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The Gap Theory: The Bible and The Age of The Universe

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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:

  1. Earth and water are already present before God says, “let there be light.”
  2. The creation account in Genesis 1:2 contradicts God’s words in Isaiah 45:18 in the YEC model.
  3. 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.

Read More About The Days Of Noah In My Book

As The Days of Noah Were: The Sons of God and The Coming Apocalypse

Contradicting Isaiah

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.

  1. 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).
  2. Bohu (Strong’s #922): From an unused root (meaning to be empty); a vacuity, i.e. (superficially) an undistinguishable ruin — emptiness, void.
  3. 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.

  1. Choshek (Strong’s #2822): From chashak; the dark; hence (literally) darkness; figuratively, misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness — dark(-ness), night, obscurity.
  2. 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 Clomid 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 Clomid 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.

Read More About The Days Of Noah In My Book

As The Days of Noah Were: The Sons of God and The Coming Apocalypse

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:

  1. Why is the earth ruined, waste, desolate, etc. in Genesis 1:2?
  2. Why does God say that he did not create the earth ruined, waste, desolate, etc. In Isaiah 45:18?
  3. If angels were created during the six days, why does God indicate that they watched the entire creation in Job 38?
  4. Why does Wisdom identify as a woman and claim to have been created prior to the events in Genesis 1:1?
  5. Why does Jeremiah 4 describe the same scene as Moses does in Genesis 1, but with the addition of a judgement by God?
  6. 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.

The Breakdown

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.

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  • What is up Dante!?

    Nice post. Personally, I don’t know how old the Earth is, but I do believe in the first 10 words of the Bible with all my heart. God is powerful enough to make it all in 6 days or 600 or 6,000 or 6,000,000. If He did take millions of years to finish the job, you might start to wonder what took him so long LOL

    We know Adam was created full grown, and the star light was visible to his eyes, or they couldn’t have fulfilled their purposes outlined in Genesis 1:14-15. So for me, it is quite obvious God created a mature and developed universe just like He created a mature and developed Adam to live in it.

    It seems to me the OEC crowd (gap theorists in particular), and correct me if I am wrong, are trying to cram what we think we have learned from science into the pages of scripture. I never try to view scripture in light of what the secular world teaches, I always view the secular world in light of what scripture teaches.

    The plain reading of the book of Genesis seems pretty clear in its wording to me. It’s only after you have done scriptural gymnastics do you arrive at these theories. What meaning would a reader have arrived at, shortly after Genesis was written by Moses and began to make its rounds? What meaning would be rendered in the minds of readers without the benefit of comparing Isaiah? Would God confuse them or lie to them or mislead them?

    Those thoughts aside, I do not see any contradiction at all between Isaiah and Genesis… as you have shown there are MANY uses of the word tohu… and your argument doesn’t compel me. You also stated that water was not created. I don’t agree with that either. If God created the Earth without form…. covered in water (the deep)… what I take that to mean, is that He first created the Heaven and Earth which started out as a water world (no not the Kevin Costner kind… all though sort of). When the land raised up out of the waters and continents were “formed” well now we have form (no more tohu).

    Lastly, as long as people don’t try to say life began on Earth billions of years before man arrived on the scene, then the age of the Earth is of no consequence. IF they DO try to say single celled organisms lived and died for billions of years before man, that is a complete contradiction to the Bible that states death entered the world with Adam’s Sin. Before sin, death was not part of the equation. If we are willing to give up that idea to bend to the ideas of the world, we might as well throw the whole Bible away, as it cannot be trusted.

    I will continue to Stand Tall For Christ my friend.

    Thanks for the article.

    • Minister Fortson

      This study isn’t about how long it took him to create the earth. So you either missed the point or you’re inserting stuff you’ve heard about the Gap Theory. Seems the YEC crowd loves to do this instead of actually reading and comprehending what is being said. The OEC crowd mostly claims that the earth is older than the YEC crowd believes, but that has nothing to do with how long it took God to create the earth.

