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Does this timeline, loosely based on the Bible, conflict with what the Bible or modern science teach about the age and order of the universe?

Creation Timeline Table
From the Moment of Creation to Man
First Posted 02-28-2000

Updated 07-11-2006

Time From Creation Event


0   moment of creation (some kind of singularity)
0 to 10-43 seconds  release of space curvature
10-43 seconds   loss of dimensions
10-43 seconds   superforce separates into gravity and the strong electroweak force
10-35 seconds   strong electroweak separates into the strong and electroweak forces
10-35 seconds   photons and leptons appear
10-11 seconds   electroweak force separates into the weak and electromagnetic forces
10-10 seconds   quarks appear
10-5 to 10-4 seconds    baryons and anti-baryons appear
0.001 seconds   annihilation of anti-matter occurs
3 minutes   nuclei appear
300,000 years   atoms appear; light separates from darkness (outer space becomes black)
365 million years   first stars form
500 million years   first galaxies appear
2 billion years all manner of quasars and galaxies appear
9 billion years solar system appears
10 billion years    life created on Earth
13 billion years    creation of dozens of new phyla (Cambrian explosion)
13.5 billion years  creation of dinosaurs
13.73 billion years creation of man
13.73 billion years the present

marked as duplicate by Oddthinking, user5341, matt_black, Suma, Sklivvz Feb 6 '13 at 20:35

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    Could you explain how that timeline is supposed to be derived from the bible? As far as I know the Bible doesn't metion the electroweak force. It also doesn't mention dinosaurs. – Christian Feb 5 '13 at 23:21
  • The original reference source is confusing. It seems to have two parts. Part 1: A graphic that attempts (and fails, IMO) to match eons with biblical days. Part 2: An uncited textual list of important events, as of 6 years ago. – Oddthinking Feb 6 '13 at 2:37
  • The title doesn't match the body of the question. Which would you like us to address? – EnergyNumbers Feb 6 '13 at 6:40
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    What is the claim? – gerrit Feb 6 '13 at 10:37
  • The first three lines of the Bible predicts a beginning three and a half thousand odd years before the Arno Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson won their Nobel prizes for that discovery. So you know at least on that little happen stance the Bible got it right. – Neil Meyer Oct 28 '13 at 10:08

TL;DR The timeline contradicts the biblical text

As DJClayworth's answer notes, there is almost no conflict between the timeline presented and the current scientific understating of the creation of the Universe. However there is a great deal of conflict between the Bible and the presented timeline.

The only reference that will be used here is the bible itself, I'll use the original Hebrew bible, for this reason I'll not quote the bible, but just put the number of the passage so that the reader could go to their preferred translation and read the passage for themselves. Also, I'll only look on the first chapter of Genesis. Although the second chapter also depicts the creation, it's contradictory to the first chapter, and the first chapter is the more famous of the two (the story with the 6 days of creation). There is plenty of material on-line about the contradiction from both sides, and I'll not touch on this issue.

The first contradiction is the amount of data presented in the time line. The time-line includes anti-matter, quarks, photons and leptons, the 4 fundamental forces, atoms, nuclei, dimensions, galaxies and quasars, non of which is present in the biblical text. In order to put those things in the timeline, including the very precise times at which each of these events happens (the time scale of the bible is days, not 10 in the power of -45 seconds) you must have modern scientific knowledge that isn't found in the bible or in any other Judeo-Christian religious text. So while it doesn't contradict the bible on this issue it clearly uses non biblical sources, so the time line can't truly be called a religious time line.

The timeline puts the creation of stars and galaxies before the creation of the solar system, and the creation of the moon after the creation of the Earth, and while it's not said so in the text timeline itself, in order to be on par with science it must put the creation of our sun before the creation of the Earth (see sources in DJClayworth's answer). However the bible puts the creation of the stars, Sun and Moon in the forth day (14-19) after the plants were created on the third day (9-13). And specificly the Moon and the Sun are described as being created on the 4th day in passage 16.

The timlene puts the creation of the oceans and water circulation systems (Oceans become permanent (~3.8bya) and Stable water cycle established (3.0-3.8 bya)) on the first day after the creation of the moon and the ocean are created before the water circulation. The Bible puts the creation of the water circulation on the second day in the suppuration of the Water above the sky and the water below the sky and the creation of the sky (6-8) and the creation of oceans and seas in the third day by pooling the water into one place and exposing the land (9-10). Both happening in the wrong order and before the creation of the Sun, Moon and stars.

