What in the World Happened Between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2?

What in the world happened between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2? Well, that’s the million dollar question. Arguments about this very question create a rift among some Christians in many cases, sadly too severe to bridge. Let’s talk about the three schools of thought: Gap Theory, Day Age Theory, and Young Earth Creationism. Now of course, among these three are several variations of beliefs; since I’m not trying to write a book here, we’ll be general. Disclaimer before we begin: I do have a very strong view on this particular topic which will be totally obvious, but for me this causes no rift between myself and those who hold to different opinions- I’m more of a “agree to disagree and move on” kind of girl.

First we’ll talk about Gap Theory. To be fair, I will use the same source for my definition of each theory- wikipedia. Wikipedia defines Gap Theory as the form of old earth creationism that posits the the six- yom (yom is the Hebrew word for day) creation period, as described in the book of Genesis, involved six literal 24 hour days (light being “day” and dark “night” as God specified), but that there was a gap of time between two distinct creations in the first and second verses of Genesis, which the theory states explains many scientific observations, including the age of the earth. This view holds that God created a fully functional earth with all animals, including the dinosaurs and other creatures we know only from the fossil record. Then, “something” happened to destroy the earth completely (some say the fall of Satan to earth) so that the planet became without form and void. At this point, God started all over again, recreating the earth in its paradise form as further described in Genesis.

The first question that comes to my mind is: why would we need to re- interpret these verses to mean anything other than what they literally seem to mean in the first place? Well, Gap Theory became popular near the end of the 18th and first half of the 19th century because of the then, newly established science of geology which had declared that, based on their findings, the only interpretation of the evidence pointed to an old earth- a very old earth. This meant that the earth was far older than the common interpretations of Genesis and the Bible-based flood theology allowed. So, some theologians of that time, in an effort to reconcile the Bible to the authority of science, introduced Gap Theory as a compromise so that the two could not contradict each other. Take this very telling quote from the Scofield Study Bible regarding why the gap theory is necessary, “Relegate fossils to the primitive creation, and no conflict of science with Genesis cosmogony remains.” The theory was popularized in 1814 by Thomas Chalmers, who was a very well respected professor of theology in Scotland. The theory really picked up steam when this “second creative act” (recreation of a previously existing destroyed earth) was discussed prominently in the reference notes for Genesis in the influential 1917 Scofield Reference Bible. In 1954, the evangelical theologian Bernard Ramm wrote in his book The Christian View of Science and Scripture, “The gap theory has become the standard interpretation throughout hyper-othodoxy, appearing in an endless stream of books, booklets, Bible studies, and periodical articles. In fact, it has become so sacrosanct with some that to question it is equivalent to tampering with Sacred Scripture or to manifest modernistic leanings.”

So we have the “why” of the compromise, now let’s discuss the “how”? How in the world did these theologians build a Biblical case for the Gap Theory? The arguments for Gap Theory revolve around compromises regarding the translation of Hebrew words such as: bara (to create vs creating), asah (making vs made over), hayetha (was vs became), and tohu wabohu (empty and formless vs something once in a state of repair, but now ruined). For an in depth explanation of these arguments along with rebuttals you can visit: http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=575 To sum it up succinctly, I’ll submit this information: In 1948, M. Henkel, a graduate student at the Winona Lake School of Theology, wrote a master’s thesis on “Fundamental Christianity and Evolution.” During the course of his research, he polled 20 leading Hebrew scholars in the United States, and asked each of them if there were any exegetical (a fancy word that means interpretation of religious text) evidence that would allow for a gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. They unanimously replied- No! (Henkel, 1950, p. 49, n. 30) Of course, there is still the glaring issue which is that the Gap Theory creates a gigantic theological problem regarding Romans 5:12 where it is made clear that death entered the world through sin and sin through Adam. Gap theory requires an entire primitive creation where death was rampant before the introduction of sin through Adam. Any effort to remedy this problem can only be addressed with non-Biblically supported speculation (from what I’ve seen).

