The Timeline of Genesis 1

The timeline of Genesis 1 is: earth, sky, water on earth, land on earth, plants, sun/stars, birds, sea creatures, land animals, and finally man.
Yet the timeline of evolution is: big bang, stars, planets, land on earth, water on earth, sea creatures, land animals, birds, and then man.

How can you reconcile these two timelines? Isn’t God the ultimate authority, and so since God was there and wrote the Bible, shouldn’t his timeline that he put out in Genesis 1 be correct?

Note: Forgive me if the timeline for evolution is not in the correct order somewhere, but I know I got it at least mostly right.

Of course, a bigger question is how do you reconcile the two timelines of Genesis 1 and Genesis 2? My understanding is that neither are attempting to teach timelines.
Welcome to the forum, by the way. I see you are new here, but there are lots of resources in the common questions section that should help, so explore that as well.

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I don’t believe Genesis is trying to teach us how God made the universe. He is trying to teach us why he made the universe.

Biological evolution starts with life. Formation of stars and planets is a different subject altogether.

This is how I make it work.

There is not reason for me to believe that genesis 1:1 was part of the first day where he made the earth and heavens and then simply revealed them later on. It seems to clearly be a introduction statement.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”

In verse three depending on the translation you use it says something like “ and God said” or “then God said”. The word in question is וַיֹּ֥אמֶר. It means God said.

So Genesis reads verses 1-2 reads as an opening statement. It’s what he did and then it was followed by how he did it.

Let’s look at some of the basics of what we know about science. Then let’s look at some of the basics of the Bible about why would he have me Said it.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

The heavens means several different things to ancient Jewish people. In a nutshell this is what they believed. There was the sky where the birds and clouds could be found at. That was the first heaven. The second heaven is what we refer to as the cosmos. The third heaven is what we refer to as where a God and angels dwelled.

Do any of us here actually believe that God is in a third heaven on the outside of our cosmos? When Elijah was taken on a chariot did he ride through the clouds, and then hit space and travel past all of the planets, stars, and galaxies and presumably traveled well past the speed of light or through some wormhole and make it to beyond the event horizon and into a kingdom outside of space? I don’t. Neither do I think that’s what’s the Hebrews were teaching either. Which heaven was created this time? All three or just one? He created a atmosphere for earth where clouds would be? Or he just created all the planets and stars? Or he made the kingdom outside of space where he lives?

Throughout Bible we refer to God as coming down. He came down to earth and ect… the reality is that scripture teaches us God is everywhere. God is not actually coming down but manifesting himself.

Then it gets to he created the earth and was above the waters? What waters? The earth was just a big ball of water that somehow was not frozen? We will cover more of that later.

It’s obvious genesis 1-2 is a introducing statement then followed by how he did it.

  1. God said let there be light and let it separate the light in day and at night. There was light created before there was any stars. Where did this light come from? Was it warm? Was it just light coming off of God? Like God is really shiny? You could argue that. After Moses came down from God his face was glowing. In revelation it says, 21:23
    “ The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”

  2. God created a vault that he called the sky to separate the waters above and below this firmament. So that answers what heaven was created first. The sky, the first heaven. Which is a atmosphere. So a atmosphere was created before the celestial bodies. Everything was water and light at this moment. The two great bodies of water was separated by a vault called the sky. What is the vault though? Why did none of the water just freeze into ice without a sun.

  3. Then god gathered the water to one place. I assume we all know earths land masses has looked differently. Let’s assume something like Pangea was more likely what earths land use to look like. So it would seem that the water was not gathered to one place as much as separated revealing dry land and somehow it worked out to where the land was above the water. Seems a lot like the story with the Hebrews and Egyptians where the waters separated revealing dry land. Plants also sprouted up at this time. We know that not all plants just showed up. Things like conifers were around before angiosperms ( flowering plants ). But if taken literally, we dismiss that and assume that all these plants just bursted into life at maturity on this day. Even though there was no pollinators or sun.

  4. Then god added lights to the vault of the sky. It says he placed the lights in the vault. This is the sun, moon, stars. So finally we have the light source that we know of today and not just this precious mystical light that probably just flowed from God.

