There are many versions of the gap scenario. The more freewheeling models consist of a world that preexisted before Genesis 1:2, which was inhabited by soulless, manlike creatures. These manlike creatures are the supposed pre-Adamic fossils that are being unearthed today. The world was destroyed by God's judgment and this is what laid down the vast beds of strata. Therefore, in this model of the gap the flood of Noah is a local event. Once again believing in a gap does not necessarily mean that you must accept all the baggage that comes with that particular interpretation.
Although the gap is Biblical a non-belief in the gap does not makes you a heretic. To be ultimately saved requires a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:14-17). Many people down through history have fulfilled the requirement for salvation without ever having considered the gap (Hebrew 11:38-40).
Is everything only a few thousand
years old - or much older?
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What are the common objections to the Gap theory?
Several major objections argue for no gap of time between Genesis 1 the first and second verse.
The gap theory is a new interpretation: Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) and Cyrus I. Scofield (1843-1921) developer of the Scofield Reference Bible popularized this idea. It has only been popular for the last 190 years. It was introduced after geologic evidence indicated that the planet was very old.
The Bible does not support a gap: A gap can only exist in the first two verses of Genesis by violating the linguistics and the intent of the scriptures.
There was no sin before Adam: There was no death prior to sin, and Adam brought sin. All fossils - dead things - are post Adamic.
The Eternal called the creation good: If the planet were built on the dead remains of a past, old world how could God proclaim, "it was good."
Angels were created on the first day: Angels have no prehistory before the creation week, therefore angels and humans are chronological contemporaries.
The above listing is not inclusive of all the objections that the YECs have leveled against the gap model, but they are the most common and often used. All of these major objections and a few minor objections are going to be examined in detail to see if they really can be used to counter a belief in the gap.
Is the model a recent invention?
The YECs believe that the gap model is a recent invention. According to them it originally was proposed to help counter the rising influence of modern uniformitarianism based geology that was coming to the forefront during the 1800s and 1900s.
In essence it was proposed not for Biblical reason but it was proposed as a compromise. Consider the following quote from a Young Earth believer:
The Grand Canyon
"The modern gap theory was proposed in 1814 by Thomas Chalmers, a leading Scottish theologian. Some geologists of his day had argued that the earth was much older than Genesis implies. Chalmers, therefore, proposed the gap theory to harmonize Genesis with the demands of those geologists. There is no clear record of anyone prior to 1814 interpreting Genesis 1:1-2 in this way. " (Brown W. In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood)
Is it true that the gap theory is of recent origin? The answer is a resounding - NO! The gap model is old and has had a long and distinguished history. Many ancient Hebrew and Biblical scholars support it. Consider the following quotes from Arthur C. Custance's writings. These quotes are from his book Without Form and Void, chapter one entitled: A Long-held View. Notice how these dates are much older than the mid-1814 date.
"Jewish commentators made the discovery, but their early literature (the Midrash for example) reveals that they had some intimation of an early pre-Adamic catastrophe affecting the whole earth. The truth is, as we shall see, that the idea of a once ordered world having been brought to ruin as a consequence of divine judgment just prior to the creation of Adam, was apparently quite widespread. It was not debated: it was merely held by some and not by others. Those who held it referred to it and built up arguments upon it without apparently feeling the need to apologize for believing as they did, nor for explaining the grounds for their faith." (page 2)
"Hugo St. Victor was a Flemish scholar and a member of the Augustinian Monastery of St. Victor and later Prior of the monastery in Paris. He wrote: "Perhaps enough has already been debated about these matters thus far, if we add only this, 'how long did the world remain in this disorder before the regular re-ordering (disposition) of it was taken in hand? For the fact that the first substance of all things arose at the very beginning of time - or rather, with time itself - is settled by the statement that, 'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth'. But how long it continued in this state of confusion. Scripture does not clearly show." (page 12)
"And even more specific was the most learned of all medieval commentators on Genesis, Pererius (1535 - 1610) who wrote: "Even though before the first day, the heavens and the elements were made subsequent to the substance (ie., basic essence of creative activity) nevertheless they were not perfected and completely furnished until the period of the six days: for then was given to them (their) furnishing, (their) fulfillment (filling up), and (their) completion. However, just how long that darkened state of the world lasted, ie., whether it lasted more than one day or less than one day, this is not clear to me. . ." (Page 14, Custance, Arthur C. Without Form and Void a Study of the Meaning of Genesis 1:2. Doorway Pub. 1989)
The claim often is that competent scholars do not support the gap because the gap is extra-Biblical. Many Biblical and Hebraic scholars support the gap model.
