WHAT IS THE GAP THEORY?
by Ken Ham
What about the Gap Theory?
This is a question often asked at creation seminars.A good many well-
meaning, Bible-believing Christians hold to what is called the
"Gap Theory" because of the popular belief that geologists provide
undeniable evidence that the world is exceedingly old (i.e., 4.5
billion years). They do not accept evolution, and therefore claim
to hold to a literal Genesis. This article will show that the
typical "ruin/reconstruction" Gap Theory actually destroys the
foundation of the work of the cross, by accepting the non-proven
evolutionary geological time scale.
What is the Gap Theory?
A long period of time, perhaps millions or billions of years, sup-
posedly fits between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Although modern
expressions of it are quite varied, the traditional view is best
summarized by Weston W. Fields in his book, Unformed and Unfilled
(page 7), where he states: In the far distant, dateless past God
created a perfect heaven and perfect earth. Satan was ruler of
the earth which was peopled by a race of "men" without any souls.
Eventually, Satan, who dwelled in a garden cf .-den composed of
minerals (Ezekiel 28), rebelled by desiring to a
become like God (Isaiah 14). Because of Satan's fall, sin entered
the universe and brought on the earth God's judgment in the form
of a flood (i nd indicated by the water of 1:2), and then a global
ice-age when the light and heat from the sun were somehow removed.
All the plant, animal, and human fossils upon the earth today date
from this "Lucifer's Flood" and do not bear any genetic
relationship with the plants, animals and fossils living upon the
Mention should be made here that some modern advocates
propose a Gap only for the purpose of attempting to account for
Satan's fall. Many others hold it to allow for evolution and an
old earth, thereby accepting both evolution of the previous world
and creation of the present world.
Difficulties and Inconsistencies with the Gap Theory
1. The "Lucifer's Flood" concept destroys the reason the Gap
Theory was first proposed.
Gap theorists accept the earth as very old (billions of years),
because evolutionists claim that the fossil containing rocks were
supposedly laid down over millions of years.
To account for the fossil record that is thus said to predate
man, some Gap theorists propose that the fossil-containing
sediments were formed by "Lucifer's Flood" (as described above)
which supposedly occurred between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 millions of
years ago due to the fall of Satan. By doing this, they are
saying that the fossil record was formed by a catastrophe. But
this means they have just destroyed the very reason they wanted a
gap in the first place-the idea that the sediments were formed
slowly over millions of years; thus the earth is very old. This
is a major inconsistency.
Those who hold that the fossils record evolution over a long
time ignore the fact that a catastrophe, b
which could utalll if e and leave the earth dark and completely
underwater, would destroy the fossil bearing strata as well. In
both scenarios, there is an unsurmountable inconsistency.
2. The flood of Noah's day must have been only a local or tranquil
If the fossil record is explained on the basis of either
"Lucifer's Flood " or the evolutionary ages, then the flood of
Noah's day must have left virtually no trace. Thus, Noah's flood
must have been just a local event or a tranquil flood that did no
geologic work. This is the reason most ardent Gap theorists
insist Noah's flood was just a local event.
However, Genesis depicts Noah's flood as a catastrophic event
that covered the whole world. It was not a local flood, and it
certainly was not a tranquil event. (Read Genesis 6-9.) If the Gap
theorist wants to explain the fossil record with a catastrophe,
why not do it with one the Bible does talk about (Noah's flood)
rather than one it doesn't talk about ("Lucifer's Flood")?
3. There is much scientific evidence indicating a young earth.
The true Gap theorist also ignores the large amount of evidence
amassed by scientists that is consistent with a belief in a young
age for the earth and universe. Cosmic dust, breakup of galaxy
clusters, existence of comets, decay of the earth's magnetic
field, chemicals in the oceans, etc., all point to a
recent creation of all things.
4. The Gap theorists believe that there was animal death before
Adam, but the Bible teaches adamantly there was no death
before Adam. To accept death before Adam is to destroy the
foundational message of the cross.
On the basis of a number of passages of Scripture (e.g., Romans
5:12, I Corinthians 15:21), it is understood that there could not
have been sin or continued on page C
death before Adam. I Corinthians 15 makes it plain that this is
physical death, not just spiritual death. This is consistent with
the fact that Genesis 1:29 and 30 teach us that the animals and
man were originally created vegetarian.
In Hebrews 9:22, we are told that "without the shedding of
blood there is no remission" of sin. In other words, God
introduced death and bloodshed because of sin as the means by
which man could be redeemed. If death and bloodshed of animals
(or man) existed before Adam sinned, then the whole basis of
atonement-the basis of redemption-is destroyed. WHY DOES IT
Genesis records a catastrophe responsible for destroying all land
organisms that had the "breath of life" in them, except for those
preserved in Noah's Ark. Christ refers to the global flood in
Noah's day in Matthew 24:37-39, and Peter writes that, just as
there was once a world-wide judgment of mankind by water, so there
will be another world-wide judgment, this time by fire (11 Peter
3). To call Noah's flood either a local or tranquil flood which
followed long geologic ages destroys the doctrine of coming
Furthermore, to advocate death before Adam sinned is
diametrically opposed to the Scripture's explanation that death
came after Adam sinned and became the necessity for man's
redemption. We need to give up the Gap Theory!
That the word "replenish" in Genesis 1:28 in the King James
version does not mean "refill?" (Researched by Dr. Charles Taylor,
linguist with the Creation Science Foundation of Australia).
Some have used the word "replenish" to support the Gap
Theory, which makes it necessary for God to refill the earth after
"pre-Adamites" perished due to Satan's fall. Does "replenish"
really mean "refill?"