On to the second argument- Day Age Theory. According to wikipedia, this theory holds that the six days referred to in the Genesis account of creation are not ordinary 24 hour days, but are much longer periods (of thousands or millions of years). In this way the Genesis account is reconciled with the scientifically accepted age of the earth. The arguments for this theory revolve around the meaning of the Hebrew word “yom”. Proponents of this theory point out that “yom” can have a number of meanings: 24 hour period, long age, etc. They often cite Psalm 90:4 and II Peter 3:8. To apply these verses as evidence would be out of context however, as both verses are clearly using simile to show that God is not constrained by the same time parameters as humans are. Back to “yom”, here is the breakdown:

      1. “yom” occurs 2,282 times outside of Genesis 1. It occurs 359 times with a number outside Genesis 1. In all 359 cases, the context clearly shows that a 24 hour day is being referenced.

      2. “yom” occurs 19 times outside of Genesis 1, together with the word “morning” or “evening”. In all 19 cases, a 24 hour day is clearly intended. The words “morning” and “evening” occur together, without “day” 38 times outside of Genesis 1. Each of these occurrences refers to a 24 hour day.

      3. “yom” occurs with the word “night” 53 times outside of Genesis 1. Each of these occurrences refers to a 24 hour day.

I love this quote from an article in Creation Day regarding this issue: “Given this immense contextual evidence, one is tempted to ask somewhat flippantly, ‘What could God have done to emphasize that the days of Genesis 1 are literal 24 hour days?’ Might I suggest that He could have used the Hebrew “yom” together with numbers, morning, evening or night? And that is exactly what He did!”

Here we are at the third, and my (obviously at this point) preferred argument- Young Earth Creationism. Wikipedia defines this theory as the view that the Universe, Earth and all life on Earth were created by direct acts of God less than 10,000 years ago. Its primary adherents are those Christians who subscribe to a literal interpretation of the creation narrative in the Genesis and believe that God created the Earth in six 24 hour literal days. Now that sounds fair enough, right? Pretty unbiased definition in line with the definitions of the other theories, right? IF wikipedia stopped there, but it doesn’t. Wikipedia continues with this jewel: “Since the mid-20th century, young earth creationists- starting with Henry Morris (1918-2006)- have devised and promoted a pseudoscientific explanation called “creation science” as a basis for a religious belief in a supernatural, geologically recent creation. Evidence from numerous scientific disciplines contradicts YEC, showing the age of the universe as 13.8 billion years, the formation of the earth as at least 4.5 billion years ago, and the first appearance of life on Earth as occurring at least 3.5 billion years ago…Young Earth creationism directly contradicts the scientific consensus of the scientific community…As such, young Earth creationism is dismissed by the academic and scientific communities.” Wow! Somebody REALLY does not like creation science! The bias is so extreme and so transparent as to be comical. Why does Young Earth creation science garner such hatred you might ask. Therein lies the transparency of the bias- TIME. It all comes down to time. The other Christian theories compromise by giving the scientific community what it wants and NEEDS in order for their theories (most importantly the theory of evolution) to prove true- time- billions of years of it. Without billions of years, the evolution narrative explodes in a gigantic “Big Bang”, so to speak. This is why the scientific community is willing to overlook obvious major issues with their dating systems and a plethora of other issues- because these flawed systems( proven to be flawed, not speculated to be flawed) provide them with the time necessary for their darling theory of evolution to work. This is why the bias of atheistic, secular science cannot be ignored. This is why they ignore evidence of a young earth and black ball the scientists brave enough to be whistleblowers. After all, without evolution- they might be forced to take a serious look at the Bible.

Here I would like to insert a poll conducted by Harris Interactive in 2009 that demonstrates just how confused we are as Christians when it comes to the Bible and the “infallible” science we’re taught in school. This poll found that 39% of Americans agreed with the statement that “God created the universe, the earth, the sun, moon, stars, plants, animals and the first two people within the past 10,000 years”, yet only 18% of the Americans polled agreed with the statement “The earth is less than 10,000 years old.” Wait, what?? It’s literally almost like we completely separate our Biblical beliefs from our scientific beliefs into two separate, non related boxes. This is not logical. Atheists/agnostics see that this is not logical. Ergo, atheists and agnostics think we’re crazy.

