Exercise 37

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.