      It doesn’t matter if I convince you or not. The fact is that water is never created in any of the verses in Genesis 1. It’s already there and the Spirit of God is hovering over the deep. Feel free to show me when water was created according to Genesis 1. If not, don’t add to it.

      “When the land raised up out of the waters and continents were “formed” well now we have form (no more tohu).”

      The verse in Isaiah says he did not create it tohu. So your explanation isn’t actually an explanation as to why it was tohu in the first place. You only point out how the problem was solved, not how it originated. If God didn’t create it tohu, then it had to become tohu vavhou (without form and void) by some other means.

      You also fail to address when Satan fell and why he comes into chapter 3 with the sole purpose of destroying Adam and Eve through deception. That’s what the gap theory is about. Nothing to do with how long it took God to create the earth or evolution.

      • In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth (this is where water would have been created. They don’t mention a molten core either, but we can assume it was created when the Earth was created). The “Heavens” is not a single thing, but MANY things. The Earth as a whole could be considered a single thing, but made up of many things… if the continents rose up out of the water… then they were there under the water when He made the Earth.

        OEC folks I have listened to, don’t simply think the earth is “older” than the YEC crowd… if that we’re true you could find some OECers that think it’s 20,000 or 30,000 years old. OEC folks are trying to fit the Millions and Billions of years Scientists proclaim into the pages of scripture… When it is completely unnecessary.

        The God I worship can create things in a millisecond, he doesn’t need to evolve anything over time. If he told us in scripture he evolved things, than I would accept it, however he reveals the opposite in a plain and simple reading of Genesis. Six days of creation, as we understand a 24 hour day to be. The Bible was mean’t to reveal the truth of God to people all over the world, you do not need a degree in science or theology to arrive at the truth, and you don’t need to do scriptural gymnastics.

        People over complicate things. As to when Satan fell, who knows. Who cares. That is not the purpose of the Bible, the purpose of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation is to point people to Jesus Christ. Not educate us on how and when Satan fell from grace. If God wanted to reveal that information to us, he would have. We don’t have to create a bunch of conspiracy theories to uncover hidden meanings.

        • Minister Fortson

          There’s a reason you’re running away from the Hebrew. It doesn’t teach a young earth.

          I don’t care what OEC people you talked to. It has nothing to do with me. But the fact is YEC is complete lunacy. It creates a science conspiracy to pass the earth off as millions of years old. It’s not a conspiracy and the fact that scientists have evidence of an old earth also indicates a gap of time.

          OEC believers aren’t trying to fit anything anywhere. It just fits.

          Nobody in this conversation mention evolution excpt you. So why are you making up things to debate? How about you stick to addressing what I actually wrote on my site. If you want to debate what you assume everyone else believes, then feel free to go back to where you saw it and debate them.

          Would you mind making a list of which parts of the Bible we should ignore, and which scriptures we shouldn’t care about?

          The Bible is about a lot of things, most of which are clear in Hebrew. Unfortunately, there are lots of Christians that insist on not knowing anything at all, and go out of their way to not know anything about anything.

          YEC has zero evidence in the Bible and zero evidence in science. Because it’s false.

  • Cole Thompson

    The 1st earth has a sea, the 2nd earth doesn’t. Since the earth has a sea, then we are still on the 1st earth. See Revelation 21:1 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and the sea was no more.”

  • “Old Earth Creationists believe there were people before Adam (most don’t).”

    Please explain who would’ve built the ruined cities of Jer 4, if not people?

    This postulation is intriguing and well laid out, however you didn’t explain who would’ve built those cities laid waste by God, if not people.

    • Minister Fortson

      Angels could’ve built stuff all over the place before humans. Humans aren’t the only or oldest creation. Angels have weapons, flying vehicles, and a means of calling other angels to their aid in scripture. Either God was making everything for the angels or he made them capable of making it themselves.

  • Stig-Ove

    A most informative article.

    Many christians are dogmatically opposed to this idea because it forces them to think outside church doctrine or the box.

    Thats why its imperative people like you continue to do work like this.

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