AGE of the Earth
Scientists say the earth is billions of years old. The bible says it is 6000. Who's right?
Also see The Age of the Earth at www.drdino.com
|The Gap Theory
Are there billions of years between Genesis 1:1 & 1:2?
|Dr. Kent Hovind
For 2,000 years, nearly all Christians believed and taught that the earth was approximately 6,000 years old as revealed by God's Word. In the early 1800s, some unbelievers began to teach that the earth was "millions of years old." This old earth teaching laid the groundwork for the evolution theory, which became popular a few years later. In an effort to blend both beliefs, some theologians invented the "gap theory" which allowed "millions of years" to be placed between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.
As this new gap theory began to be accepted by the church in the early 1800s, the majority of Christians offered little resistance. This effectively "neutralized" them in the war between the Bible and the rapidly spreading worldview of evolutionism. This godless theory resulted in the rise of such philosophies as communism, humanism, and Nazism. The acceptance of the gap theory opened the floodgates for these ideologies, which have caused untold suffering as well as hundreds of millions of deaths in the last two centuries.
We hope this booklet will help the reader see that the gap theory, which many well meaning people have promoted, is unscriptural, unscientific, unnecessary and is a dangerous compromise of God's Word.
- Dr. Kent Hovind
Dedication by Stephen Lawwell
"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."
When an author decides to write a book, it is of utmost importance for him to begin with a powerful and thought-provoking beginning. The author must do this in a clear and concise manner so that there is no confusion. God was no different in His approach to place His Word in written form. Within the first two verses of the Bible, He reveals to us with power and clarity the perfect triune creation, brought into existence by the perfect triune God.
The simple fact, quite evident to all, is that something drastic and devastating happened to change God's perfect creation, as described in Genesis 1:1, into the sin-stricken world that exists today. What exactly happened to bring this about, and more importantly, when did it happen? The answer to that question takes us to the very center of a controversy that has existed in theological circles for nearly 200 years. The controversy surrounds the first two verses of the Bible and a theory known simply as the "gap theory."
What is the Gap Theory?
The gap theory comes wrapped in many different shapes and forms. There are as many variations of this theory as there are theologians to support it. Simply stated, the gap theory is the idea that a long period of time existed between God's initial creation in Genesis 1:1 when "God created the heaven and the earth" and Genesis 1:2 when the earth was "without form and void." Most gap theorists believe that prior to Genesis 1:2 the "first" earth was inhabited by angelic creatures, such as Lucifer, as well as the mysterious dinosaurs. A pre-Adamite race of men is also thought to have populated the earth as this time. Many gap theorists teach that the world existed in this manner for millions of years, if not billions. The gap's end is believed to have occurred when God, finding iniquity in Satan's heart, was compelled to destroy the earth with a flood and make it "without form, and void" (Genesis 1:2). God then proceeded to "re-create" the earth in six literal days as described in Genesis 1:3-31. The gap theory, also known as the "ruin-restoration" theory, is displayed for illustrative purposes in the time line below.
To resolve this controversy, an attempt must be made to understand the reasoning behind the gap theory. One must understand the history of the gap theory and the Scripture references used by the theory's proponents. After grasping what the gap theory entails, one must then use the light of Scripture to attempt to validate or invalidate the theory (Acts 17:11). At the conclusion of this validation process, two questions will then be left to answer: Does the Bible teach the gap theory, and does it really matter whether the gap theory is taught or not?
History of the Gap Theory
Before getting into the Scriptural aspect of this discussion, one needs to first understand the background and history of the gap theory. Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), a notable Scottish theologian and first moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, is credited with being the first proponent of the gap theory. His proposal of the theory was first recorded in 1814 in one of his lectures at Edinburgh University. Until 1814, no theologian had put forth the idea of a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Chalmer's teaching to a great extent reflected what was happening in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
In 1795, James Hutton (1726-1797) introduced the scientific doctrine of uniformitarianism in his book Theory of the Earth. Hutton believed that the processes of the past (e.g. climate, sedimentation, decay, etc.) occurred at the same rate as those of the present - a way of thinking that was prophesied in II Peter 3:4 as a sign of the last days. Uniformitarianism is now summarized in the phrase, "the present is the key to the past." His questionable logic became the foundation for many of the "scientific" discoveries in the early 19th century. Hutton's teachings most affected the field of geology, then in its infant stages.
