EXERCISE 37: The History of the Universe
Previous Exercises have put you in perspective of space. You have experienced with awe and wonder the dimensions of the universe and the strange mysteries of the infinitely tiny. This idea of putting us in perspective is very important: we humans fool ourselves when we just think of our little country, our little history. In fact, these tempt us to make our ‘God’ much too ‘small’!
Now let’s put ourselves in perspective with respect to time.
In this Exercise, we will consider the evolution of the Universe as if it happened in one year. Let’s see how this feels!
First, centre and still yourself. Then read the following with your imagination. Imagine you are sitting somewhere ‘outside’ the Universe (yes, I know this is impossible, and, in fact, a dangerous assumption! Do it anyway, just for the sake of this Exercise!)
January 1 Big Bang
May 1 Origin of Milky Way Galaxy
September 9 Origin of the solar system
September 14 Formation of the Earth
~September 25 Origin of life on Earth
October 2 Formation of the oldest rocks known on Earth
October 9 Date of oldest fossils (bacteria and blue-green algae)
~ November 1 Invention of sex (by microorganisms)
November 12 Oldest fossil photosynthetic plants
November 15 Eukaryotes (first cells with nuclei) flourish
December 1 Significant oxygen atmosphere begins to develop on Earth.
December 5 Extensive vulcanism and channel formation on Mars.
December 16 First Worms
December 17 Precambrian ends. Paleozoic Era and Cambrian Period begin. Invertebrates flourish.
December 18 First oceanic plankton. Trilobites flourish
December 19 Ordovician Period. First fish, first vertebrates.
December 20 Silurian Period. First vascular plants. Plants begin colonization of land.
December 21 Devonian Period begins. First insects. Animals begin colonization of land.
December 22 First amphibians. First winged insects.
December 23 Carboniferous Period. First trees. First reptiles.
December 24 Permian Period begins. First dinosaurs
December 26 Triassic Period. First mammals
December 27 Jurassic Period. First birds.
December 28 Cretaceous Period. First flowers. Dinosaurs become extinct
December 29 Mesozoic Era ends. Cenozoic Era and Tertiary Period begin. First cetaceans. First primates.
December 30 First evolution of frontal lobes in the brains of primates. First hominids. Giant mammals flourish.
December 31 10:30PM First humans
December 31 11:00PM Widespread use of stone tools
December 31 11:58PM Seafarers settle Australia
December 31 11:59PM Extensive cave painting in Europe
December 31 11:59:50 First dynasties in Sumer, Ebla and Egypt; development of astronomy
December 31 11:59:55 Asokan India; Ch’in Dynasty China; Periclean Athens; birth of Buddha
December 31 11:59:56 Euclidean geometry; Archimedean physics; Ptolemaic astronomy; Roman Empire; birth of Christ
December 31 11:59:59 Renaissance in Europe; voyages of discovery from Europe and from Ming Dynasty China; emergence of the experimental method in science.
Note that we humans appear on the scene at 10:30PM on the last ‘day.’ And the long history we know of from the first major civilizations takes place in the last ‘minute.’
Imagine, if you can, the Divine Creator ‘waiting’ 13.5 billion years to see humanity, the first creature to be able to reflect on the universe and on itself, appear. What might God be expecting of this creature? What has God been ‘waiting’ for all these billions of years?
What does that say to you about your own personal Quest? Why are you here?
Note your reflections on all this in your journal.