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There is a common misconception by non Bible believers that everyone who believes the Bible are Young Earth Creationists (YEC), but that is not the case. There are many believers that accept that the earth may be much older than the 6,000 – 7,000 years commonly pushed by YEC. Old Earth Creationists (OEC) recognize that there are several inconsistencies in the Genesis account, but those inconsistencies only exist if you adhere to YEC. Here are the inconsistencies we’ll cover in this study:
- Earth and water are already present before God says, “let there be light.”
- The creation account in Genesis 1:2 contradicts God’s words in Isaiah 45:18 in the YEC model.
- Jeremiah describes an event that took place on earth, but mentions that “there was no man”.
Those that adhere to YEC often ignore those three major points and all of the sub-points that go along with them. We’re going to start by breaking down the first two verses in Genesis and carefully working our way to Jeremiah.
Creation vs. Restoration
Those that follow YEC believe that Genesis 1 is about the creation of the earth, while those that believe in The Gap Theory view Genesis 1:1 as the creation, Genesis 1:2 as the result of God’s judgement on Satan, and Genesis 1:3 onward are a restoration of the universe. This belief is controversial but it does have merit.
“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.” – Genesis 1:1-2
If we read these verses slowly and take notes of the key points, we see that there are several things already going on prior to the creation of light:
- The earth exists but its empty and has no shape (without form and void).
- Darkness is upon the face of the deep.
- Water exists and the spirit of God is moving over it.
This is a big deal because from verse 3 onward, everything is created with the phrase “let there be…”, but we never see this phrase occur for land and water. It is already present in the story.
“And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.” – Genesis 1:9
- Water is not created. It is gathered together in one place.
- Dry land is commanded to appear from out of the water.
This all happens on day three, but water is not created. We also know that the command for dry land to appear is not the creation of land because the earth is already present, without form, and void in verse 2.
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Not only are earth and water present without being called into existence, but the earth is described as “without form and void”, which directly contradicts what God says in Isaiah:
“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.” – Isaiah 45:18
Those that adhere to YEC often interpret this verse to mean that God created everything with a purpose and to have life inhabit it. They are 100% correct, but that’s where they stop. However, if we start digging deeper we uncover a plethora of information between Genesis and Isaiah, which includes an apparent contradiction.
Without Form and Void
By stopping to examine the words in Hebrew, we see two different scenarios that can’t both be true unless there was an event that happened After Genesis 1:1 but before Genesis 1:2. We refer to this as a “gap” and here’s why many believe it:
“In the beginning God (elohim) created (bara) the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form (tohu), and void (bohu); and darkness (choshek) was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God (ruah) moved (rachaph) upon the face of the waters.” – Genesis 1:1-2
“For thus saith the LORD (YHVH) that created (bara) the heavens; God (elohim) himself that formed (yatsar) the earth and made (asah) it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain (tohu), he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD (YHVH); and there is none else.” – Isaiah 45:18
The words in red are the words used in Hebrew. There are three words present in both Genesis and Isaiah, and we’re going to start by looking at those:
- Both Genesis and Isaiah agree that God (elohim) created (bara) the heavens and earth.
- Genesis says the earth was without form (tohu).
- Isaiah says that earth was not created in vain (tohu).
Genesis says that the earth was tohu but Isaiah says it was not created that way. Logic tells us that if it wasn’t created that way, and yet it was that way, then something must have happened to cause it to become that way.Let’s take a moment to define some of these words. We’ll come back to the ones we don’t define later in the study.
- Bara (Strong’s #1254): A primitive root; (absolutely) to create; (qualified) to cut down (a wood), select, feed (as formative processes) — choose, create (creator), cut down, dispatch, do, make (fat).
- Bohu (Strong’s #922): From an unused root (meaning to be empty); a vacuity, i.e. (superficially) an undistinguishable ruin — emptiness, void.
- Tohu (Strong’s #8414): From an unused root meaning to lie waste; a desolation (of surface), i.e. Desert; figuratively, a worthless thing; adverbially, in vain — confusion, empty place, without form, nothing, (thing of) nought, vain, vanity, waste, wilderness.
If we examine those definitions we see that something isn’t quite right in Genesis. The definition of tohu points to something out of the ordinary happening to the earth prior to God saying, “let there be light” in Genesis 1:3. Those of us that believe in The Gap Theory attribute this event to the fall of Satan because of some of the other Hebrew words appearing in both texts. What is not clear is why the translators chose to translate tohu differently in each verse.
Before we move on, there are a couple more words in Genesis 1:2 that seem to confirm the above suspicions about the word tohu being the result of an event that led to the destruction of the earth.
- Choshek (Strong’s #2822): From chashak; the dark; hence (literally) darkness; figuratively, misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness — dark(-ness), night, obscurity.
- Rachaph (Strong’s #7363): A primitive root; to brood; by implication, to be relaxed — flutter, move, shake.
Once again, if we look at the definitions we see words that seem out of the ordinary for a brand new creation: misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, and wickedness. We’ll come back to rachaph further into this study.
When Did Satan Fall?