Alfred Edersheim was born in Vienna to Jewish parents. He was well educated in the Talmudic traditions of his parent's faith. After conversion to Christianity, he became a minister and then eventually a Church of England Vicar. This position as both a Jewish and Christian scholar made him an authority on Biblical subjects. He also had an extensive knowledge of the Judean/Roman culture of the first century.
Edersheim wrote extensively and authored many books, two of his most popular are: The Temple: It's Ministry And Services
, Bible History: Old Testament
. He was also well studied and fluent in Hebrew. In his book Bible History: Old Testament
which is a 7 volume set he states the following in Volume 1:
Bible translations indicate the planet was
created but became barren and desolate.
"Then, in the second verse, we find earth described as it was at the close of the last great revolution, preceding the present state of things: "And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." An almost indefinite space of time, and many changes, may therefore have intervened between the creation of heaven and earth, as mentioned in ver. 1, and the chaotic state of our earth, as described in ver. 2. As for the exact date of the first creation, it may be safely affirmed that we have not yet the knowledge sufficient to arrive at any trustworthy conclusion. "
Another Biblical Scholar was Robert Jamieson. In 1871 along with two other scholars, he published a commentary on the Bible. In this monumental work, under the heading Old Testament Genesis Chapter 1; The creation of Heaven and Earth, the following comments appear:
"'In the beginning' - period of remote and unknown antiquity, hid in the depths of eternal ages; and so the phrase is used in Proverbs 8:22,23.
"the earth was without form and void" - or in "confusion and emptiness," as the words are rendered in Isaiah 34:11. This globe, at some undescribed period, having been convulsed and broken up, was a dark and watery waste for ages perhaps, till out of this chaotic state, the present fabric of the world was made to arise.
"the Spirit of God moved" - literally, continued brooding over it, as a fowl does, when hatching eggs. The immediate agency of the Spirit, by working on the dead and discordant elements, combined, arranged, and ripened them into a state adapted for being the scene of a new creation. The account of this new creation properly begins at the end of this second verse; and the details of the process are described in the natural way an onlooker would have done, who beheld the changes that successively took place. "
Alfred Edersheim and Robert Jamieson are only a few of the many well-known scholars that support the gap. The reason that these scholars and many others are in agreement with a gap model is because the scriptures support a time period between verse 1 and 2. YEC's claims that no competent scholars support the gap are not true!
One word makes all the difference
The original Hebrew and the historical context of the rest of the Bible has led those who believe in a gap to conclude that an unspecified time period exists between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. The YECs disagree with this view and translate the first two verses as follows:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." (Genesis 1:1-2)
According to this view, the heavens and all things that exist were created on the first day of the creation week and are not very old. The Old Earth Creationists, on the other hand, believe that the planet preexisted, became disordered, and then recreated after verse two. They believe that the original meaning of verse two supports this concept. They translate the first two verses as follows:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth became without form, and void (indicating confused and disordered); and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." (Genesis 1:1-2)
The crux of the difference is the small English word in verse two - WAS! Was the earth created on the first day of the week? Was it in a new but unformed state in verse two as the YECs say? On the other hand, did the planet have a prehistory and become a cosmic wasteland as stated by the Old Earth Creationists. The difference of opinion between the two rests on a proper understanding of the linguistics of verse two.