Finaly, the timeline puts the creation of the living creatures (on the picture) as fallowing:

  • 3.85 bya: Isotopic evidence for life (1st day)
  • 3.5 bya: Stromatolites and microfossils (1st day)
  • 2.7 bya: Cyanobacteria and other phototrophs (2nd day)
  • 1.9 bya: Microscopic eukaryotes (3rd day)
  • 650 mya: Some scientists believe first land plants arrive (4th day)
  • 546 mya: First fish and shelly invertebrates, Cambrian Explosion (Tomootian and Atdbanian periods) (4th day)
  • 520 mya: Earliest fossil land plant spores (4th day)
  • 425 mya: Vascular plant fossils (4th day)
  • 346 mya: Earliest terrestrial animal fossil (4th day)
  • 340 mya: Oldest reptile fossil (5th day)
  • 230 mya: Oldest reptile fossil (5th day)
  • 155 mya: Earliest winged birds (5th day)
  • 125 mya: Earliest mammal fossil (5th day)
  • 0.05 mya: Modern humans (6th day)

The bible doesn't put it like this. The bible doesn't mention any life forming before the 3rd day, or before the formation of the Oceans, also the bible never mentions micro organisms, bacteria and such, so once again there is knowledge that isn't taken from the religious text, but from the science text books. According to the bible, all the plants were created on the 3rd day (9-13), including fruit giving trees, grass and seed baring plants. On the forth day (14-19) no animals were created, only the stars, the moon and the sun. On the fifth day (20-23) god created the animals of the sea, the birds and the great crocodiles. Only on the sixth day (24-30) god created the animals that live on the earth and the insects (24-25) and finally man (27). This is in contrast to the timeline that puts fishes before plants, and birds after earth dwelling animals and insects. Also, if you chose to translate the great crocodiles as Dinosaurs, then on the 5th day Dinosaurs were the only land dwelling animals on earth, before other reptiles and insects.


TL;DR Essentially, there is no conflict.

Here is a pretty normal summary of major events in the universe. Here is another. And another. There are some discrepancies, but given the level of uncertainty we have in the timing of these events, nothing that is a major disagreement. However it should be said that the events listed are not explicitly mentioned in the Bible. The article is more of a reconciliation of the scientific description with the Biblical story.

I would quote from the references, but I would end up having to quote much of each reference to show agreement. Instead it is left as an exercise for the reader.


I don't think this is a biblical timeline. It does use the word 'creation' a fair bit which doesn't fit current scientific thinking. Firstly it's important to note that the scientific opinion of the history of the universe is not finalised and probably never will be, it merely represents the best bet we can make with our current knowledge. It might get closer to the truth in the future, but the nature of truth in the theory of science is a whole other discussion that is too long to go into here.

The closest equivalent in the Bible is the parable using a week to represent the creation of everything. To be fair it's probably a useful construct to think of the history of the universe in a simpler way that is easy for the human mind to comprehend. I personally can't picture what 13 billion years looks like, but a week is easy to comprehend. Except that if the history of the universe were a week then humans wouldn't have been created on the 6th day, it's more like the last microsecond that we've been around. But again, thinking of a week as being a long time and humans as only being around very recently is a good way to think about it. However there is even contradiction between genesis 1 & 2 regarding exactly when man was created.

In the timeline you've posted, the units for the first few are wrong, it wasn't seconds it was nanoseconds or even smaller. Physicists use the concept of Planck time, which more closely represents the time scale those events took place in. [Edit] The units are fine, as noted by oddThinking the units are 10^-43 which is not an error.[/Edit]

Again, the prevailing scientific opinion is based on the majority consensus of physicists and cosmologists using extremely complex models to try to extrapolate back in time to estimate the timeline. You could read about the "red shift" to learn why scientists know the universe is expanding and how we estimate the age of the universe and the timing of the big bang (or the big bounce if you are one of the scientists that think the big bang wasn't the beginning). You could spend years studying string theory or M theory in all its variations and unifying theories that still don't explain how all the 4 forces came from a single force if indeed that is what happened.

Back to the religion angle. I had an interesting lecturer in chemistry once, who neatly explained a link between the metaphorical notion of creationism and the idea of causality in science, specifically the second law of thermodynamics. The 2nd law relates to the idea of entropy and the "arrow of time" but could be explained simply as being about cause and effect.