Following in the footsteps of Hutton, Charles Lyell (1797 - 1875) became known as the "high priest of uniformitarianism" and "the father of modern geology." Lyell's famous three-volume work, Principles of Geology, quickly became the catalyst for the geologic movement's move to uniformitarian principles. Many early geologists, after studying the numerous layers of sediment existing in the earth's crust, assumed the layers were a result of the flood of Noah, knowing that moving water causes many layers to be deposited. Others claimed they had no idea as to how they were deposited. A few thought the layers were deposited slowly over million of years at the same rate layers are deposited today. This slow but steady accumulation was thought to be an example of uniformitarianism. For hundreds of years, scientists in all fields of study had worked within a 6,000-year time frame for the age of the earth, primarily drawn from the chronology of the Bible. With the introduction of uniformitarian principles into science, geologists felt they finally had the answer to the mystery.
Shortly after the publication of Hutton's and Lyell's books, Christians began to feel that they were under a scientific attack for their belief that the earth was only a few thousand years old. One has only to read the writings of Thomas Chalmers to understand how sharply he felt the attacks of science upon the Scriptures. Some geologists and theologians, knowing that the uniformitarian deposit of sediment layers would require millions of years, quickly rejected the Biblical age of the earth and moved to adjust the Bible's time frame to coincide with their new theory. Chalmers, like many other Christians at this time, began to seek a way to harmonize the Genesis account of creation with the newly accepted teachings of geology. He attempted to do this with the gap theory.
Since 1814, many theologians have followed Chalmers' example and attempted to accommodate both Scripture and the new supposed science. In 1859, Charles Darwin's book The Origin of Species introduced scientists and theologians to the possibility of an even longer time frame for the age of the earth. For example, G.H. Pember stated in his book Earth's Earliest Ages, "There is room for any length of time between the first and second verse of the Bible." Statements such as these pressured many Christians to accept other dangerous theories under the guise of "science." Theologians struggled to remain current with popular scientific findings.
The gap theory trend gained its greatest support in 1909 when C.I. Scofield first published his Scofield Study Bible. Dr. Scofield supported the gap theory in his explanation that "the first creative act refers to the dateless past, and gives scope for all the geologic ages." He commented "no conflict of science with the Genesis cosmogony remains." Dr. Scofield also advocated the "Day-Age" theory - another "time-allowing" theory teaching that the six days of creation were not literal 24-hour days but actually long periods of time. The Scofield Study Bible, believed to be the most widely used study Bible of its kind, resulted in a widespread acceptance of the gap theory, which continues today.
About the same time the Scofield Study Bible began its circulation, another very popular theological work was published, Dispensational Truth by Clarence Larkin. In his book, Dr. Larkin detailed the existence of a "chaotic earth" between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. His willingness to "fall back then upon Science" allowed science to greatly infiltrate his theology (Note his capitalization of the word Science). This influence can be seen in the way Dr. Larkin embraced the "Nebular Hypothesis," a predecessor of the "Big Bang" theory.
Regardless of the reason, the gap theory has gained considerable support from several modern theologians. These theologians, such as Arthur C. Custance, author of Without Form and Void (1970), and well known preachers Billy Graham and John Hagee, have adopted the gap theory in one form or another. For some, the gap theory is the only explanation they have to make the Bible fit their preconceived idea for the age of the earth. For others, it is the only way they can explain certain passages in Scripture.
What scriptures are used to support the Gap Theory?