The Hebrew word in question is the word hayah
. In the Bible this word, a verb, has been translated; was, come to pass, came, has been, were, happened, become, pertained, better for thee. A popular Hebrew lexicon says the following about the various uses and definitions of this word:
hayah (#1961) - was, to happen, fall out, occur, take place, to come about, come to pass, to become, to become like, to be instituted, be established, to exist, be in existence, to abide, remain, continue, to stand, lie, be in, be at, be situated, to occur, be done, be brought about, to be done, be finished, be gone. (Brown F. Driver S. Briggs C. Hebrew and English Lexicon)
On the fourth day of re-creation God
allowed the sun, moon and stars to be visible
Many volumes and papers have been written about the confusion that this one small word has caused in the creation field. The easiest way to see how this word can be used in Genesis 1:2 is to see how it has been used in parallel verses in other parts of the Bible. A good example of the use of the word hayah in a parallel verse is Genesis 4:2:
"And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground." (Genesis 4:2, KJV)
Make note of how these two verses compare in their essential structure:
" . . . the heaven and the earth. And the earth was (hayah) without form, and void. . . " (Genesis 1:2)
" . . . bare his brother Abel. And Abel was (hayah) a keeper of sheep. . . " (Genesis 4:2)
In both sentences the first sentence ends with a noun (earth / Abel), which completes the sentence. In the second sentence both begin with the word "And." Then the original noun repeats. Then this repeated noun is followed by the word "was" - hayah. In every way the grammar and structure of both sentences is identical. Obviously upon examining Genesis 4:2 it is understood that Abel was not born a keeper of sheep and that over the course of time he became a keeper of sheep. In this sense hayah could be translated ". . . and Abel became (hayah) a keeper of sheep. . . " It therefore follows that verse two of Genesis 1 can be translated as follows:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth became (hayah) without form, and void (indicating confused and disordered); and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2)
Other examples of this principle, where the word hayah has been translated was and more properly means a change in state (became), occurs in the following verses:
"And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was (became - hayah) the mother of all living." (Genesis 3:20)
"And Adah bore Jabal. He was (became - hayah) the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock." (Genesis 4:20)
Context is everything
Many competent scholars on both sides of the Genesis 1 controversy admit that hayah can be exegetically translated was or became. The final choice of which is a better translation depends on the context of what was happening at that particular time. The irony is that the word hayah appears in the second verse of the Bible when the context has not yet been determined or is unclear. Notice that in the two quotes below, one from a YEC viewpoint and the other from an Old Earth viewpoint, that both admit that context is an important if not the deciding factor.
"However, recognized grammarians, lexicographers, and linguists have almost uniformly rejected the translations 'became' and 'had become'. It is a basic exegetical fallacy to claim that because Strong's Concordance lists 'became' as one of the meanings of haya, it is legitimate to translate it this way in the particular context of Genesis 1:2. " (Grigg R. From the beginning of creation: does Genesis have a gap? Creation Magazine. 19:2:34-38. March-May 1997.)
"Some scholars propose that Genesis 1:2 can or should be translated "Now the earth became without form, and void . . ." as opposed to the common rendering "The earth was without form, and void . . ." Others dismiss this idea entirely. They assume the original Hebrew word hayah must be translated "was" and then assume the earth was originally created in this disorderly way. . . However, as can be seen from many Bible helps, both translations of the term are possible. Only the context of the chapter and book can determine which one is correct. Gleason Archer, professor of biblical languages, comments: "It should be noted in this connection that the verb was in Genesis 1:2 may quite possibly be rendered 'became' and be construed to mean: 'And the earth became formless and void.' Only a cosmic catastrophe could account for the introduction of chaotic confusion into the original perfection of God's creation. This interpretation certainly seems to be exegetically tenable . . ." (A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Moody Press, Chicago, 1974, p. 184) "
Since there seems to be so much confusion regarding the context of this verse it is proper that an examination of the scriptures be made to determine the Biblical and historical context of what occurred in relation to these two verses.
Sin BEFORE Adam
The YECs believe that there was no sin before Adam. Sin brought death and since Adam was created on the fifth day of the creation week (Genesis 1:26-27, 31) then death could not exist before Adam. If there was no death before Adam then fossils, which are old buried dead animals that were laid down in beds of strata before Adam should not exist. If the pre-Adamic world was full of buried fossils, then how could God pronounce the earth "good" during the end of each of the successive creation days? In essence, he would be pronouncing death as "good."
