The gap theory is simply compromise. It is an attempt to harmonise the facts of Scripture with the ideas of fallen men.

When boarding or alighting a train, bus, or coach, riders are always told to “mind the gap”—to beware of the gap into which we could fall, get trapped, and suffer injury or harm. Unfortunately, this is what is happening to those who believe the so-called gap theory, which teaches that there is a gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. The believers of this theory are being trapped by a position of compromise, and subsequently, their belief harms their interpretation of Scripture.

What Is the Gap Theory?

Although there are variations, the basic teaching of the gap theory is that millions of years ago God created the universe and everything in it as recorded in Genesis 1:1. Sometime during the subsequent millions of year, Lucifer (i.e., Satan) rebelled and was thrown to earth. This resulted in Lucifer’s Flood, which destroyed all plant and animal life on earth, thus producing the fossil record in the rock layers.

At the same time as this flood, the earth was plunged into darkness and thus became “without form and void” as recorded in Genesis 1:2. The gap theory teaches that the fossils found in the earth’s crust are relics of the originally perfect world that God created, which was supposedly destroyed before the six literal days of creation (or re-creation) recorded in Genesis 1:3–31.

Who First Popularized the Gap Theory in the Church?

In 1814, Dr. Thomas Chalmers, a respected Scottish Presbyterian minister began to advocate the idea of a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. The reason for this was not theological—it was geological. By interpreting the first two verses of Genesis in this way, Dr. Chalmers felt that he could accommodate the views of the geologists of his day who were teaching millions of years, while at the same time maintaining a literal interpretation of the Genesis account of creation.

Why Is the Gap Theory So Popular?

The gap theory is popular because it appears to present an interpretation of Genesis that offers rather impressive evidence for a position that does not radically challenge the evolutionary timetable of geology. However, this idea compromises the doctrine of the unity and completeness of the creation account. Furthermore, it seriously compromises the original perfection of the world, the genetic continuity of fossil and living forms, the totality of Adam’s dominion, the uniqueness of the Edenic Curse, and the global nature of Noah’s Flood.

Redefining “Very Good” of Genesis 1:31

The gap theory must redefine the “very good” of Genesis 1:31 because God would have to place Adam, as a very late arrival, in a world that had just been destroyed! Adam would have been walking on the graveyard of literally billions and billions of dead creatures, including the dinosaurs, over which he had never exercised dominion. God would have placed him in a world that would be the domain of a fallen and wicked being (i.e., Satan). This is contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture, as we shall see.

Death before Adam

The gap theory teaches that there were pre-Adamic men and women who were destroyed by Lucifer’s flood. This teaching also implies that the pre-Adamites did not possess an eternal soul and so could not be saved.

The gap theory assumes that animals, including carnivores and omnivores, were dying millions of years before Adam. Yet Scripture tells us that death is the result of Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:22). The whole of creation groans and travails in pain (Romans 8:22) because God cursed it after Adam sinned. Animal death and human death were results of the Curse; they were not part of God’s original creation.

The gap theory teaches the existence of pre-Adamic men and women who were destroyed by Lucifer’s flood. Consequently, any human fossils that are found (e.g., the Neanderthals, the hobbits, the Cro-Magnon people, etc.) are considered to be pre-Adamites who have nothing to do with mankind today, even though some of these so-called pre-Adamites are identical to us. This teaching also implies that these pre-Adamites did not possess an eternal soul and so could not be saved.

The Nature of the Original Creation

Most gap theory advocates claim that the original creation of Genesis 1:1 existed for millions of years but that God in His Word leaves us no clear evidence about its existence. This means that we know nothing about the order of the events of that creation; nothing about its features; and nothing about its history, which would have constituted over 99.9% of the earth’s history, since the time from Genesis 1:2 to present day is chronologically calculated to only about 6,000 years. It is then left up to the evolutionists to fill these gaps in our knowledge.

Noah’s Flood/Lucifer’s Flood

Noah’s Flood is taught to have been a localised and a somewhat tame affair since all the sedimentary rocks and fossils that are found on the earth today are the result of Lucifer’s flood. Proponents of the gap theory therefore teach that the sedimentary rocks and fossils are the result of a universal, cataclysmic flood that is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible and not the result of the global Flood of Noah’s day to which three whole chapters of Genesis are devoted.

Furthermore, the only universal cataclysmic flood referred to in the New Testament is Noah’s Flood. Jesus referred to it in Matthew 24:37–39 and Peter referred to it in 2 Peter 3:5–7. But no reference to the so-called Lucifer’s flood is found anywhere in the New Testament.

Conclusion

The gap theory is simply compromise. This relatively modern theory has been formulated in the last couple hundred years in an attempt to harmonise the facts of Scripture with the ideas of fallen men. This compromise view is designed to accommodate those who believe in millions of years. Proponents of the gap theory have reinterpreted Scripture to try to make it fit the idea of millions of years. The gap theory does not rest upon the impregnable rock of Holy Scripture but is founded upon the shifting sands of the ideas of those who want to believe the evolutionary teaching of millions of years. No wonder we should mind the gap.

Dr. Monty White is now a young-earth creationist. However, as a young Christian, he used to believe in theistic evolution. Since 2000, he has been the CEO of Answers in Genesis-UK/Europe.


Further reading:

  • Phelan, M. W. J., The Genesis ‘Gap Theory’—Its Credibility and Consequences, Twoedged Sword, 2005.
  • Fields, Weston, Unformed and Unfilled, Master Books, Green Forest, Arkansas, 2005.

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