The following comrises part 2 of my comments regarding how the Biblical creation account may fit into what modern science today teaches about Earth's history. In Part 1, I commented on the First through the Third Creationary Periods. Below, I have included thoughts on the Fourth through the Sixth Creationary Periods.
[NOTE: Since I am neither an astrophysicist nor a biologist, I have placed my scientific references at the bottom of this post]
The Fourth Period – The Appearance of the Sun, Moon, and Stars
“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; . . . And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so” (Gen. 1:14-15)
As explained previously, once the fusion of hydrogen and helium in the sun had commenced, light pressure gradually drove out the remaining gases and astro-dust of the original cloud from which the solar system was formed. Once driven out, the various heavenly bodies we see today progressivley became visible. During this period, the positions and motions of the various heavenly bodies were arranged to provide light, heat, and a means of keeping track of time.
The Fifth Period – The Creation of Sea Animals and Birds
“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven” (Gen. 1:20).
In significant agreement with scriptural accounts, both plant and animal life first appeared in the oceans. Once oxygen levels reached about 5% of our present value around 800 million years ago, more complex multicellular life besides cyanobacteria and green algae began to appear. About 600 million years ago there was a rapid increase in higher forms of life, and by 590 million years ago exoskeletal animals such as trilobites, brachiopods, and shelled mollusks appeared. Around 145 million years ago the first aviary species appeared.
The Sixth Period – The Creation of Land Animals and Man
“And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so” (Gen. 1:24)
The weathering of rocks on the Earth’s surface eventually produced soil to establish land plants that would one day provide food and oxygen for the land animals. Fossil records indicate that about 370 million years ago amphibian species appeared, while 20 million years later the earliest reptiles were present. Twenty 20 million years after that mammal-like reptiles emerged. Winged insects appeared around 310 million years ago, followed by dinosaurs around 240 million years ago. It wasn’t until 90 million years ago that marsupials, or placental animals (animals that develop their young in either a pouch, womb, or placenta), appeared.
Is is well documented, around 65 million years ago there was a period of mass extinction in which the dinosaurs and many other kinds of life disappeared. Some scientists believe this was the result of a massive asteroid crashing into our Earth’s surface. Interestingly, fossil records also indicate about 250 million years ago there was another massive extinction event. About 62 million years ago the first primates appeared. Rodents arrived on the scene about 45 million years ago, and hominids (man-like creatures) about 19 million years ago.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26). Laying religion aside for the moment, from the scientific perspective, the first appearance of fossilized remains of homo sapiens (human beings) seems to have been about 125,000 years ago.
Emiliani, Cesare, “The Scientific Companion,” New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1988.
Rich, Patricia V., Thomas Hewitt Rich, Mildred Adams Fenton, and Carroll Lane Fenton, “The Fossil Book, A Record of Prehistoric Life,” 2d rev. ed. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1996.
Zeilik, Michael, Stephen A. Gregory, and Elske V. Smith, “Introductory Astronomy and Astrophysics,” 3d ed. New York: Saunders College Publishing, 1992.