Home > Creation Apologetics > 36 Difficulties With The Gap Theory

36 Difficulties With The Gap Theory

36 Difficulties With The Gap Theory

Don Stewart

[PMI DISCLAIMER: While the PMI Center for Biblical Studies uses the King James Bible only, we publish other work as it originally appears].

Though there are many good Bible believing Christians who accept the Gap Theory, there are some serious problems with this point of view that make it difficult, if not impossible, to accept.

1. No Mention Of Creation

To begin with, it is hard to imagine that the entire creation of the universe is passed over in only one verse and the bulk of the record deals with re-creation. According to the Gap Theory, there is no clear word from God concerning the original creation. Nothing is known as to the order of events or its history.

2. Not The Historical View

Furthermore, the historical view of Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Protestant interpreters is that Genesis is the account of God’s original creation of the universe. The Gap Theory holds that only one verse, Genesis 1:1, describes the original creation. The Gap Theory dilutes the majestic account in Genesis of God’s creation.

3. Genesis Is Not A Cryptic Account

Genesis 1 is written as a straightforward account of God’s creation – not some cryptic record. If God had meant to inform us of a gap between the first two verses, He could have clearly done that. There is nothing in the Genesis creation account that requires or even hints at a gap. Something has to be read into the account that is not obviously there.

4. No Earlier Creation Taught Anywhere

There is no verse of Scripture that teaches there was an earlier creation. If there were a creation before Genesis 1:2, there should be at least one verse that explicitly says that. But there is none.

5. Contrary To Scripture

Not only are there no explicit verses about a previous creation, the Scripture argues against this idea. Genesis 2:3,4 which sums up the previous chapter of God’s work says:

Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens (Genesis 2:3,4).

This is creation, not re-creation. Thus, the context itself speaks of creation rather than re-creation. 

Heaven

Also mentioned in Genesis 2:3,4 is the creation of the heavens. What was completed in the six days was not just the work of God upon the earth but also heaven. They were created during the six days, not long before it.

In addition, Exodus 20:11 says:

For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.

This passage does not say that God created the heavens and the earth before the first day as the Gap Theory teaches but rather in six days. All that is in heaven was created in six days. Everything.

6. No Direct Statement Of Judgment

There is no direct statement anywhere is Scripture that a divine judgment occurred between the first two verses in Genesis. While Scripture, at various times, does speak of God’s judgment on the angels and the earth, there are no passages that speaks of it being before the creation narrative in Genesis 1:1-31. Those who hold the Gap Theory must read this into the passage.

7. No Death Before Sin

The Gap Theory says that millions of animals lived and died not only before Adam, but also before the fall of Satan. But how could there be death in a sinless world? The Bible says that death was a result of sin:

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men (Romans 5:12).

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:21).

The Bible also says that the groaning and travailing in pain of the animal kingdom (Romans 8:20-22) is a result from the Edenic curse after Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden.

8. God Made The World Very Good

At the end of creation we are told, ‘God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good.’ In this verse we have two superlatives: ‘everything’ and ‘very good.’ This could hardly be said if a part of the world had already been destroyed and if the angels had fallen into sin. The Gap Theory builds our present world on the ruins of a former one. How could it be very good?

In addition, the angels, as well as the rest of creation, were seemingly still in a state of perfection at the end of the sixth day. Everything was perfect everywhere.

9. Death A Result Of Adam’s Sin

Humanity was created to have dominion over creation (Psalm 8, Hebrews 2:5-8). It was not until they deliberately rejected God’s commandment that sin first appeared on earth. The judgment upon humanity and the animal kingdom was a result of Adam’s sin – there was no death before this time of humans or animals. The Bible says.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned – (Romans 5:12).

The Bible does not restrict death from sin to human death. Sin brought death to the animal world as well. The Bible is clear that creation was made subject to futility – it was not created that way.

for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope (Romans 8:20).

10. Darkness Not Necessarily Evil

The Bible does not teach that physical darkness is always equated with evil. The psalmist wrote.

You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl (Psalm 104:20)

Genesis 1:2 records the darkened state of the earth before the creation of the sun or before the light from the sun came through. It should not be assumed to refer to something evil. Of necessity, there would have been darkness before light. It was only later in Scripture that darkness was used as a symbol of evil. There is nothing evil suggested in the context of Genesis.