Four main passages - Genesis 1:28; Isaiah 45:18; Jeremiah 4:23-24; II Peter 3:5-6 - remain the battleground arguments for the gap theory. Using specific Scriptural references, modern theologians have endeavored to support it.
Genesis 1:28 is undoubtedly the verse most quoted by gap theorists. Genesis 1:28 "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." Much of the validity drawn from this verse centers on the usage of the word replenish. Gap theorists believe that this is God's command for Adam and Eve to refill, or repopulate, the earth, assuming the previous inhabitants of the earth were destroyed in the Genesis 1:2 catastrophe.
The problem that gap theorists encounter stems from misunderstanding the word replenish. The Hebrew word used here is male, which means, "to fill." In 1611, the time of the King James translation, English dictionaries defined the word replenish as "to supply fully, to fill." Nearly a century later, a second definition arose, "to fill or build up again." Most dictionaries still list both meanings. If the author of Genesis 1 had been attempting to convey the idea that God wanted Adam and Eve to repopulate the earth, he would have used the Hebrew word Shana, which means "to fill again."
In recent years, Isaiah 45:18 has become the verse to which most gap theorists appeal in defense of their view. In fact, the New Scofield Reference Bible removed its gap theory footnote from its original place under Genesis 1:2 and placed it beneath Isaiah 45:18. Isaiah 45:18 "For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else." The debate concerning this verse surrounds Isaiah's use of the phrase, "he created it not in vain." The words "in vain," translated from the Hebrew word tohu, also occur in Genesis 1:2 where it is translated "without form." Gap theorists conclude that God did not create the earth without form (tohu), as described in Genesis 1:2, but that it became without form (tohu). Claiming that Genesis 1:2 was translated incorrectly, gap theorists believe that it should read, "And the earth became without form, and void." This attempt by gap theorists to question God's ability to preserve His Word (Psalms 12:6-7) in the English language is one of grievous error. Nowhere does Scripture use the word tohu to describe a result of God's judgment. In the Hebrew language, tohu means "not formed," not "formlessness resulting from a judgment." It must be noted that when the Old Testament was translated into the Greek language, the word chaos was available for them to convey this idea of judgment. To the detriment of the Gap Theory, the Greek translators chose not to use this word in either Genesis 1:2 or Isaiah 45:18.
Gap theorists frequently quote Jeremiah 4:23-24 in their attempt to depict the desolate earth of Genesis 1:2. They believe that the prophet Jeremiah is describing in detail God's act of judgment upon the "first" earth. Jeremiah 4:23-24 "I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly." The phrase "without form, and void" seems to imply an association with Genesis 1:2, but the word earth in this verse is not a reference to the planet earth. Earth in this verse refers to the land of Judah, as discussed in Jeremiah 4:7, 20 & 27, and not to the past at all. These two verses, when read in the context of the whole chapter, reveal the prophet Jeremiah's insight into the coming destruction of Judah by the Babylonian armies.
The belief of most gap theorists is that II Peter 3:5-6 is not referring to the flood of Noah, but "Lucifer's flood," that brought on the formless water-covered earth described in Genesis 1:2. II Peter 3:5-6 "For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:" No Scripture exists to support the idea that Peter was referring to "Lucifer's flood." With no references in Scripture to such an event, teachers of this opinion are guilty of "adding to the word of God."
There are good reasons, however, to believe that Peter is referring to the flood of Noah in these verses. The only flood to which Peter had previously referred is the flood of Noah (I Peter 3:20; II Peter 2:5). If Peter were referring to a different flood, he most certainly would have done so with an explanation. The words, "willingly ignorant," suggests that it is a flood that is well-known, yet one that they have rejected. Possibly these scoffers could be willingly ignorant of Noah's flood even though there is a detailed description of it in the Old Testament and ample evidence for it all over the surface of the earth today. However, one could not be willingly ignorant of a flood that God had never revealed to them in His Word.