So this day, is the day, God made them second part of the heavens. The cosmos. As opposed to the first part of the heaven, the skies earlier. But what does it mean to put the sun and stars into the vault of heaven. The firmament.

Well to understand that we need to understand what they believed. They believed the vault was a dome. Not merely the atmosphere. They believed their was earth and its skies. Then above that was a solid layer called the dome and that this dome kept this giant space water from crashing down on us. They also believed that the moon had its own light. It was just like a low light sort of like our nightlights. They also believed that the stars purpose was not to light up earth, but to show the seasons and times. The ancient way people kept up with dates. They also believed that the stars and suns revolves around us. We read that in Joshua. Lastly, they believed that these lights was tiny. Really tiny.

So when we read the first few verses of the Bible from day 1-4 this is what we read if taken literally by the the worldview that the ancient sumerians and Semites ( which includes the early Jews).

The entire universe was essentially liquid. Specifically water. Humans lived on earth at the center of the universe. The sun, stars, and moon was tiny lights that revolves around us by a revolving dome called the vault. The vault kept the chaotic space waters away from earth. These water never froze prior to the sun.

We know that is not true. We know the sun is huge and that we move around it. We know space is not just dark black waters. We know above the sky is not this rotating dome that stars are stuck in as nighttime lights.

So we can think a few things.

  1. That worldview is correct and all our science is wrong.
  2. We are not understanding scripture correctly.
  3. It’s not true.

Now when we say it’s not true it can be broken up into many things.

A. It’s not literally true and that’s ok because Gods purpose was not to teach us science but to make it clear that he is our creator and it sets up several patterns for later on. Such as the 10 tiny creations. Those same ten tiny creations were the same, but deconstructed , as the plagues on their Egyptians. It also sets up 10 as a numerical symbol of completion and sets up the 7 days as a symbol for working for 6 and resting on the seventh. The sabbath and ect…

B. God lied to moses. God was trying to deceive Moses about how powerful he was and what he created.

C. Moses was a liar. Moses wrote the story down incorrectly either by accident or just straight up made it up. He was angry about not being king, scared because he murdered a slave driver, and so he took advantage of a plague affecting his rulers and lied to all the people using parlor tricks and convinced them that flee with him.

For me the most logical answer from both a scientific and theological position is choice 3a. Genesis first few chapters until it catches up to the real time of the people was this tale that combined truth and fiction. So it does not matter what science says in this regard. There is no contradiction of theology and science but merely a contradiction of a faulty interpretation of scripture combined with a misunderstanding of science.

  1. God didn’t write the Bible, people did.
  2. The story of Genesis isn’t based off our modern understanding of cosmology and it is based off the mind set of the people of the ancient near East thousands of years ago. The main idea of behind the creation stories of Genesis 1 and 2 (yes there are two and I will show that soon) is that God is the ultimate source of creation and that God alone made the universe and no other gods aided Him nor did He have to fight off other gods or chaos creatures in order to create or sustain creation. The idea the Jews would have been more concerned about is their purpose in the order of the universe that God made and thus God made humans in His Image, not slaves to do work as was typical of the gods of the ANE world. The creation stories of Genesis 1-2 use typical motifs of ancient Near Eastern creation stories of the era but YHWH is the one and only God and humans are made in His Image.
    As you can see above, there are two different models of creation from Genesis 1 and 2. Thus, if faced with the burden of a literal interpretation, which one is the real creation story? Thus, we can safely say with both the study of modern science and looking into the ancient Near Eastern environment of ancient Israel and Judah we can see that the writers of Genesis took a lot of creative liberty with the aid of the Holy Spirit to make creation stories that reflect the YHWH only focused religion.

Welcome to the Forum, @Cats217

It is great to see you asking these questions. It would be great to get a little background on what is driving them (eg. are you looking for answers? looking to understand a view that you personally disagree with, etc.). The reason I ask is that if we can understand your starting point we’ll be better able to provide you with the information that you are after.

Drawing on @Bill_II’s reply, I would say that you actually have four timelines here:

Timeline 1 - Genesis:
earth, sky, water on earth, land on earth, plants, sun/stars, birds, sea creatures, land animals, and finally man (an undisclosed number of humans, possible two, possible more).