[Edit] The second law of thermodynamics is very related to cause and effect; due to the always increasing entropy of a closed system the law suggests an end to the universe and necessarily implies a begininning to the universe. This is well established in the scientific literature "Entropic Creation : Religious Contexts of Thermodynamics and Cosmology Kragh, Heige S. p279 Ashgate Publishing Group 2008" "Entropy Demystified : The Second Law Reduced to Plain Common Sense Ben-Naim, Arieh, 2007 p46 - chapter 2.4.2 Conditional probability and cause and effect'" [/edit]

If the effect is the big bang and expansion and consequent evolution of the universe, then what is the cause? Perhaps a creator? Science can't and does not attempt to disprove that. Scientists don't know and shouldn't speculate on that as scientists because it is pure conjecture. Not that hypothesising is bad, but it is pointless when you can't do the experiments or research. There is no means for us to peer back before the big bang with present knowledge, so that leaves that explanation neatly in the realm of religion, and personally I don't see any conflict of interest in 'believing' that or even the basic premise of science and religion coexisting.

That is why Dawkins and the late Hitchens are considered extreme, not that they aren't brilliant, but their position of Atheism is too extreme, how could they know for sure? Agnostic is then a more reasonable position to take, but that discussion is beyond this answer.

On the other hand, the use of the word 'Creation' in the timeline above is something that the pushers of intelligent design might use to try and more closely integrate religious gospel with pseudo-scientific explanations. A reasonable scientific melding of religion and the big back might come from a field like chaos theory and specifically the idea of iterative algorithms such as those used in the generation of fractal images. The key there is that it is very difficult for us to predict the state of a random system although knowing the initial state can often lead to the same patterns being generated. If you run a mandelbrot set generation for example, the formula that drives the generation of what appears to be infinitely complex is itself extremely simple. zn+1 = zn^ 2 + c. People often have difficulty looking at the complexity of life on Earth and believing that it is not the work of a designer. Look at the interleaved nature of life such as symbiotic organisms and imagine how that could have come about by random evolution. The key is that modern evolutionary theory is not the same as Darwinism. Modern thinking is that the evolution is not slow and gradual and random at all but quite a bit more complicated than that so I won't go in to it here in case of not doing it justice, but back to how complexity can arise from simplicity.

Perhaps a creator set the initial state of the universe and let it run, however, the idea of intricate centralised design of every system and organism in the universe is not a good strategy and has some parallels with the idea of central planning which doesn't work no matter how much effort or intelligence you throw at it. Most scientists won't accept that a creator is intimately involved in their daily existence so I can't agree with the use of the word 'Creation' in your timeline. I would replace it with the word 'Appearance' because that more closely represents the extent of our knowledge of those events. We think they occured, roughly at those times but that's all.

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    Welcome to Skeptics! This isn't a full answer, but more of a rambling opinion. Mandelbrot sets and chaos theory? Opinions of Dawkins views on a spectrum? Big bounce (with a reference to red-shift)? A confused conflation of the second law of thermodynamics and cause-and-effect? None of these are relevant to the question. – Oddthinking Feb 6 '13 at 2:34
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    By "10-43 seconds", the original author clearly meant 10 to the power of -43 (i.e. close to a Planck time unit) but butchered the formatting in converting it to HTML. – Oddthinking Feb 6 '13 at 2:40
  • Thanks for your clarification about the units, that does make sense now. On your first comment, I would agree with you if the question had not been phrased using the words [Biblical] and [Creation] and not been tagged with [Religion] and [Bible]. As it stands though I addressed the question title and tags. Take away those tags and DJClayworth has answered the question perfectly. Admittedly I probably rambled a bit and the bit about atheism is probably tangential, I'll restrain myself in future. Maybe. – Davos Feb 6 '13 at 4:34
  • I agree the question is worded inconsistently. I commented on that on the question. – Oddthinking Feb 6 '13 at 5:03
  • I won't revisit your relevance argument but I have edited my answer to add some references regarding the second law of thermodynamics and how it directly relates to cause-and-effect for your perusal. Explaining entropy in detail is not necessary when most people would understand it more clearly by accepting that effects have causes, hence perpertual motion machines don't exist because their action requires an energy input, or 'cause'. I'm not conflating random theories, these are established scientific principles that explain how we know the age of the universe. – Davos Feb 7 '13 at 1:13

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