The idea is that there was darkness before light merely shows that creation was in progress. The Bible says there was an evening, and hence darkness, at all six days of creation (Genesis 1:5,8,13, 18-19). There is no statement anywhere of God’s disapproval of the darkness.

Darkness can symbolize evil, yet darkness itself is not evil. The Gap Theory confuses the symbol with the thing symbolized.

11. Plants And Animals

The Gap Theory teaches that the plants and animals of the previous world were destroyed and fossilized. This means that they could not be genetically related to the plants and animals of the present world. Yet the majority of the fossilized plants and animals are identical in form to their modern counterparts. How can this be without any direct line of descent?

12. Too Much Made Out Of The Hebrews Conjunction Waw

The Hebrew word waw, usually translated and is a simple conjunction. Gap Theorists attempt to make it a word that indicates a strong contrast to that which was previously stated. Yet it is merely the simple term for and. Waw is used thousands of times in the Old Testament without emphasizing anything important. To make it important in Genesis 1:2 is inconsistent with its overall usage. A crucial doctrine should not be based upon this one word.

Instead of but the verse should read something like now the earth was . . .

Consequently, there is no grammatical reason to have a break between the verses.

13. Was Or Became?

Those who attempt to translate the verb hayah became in Genesis 1:2 do so without much justification. The normal rendering of the word is was. Most scholars testify that the translation of became in this passage is doubtful, if not impossible to uphold. Therefore, to base this theory on a suspect translation is wrong from the start.

Septuagint

Though in some instances the Septuagint translators rendered the verb hayah as became they did not render it such in Genesis 1:2. This demonstrates that they understood the word to mean was and not became. There should be a compelling reason for translating it became here. However, nothing in the text suggests this translation. It comes from a desire to harmonize science and Scripture

Hence, the burden of proof is upon those who would make the word say anything different than how it is usually (or most often) understood.

Bernard Ramm comments on the Gap Theorist attempt to make crucial points about the Hebrew words for and and was.

The entire interpretation of geology and Genesis is made to hinge on secondary meanings of two Hebrew words. To indicate that in some cases waw may mean but, and that hayah means became, does not give full warrant to insert these meanings in Genesis 1:2 and require all geology to conform (Bernard Ramm, The Christian View of Science And Scripture, Eerdmans, 1954, p. 139).

14. Unformed And Unfilled

The phrase tohu wa bohu, translated without form and void does not necessarily assume some type of judgment as the Gap Theory supposes. The phrase can mean unformed and unfilled. It is a neutral term describing God’s unfinished creation. The early earth was at a stage that was not ready for humanity and the rest of creation. That which was previously unformed was then formed and filled by the Creator. The words do not necessitate judgment as has been contended – it merely describes the earth in an undeveloped state. On the first day, the water was covering the land mass. There was no dry land and no people. The earth had been neither formed nor filled.

15. No Context Of Judgment In Creation Account

Furthermore, the meaning of the expression tohu wa bohu, in Isaiah 34:11 and Jeremiah 4:23, often cited as proof for the Gap Theory, does not necessarily mean chaos as Gap Theorists argue. The details in the context of Isaiah 34 and Jeremiah 4, where the phrase tohu wa bohu is used, make judgment clear. The context of Genesis is not one of judgment. It is not proper to read the circumstances of judgment in Isaiah and Jeremiah back into Genesis where no judgment is required, or even hinted at.

16. In The Beginning

Jesus did not seem to believe there was any gap of time from the original creation to the creation of Adam.

But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female (Mark 10:6).

He made them male and female at the beginning, not after a gap of billions of years.

17. Isaiah 45

Isaiah 45:18 is more of an argument against the Gap Theory. It says that God did not create the universe in vain. This means He considered His creation to be good as Genesis 1:31 states.

18. Jeremiah 4

The context of Jeremiah 4 has nothing to do with the original creation. In context, the passage is about the destruction of the Holy Land, not the entire earth. The one looking at this is Jeremiah the prophet. It is much more in context to have him looking forward to a destruction, not looking back. In addition, this passage speaks of survivors after the judgment. There would have been no survivors of the judgment that the Gap Theory proposes.

