OceanSide church of Christ
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THE GAP THEORY
Victor M. Eskew
Since the days of
One theory that rose out of a desire to reconcile creation and evolution was the Gap Theory. This theory has also been referred to as The Ruin and Reconstruction Theory, The Pre-Adamic Cataclysm Theory, and the Restitution Theory. This theory focuses upon Genesis 1:1-2. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” The proponents of the Gap Theory believe that Genesis 1:1 speaks of an original creation of the heavens and earth. It was during this time that evolution worked its magic upon the earth. In Genesis 1:2, they say, God speaks of a cataclysmic event that destroyed that previous world. The Gap Theorists believe that the word “was” in Genesis 1:2 should be translated “became.” In other words, the text should state: “And the earth became without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep…” It was following the destruction of that first world that God began the history of mankind as told in the Bible.
Do you doubt as to whether anyone actually believes such a theory? In his book, Gleanings in Genesis, Arthur W. Pink sets forth the theory in two paragraphs. Please read what he has to say:
“’In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,’ and we cannot but believe
that these creations were worthy of Himself, that they reflected the perfections of
their Maker, that they were exceedingly fair in their pristine beauty. Certainly, the
earth, on the morning of its creation, must have been vastly different from its chaotic
state as described in Genesis 1:2. ‘And the earth was without form and void must refer
to a condition of the earth much later than what is before us in the preceding verse.
It is now over a hundred years ago since Dr. Chalmers called attention to the fact that
the word ‘was’ in Genesis 1:2 should be translated ‘became,’ and that between the first
two verses of Genesis 1 some terrible catastrophe must have intervened. That this cata-
trophe may have been connected with the apostasy of Satan, seems more than likely;
that some catastrophe did occur is certain from Isa. 45:18, which expressly declares
that the earth was not created in the condition in which Genesis 1:2 views it.
“What is found in the remainder of Genesis 1 refers not to the primitive creation
but to the restoration of that which had fallen into ruins. Genesis 1;1 speaks of the
original creation; Genesis 1:2 describes the then condition of the earth six days before
Adam was called into existence. To what remote point in time Genesis 1 conducts us,
or as to how long an interval passed before the earth ‘became’ a ruin, we have no means
of knowing; but if the surmises of geologists could be conclusively established there
would be no conflict at all between the findings of science and the teaching of Scrip-
ture. The unknown interval between the first two verses of Genesis 1, is wide enough
to embrace all the prehistoric ages which may have elapsed; but all that took place
from Genesis 1:3 onwards transpired less than six thousand years ago” (pp. 10-11).
Once the theory is understood, some begin to imagine that it is plausible. It accounts for the long span of time needed for evolution. It “harmonizes” science and Genesis 1. It allows one to view the days of Genesis 1 as literal, 24-hour periods. All of this sounds good, but the question remains: “Is the Gap Theory really true?”
The answer to this question is: “NO!” First, changing the word “was” in Genesis 1:2 to “became” is unwarranted. Not one of the scholarly translations of the Bible so translate the verse. In his commentary on Genesis, Harold Stigers explains why it was not translated “became.” He writes: “The construction of ‘became void,’ etc., is not justified by Hebrew syntax. When the verb ‘to be’ (hayad) is to be constructed as ‘became,’ the addition of the prepositional lamedh is required with the following word to provide this meaning, and this preposition is absent here (A Commentary on Genesis, p. 49).
Second, the Gap Theory is called into question by the closing verse of Genesis 1. “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.” In an article entitled, “Creation and the Gap Theory,” it is shown how Genesis 1:31 brings doubt to the truthfulness of the Gap Theory. “If Jehovah’s original creation had become contaminated through Satan’s rebellion, and thus was subsequently destroyed – the new creation rested on a veritable graveyard of corruption – it is difficult to see how God could have surveyed the situation and then used the expression ‘very good’ to describe it” (http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/creagap.pdf).
Third, some of the Gap Theorists include mankind in that “original creation” of Genesis 1. If it is the case that man existed prior to the sixth day of creation (Gen. 1:26-27), then I Corinthians 15:45 is false. This passage declares that Adam was the first man. “And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul…” Was the inspired penman mistaken? Did the Holy Spirit misspeak? Surely not! I Corinthians 15:45 excludes any pre-Adamic race of men.
Fourth, we have one verse in the book of Exodus that demolishes the Gap Theory. “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is…” (Exo. 20:11). This verse plainly declares that “all” was created in six days. If everything was created in six days, then nothing was created before those six days.
“For we walk by faith, not by sight” (II Cor. 5:7). Walking by faith involves hearing and heeding the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). God’s Word teaches that everything was made in six, literal, 24-hour days. Let’s believe God. Genesis 1 does not have to be harmonized with the theory of evolution at all. In fact, evolution is not true science. It is merely a theory that seeks to do away with God. When it comes to the creation, God has spoken: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day…” (Exo. 20:11).