What about the Gap Theory?
This is a question often asked at creation seminars. A good many well-meaning Bible-believing Christians hold to what is called the "Gap Theory" because of the popular belief that geologists provide undeniable evidence that the world is exceedingly old (i.e., 4.5 billion years). They do not accept evolution, and therefore claim to hold to a literal Genesis. This article will show that the typical "ruin/reconstruction" Gap Theory actually destroys the foundation of the work of the cross, by accepting the non-proven evolutionary geological time scale.
What is the Gap Theory?
A long period of time, perhaps millions or billions of years supposedly fits between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Although modern expressions of it are quite varied, Weston W. Fields in his book, Unformed and Unfilled (page 7) best summarize the traditional view, where he states:
In the far distant, dateless past God created a perfect heaven and perfect earth. Satan was ruler of the earth, which was peopled by a race of "men" without any souls. Eventually, Satan, who dwelled in a Garden of Eden composed of minerals (Ezekiel 28), rebelled by desiring to become like God (Isaiah 14). Because of Satan's fall, sin entered the universe and brought on the earth God's judgment in the form of a flood (indicated by the wafer of 1:2), and then a global ice age when the light and heat from the sun were somehow removed. All the plant, animal, and human fossils upon the earth today date from this "Lucifer's Flood" and do not bear any genetic relationship with the plants, animals and fossils living upon the earth today.
Mention should be made here that some modern advocates propose a Gap only for the purpose of attempting to account for Satan's fall. Many others hold it to allow for evolution and an old earth, thereby accepting both evolution of the previous world and creation of the present world.
Difficulties and Inconsistencies with the Gap Theory
1. The "Lucifer's Flood" concept destroys the reason the Gap Theory was first proposed.
Gap theorists accept the earth as very old (billions of years), because evolutionists claim that the fossil containing rocks were supposedly laid down over millions of years.
To account for the fossil record that is thus said to pre-date man, some Gap theorists propose that the fossil-containing sediments were formed by "Lucifer's Flood" (as described above) which supposedly occurred between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 millions of years ago due to the fall of Satan. By doing this, they are saying that the fossil record was formed by a catastrophe. But this means they have just destroyed the very reason they wanted a gap in the first place—the idea that the sediments were formed slowly over millions of years; thus the earth is very old. This is a major inconsistency.
Those who hold that the fossils record evolution over a long time ignore the fact that a catastrophe, which could wipe out all life and leave the earth dark and completely underwater, would destroy the fossil-bearing strata as well. In both scenarios, there is an insurmountable inconsistency.
2. The Flood of Noah's day must have been only a local or tranquil event.
If the fossil record is explained on the basis of either "Lucifer's Flood" or the evolutionary ages, then the flood of Noah's day must have left virtually no trace. Thus, Noah's flood must have been just a local event or a tranquil flood that did no geologic work. This is the reason most ardent Gap theorists insist Noah's flood was just a local event.
However, Genesis depicts Noah's flood as a catastrophic event that covered the whole world. It was not a local flood, and it certainly was not a tranquil event. (Read Genesis 6-9.) If the Gap theorist wants to explain the fossil record with a catastrophe, why not do it with one the Bible does talk about (Noah's flood) rather than one it doesn't talk about ("Lucifer's Flood")?
3. There is much scientific evidence indicating a young earth.
The true Gap theorist also ignores the large amount of evidence amassed by scientists that is consistent with a belief in a young age for the earth and universe. Cosmic dust, breakup of galaxy clusters, existence of comets, decay of the earth's magnetic field, chemicals in the oceans, etc., all point to a recent creation of all things.
4. The Gap theorists believe that there was animal death before Adam, but the Bible teaches adamantly there was no death before Adam. To accept death before Adam is to destroy the foundational message of the cross.
On the basis of a number of passages of Scripture (e.g., Romans 5:12, I Corinthians 15:21), it is understood that there could not have been sin or death before Adam. I Corinthians 15 makes it plain that this is physical death, not just spiritual death. This is consistent with the fact that Genesis 1:29 and 30 teach us that the animals and man were originally created vegetarian.
In Hebrews 9:22, we are told that "without the shedding of blood there is no remission" of sin. In other words God introduced death and bloodshed because of sin as the means by which man could be redeemed. If death and bloodshed of animals (or man) existed before Adam sinned, then the whole basis of atonement—the basis of redemption—is destroyed.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Genesis records a catastrophe responsible for destroying all land organisms that had the "breath of life" in them, except for those preserved in Noah's Ark. Christ refers to the global flood in Noah's day in Matthew 24:37-39, and Peter writes that, just as there was once a world-wide judgment of mankind by water, so there will be another-world wide judgment, this time by fire (II Peter 3). To call Noah's flood either a local or tranquil flood which followed long geologic ages destroys the doctrine of coming judgment.
Furthermore, to advocate death before Adam sinned is diametrically opposed to the Scripture's explanation that death came after Adam sinned and became the necessity for man's redemption.
We need to give up the Gap Theory!
DID YOU KNOW . . .
That the word "replenish" in Genesis 1:28 in the King James Version does not mean, "refill?" (Researched by Dr. Charles Taylor, linguist with the Creation Science Foundation of Australia).
Some have used the word "replenish" to support the Gap Theory, which makes it necessary for God to refill the earth after "pre-Adamites" perished due to Satan's fall. Does "replenish" really mean "refill?"
1. The Hebrew word translated "replenish" simply means "fill"—not "refill"! The Hebrew word occurs 306 times in the Old Testament and in not one instance does it mean, "refill."
2. The Latin prefix "re" originally meant "again," but then it lost this meaning. At the time the King James Bible was translated in 1611,"replenish" was just a scholarly word for "fill." They almost certainly came to use it because an old word, "plenish," was dying out.
3. An examination of the Oxford English dictionary shows the English word "replenish" was used to mean "fill" from the 13th to the17th centuries. In no case, during these five centuries does it mean "refill."
4. In the 17th century, English scholars began trying to restore original meanings to words and prefixes, so "re" in English once more came to mean "again." Today, most words with "re" do mean again, such as "rewrite," etc. There are other instances, however, as in "replete," where there is no such meaning.
In the King James Version, Genesis 1:28 means "fill the earth," not "refill the earth"!
Cite this article: Kenneth Ham. 1990. Closing The Gap. Acts & Facts. 19 (2).