Teaching High School HomeSchoolers about Creation: The Gap Theory

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Teaching High School HomeSchoolers about Creation: The Gap Theory


In the light of the weaknesses found within the day-age theory, some people have invented another theory called the gap theory. The gap theory, or ruin and reconstruction theory, proposes that God originally created the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1:1. There was then a judgment and a cataclysm, some kind of catastrophic event by which the earth was judged and became “without form and void,” as noted in verse 2. Proponents suggest that there is good evidence for this in the text, because “darkness was upon the face of the deep,” and darkness is evidence of sin. Then“the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” According to the gap theory, the word for “moved,” which connotes brooding, indicates that God was brooding over this evil chaos, thus providing additional evidence for a gap and a judgment. The basic tenet that nothing chaotic comes from the hand of God demands a context of judgment upon sin between verses 1 and 2.

With Genesis 1:2 viewed as evidence for some catastrophic event, many people have tried to place all the geologic ages between the opening verses of Genesis and thus provide adequate room for evolution. They project that God created an original heaven and earth which He judged. He then recreated some of the animals, so a six-day creation could still be maintained.

First, let us consider the arguments presented in favor of this theory. The Bible says. “And the earth was without form, and void” (Genesis 1:2). The word for “was” in Hebrew is the verb hayah, the basic Hebrew word for being. It is used 1522 times in the Pentateuch alone. Fifteen hundred times it is translated by its simple usage “was,” but twenty-two times it is used with the idea of “became.” Each time it is translated “became,” the context denotes a change taking place: Lot left the city with his wife, she was walking with him, she was a woman, she turned and “became” a pillar of salt. Such a change occurs in all of the instances translating this word “became.” However, one cannot supply this translation in Genesis 1, which demands the simple usage of the word “was.”

The proponents of the gap theory say that the words “without form and void” indicate some chaotic condition as a result of judgment. They point to verses in Jeremiah 4:23-26 and Isaiah 24:1, where the same words are used to refer to some type of catastrophic event. But both of those instances refer to a time when people living in an area experienced a judgment, a destruction, because of which the whole territory was laid waste and desolate to the extent that it became unpopulated. With that in mind, note Isaiah 45:18, “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else.” In this description there are no people. It is the description of an earth which is incomplete and unfinished. The word “vain” here is the same word which is translated “void” in Genesis 1:2. The earth was empty and void of life or empty and vain. God said He created it not in vain, but to be finished and inhabited by people. In this particular verse (Isaiah 45:18) the earth is not complete, so there can be no reference to any destruction and judgment, for in order to have a judgment there would have to be inhabitants to judge.

“And darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Those who insist that darkness is evidence of sin conclude that verse 2 gives evidence of sin on the earth which resulted in cataclysm and judgment. True, darkness sometimes gives the impression of evil, but notice what God does with the darkness. He says, “Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:3-5). If darkness is evidence of evil in verse 2, then it is also evidence of evil in verse 5. But the latter darkness He calls night. Must night, then, be considered evil? To the contrary, God, who sets up a system of light and darkness, says the whole system is “very good” (Genesis 1:31). The darkness of verse 2, then, simply means the absence of light. God solves that problem by creating light.

The final statement of verse 2 is quite direct and literal. “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters”merely signifies that the Spirit of God was present and that water existed.

To argue for a gap between Genesis 1:1 & 1:2 and to place the geologic ages there is to formulate some very serious difficulties. If a judgment had been placed upon these earliest life forms, they would be buried in the earth, producing some kind of fossil record. This fossil record is found in the various geological strata and is really a record of the death, decay and destruction of plants and animals on the earth, laid in sedimentary strata by some kind of water action. Philosophically, if we try to correlate this with the Genesis account of chapter 1, then we are saying that death is the element to bring new forms of life upon the earth. This assumes that man is really the result of death over a vast period of time. Certain types of animals unfit to survive lost their ecological niche and died out; some new form of life entered, and ultimately man came upon the earth.

In opposition to this argument, Genesis 1-3 proclaims that man was created perfect by God. Because of man’s disobedience to God, sin and death entered into this world for the first time. The Bible states that death came as a result of man’s disobedience to God’s law, whereas, according to evolution, the geologic record says that man is the result of death, having evolved from earlier animal ancestors that are now extinct.

What will we find, then, if we place the record of the geologic column into a gap between Genesis 1:1 & 1:2? We will discover buried in all the strata throughout the earth – every square foot of ground upon which Adam walked in the Garden of Eden – evidence of the destruction of animals and plants. But God created this garden in which (according to the gap theory) every rock contained evidence of death and destruction of animals in the past, and He said of this garden that it was “very good.” In addition Romans 5:12 tells us that by Adam’s disobedience death entered into this world for the first time. A gap between Genesis 1:1 & 1:2, into which the fossil record is placed, demands that Adam find death evidenced in every rock he looks at. How, then, can one honestly say that by Adam sin and death entered into the world for the first time? If we destroy that premise, we basically destroy the doctrine of sin and ultimately the basis for salvation, which is established upon the premise that Adam, a perfectly created individual, fell into sin, and his disobedience brought death into this world for the first time. On that basis Jesus Christ came to save that which He created.