1 . The Hebrew word translated "replenish" simply means
"fill"-not "refill"! The Hebrew word occurs 306 times in the
Old Testament and in not one instance does it mean "refill."
2. The Latin pref ix "re" originally meant "again," but then it
lost this meaning. At the time the King James Bible was
translated in 1611, "replenish" was just a scholarly word
for "fill." They almost certainly came to use it because an
old word, "plenish," was dying out.
3. An examination of the Oxford English dictionary shows the
English word "replenish" was used to mean "fill" from the
13th to the 17th centuries. In no case, during these five
centuries does it mean "refill."
4. In the 17th century, English scholars began trying to restore
original meanings to words and prefixes, so "re" in English
once more came to mean "again." Today, most words with "re"
do mean again, such as "rewrite," etc. There are other
instances, however, as in "replete," where there is no such
In the King James version, Genesis 1:28 means "fill the
earth," not "refill the earth"!
The so-called Gap Theory, proposed early in the 1800's, but which
became popular around the turn of the century, has very few
scholarly advocates these days. However, many Christians do still
hold to it, mostly by tradition, having never examined it closely.
There have always been many scientific and theological problems
with the idea of a long gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2,
but perhaps the "death" of the Gap Theory came with the 1978
publication of Dr. Weston W. Fields' fine book, Unformed and
Unfilled. In it, Fields specified the many Biblical problems
inherent in the concept, and with only a few exceptions, Bible
scholars have now abandoned it. Some of his main arguments are
briefly summarized below.
Gap advocates hold that only the surface of the earth was
"created" during the six-day series of events detailed in Genesis
1:2 through 2:25. This creation followed a global holocaust
brought on by the fall of Satan which destroyed a supposed
pre-Adamic world. But the all inclusive summary statements of
Genesis 2:1-3 and Exodus 20 ' 1 1, and elsewhere, argue otherwise;
"the heavens and the earth ... all the host of them ... all that
is in them ... all His work which God created and made," seem
better to refer to all of creation, not just the earth's surface.
Some have claimed that in Exodus 20:11 the verb "to make" is
used instead of "to create, "and, that, therefore, the summation is
referring only to the earth's surface, leaving the rock strata and
the earth's interior untouched. But in reality, while there is an
important distinction between the words in Genesis 1, both are
used in Genesis 2:2,3 and Nehemiah 9:6 to refer to all of
creation; and are even used in synonymous parallelism in Genesis
2:4, Exodus 34:10, Isaiah 41:20, and Isaiah 43:7.
Another oft-repeated claim is that Genesis 1:2 should read,
"the earth became without form and void," as opposed to the
traditional understanding that when God first created the earth in
verse 3, it "was without form (i.e., not yet in completed form)
and void (i.e., not yet inhabited)." The verb's normal meaning,
however, is simply "was," and while it may be translated "become,"
the context does not warrant it, and all accepted versions of the
Bible use "was."
Each verse in Genesis 1, except verse 1, begins with the
conjunction "and," thereby connecting each verse sequentially to
those before and after. There is no hint of the passing of
millions or billions of years of time between verses 1 and 2.
Gap advocates frequently turn to other portions of Scripture
for support, particularly those which use the words "without form"
and "void" (Jeremiah 4:23, Isaiah 24:1, and 45:18 are most
important). In each case, the prophet refers to a wasted state
due to the judgment of sin, thereby implying that Genesis 1:2
likewise implies a condition brought about by judgment. But in
each case, the context regards the land of Israel, not the
original earth. There is no justification for postulating long
ages present in a supposed gap in Genesis.
The Gap Theory, as with all efforts to harmonize Genesis with
the geologic ages, faces insurmountable problems on several
fronts. How much better to take God at His Word and simply
believe what He says.
Index - Evolution or Creation1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | 31 | 32 | 33 | 34 | 35 | 36 | 37 | 38 | 39 | 40 | 41 | 42 | 43 | 44 | 45 | 46 | 47 | 48 | 49 | 50 | 51 | 52 | 53 | 54 | 55 | 56 | 57 | 58 | 59 | 60 | 61 | 62 | 63 | 64 | 65 | 66 | 67 | 68 | 69 | 70 | 71 | 72 | 73 | 74 | 75 | 76 | 78 | 79 | 80 | 81 | 82 | 83 | 84 | 85 | 86 | 87 | 88 | 89 | 90 | 91 | 92 | 93 | 94 | 95 | 96 | 97 | 98 | 99 | 100 | 101 | 102 | 103 | 104 | 105 | 106 | 107 | 108 | 109 | 110 | 111 | 112 | 113 | 114 | 115 | 116 | 117 | 118 | 119 | 120 | 121 | 122 | 123 | 124 | 125 | 126 | 127 | 128 | 129 | 130 | 131 | 132 | 133 | 135 | 136 | 137 | 138 | 139 | 140 | 141 | 142 | 143 | 144 | 145 | 146 | 147 | 148 | 149 | 150 | 151 | 152 | 153 | 154 | 155 | 156 | 157 | 158 | 159 | 160 | 161 | 162 | 163 | 164 | 165 | 166 | 168 | 169 | 170 | 171 | 172 | 173 | 174 | 175 | 176 | 177 | 178 | 179 | 180 | 181 | 182 | 183 | 184 | 185 | 186 | 187 | 188 | 189 | 190 | 191 | 192 | 193 | 194 | 195 | 196 | 197 | 198 | 199 | 200 | 201 | 202 | 203 | 204 | 205 | 206 | 207 | 208 | 209 | 210 | 211 | 212 | 213 | 214 | 215 | 216 | 217 | 218 | 219 | 220 | 221 | 222 | 223 | 224 | 225 | 226 | 227 | 228 | 229 | 230 | 231