Gap theorists also attempt to draw from the phrase in II Peter 3:6, "the world that then was…perished." They interpret it to mean that at the time of Noah's flood the world did not perish because Noah and his family were spared. They feel this fact points to an earlier catastrophe in which every living organism was destroyed. Actually, the world did perish during the flood of Noah as described in Genesis 7:23. Genesis 7:23 says, "And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark."
This verse does not include Noah and his family as part of "every living substance." God clearly had separated Noah and his family from the world by placing them in the ark. Gap theorists confuse the word world, referring to people, society, and their surroundings as a whole (Galatians 4:3), with the word earth, describing the physical place in which people dwell. Isaiah 18:3 and Isaiah 23:17 explains that the world is something that dwells upon the earth, not something that is the earth. God's judgment at the time of Noah brought the destruction of the world, not the destruction of the earth.
This lack of understanding has led many theologians to teach the "three-earth" theory, which is based upon the gap theory. The three-earth theory simply states that the earth prior to Genesis 1:2 was the first earth, the current earth is the second earth, and the earth God has yet to create, as described in Isaiah 65:17 and II Peter 3:13, is the third earth. Revelation 21:1 refutes this belief in stating that the current earth is the first earth, not the second.
As previously explained, the Scriptural references used in defense of the gap theory have absolutely no merit. However, to be fair and complete, a detailed look must be taken, examining the two assumptions put forth by the gap theory: 1) that Satan was created prior to the six days of creation, and 2) that Satan fell before the six days of creation.
When was Satan created, and when did he fall from Heaven?
The Bible, unlike some other religious documents, teaches that Satan was a created being - the anointed cherub of God (Ezekiel 28:14). Known as Lucifer, Satan is thought to have been the chief musician of heaven due to the fact that God had created pipes and tabrets inside of his body (Ezekiel 28:13). God had named Satan and the angels the "sons of God" (Genesis 6:2; Job 1:6; Job 2:1; Job 38:7), a title given only to those that were created directly by God and not born to parents. Even Adam, since he was created directly by God, is referred to in this manner (Luke 3:38). The Bible clearly teaches that Satan was created, and that he was not co-eternal with God.
In Exodus 20:11 and Exodus 31:17, God says He created all things in six days.
Exodus 20:11 "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it."
Exodus 31:17 "It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested."
The phrase "and all that in them is" included Satan, the angels, stars, space, earth, plants, animals, and man. Genesis 2:1 further supports this through its use of the phrase "and all the host of them." It is not possible to say it more plainly than the words used in Exodus 20:11! Since everything was made in the six days, then obviously Satan was also made then.
Genesis 1:5 states, "And the evening and the morning were the first day," demonstrating there is no gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. The translators of the KJV wisely chose this word rather than the incorrect way many new translations say it was "a day" or "one day" to allow room for the gap theory.
Satan was created during the six-day creation week. Scripture leaves no room for a period of time prior to "the first day." Is it possible to determine which day Satan was created?
The first chapter of Genesis makes no mention of the timing for God's creation of Satan and the angels. However, the book of Job, thought to pre-date the compiled writings of Genesis, contains references of Satan as one of the sons of God. In Job 1:6 and Job 2:1, God allows Satan to plague His servant Job.
Job 38:4-7 "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who hath stretched the line upon it? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner stone thereof; When the morning stars sang together; and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"
Job 38:7 explains that "all the sons of God," celebrated a portion of God's creation. The "sons of God shouted for joy" because God had just "laid the foundations of the earth." This clearly shows that Satan was created prior to the earth's foundations being laid. The "foundations" probably refer to "land," appearing on the third day of Creation (Genesis 1:9). The creation of Satan most likely occurred on the first, second, or possibly third day of God's creation. The only other clue given by Scripture is a reference to Satan as the "son of the morning" (Isaiah 14:12), possibly placing Satan's creation in the morning on one of the first three days.
