Some people claim that man and the universe have always existed. When pressed about the invention of things that are obviously new (new developments in technology, founders of cities, and so on), the reply is that there was an intervening time of destruction when old technologies were lost and cities were destroyed, and that we live in an eternal cycle through which we return to the state of barbarism and rise to civilization. "Of course," Augustine replies, "all this is opinion, not science."
[Here there is a discrepancy in different editions of Augustine in the chapter numbering]
Augustine points out that the ancient chronologies of Egypt and Assyria are incorrect, and that only Scripture can give us the true nature of man's early history.
Whatever one thinks about the nature of the world's beginning--whether it was eternal, there are multiple worlds (parallel universes?), or just the one running in cycles, all are "forced to conclude that the human race arose without human procreation." That is, all theories must somehow deal with the idea of the origin of humanity outside of itself. Even if it is some kind of evolutionary cycle (though Augustine does not use that particular phrase), we must account for man's beginning.
Some people ask why man has been around for so short a time compared to how long creation appears to have been in existence--even angrily, as if God has somehow wronged us by His delay. Augustine points out that such arguments are pointless from the perspective of eternity, in comparison with which the distance between the creation of the universe and our creation as human beings (seemingly vast from our perspective) approaches zero. This of course is true when any finite something is compared with infinity, be however large the finite something may...