One event that is touched on, but never fully explored in scripture is how Satan went from being the top angel created by God, to deceiving Eve in the Garden of Eden by the time we reach Genesis 3. Those that adhere to YEC will often claim that the angels were created at some point within the six days mentioned in Genesis.
That means that in order for The Gap Theory to be true, we must find evidence that there was creation going on prior to Genesis 1:1 and that the angels were part of that creation. The book of Job seems to indicate that there was creation prior to the earth and that it included the angels.
“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 (boqer kokab) sang together, and all the sons of God (bene elohim) shouted for joy? – Job 38:4-7
In these verses God is asking Job a series of questions involving the creation of the earth. During this line of questioning he mentions that “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Throughout scripture we see angels referred to as “stars” and in several places they are referred to as “sons of God”. This means that the angels were indeed present and witnessed the creation of the earth.
The Creation of Wisdom
In the book of Proverbs we encounter a strange story where Wisdom is personified as a woman and claims to have been created long before the world was created:
“The LORD (YHVH) possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting (olam), from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth (chuwl): While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.” – Proverbs 8:22-26
These verses go out of there way to get the reader to understand that Wisdom was created before the earth. This time frame is referred to as “from everlasting” (olam), which refers to eternity past and future. In addition to this the phrase “brought forth” (chuwl) means to be birthed or brought into existence. This is important because many that adhere to YEC wrongly try to change the text and apply this to God somehow, even though Wisdom identifies as female and claims to have been created.
- God never identifies as female in scripture.
- God claims to be the creator but never claims to have been created.
What we learn from Job and Proverbs is that there were things being created before Genesis 1:1, but what we don’t know is the extent of that creation. So far we know that it did include Wisdom and angels.
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Was There A Previous Judgement?
So far we’ve established that the earth was indeed tohu (ruined, wasted, and a desolate wilderness), but we’ve also established that it was not created that way according to Isaiah 45:18. We’ve established that the angels and Wisdom were created prior to the earth (Genesis 1:1) and that both witnessed the creation of the earth. What we need to establish now is whether or not there was an event that would have caused the destruction of the earth, causing it to become tohu.
“I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form (tohu), and void (bohu); and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly (qalal). I beheld, and, lo, there was no man (Adam), and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place (karmel) was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down (nathats) at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce (charon) anger (aph).” – Jeremiah 4:23-26
Here in Jeremiah we find some of the same wording found in both Genesis and Isaiah, but does it fit what we are looking for?
- The earth is without form and, void just as it is in Genesis 1:2.
- The heavens do not have light, just as it is in Genesis 1:2.
- The mountains trembled and the hills moved, possibly from the Spirit of God moving, just as it is in Genesis 1:2.
- There is no man, just as it is in Genesis 1:2.
- The fruitful place has been turned into a wilderness just as the term tohu indicates.
- The cities were broken down at the presence of the Lord and by his fierce anger, just as the term choshek indicates.
Jeremiah’s description of the conditions and the time frame when this event happened, both match a scenario that would have had to occur after Genesis 1:1 but before Genesis 1:2. The similarity of the language that both Moses and Jeremiah use to describe what they saw also seems to be intentional, which would’ve been more apparent to someone who read and spoke Hebrew.
The Holes In Young Earth Creationism
As you have probably noticed, YEC has quite a few holes in the theory that remain largely unaddressed. Many of them are aware of these holes, but make a conscious choice to ignore them instead of investigating them. Here’s a list of all of the issues that YEC needs to address in order to be taken seriously:
- Why is the earth ruined, waste, desolate, etc. in Genesis 1:2?
- Why does God say that he did not create the earth ruined, waste, desolate, etc. In Isaiah 45:18?
- If angels were created during the six days, why does God indicate that they watched the entire creation in Job 38?
- Why does Wisdom identify as a woman and claim to have been created prior to the events in Genesis 1:1?
- Why does Jeremiah 4 describe the same scene as Moses does in Genesis 1, but with the addition of a judgement by God?
- Why does Jeremiah specifically mention that there was no man when this happened?
If The Gap Theory is true, then it fully accounts for why science points to a much older universe. We have no idea how long earth was tohu and bohu before God decided to say, “let there be light”.
Myths About Old Earth Creationism
Unfortunately, a lot of myths are pushed by YEC against OEC. Many of these myths aren’t really based on anything factual, but are an attempt to paint those that believe in an older earth in a bad light. Here are just a few of those myths:
- Old Earth Creationists believe in evolution (most don’t).
- Old Earth Creationists believe God used evolution to create people and animals (most don’t).
- Old Earth Creationists believe there were people before Adam (most don’t).
- Old Earth Creationists believe dinosaurs are millions of years old (most don’t).
There are other accusations, but these are the most common accusations aimed at those who believe the earth is much older than several thousand years.
After examining all of the evidence, we can see that the traditional teaching of Genesis 1 doesn’t seem to coincide with what we find throughout the Bible. When we run into discrepancies like this, we need to stop and seek answers before concluding that what we’ve been told to believe it automatically correct. Feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions on The Gap Theory.