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Creation Time Line
(Relating Scripture and Science)

 
The matrix below provides a detailed comparison of scripture to science. Through this, the following basic principles are used to understand the intent of the creation story:
1.) The days in this are taken to be interpreted as “age” or to be metaphor for a long period of time. There is extensive biblical support for this position. (See Old Earth Support
2.) The vantage point is from the surface of the Earth. This is just how a man would see things unfold if he was standing by watching it all happen.   
3.) The descriptions are generalizations not covering every detail. In this short account, every aspect of Earth history could not be covered. Only things that would have been understandable to all generations are mentioned. The long line of ancient people had no knowledge of science and would have not understood a more detailed scientific report.   
4.) There is much to learn in our generation with science providing a parallel account of creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God...” Ps 19:1 (NKJ) Science provides a window to the physical events, but does not include the supernatural.  We only get a complete understanding of creation by including both the spiritual view from scripture and the physical view from science.  From scripture we see that it was God who made everything, through science we see how He made it happen.



Creation Time Line

Time*
(Best Est.)
Scientific Description
Gen
Day
Theistic Description
Bible
Ref
Scripture Quotation (NKJ)
13.8 Ga Beginning of time: the big bang. 0 Creation of the universe.  God creates time and space, setting all the laws of Physics. Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
13.3 Ga Galaxies and the first stars coalesce from the primordial gases produced shortly after the big bang. The universe evolves according to the natural laws, which are the commands of God. He maintains control at every moment. Yet uses the forces of nature as His tools. 
ongoing Heavy elements are formed by fusion within stars. These elements are released into space through supernova explosions.
4.5 Ga The shock wave from a nearby supernova initiates the collapse of a large cloud of gas and dust.  From this, many stars and planets form, including our sun and the Earth.
4.4 Ga The Earth cools within about a 100 million years of formation. A world wide ocean forms with a hot thick atmosphere of CO2, methane, water vapor, and many volcanic gases. God selects the Earth, a water world, to cultivate for life. The thick atmosphere prevents light from reaching the Earth's surface. Gen 1:2 The Earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
4.4-3.8 Ga Gradual evolution of the Earth's atmosphere. 1 God causes the atmosphere to become translucent, allowing light to reach the surface of the Earth. Gen 1:3-5 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light...
3.9 Ga The late heavy meteor bombardment. This may have affected the atmosphere's composition. Extreme heating during this event is thought to have made the Earth uninhabitable for any form of life. 2 Clouds lift and water vapor in the atmosphere is reduced.

Some of the atmospheric changes may be due to the action of microbes. God may have created them for this purpose.
Gen 1:6-8 ...Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.
3.8 Ga Lower temperatures, loss of volatile elements from the atmosphere into space, less water in the atmosphere.

The first microorganisms appear.
3.0-2.0 Ga Over about a billion year period most of the Earth's crust was formed during a high level of tectonic activity. Over half of Earth's land mass is formed during this time. 3 God creates land by the natural system of plate tectonics that He invented. The bible implies that all the land was together in one supercontinent. This is known to have happened many times throughout geological history. Gen 1:9-10 Then God said, "Let the waters be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear..."
850-580 Ma Marine plants, especially photo-plankton thrive on the continental shelves.

Land plants may have been present by 700 million years ago. (DNA evidence suggests this, though there are no fossils of plants from this time.) Mainly small moss like species, plus lichens and algae. (fossils for lichens and algae are present in the fossil record during this time period.)
Plant life is created. Sea plants were first. (No mention of this in Genesis, because the focus is on the land and what was familiar to ancient people.) Land plants came next. The descriptions in Genesis may not be intended to represent individual plant species, but the origin of land plants as whole. During this time period, land plants had their beginnings. (Ancient people would not have distinguished fungi, algae, lichens, etc from the plant kingdom as does modern science. So these are included as well.) Gen 1:11-13 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself..."
700-550 Ma Oxygen levels rise significantly due to photosynthesis. The atmosphere is comparable to its current composition by the end of this time. 4 An oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere is transparent to visible light. The sun, moon, and stars can now be seen from the surface of the Earth. (Note: that Genesis only predicts that the light of these bodies appear in the sky at this time, not the original creation of them. The creation of all heavenly bodies is described in Gen 1:1, prior to the first day) Gen 1:14-19 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years..."
580-480 Ma The Cambrian explosion: The massive and abrupt appearance of ancient sea animals in the fossil record. Nearly all animal phyla are known to have originated during this time. 5 Creation of sea animals.  Gen 1:20-23 Then God Said, "Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let the birds fly above the earth..."
199-65 Ma Dinosaurs roamed the Earth during this time. A clade of dinosaurs, theropods, would be the only dinosaur group to have descendants that survive to the present. Today theropods are represented by modern birds. Creation of birds. Dinosaurs and birds existed at this time. But only birds are listed in Genesis, since other dinosaurs did not survive to the present and were unknown to ancient people.
65-1 Ma Large mammals appear in the fossil record soon after the extinction of the dinosaurs. 6 Creation of familiar land mammals that still exist today. (Cows, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, bears, mice, deer, rabbits, horses, lions, elephants, etc; all originate during this time period.) Gen 1:24-25 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to it's kind: cattle and the creeping thing and the beast of the earth, each according to it's kind..."
25-75 ka Anatomically and behaviorally modern humans have only existed for thousands of years. Extremely recent in geologic time. Not only does the fossil record show this, but the remarkably low genetic diversity of the human genome supports this fact as well. The Genesis creation account lists the creation of man last, this is verified in the fossil record.  Gen 1:26-31 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to our likeness..."

* Ga = giga-annum (billions of years ago)
Ma = mega-annum (millions of years ago)
ka = kilo-annum (thousands of years ago)
These dates are best estimates from science literature. The actual dates may be revised as new information is discovered. Overlap in time periods represent uncertainty in the dates listed. The dates are not critical to this biblical model, it's the order of occurrence that's given in scripture.


The Genesis creation account of chapter 1 gives a general chronology of Earth's ancient history. While some interpretations, such as the young Earth view, clash with modern science, others based on an old Earth viewpoint line up remarkably well. In fact, it's hard to believe that this sequence of events could be known to ancient people over 3000 years ago, unless this account was divinely inspired. (See Genesis Predictions)

The following graphic shows a simple graphical time line of creation that is cross referenced with specific dates and events from cosmology, geology, and biology.  This picture is a quick reference. Refer to the matrix above for a more detailed time line.

Timeline of Creation from the Bible and Science




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updated Jun 17, 2013
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