Alternative Creation Theory #2: The Gap Theory :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

Genesis 1:1-2, Genesis 1:31, Genesis 2:1-3, Psalm 33:6, Isaiah 45:12, Acts 17:24

Summary: There are four “theories” used by some believers to explain our origins apart from the biblical account of creation. We looked at “theistic evolution. “Now we will look at the “Gap Theory.” Is it a legitimate alternative? We need to examine its claims.

Four basic creation “theories” have been promoted by Christian theists over the years as alternatives to the biblical account of creation as recorded in the book of Genesis. They are theistic evolution, the gap theory, the day/age theory, and progressive creationism, each one contrived to appease those skeptics within the scientific community who, for the most part, express an unwillingness to even consider examining data that brings the theory of evolution into question.

Some scientists have expressed open hostility toward anything that would force them to consider other alternatives. Their thinking is based not on objective scientific inquiry but on pride and a deliberate blindness to the obvious (Romans 1:18-20). These four theories are nothing more than excuses to appease the wicked world system, something the Bible clearly forbids (Matthew 16:26; Romans 12:2; Titus 2:12; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15).

The second alternative explanation for creation apart from Scripture is referred to as the “Gap Theory,” which owes its original “creation” to a minister named Thomas Chalmers in 1814. He believed that because “science” had spoken, and what it said must be accepted as true (sound familiar?), it was necessary to “modify” the Bible in order to make it agree with science. Both scientists and philosophers were beginning to express doubts about the accuracy of the Genesis record. The “gap theory” was an attempt to reconcile some of their probing questions.

So, how does this theory “work” in terms of the very “scientific principles” that Chalmers and his contemporaries proposed and championed? Does it help explain the account of creation presented in the Bible? Let’s look at what it teaches.

Chalmers suggested that a large “gap” of time passed between the first two verses of Genesis 1. This “gap” of time could account for both an old earth for the naturalist/evolutionist, and a more recent six-day creation for the creationist. Chalmers proposed that Genesis 1:1 represented God’s first primordial creation, which He later felt compelled, for some undisclosed reason, to destroy. Many “gap theorists” believe that Satan fell to earth after God’s first creation and so ruined it that God decided to destroy everything and try again. According to the gap theory, Genesis 1:2 represents God’s re-creation, which He accomplished in six days. Chalmers believed that this provided a sufficient explanation for how God created His new world according to the week of creation as written in Genesis 1.

A book written by John Timber entitled Earth’s Earliest Ages attempted to explain in detail how this process was accomplished. Cyrus Scofield and Finnis Dake popularized the ideas of Timber and incorporated them into the notes of their respective study Bibles, first published in the early 20th century. The late pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Donald Grey Barnhouse, wrote a book entitled The Invisible War, where he promoted the gap theory as part of the spiritual conflict between God and Lucifer. I don’t question the sincerity of these men, as they were all devoted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, but again, we need to examine this theory and see if it lines up with what is recorded in Genesis or not.

The gap theory, like theistic evolution, assumes that God’s original creation evolved from simple to complex by the evolutionary process of gradualism until He was finally forced to stop the process. The reality is that the theory of gradualism does not work any better when it is placed before the creation week than it does when it is incorporated into the creation week.

Gap theorists teach that the word “was” should be “became” in Genesis 1:2 – “And the earth BECAME formless and void.” However, “was” is translated “became” only when the clear intention is to demonstrate a SPECIFIC change of state in a subject (“Lot’s wife BECAME a pillar of salt”). The context of Genesis 1:1-2 does not call for a definite change of state in God’s creation. Verse 1 is a declarative sentence. It makes a statement of plain fact, telling the reader that God is the Creator, period. Verse 2 simply addresses the original condition of the creation, not a “re-creation.” You could say it this way: “God created the heavens and the earth. Here’s how it happened.” The conjunction “and” ties the two sentences together, nothing more.

The Bible states that death and sin came through one man, Adam (Romans 5:12-21). The gap theory suggests that there was some kind of “pre-Adamic” race that died before Adam (before Adam’s sin) as a result of God’s judgment on the original creation.

The question is, if Jesus died for the sins of Adam’s race, then who died for the sins of the “pre-Adamites”?

The Bible says that there was a worldwide flood. Gap theorists try to show that there were two floods, the first one destroying the original creation. However, Scripture is silent regarding some kind of primordial flood that wiped out the first, or “primeval” earth. 2 Peter 3:6-7 states that God has promised only two worldwide destructions. One has already occurred by water (Genesis 6-7), and one that in the future will occur by fire (2 Peter 3:10). There is no record of a third destruction.

Finally, the order of creation given in Genesis 1 does not agree with any type of evolutionary theory. Gap theorists seek to avoid conflict on this issue by postulating that the order of creation as outlined in Genesis 1 applies only to the re-created earth of verse 2, not the original creation of verse 1. The Gap Theory assumes that evolution occurred on a primordial creation before an assumed second creation. NONE of this is supported in Scripture.

We are not to be ashamed of what God has clearly given us in Scripture concerning our origins. We are not to allow the ungodly world system to bully us into capitulation. We should never be forced to embrace an empty theory built on philosophical sands of chance, circumstance, randomness, and godlessness.

The Word of God is sufficient in explaining how we got here and where we are going in terms of eternity (Luke 12:13-21; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 3:23, 6:23, 10:9-10; Hebrews 9:27). Your eternal destiny will be determined on whether or not you admit that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, and to humbly bow before the Creator of not just the universe, but the LORD of all, Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:9-11). This is no theory. It is the truth (John 8:32).