19. Isaiah 24:1

The statement in Isaiah 24:1 does not deal with the original creation in Genesis. The previous verses referred to the destruction of Babylon and Tyre while the following verses refer to the destruction of the Holy Land.

20. No Parallel Principle

The gap principle that finds itself in other Old Testament passages, is not parallel to Genesis. The other passages containing gaps are all prophetic. There are none that deal with what has happened in history. Thus, there is no parallel between the first two verses of Genesis and other portions of Scripture where a gap is clearly taught.

21. Created And Made

The distinction made between the Hebrew words for created and made is not valid. Contrary to the Gap Theory, the words can be used interchangeably. John Whitcomb comments:

Genesis 1:21 states that ‘God created [bara] the great sea-monsters . . .’ while verse 25 states that God made [asah] the beasts of the earth . . . Surely we are not to think that the sea creatures were directly created on the fifth day, but land animals were merely ‘appointed’ or ‘made to appear’ on the sixth day! All those who hold that bara and ‘asah cannot be used on the same kind of divine activity are faced with a serious difficulty here. In fact, the difficulty is so severe that the New Scofield Reference Bible, in support of this distinction, suggests that the beasts which were made on the sixth day (vs. 25) were actually created on the fifth day (p. 2, note #2)! (John Whitcomb, The Early Earth, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1972, p. 128).

In addition, we have the two words, bara and asah, used side by side for the same act, the creation of man in Genesis 2:7. They are also used synonymously in Genesis 1:26 and 2:4 where both terms describe the same event.

22. Ezekiel 28 And The Fall Of Satan

Ezekiel 28, rather than referring to the earthly Garden of Eden, more likely speaks of a heavenly place. Satan was cast out of the Garden of Eden to the ground (Ezekiel 28:16). The Eden Ezekiel speaks of is not a garden of trees and flowers but composed of precious stones and stones of fire (Ezekiel 28:13,14,16). This is similar to the description of the Holy City in heaven (Revelation 21:10-21).

May Not Be His Fall

This text may have been a reference to the fall of Satan but it is ambiguous at best. We should not attempt to build doctrines on difficult passages – particularly ones that are highly poetic. Even if it did describe Satan’s original fall there is no reason to insert it between the first two verses of Genesis.

23. Time Of Judgment Of Angels Is Not Specified

The passages in Scripture that speak of God’s judgment of the rebellious angels (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6) do not place the judgment before the creation account in Genesis 1:2-31. No specific time is given for their rebellion.

24. Enough Time For Angelic Rebellion

There certainly was time for the angelic rebellion to take place after day six of creation and before the Fall of humanity in Genesis three. Even if only one day passed from the sixth day of creation and the fall, it is certainly enough time for the angels to rebel and be judged. God judgment would have been instantaneous.

In addition, angels live in a different dimension than us. Time for them is not necessarily the same as for us. Consequently there was sufficient time, from our perspective, for them to fall.

25. Hebrews 4:3

The idea that Hebrews 4:3 refers to the downfall of the world, the catastrophe of Genesis 1:2, is not supported by the evidence. The Greek word katabola means foundation or beginning, not downfall.

26. God’s Failure

The Gap Theory must also assume there was a prior creation, lasting millions of years, that closely resembled the present creation. This creation, however, ended in failure. The animals of the previous creation did not fulfill God’s original purpose – so He destroyed them. In addition, in the second creation, God made the plants and actly like the first ones.

Furthermore, since Adam and Eve were the first man and woman, this prior creation lacked God’s crown of creation – humanity.

Therefore the Gap Theory would have God failing twice: first, His purpose was not accomplished in the animal and plant kingdom; second, He failed to crown His creation with man. This is inconsistent with God’s nature – one that does not fail to accomplish His purposes.

27. No Pre-Adamic Human-like Creatures

Although Gap Theorists contend that pre-Adamic human-like creatures existed, there is no biblical warrant for this. The Bible knows nothing about such people.

28. Why Create Light Again?

If the sun, moon, and stars were part of the original creation in Genesis 1:1, then why did God have to create light (Genesis 1:3). There would have been light for the entire time of the alleged gap.