First, the concept that there was no sin before Adam's sin is incorrect. There indeed was sin before the sin of our first human parents.
Sin is the breaking of God's law. It is often termed lawlessness or iniquity. Sometimes sin is equated with breaking of the Ten Commandments. At other times, it is the breaking of God's intent or will as defined by his writings or oral commands. Sin involves pride and disobedience.
"Everyone who practices sin is also practicing lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness." (1John 3:4, Holy Bible in Its Original Order - A Faithful Version (HBFV))
Adam and Eve driven out of Eden.
Were they the FIRST sinners?
Sin leads to death. It may be delayed or it may be immediate but sin always leads to death. Without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we cannot be freed from the penalty of sin.
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23, HBFV)
Satan is a sinner. Satan was a sinner from the beginning. His was originally a created archangel named Lucifer, which means, "light bringer." Later pride and vanity caused him to sin and his name became Satan, meaning "adversary." In the following verse, he suffers from two hideous sins, lying, and murder.
"You are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you desire to practice. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has not stood in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he is speaking from his own self; for he is a liar, and the father of it." (John 8:44, HBFV)
Satan sinned before Adam and Eve ate of the tree of the knowledge of "Good and Evil". Therefore, sin preceded Adam. Humanity although sinful did not originate sin, sin was alive and well before Adam. Although the following verse notes the first recorded lie, which would be a sin, undoubtedly Satan was an experienced sinner by this time. In verse one below, the word cunning (NKJV) or subtle (KJV) is the Hebrew word aruwm (Strong's Concordance #6175) - examining a lexicon it will be shown that the word denotes: crafty, shrewd, or sly in a bad sense. When Satan approached Eve, he was in a competitive attitude, he uttered lies and therefore it is obvious that sin did not originate with humans. He told Eve she would not die if she disobeyed God. Satan lied!
"Now the serpent was more cunning than any creature of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Is it true that God has said, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?' "
"And the woman said to the serpent, "We may freely eat the fruit of the trees of the garden, But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.' "
"And the serpent said to the woman, "In dying, you shall not surely die! For God knows that in the day you eat of it, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be like God, deciding? good and evil."" (Genesis 3:1-5, HBFV)
What if Adam was not the first sinner? What if Satan was the first sinner, then sin and death would have originated with Satan. Adam simply followed in his spiritual father's footsteps. As an aside, if Satan was the originator of sin and he sinned before Adam, then we would expect the earth to be full of old fossils that died as the result of Satan's sin. In other words the fossil evidence indicates that Satan had sinned long before man since the pre-Genesis 1:3 world is covered with much fossil filled stratum.
What do ANGELS have to do with creation?
The history of Satan and his angels has much to do with the creation (in reality, recreation) account found in the Bible. As mentioned in the previous sections of this article Satan is a very powerful entity. He does exist and he greatly influences the course of this world. He is called the god of this world and he controls the kingdoms of this earth (Daniel 10:12-13, 20). He was given control of the earth. The coming Kingdom which will be an earth ruling kingdom is going to wrest control of the earth from Satan and will deliver it up to the saints (Daniel 7:27).
"But if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those who are perishing; In whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (2Corinthians 4:4, HBFV)
"Now is the judgment of this world. Now shall the prince of this world be cast out." (John 12:31, HBFV)
The first chapter of the book of John actually predates Genesis. It shows that in the past before the creation of Satan, the angelic host, and the physical universe only God existed: the Father and the Son. The Son is referred to as the "Word" the logos that spoke things into existence in Colossians and Genesis. One Greek lexicon defines the word logos: "the Minister of Creation" - the Spokesman. Jesus Christ as the creator of the Old Testament spoke or commanded Satan into existence!
"In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and not even one thing that was created came into being without Him." (John 1:1-3, HBFV)
Ark of the Covenant model with covering
cherubs. Satan was at one time at God's throne.