Proponents of the gap theory suggest that the sun, moon and stars were created in verse 1 but that God did not make them appear until Genesis 1:16, which introduces two different lights, the greater to rule the day and the lesser to rule the night. They claim that the word “made” (verse 16) does not mean that God directly created them on that day, but that He unveiled them – He uncovered the cloud or vapor that kept them from being seen. This explanation is given in the Scofield Bible, whose notes contend that the verb asah indicates that God made the sun, moon and stars to appear. If this is true, and God simply remade them or made them to appear, we must ask what is meant by the verbasah in Genesis 1:26: “And God said, Let us make man in our image.” Does this mean “Let us make man to appear”? Does it suggest that God uncovered man from the dust, perhaps taking one of the destroyed fossil men and remaking him? Was man merely unveiled or allowed to appear? To be consistent, one would have to accept such a description.

God seems to use two words asah and bara, interchangeably, for in Genesis 5:1 He says, “In the day that God created

[bara] man, in the likeness of God made [asah] he him.” And the Lord God says He made (asah) the earth and the heaven, whereas in Genesis 1:1 God created (bara) the earth and heaven. Genesis 2:4 tells us, “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created [bara] in the day that the Lord God made [asah] the earth and the heavens.” In Exodus 20:11, “For in six days the Lord made [asah] heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.” We must conclude, therefore, that asah is not to be translated “made to appear,” but simply “made” or “created.”

A number of serious theological questions arise if we accept the thesis that God remade the sun, moon and stars. Does that mean that He also remade man? And if He made man over, then was man pre-existent before Adam? If so, this pre-existent mortal was totally destroyed and God did not save a remnant; in other words, His first creation was a total failure. But can God fail? If so, must we be fearful that He is failing now? And what about the souls of the men who were eliminated in this gap judgment before verse 2? Were they living souls condemned to hell? We may forego such questions if we remember the Bible’s clear statement that Adam was created as the first man. In fact, because the first Adam, though created perfect, fell, Christ, the second Adam, came to save.

Since many gap theorists place most of the fossil record in the gap between Genesis 1:1 & 1:2, serious problems arise for them concerning the Flood. If any evidence of this gap judgment survived today in fossil remains of animals and plants buried by a cataclysm after Genesis 1:1, one could not affirm the occurrence of the worldwide Flood inGenesis 6,7 & 8. This catastrophe would probably erase most of the evidence of any previous cataclysm and rearrange the fossils so that one could not separate the fossils and determine which were from the gap judgment and which were from the Flood judgment without limiting the effects of the Flood. In light of this, it seems contradictory to place the fossil record in the gap and thereby deny another portion of Scripture, namely the universal Flood.

The gap theory requires cataclysmic judgment upon sin in order to produce an earth “without form, and void”(Genesis 1:2). Heretofore we have considered judgment upon pre-Adamic man; however the gap theory at times assigns the cause to the fall of Satan. That is, Satan was ejected from heaven and was cast to the earth, supposedly causing judgment upon it. We read a description of this fall in Ezekiel 28, beginning with verse 12, and in Isaiah 14, beginning with verse 12. God says that Lucifer was a created being, the “anointed cherub that covereth” (Ezekiel 28:14). He was perfect from the day of his creation until the day that iniquity was found in him. Satan at one point decided that he himself would like to be the recipient of worship. He decided in his heart that he was as high as God:“I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). He worshipped himself rather than God and placed himself before the Word of God. Satan was created perfect, but he fell.

The Biblical statement concerning Satan’s fall is quite clear, but keeping in mind the gap theory’s contention, let us turn to Genesis 2:1. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” The “host of heaven” refers to two things in Scripture: stars and angels (cf. Nehemiah 9:6, Revelation 12:4). Throughout the Psalms,Job, and several other books the “host of heaven” is repeatedly referred to as angels. In addition, the Bible tells us that angels rejoiced at the creation, but it does not say which particular stage of the creation. In Genesis 2:1 God finished the heavens and the earth and all the host of them, which would include the angels’ creation within that six day event.Exodus 20:11 concurs, explaining that God “made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is” – including angels – in six days. Affirming, then, that angels (including Lucifer) were part of the six-day creative process, we find God saying in Genesis 1:31 that He saw “everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” If God saw everything that He had made, He saw Satan. But if we accept this aspect of the gap theory, we would have to say that god beheld all that He had made, and, behold, every thing was very good – except Satan. In terms of the conclusion to this Genesis chapter, any evidence of sin on the earth or in heaven would transform God into a liar. And He does not say His creation is just good, but “very good.” In other words, Satan could not have fallen before the end of the sixth day.

Scripture itself does not seem to validate the gap theory’s argument that the fall of Satan and his followers, who were“cast . . . to the earth” (Revelation 12:4), fashioned an earth of darkness, without form and void. In fact, a full reading of Revelation 12 (cf. verse 9) speaks again of Satan being “cast out into the earth,” but this is yet a future event. Since his fall Satan has argued with God over the tempting of Job and debated with Michael over the body of Moses, and at present he has access to the heavens as the accuser of the brethren to Jesus Christ, the Christian’s advocate with the Father. Scripture fails to support any view that Satan’s fall caused a cataclysm, whether past or future.

By |April 3rd, 2015|Bible Studies for HomeSchoolers|Comments Off on Teaching High School HomeSchoolers about Creation: The Gap Theory

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