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The biblical timeline of the universe

The following is the timeline of events in the history of our world, as best as I understand it using my model. Afterwards, I provide links to all the other posts about my interpretation of the creation story, in connection with the timeline. This post therefore serves as the conclusion and a links page for the entire series of posts on interpreting the Genesis creation story.

Before the foundation of the world:
God, in his love for his son, wills his eternal plan - to glorify Jesus Christ through the creation and salvation of us humans. To that end, he loved and chose us in Christ before the foundation of the universe, and sent Christ to be incarnated, crucified, and resurrected in the world. Thus the universe was made for Christ and through Christ.

The Big Bang:
This event, taking place around 13.8 billion years before Christ, is synonymous with the creation of the universe in our current scientific understanding. It is the earliest event for which we have physical evidence. It is indeed the earliest event that's theoretically possible, as it's what created all space, time, and matter. In creating the universe in this way, God made its every aspect through Jesus and for Jesus. Thus every feature, law, and parameter of the universe was designed so that Jesus could be incarnated into it, to carry out his eternal plan of salvation.

The creation of the Solar System and the Earth:
The solar system was created in the debris of some exploded star around 4.6 billion years before Christ. The Earth itself was created to have features that allows Jesus, and therefore us, to exist on it. Thus the stage was set for the Gospel story.

The creation of life:
Life perhaps began something like 4 billion years before Christ. There is still much that science does not know about this event, as we're faced with the monumental difficulty of solving a molecular mystery from billions of years ago. Regardless of the details, God planned and guided this event so that, as with everything else, it would serve to tell the story of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The creation of humans:
Life evolved for many years, until God created anatomically modern humans around 200,000 years before Christ, and behaviorally modern humans around 50,000 years before Christ. In this way, God prepared fitting vessels for his own Incarnation, and for the other fellow bearers of his image.

The creation of Adam and Eve:
God imparted his image onto two specific humans, Adam and Eve, several thousand years before Christ. Though they sinned and fell away from God, he did not abandon them, having chosen instead to work through their sins before the foundation of the world. They would go on to become the ancestor to all humans on the earth, and therefore to Jesus Christ himself.

The Incarnation:
This, at last, is the event for which all of creation was made and waiting for. God sent his son, in whom dwells the fullness of deity, to be incarnated as a human being. Thus began the final act in the grand story of the universe - the one that the whole universe had been building up to for 13.8 billion years.

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ:
And here is the climax of the story: the singularity at the heart of existence, the purpose for which Christ came into the universe. Everything had been for this event. In the beginning, when God set the laws of the universe, he dictated that a hammer pounding a nail would be sufficient to drive it through Christ's body. When God created the Earth, he placed the iron atoms that would make up the spear that pierced Christ's side. When God created life, he designed it so that sufficient structural disruption would cause it, and therefore Christ, to die. When he created humans, he gave us sufficient brains for processing life, love, death, and resurrection. And when the serpent deceived Adam and Eve, God declared that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent. Everything - all the other events in the universe's history - had been building towards this moment. Through his death and resurrection, Christ makes us fully God's children. He completely reverses Adam's, Eve's, and all of our sins. He sets the course for all of creation - the whole universe - to be redeemed.

The present day:
I am writing this on October 13th, in the year of my Lord 2014. These are the last days - in that they are between the climax and the ending of the story. But there is plenty for us to do: we are to live out the Gospel, and in so doing, make disciples of all nations, even to the ends of the world. Indeed we are given a better picture of the whole story because we live in its end times, and this clarity drives us to work out our salvation to ever fuller extents. So we work, wait, and hope. Come, Lord Jesus!

The end:
As with the beginning of Genesis, the Bible mostly uses imagery and symbolism to show us the ending of the story, in the Book of Revelation. We do not know much of the details, but the big themes are clear. They are all in accordance with Christ's finished work on the cross, so that Christ may truly be the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Here are the broad strokes we know: the world, as we know it, will end. Everything will be new. And God himself will be with us.

As for my article series on the Genesis creation story, you can find the introductory post below:

Interpreting the Genesis creation story: an introduction

The Bible covers the events before the creation of the world elsewhere, and I have linked some of those passages in the timeline above. The Bible then starts by compressing the events from the Big Bang to the creation of humans into the Genesis creation week - as an abstract, broad, and non-literal story. I've written on why I interpret the creation week in this fashion:

Interpreting Genesis 1 by looking through John 1

How is "light" used in the Bible, particularly in the creation story?

However, there is a simple, profound meaning in the creation story that comes through the symbolism and the abstraction. As befitting the message of the first story of the first book of the Bible, it is the start of the Gospel story:

The simple essential meaning of the Genesis creation story

I then wrote two posts about the common arguments about the creation story, to demonstrate that I have considered the different interpretations and taken into account how they relate to my interpretation:

Common arguments about the creation account (Part 1)

Common arguments about the creation account (Part 2)

We then come to the creation of Adam and Eve -

Adam and Eve were historical persons. Who were they? (Part 1)

- and their interactions with other humans, and the spread of their descendants across the Earth:

Adam and Eve were historical persons. Who were they? (Part 2)

Adam and Eve were historical persons. Who were they? (Part 3)

The Bible then starts telling the story of the descendants of Adam and Eve, specifically along the lineage that would eventually lead to Jesus Christ:

Interpreting other Bible passages (Part 1: Cain and Abel)

Interpreting other Bible passages (Part 2: Nephilim, Noah, etc.)

That covers the Genesis creation story. It is only a part of the beginning in the story of the universe. The other parts of this story - that is to say, the Gospel story - is told elsewhere, as I have linked in the timeline above.

You may next want to read:
The Gospel: the central message of Christianity
The universe is an MMO, and God is the game designer.
For Christmas: the Incarnation
Another post, from the table of contents

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4 comments on “The biblical timeline of the universe”

  1. A nice tidy summary of posts. Good place to point people. Thanks!

    How does relativity tie in with this? You're positing that space-time existed for some nine billion years before this solar system did. (Aside: the word "year" can't technically have meaning until there's a planet and a star in orbit, but we can assume/pretend that they're just 31.5 million seconds each. The main question is the length of the SI second.) It doesn't make sense to refer to an "external observer", as any such being would have to be, like God, completely external to our timeframe too.

  2. The Big Bang theory is just that - a theory. It was invented to make a worldview without God plausible based on new evidence of galaxies. Why should we fit any man-made theory into the creation story? "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Should we not believe that the writer means the planet we now stand on?
    I acknowledge that relativity can plausibly eliminate the time problem, but the order of events just doesn't match up.

  3. As I understand it, the age of the universe is measured from the point of view of someone who's in the co-moving frame with our galaxy, and before that, I guess the center of mass of the particles that became our galaxy. Since the universe is mostly flat, this basically means that anyone else would see the same age for universe as we do at the same degree of cosmic evolution.

    Special relativity also plays little role, as the speeds deviating from this co-moving frame for our solar system and the Earth are much less than the speed of light. In short, if you imagine a single atom that was formed at the big bang and became a part of the Earth, the time measured by that atom is pretty much the "age of the universe" as I've given it.

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