The Old Testament book of Ezekiel, chapter 28, describes the spiritual career of Satan. It illustrates when he was originally created he was perfect in wisdom and beauty. He was one of the cherubs that covered the throne of God with his wings. This is typified by the lid, which covered the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:17-22). This lid often termed the mercy seat, where the High Priest went to obtain mercy in God's presence, had two angels covering it with their outstretched wings.
After his creation, Satan served at God's governmental seat. He then sinned and iniquity was found in him. After his sin, the Almighty cast him from heaven.
"How you are fallen from the heavens, O shining star, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart, ‘I will ascend into the heavens, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High.' Yet you shall be brought down to the grave, to the sides of the pit." (Isaiah 14:12-15, HBFV)
Jesus Christ states that Satan was assigned to the earth and that he had a throne. A throne signifies rule or a commission and a kingdom to rule over. He then ascended - "above the heights of the clouds", which cover the earth - up to heaven in order to lead a rebellion to take over God's throne. Satan wanted to rule over the stars, which were angels that were loyal to God. Because of this war in heaven, Satan and his demons got cast out of heaven back to the earth from which they came.
"And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth . . . "
"And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels warred against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels warred. But they did not prevail, neither was their place found any more in heaven." (Revelation 12:4, 7-8, HBFV)
Because of this attempted rebellion by Satan and one third of the angels, the earth was wrecked. The war in heaven left telltale evidence scattered throughout the planet's surface and the solar system.
There is ample evidence of ancient catastrophic events in the solar system. These include but are not limited to the following: the craters on the moon, the rings of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Jupiter, the asteroid belt which is the complete shattering of another planet, the erratic orbit of Pluto, and Uranus' smaller moon, Miranda, being shattered and then reformed.
A spiritual war, started by
Satan, brought chaos
Evidence of a catastrophe
There is much biblical evidence that reveals that a catastrophe has occurred between the first two verses of Genesis one. A proper understanding of what is written in the second verse will help us to see that there has been a previous catastrophe before the recreation account in Genesis.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was (hayah-became) without form (tohu - confusion), and void (bohuw - empty); and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. " (Genesis 1:1-2)
An examination of a couple of verses where these two words tohuw and bohuw are used will be helpful. The first is in Isaiah where God likens the original destruction of the planet to the chaotic state of the nation of Israel. Israel was in a state of confusion (tohuw). He is revealing two principles by this scripture. First, the earth was not originally created in a state of confusion or vanity (tohuw) it therefore became that way. In the same sense the nation of Israel was not originally created in a state of confusion but it also had become that way (note all of Isaiah 45). Just as God had saved and recreated the earth from its original confused and chaotic state so he was going to save Israel from its confused and chaotic state.
"But Israel shall be saved by the LORD with an everlasting salvation. You shall not be ashamed nor disgraced even into the ages of eternity, For thus says the LORD the Creator of the heavens, He Himself is God, Who formed the earth and made it; He has established it. He created it not in vain (tohu), but formed it to be inhabited. 'I am the LORD, and there is no other.' (Isaiah 45:17-18, HBFV)
Another clue that the planet was in a state of destruction is found in the second part of Genesis 1:2. This verse shows that the globe had been covered in a deep mantle of water. It was not until verse ten that dry land appeared. God used water as a judgment in the time of Noah when He sent a flood to destroy wicked men.
". . . and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters." (Genesis 1:2)
"But this fact is hidden from them - they themselves choosing to ignore it - that by the Word of God the heavens existed of old, and the earth came forth out of water and amid water, By which the world at that time, having been deluged with water, had itself been destroyed. But the present heavens and earth are being held in store by His Word, and are being reserved for fire in the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly." (2Peter 3:5-7, HBFV)
Evidence from the Bible indicates that the account of creation is simply a re-creation account. The arguments of the Old Earth creationists are not generally accepted because of the need for vast amounts of time. The Gap theory, which has a long history, derives from a proper understanding of the chronological events of Biblical history. It should be taken into account when determining how old the earth is. God has a plan, and part of that plan was re-creating the earth for inhabitance by man.