By J. Oliver Jones
Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:2 – Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Definition: The Gap Theory proposes a time gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 that allows for the geologic ages, the “prehistoric life” seen in the fossil record, and a time of judgment when the original earth was destroyed (perhaps at the judgment of rebellious Lucifer, Isaiah 14:12-15). Verse one is God’s original creation in the dateless past. Verse two finds God hovering over this mass of destruction caused by His original judgment, a place dark and void. Thus verse two is the beginning of the “recreation” of the earth as told in the rest of the chapter.
This view is offered by those who hold to a literal six-day creation week, and a literal interpretation of Scripture, including Genesis. It also allows for the vast eons of time required by evolutionary science as they interpret the fossil evidence, without doing harm to true biblical interpretation. While millions or even billions of years might have passed between the two verses, from verse two forward there is no challenge to a literal interpretation. The earth, and the universe, is very old, just as science dictates. But life as we know it occurred only a few thousand years ago, just as the Bible dictates. The need to understand or to even consider “evolution” is eliminated.
Problems: While the Gap Theory has been supported by many sound Biblical theologians as a viable solution to the “problem” with science, it does have its own theological problems. First, it cannot be supported Scripturally, even though some have tried to do so. As this theory came into being only after Darwin and his evolutionary theories surfaced in the 1800s, it was strictly devised in an effort to compromise with the naturalist and his demand for an old earth.
Second, there is the issue of death. Romans 5:12 states, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” In 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 we read, “For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” These verses seem to imply that death is a result of man’s sin. Yet according to the Gap Theory there was death for millions of years prior to the creation of the first man, Adam. Some say that these verses refer to the “new creation,” not the old. But that brings up a third problem.
Recall that from the third day forward in Genesis 1, at the close of each day we are told that, “…and God saw that it was good.” Then at the close of the sixth day, verse 31 states, “And God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good.” The question logically arises as to how God could call everything He had created “good” when there had been violence, killing, death, judgment, and destruction for millions of years prior to this time.
Finally, there is the time issue again. There are those who might ask, “If the universe was created only a few thousand years ago, what did God do for all the time prior to that?” This really is a question not well thought out. Our God is eternal, having existed from eternity past. Regardless of when He created the universe, there would have to be a time prior to that creation where the same question could be asked, be it six thousand years or eight billion years.
Conclusion: The Gap Theory is to be commended for its defense of a literal six day creation. It also eliminates the need to reconcile evolution and the origin of man, as man is seen as a special creation of God. However, it does have to answer the questions concerning sin and death and how God could proclaim all His creation to be good. The bottom line is that it is still a compromise with the demands of science, and according to thousands of creation scientists who know far more about such things than this writer, that compromise is still unnecessary!