By Nathan Jones
Is the Gap Theory a biblical teaching or just bad translation?
We asked this question on our television show Christ in Prophecy of Mike Riddle, the founder and director of a wonderful ministry called the Creation Training Initiative. It's a biblical discipleship ministry that teaches Christians how to defend their faith using Genesis and the teaching of a literal 6-day Creation.
The Gap Theory
Nathan Jones: We have Dr. David R. Reagan here, but there is a Dr. David F. Reagan out there who believes in the Gap Theory. People are always getting the Dr. Reagan's mixed up. Can you explain the Gap Theory for people so they know that we here at Lamb & Lion Ministries do not believe in the Gap Theory. Please tell us what the Gap Theory is and what are the verses it applies to.
Dr. Reagan: I want to say that again — I do not believe in the Gap Theory. I've never believed in the Gap Theory. So, Mike, tell us about the Gap Theory.
Mike Riddle: First of all, let me explain what the Gap Theory is and why it got invented. In the 1800's, people started believing that the earth was old and that was in part from what Charles Darwin brought about. The earth has to be old to accommodate the whole idea and philosophy of Evolutionism.
A lot of our theologians started to cave in by that point and declared, "Well, if they've proven the earth to be billions of years old, where are we going to put this time into the Bible?" They decided to invent something called a gap to explain the long geologic ages in the fossil record. They put a gap in between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. These verses read, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and the earth was without form and void." What these confused theologians did in between those two verses was to put a gap of time of millions of years to accommodate the geologic time. To do this they reworded the Bible just a little bit so that it says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and the earth became (not was) without form and void." In other words, the rewording gave the indication that God created the earth and then something happened before the rest of creation was completed.
There are a lot of different versions to what this something could be. Some say it had to be Satan's fall which then made a flood which destroyed everything. The earth then became without form and void.
We have to look at the word "became" which is the verb hayah in Hebrew. Can it mean became? Yes it can, but only in very specific cases, and only when hayah is proceeded by a preposition. In this case it is not proceeded by a preposition, so using "become" is an incorrect translation to translate that verb "became" rather than "was".
Another text these Gap Theorists use is in the King James, and that's the word "replenish" from Genesis 1:28. God told the people to go and "replenish" gives the indication that something went wrong and people have to refill the earth. We have to understand the King James is not wrong there. We have to understand that when the King James Bible was written the word "replenish" meant "to fill," not "refill." so we have to have a little study in grammar here. After the King James Bible was written that verb underwent a definition change. Today it means "to refill." So, to translate that correctly in modern English we should use "fill" instead of "replenish."
There are other problems with the Gap Theory. For instance, if we put the long geologic ages with the fossil record between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 the problem here is, what was going on during that gap? Death, decay, and disease. The Gap Theory clearly teaches death before sin, and the Bible teaches death after sin (Rom. 5:12).
Dr. Reagan: How does someone like Hugh Ross handle this question?
Mike Riddle: Hugh Ross' ministry will say that when it comes to sin the Bible's just referring to human death. Romans 5:12 does refer to just human death. But, he forgets Romans 8:22 where it says, "all of creation groans," which includes everything including the animals all because of one man's sin. So, he misses that point.
Or, he'll come up and say, "There had to be death before sin. Plants were dying. What were Adam and Eve eating from? Plants. What happens when you dig up plants and eat them? We kill them." He forgets a very important point there. God gave the breath of life to humans, and He also gives life to the animals. But, nowhere in the Bible does God give the breath of life to plants. Plants biologically have life because they have a cell structure, but biblically they are not given life.
So, there really is no death before sin found anywhere in the Bible, and therefore no gap between Genesis 1 and 2.
Dr. Reagan: So, the theologians who can't accept a young earth have got to come up with another theory?
Mike Riddle: Right, and unfortunately they in the process discredit the authority of God's Word. They are also not using good science in doing that because good science does indeed support a very young earth.
Dr. Reagan: Yes, and so does the statement concerning the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments where you earlier pointed out it says a day is a day.
Mike Riddle: Here's another one. Did you know Jesus Christ Himself believed in a young earth? In Mark 10:6, Jesus makes this statement, "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female." What is Jesus saying here? Man and woman were on this planet from the beginning of the Creation, and not after millions of years. There's Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior and the eyewitness Creator to all things proclaiming the earth is young.
In the sixth segment of this Creation training series with Mike Riddle, he'll give us the strongest arguments against Evolution.