth came into existence. Science and geology have enough evidence using various methods that corroborate this fact.
- 100 million years. The dinosaur realm roamed Earth. There are plenty of fossils and various scientific dating methods that demonstrate this. It is not the intention of The Explanation to present scientific evidence. There are plenty of excellent works to deepen this subject.
Prehistoric beings roamed Earth about 300,000 years ago. Again, there are plenty of fossils and various scientific dating methods that demonstrate this. That there are various types of beings with different characteristics is not to be denied. Even that they lived at different successive periods or that certain species overlapped is not to be denied. The fossils are there. But science is incapable of coming up with a reason for their appearance or a timeline of history of how they reached certain geographic locations on various continents.
Were these animals and prehistoric beings humankind’s ancestors?
To answer that question you have to define what a human being is. This is done in the chapter Singularity of Humankind. And I will complement and expand that with the verse in Genesis 2.7 in the next few weeks.
What identifies humankind comes down to one essential ingredient: MIND. If something has a MIND, not just a brain, it’s human. If there is no mind, it is not human. The composition, shape, life, form, activity, accomplishments or whatever other criteria we wish to look at are not what determine humanity. Only the MIND does. The gulf between what a mind can accomplish and what anything else can accomplish is an unfathomable abyss.
I’ve pointed out that animals use techniques to satisfy their appetites, communicate, build shelter, navigate and accomplish wonders far beyond what humankind can do. This comes down to innate ability and rote instinct. These creatures are all equipped with their unique abilities and we do not witness any PROGRESS or FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE of their capacities over umpteen generations. They possess NONE of the Singularities of Humankind.
The common denominator of Humankind that is at the origin of ALL these singularities is the HUMAN MIND. Human nature, imagination, creativity, progress, rulership are all based on the presence of mind power.
Let’s go a step further. Artwork, hunting techniques, strategic group hunting, sedentary living, agricultural methods of raising crops, burial of the dead, development and use of tools and artifacts, building habitats and other accomplishments of this nature are not proof of humankind. Granted, some of these accomplishments are more advanced than what some animals can accomplish but they are still an abysmal depth from what even a 5-year-old can undertake and succeed at.
These types of accomplishments that archaeology and paleontology have discovered are not evidence of humankind. They are evidence of a more sophisticated creature that even has some physical resemblance to humankind but they are not characterized by the singularities that characterize humankind.
What is the purpose of these prehistoric beings?
In the timeline of history, this is a very interesting subject and I will offer you an alternative explanation for which I have no proof. But there are plenty of Biblical principles that support what I’m about to relate. This is somewhat ahead of where I am in The Explanation in Genesis but will be understood by those with Biblical knowledge and can be verified by all.
To answer this question we have to go back in time … way back in time. This is truly the timeline of history. What existed BEFORE the Universe? God exists for all eternity. He is the past, the present, and the future. At some point on this spiritual, eternal timeline (if you can call it that), God created spirit beings including Lucifer and all the other angels. I’ve explained that they had a purpose. To sum it up, they were to have the proper relationship with their Creator God and proper rulership over what God placed in their hands (that is a manner of speaking).
The Bible, being the story and timeline of history of HUMANkind, only gives us fragments of the history of pre-creation. One of these episodes relates the rebellion of Lucifer (who transformed itself into Satan) and his subsequent exclusion from heaven. That exclusion relates his being cast down to Earth.
That’s a very interesting episode because it relates the relationship of the spirit environment to the physical environment. That fall from heaven took place AFTER the Big Bang and AFTER the establishment of Earth, an event which the angels attended. So it had to be between 4.5 billion years ago when Earth was formed (according to Science and the development of the Big Bang which I do not doubt) and some thousands of years before the tohu and bohu of Genesis 1.1. If you’ve never heard such reasoning before you might be shaking your head but, as I’ve said, the Bible is the story and history of humankind in their relationship with God. That relationship includes all the other spirit beings that were created by God including that angel that fell from Heaven. This is well known fundamental Biblical knowledge that imprints both the Old and New Testaments.
What was the Devil doing when it was cast to Earth before the appearance of humankind on Earth?
That’s some question! I cannot prove what I’m about to say. But I can tell you there are sufficient Biblical principles to uphold the scenario I’m about to paint.
