Like a high-speed, head-on collision, the Bible’s creation account directly smashes into the modern majority opinion on origins, especially on the topic of how old the earth is.
Because of this conflict, many have tried to produce a third option—a lopsided compromise that attempts to “harmonize” the evolution myth’s old-universe concept with the “six days during the creation week” narrative content of Genesis. Perhaps the cleverest example of this kind of compromise is the gap theory, the most popular version of which is called the “ruin and reconstruction theory.”
What Is the Gap Theory?
There isn’t any legitimate exegetical reason to believe that the “days” reported in Genesis 1 were anything but ordinary, 24-hour days, yet some Christians insist that we must somehow accommodate the idea that the universe is billions of years old. They may think that this age has been established by science, but nothing could be further from the truth. See Age of the Earth 101 Evidences for a Yung Age of the Earth and the Universe at Creation.com.
Whatever the reason, since it is clear within the scriptural context that the days of creation were ordinary days, some people have suggested that there was an enormous span of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. They redefine the creation week as more of a “re-creation” (i.e., restoration) week. Some in this camp believe that God originally made the world billions of years ago and then it was ruined, perhaps by Satan, so that the creation week of Genesis 1 recounts how God (re)made the world in six ordinary days. This view is called the gap theory because its advocates aver that an enormous “gap” of time (billions of years) lies between the first two verses of Genesis.
Imagine “Gap,” Insert Evolutionary “Time”
Some Christians mistakenly believe that the billions of years (originally it was just “millions”) featured in the gap theory are an accommodation of Charles Darwin’s “natural selection” theory. Not so! The gap theory was championed by Thomas Chalmers in 1814, 45 years before Darwin’s Origin of Species!1 So those who think the eons-of-time “gap” was inserted in response to Darwin have misdiagnosed the real explanation for why Christians decided to “implant” eons of time into the space between the Bible’s first two verses.
Unfortunately, Thomas Chalmers invented the time gap in order to accommodate deists (like Charles Lyell and James Hutton) who taught old earth theories that disagreed with Moses’ writings. Perhaps Chalmers thought that he was helping to make the Bible more “credible” to the educated people of his generation.
This so-called solution to what would in time be called the creation-vs.-evolution problem demonstrates a failure, during the early 1800s, of due diligence to recognize who is right and who is wrong.1
“The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.”Psalm 119:160
References and Notes
- Institute for Creation Research (2013-08-04T23:58:59). Creation Basics & Beyond: An In-Depth Look at Science, Origins, and Evolution. Institute for Creation Research. Kindle Edition.