Timeline 2 - the origin and development of the universe:
Big bang; the ‘dark ages’; reionisation; rapid expansion; the Solar System & Earth

Timeline 3 - Abiogenesis; the emergence of life
Inorganic (non-living) material becomes organic (living) entities.

Timeline 4 - the evolution of life on earth
Single-celled life; multicellular life; complex life; humans - that’s the somewhat abridged version. :crazy_face:

Others will correct me if I am wrong, either way, I hope it provides some clarity to your thinking. Especially if you think of timelines 3-4 as nested, and branching off of timeline 2.

Yes. However, we can only consult that authority on matters he has chosen to speak about in Scripture. As the first cause, efficient cause, and end of all things, God is the ultimate authority on, say, engineering. However, beyond some general principles (eg. 1 Corinthians 10:31) God has not spoken authoritatively about engineering, so we cannot consult him on the best building materials to use when constructing a bridge.

Similarly, God is the ultimate authority on the sciences. But what evidence do we have in the bible to suggest that God has spoken directly and authoritatively about scientific matters? If God is recording eyewitness evidence as to how the universe was made should we take Jesus declaration that mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds a scientific fact too (Matthew 13:31-32)? After all, wasn’t the Son of God there when the mustard seed was made? Shouldn’t his conclusion about the size of a mustard seed be correct?

Personally, I do not feel the need to reconcile the first timeline with the other three because I do not see competition. The simple reason is that I do not see God making authoritative claims about science in Genesis 1. If you believe he is then the burden of proof lies with you to prove from the text that God is seeking to make authoritative scientific claims.

finally, on the point of ‘God as eyewitness’ you may find this article about flood geology helpful for exploring the enlightenment thinking at the heart of that piece of (typically) AIG theology:


Why do you think that God wrote Genesis 1?


That is a nonsensical and meaningless statement, since God doesn’t provide any information whatsoever on the sciences.

Suppose there was an alien in Andromeda who died a million years ago and thought about photons more fully and clearly than anyone in the history of the universe but never wrote a single thing or said anything about this to anyone. Would it be correct to say that he is the ultimate authority on photons? How does that even make any sense? Surely being an authority is more than simply the possession of knowledge about a thing. You have to communicate that knowledge also.

I certainly cannot find a dictionary definition which says that someone is an authority on something simply because they have knowledge about it. The closest definition I can find is being a source of information on something. And the simple fact of the matter is that God is not a source for information on science, unless you you are talking about the data we find in the Earth and sky and consider them being sent by God – I suppose that God could be considered the ultimate authority on the sciences in that sense.

[Moderator Edit: this last part can be discussed in this thread. Not in this post]

People don’t write books – pens, printers, and typewriters do.

The comparison of the two creation accounts is well done. Thank you.

5 posts were merged into an existing topic: People Don’t Write Books - Pens, Printers and Typewriters Do

I think you missed his point, because he said that, that God does not provide information on the sciences. Of course God is the ultimate authority… on anything, not that we can access the information.

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What @Dale said :wink:

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I do understand the sincerity of those who are wanting to uphold the bible as the word of God want to uphold a kind of infallibility of the Genesis text. But I think this is both an unneccesary and a wrong approach.
Of course God is the ultimate authority and the origin of the thoughts about creation inspired to be written and the way that it was. But Genesis should be seen as more of a testimony to who God is and God’s relationship to creation and us, rather than some kind of literal history.
We should not be afraid of the scientific details at odds with the ancient text.
More important than any literalness or questions of historicity is the values and relationships the text contains. For us Christ is the Word behind all “words”. He is the inspiration in hearts and minds. Human minds recieve information in their cultural settings using the present state of knowledge. We should not be afraid of that.

What is more important today is to look at our current day relationships with creation and how it is being abused and not looked after. How we are misusing our “dominion” over the things of creation in selfish and uncaring ways, that are devastting creation and ruining the lives of millions of people and making extinct today some of the most beautiful creatures in existence.

That’s where and Genesis 1 and 2 matters, not the tiny considerartion of some innerant text vs science.
If we honour the text, we need to honour the creation that the text is about.loving it and caring for it adnd looking afetr our bit of it for His sake.

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