In summary, God created Lucifer who rebelled against their relationship and method of rulership. Lucifer wanted to take over God’s throne and rule as he saw fit. Relationship and Rulership are fundamental points here. That relationship includes trying to help someone dear to us, even when they have tripped up and fallen. Maybe even, especially when they’ve tripped up and fallen. That’s when an individual needs their family and friends the most. After all, everyone makes mistakes, even big bad mistakes. How bad a mistake must someone make for that person to be abandoned, left to their own fate? I won’t answer that question now but read Luke 12.11.
What I’m saying is this. God punished Lucifer for his rebellion by casting him to Earth. But is that the END of their relationship? No. Is that the END of God working with what we now call the devil? No. When Lucifer was cast to Earth was he IRrecuperable, from a spiritual point of bringing him back into a proper relationship with his Creator and those over which he had rulership? From what I read in the Bible, probably, but I don’t know and who am I to judge anyway. This is what I think.
God continued to work with the devil, maybe in some last attempt to help him see his grave misgivings. Throughout the Bible we see God working with people who have committed the worst crimes, (David, a man of God, committed adultery and had Uriah killed), to help them come to repentance. Some do, some don’t. But, God will go to the nth degree to help EVERY individual, both spiritual and human. I believe God extended that courtesy, even to the devil.
God put creepy crawlers, animals of all shapes and sizes, including dinosaurs on Earth so the devil and his cohort could RULE over them and have the opportunity of RElearning to do it God’s way. Remember, the devil had seduced one-third of the angels in heaven. He wreaked havoc with their relationship with God.
Again, I have no proof of what I’m suggesting here, just Biblical principles. Let me add a point. In God’s effort to rehabilitate the devil we find successive periods of geological destruction and revival of different, even more-advanced life-forms.
Science points to five major extinctions. Genesis 1.1 reveals an extinction followed by a new life-form including humankind. In an effort to save the devil before the ultimate decision of his unrecoverability, God, in His love, could have given the devil successive opportunities to learn the lessons of relationship and rulership. The last lesson being that of ruling the presence of the prehistoric beings that roamed Earth prior to Genesis 1.1. The watery extinction that put an end to that epoch in Earth’s history is the result of the continued rebellion of the downfallen devil, not of prehistoric beings.
When was Creation week?
For the timeline of history, there is an answer to this question. And there is much evidence to indicate its relevancy. The most obvious way is to calculate it in the Bible using the genealogies, starting with the generation of Adam. Personally, I’ve never done this calculation and have no intention of doing it. There’s absolutely no desire to fix dates. In Hawking’s video below he points to Ussher’s calculation of the creation of the Universe in 4004 BC, and as expected, gets laughs. Ussher was totally wrong about the creation of the Universe but at the same time, he was in the ballpark for Creation week, the foundation of the world, as it is called in Revelations 13.8. You cannot give a definite date of 4004 BC for Creation week.
- Calculating the years of the Biblical patriarchs coupled with contemporary history puts us around 4000 BC for Creation week. That is the point on the timeline in history for the rehabilitation of Earth and the Creation of humankind, not the creation of the Universe.
It is just after this period that we see civilizations (plural, Chinese, Indus Valley, Mesopotamia, Egypt) arising in different parts of the world with languages and writing systems with incredible knowledge and use of technology. Historical records abound with abundant proof. Human beings with MIND are in existence on Earth. What is essential is that ALL the points that define the Singularity of Humankind are present after about 4000 BC but NOT prior to this benchmark on the timeline of history.
This post is at the end of Genesis 1 because that chapter gives a complete overview of Creation week. This timeline of history is also an overview. Yes, there are still unanswered questions that I have. Here is a couple of them which I’m still working on. Dendrology, the study of tree rings, has trees with up to thirteen thousand rings. That would make them 13 000 years old. How is that possible if Creation week only goes back 6000 years? Archaeology points to ruins of settlements in Jericho and other such findings that are dated at 9000 BC.
In this article, where you’ll find criticism, and I think, a wrong interpretation both of Archbishop Ussher’s work and especially of the Bible, you’ll find this quote from Thomas Paine, “when nature disagrees with scripture, scripture must necessarily be wrong.” My reflexion is that when you understand nature properly and when you understand scripture correctly both must coincide. Verify the data, verify the understanding. The timeline of history corroborates coherent completeness.
The Explanation doesn’t have all the answers but there is enough evidence in both nature and scripture to furnish a timeline of history that takes into consideration the proper approach to nature, the Universe, Earth, humankind, God, and scripture.
This blog post is an excerpt from chapter 9.14 of the book Origin of the Universe.
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