Since everything was created in six days (Exodus 20:11) and Lucifer was created (Ezekiel 28:13,15), the gap theory's second assumption, the idea that Satan fell prior to the six days of creation, is already invalidated.
The timing of Satan's fall is extremely important to the integrity of the gap theory, since its proponents use it to mark the end of the gap and the beginning of Genesis 1:2. An answer to the time of Satan's fall can be found with a careful look at the Scriptural accounts of this event. The first clue, found in Isaiah 14:14, records the words of Satan at the time of his fall - "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High." Since the clouds could not have formed prior to God's creation of water on day one, Satan fell after day one. Referring back to Job 38:4-7 that Satan was "shouting for joy" as the foundations were being laid, his fall must have occurred after day two or day three. Isaiah 14:13 also reveals to us that Satan's fall must have occurred after the creation of the "stars," which occurred on day four. Certainly, these verses imply Satan could not have fallen before creation.
The Bible gives one of the most influential clues about the timing of Satan's fall in Ezekiel 28:13-17, which presents a picture of what Satan was like prior to God's discovery of iniquity in his heart. God revealed that Lucifer, in an unfallen state, existed in the Garden of Eden, which was not created until day six. Many gap theorists have tried to explain this by saying that the Garden of Eden in Ezekiel 28:13-17 could not have been the one described in the book of Genesis. To preserve their theory, they invented another garden just as they invented another flood. Neither is ever mentioned in God's Word. The gap theorists' opinion comes from the fact that Ezekiel describes the Garden as having "every precious stone," which, they say, is different from the Genesis account. This difference is unsubstantiated Biblically since the Genesis Eden was described as having precious stones (Genesis 2:11-12).
God said in Genesis 1:31 that He "saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." If Satan had already fallen, God could not have made this statement. The clues of Scripture confirm that Satan could not have possibly fallen until after day six.
After determining the earliest point at which Satan could have fallen, discovering the latest point that it could have occurred proves to be very difficult. The next "date" given in Genesis 5:3, records, "And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth." This clue, however, helps deduce the time of Satan's fall.
From the sixth day of creation up until the time Seth was born to Adam and Eve, several events had transpired - Satan had fallen, Adam and Eve had fallen into sin, Adam and Eve had been expelled from the Garden of Eden, Cain and Abel had been born, and Abel had been murdered by Cain. With this information, and the following "common sense" assumptions, one can now find out the latest at which Satan could have fallen:
Adam and Eve had Cain and Abel shortly after their expulsion from the
Garden of Eden.
Since Satan had already fallen at the time of Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden, we must conclude that this fall occurred within the first 105 years after day six. One unique fact from Scripture that may limit the 105 year time frame even further can be found in Genesis 4:9-17. In these verses, God is telling Cain of the punishment he is about to receive for murdering his brother Abel. Cain responds by saying, "every one that findeth me shall slay me." Who are these people that Cain is worried about? Were not Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel the only people in existence at the time of Abel's murder? Apparently, Adam and Even had had several other children by this time. After Cain fled, the Bible records he dwelt in the land of Nod where his wife conceived a son Enoch. The older Cain was when he slew Abel, the more other brothers and sisters could have been living, and the younger Adam would have been when he and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. There is no way of determining from Scripture the exact age of Cain when he slew Abel; therefore, our original estimation of a maximum 105-year time frame must be adhered to although it was probably shorter.
During these 105 years, Adam and Eve were in close fellowship with God, giving Him their total worship and admiration. Satan, observing this relationship, became jealous and wanted man to worship him instead. This iniquity resulted in his fall. The Scripture-based time window for Satan's fall is illustrated on the time line below.
Through an exhaustive and thorough search of the Scripture, one can conclude that no gap exists between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" and "all that in them is," and He did it in six, literal, 24-hour days. With this in mind, there is only one question left to answer. Does it really matter if the gap theory is taught or not?
After studying the subject exhaustively, one must determine if the theory conflicts with, or attempts to compromise, the common-sense teachings of the Scripture. There are four different ways in which the gap theory violates Scripture.