29. Contradicts Modern Unbelieving Geology

Although Gap theorists attempt to harmonize Genesis with modern geology, the proposed harmonization will not work. Modern geology is based upon the idea of uniformitarianism – all processes that we observe today have continued at the same rate from the beginning. Since the present rates are the same as the past, there is no room for a worldwide catastrophe. The geological ages cannot be separated from the theory of evolution.

30. No Connection Between Geology And Genesis

Because Genesis involves a re-creation, and the present-day fossils belong to a destroyed world, there can be no correlation between Scripture and geology. The Bible, therefore, has absolutely nothing to say about this subject. Therefore it is entirely in the hands of geologists, and we, of necessity, must believe what they tell us about the geological record.

31. Discounts Genesis Flood

If the present-day fossils are a result of a Luciferic flood that happened between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, then one must assume that Noah’s Flood left no trace whatsoever. The fossil evidence can better be explained by a Flood that we know existed rather than a flood in which Scripture does not mention.

32. Not Replenish

The word translated replenish in the King James Version is the Hebrew verb maleh. It means to fill. It is the same word used in Genesis 1:22 fill the waters. It has no idea of replenish. All modern translations render this word as fill. In 16th century Elizabethan English replenish meant to fill completely, not fill again.

33. No Judgment On Earth

There is no passage in Scripture that teaches that God judged the earth because of the sin of the angel who became the devil. Furthermore, why would God kill the inhabitants of the earth for an angel who sinned? The Bible continually stresses that God is a righteous God.

Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right? (Genesis 18:25).

Judging the earth for a sin of an angel who lived in the heavenly realm does not make sense.

34. Recent Idea

Finally, it must be pointed out that the Gap Theory is a relatively recent idea. It was first popularized in 1814 by Thomas Chalmers in an attempt to reconcile Genesis with long geological ages. The geological studies of the 19th century were at odds with a recent creation. The Gap Theory gave the Bible the needed time that the geologists said was necessary for the earth to come to its present state.

In the twentieth century, the footnotes of the Scofield Reference Bible, advocating the Gap Theory, caused it to become enormously popular among the laity. Yet before this time it was hardly ever considered a possibility by interpreters of Genesis. It is only when modern science taught that the age of the earth was, at least, millions of years old, did the Gap Theory become popular.

When the new discipline of geology was claiming long ages for the earth, many Bible students, with no way of scientifically refuting these claims, accepted the long ages of the earth.

Rather than admitting that the Bible taught something different, the Genesis creation account was then reinterpreted in light of the claims of geology. One of the ways that Genesis was reinterpreted was to find a gap between the first two verses of the Bible. However, until modern geology came on the scene, no one proposed a gap between these verses.

35. Gap Theory Is Self-Defeating

There is a major dilemma for the Gap Theory. If the judgment of God with His Luciferic flood rapidly created the entire fossil record that we now find, then there is no evidence for geologic ages as Gap theorists believe. But if there were no geologic ages, there is no need to argue for large amounts of time as the theory of evolution, and the Gap Theory, proposes. Thus the original need for the theory – to fit the long geological ages into the framework of the Bible – is done away with.

36. Wrong Way Of Looking At Subject

The Gap Theory is an example of the wrong way to look at issues of the Bible and science. The Bible should be the source that we use to interpret the scientific data, not vice versa. The Gap theory arose when modern science began to argue for an ancient earth and universe. It was an attempt to harmonize the lengthy time periods, or ages, with Genesis. The Gap Theory did not arise merely from a study of Scripture, it arose to solve the problem of the Bible and time. This fact alone should make the entire theory suspect.

Summary On Gap Theory

Though the Gap Theory attempts to solve the time problem and the fossil problem, it is beset with problems. First, something has to be read into the text that is not obviously there. There is not one verse in the Bible that explicitly teaches an earlier creation.

Also, the Gap Theory breaks the connection between the first two verses of the Bible where the text has no break. It builds our world on the ruins of a former world with no connection between the two. It leaves the original creation to just one verse. All of these problems make the theory highly suspect. Although those who hold to the Gap theory are well-meaning Bible believers, the facts, both biblical and scientific, do not justify this view. A better answer needs to be found.

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