Q: #122. What is the gap theory?
A: Among people who hold to this theory (I am not one of them) there seems to be several different ways to define it. Let me try and give a simple definition that most seem to agree on. In short, it is taught that in the Bible, there was a “gap” or an unspecified period of time between (Gen 1:1) “when God created the heaven (heaven= KJV, other versions= “heavens”) and the earth,” and (Gen 1:2). This period could have been millions, or maybe even billions of years.
Among the living things created during this time were Lucifer and the angels, the dinosaurs, and a race of people (commonly called a pre-adamic race). At some point during this time, Lucifer rebelled against God (Isa 14:12-15) with one third of the angels following him. As a result, they were cast out of heaven. Because they ruined God’s creation, He brought a flood upon the Earth often called “Lucifer’s flood,” which destroyed every living thing upon the Earth. Most also believe this is when the dinosaurs died, and fossils were formed. (This negates the point that the Bible mentions dinosaurs and humans living together. See: Q: #3)
After this occurred, the Earth was left “without form and void” (Gen 1:2). God then “re-made” the Earth, rather than creating it for the first time. At this point, some gap theorists believe that each day was then a literal day, while others believe each day was also an undetermined amount of time.
This theory has a number of problems. One big problem I have is that people who hold to this are coming to the Bible with a pre-conceived theory that some person or persons have come up with, and then they are trying to make the Bible fit that theory. In this instance, gap theorists have allowed those who believe in evolution, and a millions/billions years old Earth to enter into their thinking. In other words, “These evolution scientists have “proven” that the Earth is millions/billions of years old, but I don’t believe in evolution, so let me come up with a way to show the Earth IS this old, but God still created it.”
In order to come to this conclusion, there has been a LOT of twisting and stretching the meanings of Hebrew words in the Bible, in ways that differ from how they have been historically defined. I am not going to go into great detail here on these different words. (There are plenty of websites online that do this. Simply type in a search engine: “gap theory.”) However, let me give one example.
In (Gen 1:2), when it says, “the earth was without form and void,” the gap theorist teaches that the Hebrew word for “was” (hayah) can also mean “became.” Therefore, if “the earth (became) without form and void,” it would support their theory something happened previously to make it this way. I am no Hebrew scholar, but according to what I have read from those who are, “hayah” cannot mean this unless it is followed by another Hebrew word, which it wasn’t in this verse. The gap theorist also tries to make distinctions between other words such as making/forming vs creating, the Earth vs world, etc… to support their conclusions. Few Christian scholars support these conclusions.
In addition, there is also a failure by many gap theorists to understand the meanings of some of the Old English words used in the KJV Bible. Many of the words have different meanings from how we define them today. One word that is incorrectly defined is “replenish.” This word is used in both (Gen 1:28) and (Gen 9:1) when God told both Adam and Noah respectively, to “replenish” the Earth. It is reasoned that God could not tell them to “replenish” the Earth unless there were people on it previously (of course there was in Noah’s case). The problem is, the word “replenish” in Old English did not mean what it does today. In those days it meant “to fill.” In other words, God told Adam and Noah to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and FILL the earth,” not “refill” it. If you look at any version other than the KJV, they use the word “fill” rather than “replenish.”
*** Note: Another good example of an Old English word that has a different meaning is the word “compass.” In (Num 34:5), for instance, it says to “fetch a compass.” This has been taken by some to mean that they had a compass like we have today. However, they did not possess the technology to have that in those times. A “compass” meant in Old English “to take a circular route.” This becomes apparent when you look at other verses that use the same word such as (Num 21:4)(Josh 6:3).
Let’s look at two other huge problems with the gap theory.
The first one, short and simple, is that there could not have been a race of people on the Earth before Adam and Eve because the Bible says in (1 Cor 15:45) “the FIRST man Adam was made a living soul.” Adam was the first man. There are no men mentioned before Him in the Bible.
Secondly, we are told in the Bible that when Adam sinned, it brought death into the world. There was no death before Adam (Rom 5:12-14)(1 Cor 15:20-22)(Gen 3:19). Most gap theorists teach that this was spiritual death, not physical death, but the verses in (1 Cor) make it quite clear there was no physical death before Adam. So, in order for the gap theory to be true, it would have to mean that nothing died for millions of years, which of course they don’t believe since all living things died in a flood and fossils formed at this time.
The gap theory is a relatively new theory from a historical standpoint, that was conceived in the early 1800’s. Before this time, no one held it. Personally, I find it a sad theory for Christians to support because it gives ammunition to evolution theorists, and it also flies in the face of mounting evidence for a young Earth, which completely destroys evolutionist teaching.