#1 The gap theory undermines the simplicity and authority of Scripture
Psalm 119:169 teaches that man is to receive his understanding from the Scriptures. Although God made His Word plain and simple so that all could understand and believe (Psalm 119:130), many theologians interpret Scriptures with a mind clouded by opinions, preconceived ideas, and a bias having been "educated" in heathen schools of thought. Interpretation in this manner causes many theologians to twist the Scripture into agreeing with theory "theory." Feeling the attacks of "science," Christians began to interpret the Scripture with the preconceived idea that science had determined the age of the earth. God did not write His Word with tricky language. To compromise the simplicity or authority of the scripture is to accommodate the world's current philosophy. If the gap theory were true, the average person must not be capable of reading the Bible and understanding it without some guru or priest telling them what it really means. This is an earmark of nearly all cults.
#2 The gap theory violates the relationship between Christ and Adam
I Corinthians 15:45 states, "The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit." Clearly the Scripture not only recognizes Adam as being the "first man," but more importantly links Adam to Christ. Adam brought sin and death into the world; Christ brought righteousness and eternal life. The gap theory teaches that a race of men had previously populated the earth but were destroyed in "Lucifer's Flood." This would mean that Adam was not the first man created, just the first man created after "Lucifer's Flood," and would clearly be a violation of Scripture.
#3 The gap theory attacks the credibility of Christ.
On several occasions, Christ quoted from or referred to the book of Genesis in His teachings, obviously believing the Genesis account to be the Word of God, in considering the six days of creation to be the beginning. In Matthew 19:4 and Mark 10:5, Christ declares that the creation of Adam and Eve occurred at the beginning. Paul states in Hebrews 1:10, "in the beginning God hast laid the foundation of the earth," something that did not occur until day two or day three. Clearly, according to Scripture, the beginning was the creation week. Gap theorists, however, attack the credibility of Christ by claiming that the beginning is a reference to a point in time much earlier than the six-day creation.
#4 The gap theory denies the purpose of the cross
Without a doubt, the foundation upon which our salvation and hope rests is the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. God created a perfect, sinless earth and placed upon it a perfect, sinless man. This man, Adam, enjoyed close fellowship with his Creator until he sinned and broke the perfect relationship between God and man. Ever since that time, death and degradation have plagued God's once-perfect creation, and man has been separated from God. However, the shedding of Christ's innocent blood on the cross can restore man's fellowship with God and provide him eternal life. Through Adam's sin, death entered into the world; but through Christ's sacrifice, salvation is made possible (Romans 5:19). Therein lies the gap theory's greatest error, the placement of sin and death prior to the existence of Adam. If death existed prior to Adam's sin, then how could it be the result of sin?
Thomas Chalmers did not develop the gap theory because he wished to compromise the Scripture. Chalmers, responding to the attacks of science upon his faith, created the gap theory as a means to join the teachings of Bible with supposed scientific findings and maintain scientific credibility in the light of the rapidly spreading idea that the earth was old. His mistake grew out of his own reasoning instead of Scripture.
Unfortunately, many prominent Christian theologians, such as C.I. Scofield and Clarence Larkin, accepted the teachings of Chalmers as the attacks from science became more frequent upon their faith. These men, however, sincerely loved the Lord and spent their lives propagating the gospel. Even today, many godly men support the gap theory, having been misled by an innocent mistake.
are many problems with the gap theory.
Questions for gap theorists to answer:
Was Satan already the "god of this world" (II Corinthians 4:5)
when God gave Adam dominion (Genesis 1:26-28) over the earth?
There is ample scientific evidence that the earth is only 6000 years old (see The Age of the Earth, by Dr. Kent Hovind [www.drdino.com]), so why should we compromise a perfectly good Bible, which has never been proven wrong, with a teaching that has never been proven right?
Sources used in this study
A.C. Custance, Without Form and Void (Brookville, Canada: published by the
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