Gap Theory: Its Background
The Gap Theory was first proposed in 1814 by a Scottish minister named Chalmers. It was during this period that scientists were beginning to teach that the earth was billions of years in age. As a response to the scientific community, Chalmers theorized a “gap” in time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. His motive was probably well intentioned, but there is no scriptural reason to infer or imply that such a gap ever existed.
Gap Theory: The Position & Problems
The Gap Theory holds that the ages of evolution (the periods and eras of “modern science”) occurred before the six days of biblical Creation, but were part of the creative process of God. These ages were then terminated by a global cataclysmic event, followed by a period of replenishing the earth, according to the following instructions of God in Genesis: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:28, KJV).
We may relate the modern concept of “replenishing” to that of refilling a soda at a fast food restaurant, when we “replenish” a half empty cup. But the word replenish has changed in meaning since the King James version of the Bible was written in 1611 AD. At that time, the Hebrew word “male” [mah-lay] was used for the word “replenish,” and it meant “to fill,” as in an initial act of completion. The word “replenish” didn’t take the meaning of “refilling” until it was incorporated into the English language about 1650 AD. The Hebrew word for “replenish,” as in “refilling that which was once filled” is “shana.” Genesis 1:28 uses the word “male” in the original Hebrew text. So, God told Adam to “go fill the earth,” and did not imply a refilling or replenishing of what had once been filled or completed.
Probably the greatest problem with the Gap Theory is that it makes God responsible for the creation of evil. The theory implies that God used the methods of death and decay on a global scale for billions of years in order to accomplish His unknown purposes in a primeval world. The fossils and geological records, which the theory tries to place before Genesis 1:2, are the direct testimony of this violence and death. However, Paul writes about the manner in which Christ will destroy the last enemy – death: “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:25-26, KJV).
Death cannot be construed as a benefit that God instituted in order to aid mankind or creation. Evolutionism teaches that death is part of the process that nature uses in order to continually promote each species and allow adaptation to the environment (survival of the fittest). The Bible clearly teaches that death is the result of the rebellion of Satan and Adam’s sin, and not something that God created during the time period that gap theorists believe exists between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Chalmers taught that the rebellion of Satan and his demons took place before Adam was created (a pre-adamite rebellion.) Satan’s rebellion and eventual placement in Eden is actually discussed in a couple of books of the Bible, including Ezekiel: “Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (Ezekiel 28:13-15, KJV).
To believe that a rebellious Satan was on earth prior to “day six” is in direct conflict with the following scripture: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day”(Genesis 1:31, KJV). If God beheld everything after day six and it was “very good,” how could Lucifer have rebelled back in verses one and two? That is simply impossible, since scripture would be in conflict with itself, which is an interpretive violation. Everything would not be “very good” if sin was present in the Garden and Lucifer had already rebelled against God. The concept of a pre-adamite rebellion seems to fall apart quite rapidly upon further examination of all the scriptures associated with the fall of Lucifer. Since there could not have been a pre-adamite rebellion, Satan’s actions could not have accounted for the age-long spectacle of suffering and death in the world during the geologic ages that preceded it. Thus, God would have to be responsible for the death and suffering in the pre-adamite world, but that is impossible.
Gap Theory: No Support in Scripture
The Gap Theory has been advocated by many sincere Bible teachers, but it actually involves numerous and serious fallacies. In general, contemporary biblical scholars and scientists do not accept this theory. There is no scriptural support for any of its tenets that pass the tests of sound Biblical interpretation.