So, are Young Earth creationists loonies with no evidence? Far from it. There is literally SO. MUCH. EVIDENCE. I’m going to list just a few points, but at the bottom of the page I’ll post links to tons of evidence that you can study in depth if you’re interested. I won’t even broach the topic of the flawed dating systems that form the foundation for the billions of years interpretation because that will be a whole blog post to itself, so we’ll just stick with some other compelling arguments.

      1. Population statistics: One of the strongest arguments for a young Earth comes from the field of population kinetics. If evolutionary figures were entered into this formula, with man having lived on the Earth only 1 million years (some evolutionists suggest that man, in one form or another, has been on Earth 2-3 million years), there would be an Earth population of 1 x 105000. That number would be a 1 followed by 5,000 zeros. Using creationist figures, however, the current world population would be approximately 4.34 billion people. Which theory seems to be on target?

      2. Decay of the Earth’s Magnetic Field: It is now known that the Earth’s magnetic field is decaying faster than any other worldwide geophysical phenomenon. Knowledgeable scientists do not debate the fact of the rapid decrease in the Earth’s magnetic field. A comprehensive government report estimated, in fact, that the magnetic field would be gone by the year A.D. 3991. (I guess they’re going to address this as soon as we get climate change under control) Using complex mathematical equations to try to calculate backwards (employing a known value for the half-life decay rate of the field) presents a very serious problem in the time needed by evolutionists. The problem is that going backward for more than just a few thousand years produces an impossibly large value in the magnetic field, and of the electrically generated heat stored in the Earth’s core. In fact, Thomas G. Barnes, late professor emeritus of physics at the University of Texas at El Paso, calculated the upper limit of this time span to be 10,000 years. Going back any further than this, Barnes concluded, would cause the field to be at such huge values that the Earth could not sustain itself and would rupture and crack.

      3. Polystrate Fossils: To the “man on the street,” one of the most impressive arguments for an ancient Earth is the testimony of sedimentary-rock layers (many of which are thousands of feet thick) strewn around the planet. Scientists (and park rangers) subject us to examples like the Grand Canyon and present their spiel so effectively that—as we observe layer after layer of sedimentary rocks piled one on top of another—the only explanation seems to be that vast amounts of geologic time must have been involved. Each division of the rocks, we are told, represents a time long ago and an ancient world that long since has ceased to exist. Embedded in sedimentary rocks all over the globe are what are known as “polystrate” fossils. Polystrate means “many layers,” and refers to fossils that cut through at least two sedimentary-rock layers. Probably the most widely recognized of the polystrate fossils are tree trunks that extend vertically through two, three, or more sections of rock that supposedly were laid down in epochs covering millions of years. Thus, the entire length of these tree trunks must have been preserved quite quickly, which suggests, then, that the sedimentary layers surrounding them must have been deposited rapidly—possibly (and even likely) during a single catastrophe. As Paul Ackerman has suggested: “They constitute a sort of frozen time clock from the past, indicating that terrible things occurred—not over millions of years but very quickly” (1986, p. 84; see also Morris, 1994, pp. 100-102; Wilson, 1997, 1:37-38). Furthermore, tree trunks are not the only representatives of polystrate fossils. N.A. Rupke was the scientist who first coined the term “polystrate fossils.” After citing numerous examples of such fossils (1973, pp. 152-157), he wrote: “Nowadays, most geologists uphold a uniform process of sedimentation during the earth’s history; but their views are contradicted by plain facts” (p. 157, emp. added).

What it all comes down to in my opinion, is an argument between secular society and Bible believers in which the secular science community has duped Christians into believing that science is infallible (though interestingly and demonstrably ever changing). Christians, in an effort to not appear stupid to secular society, have created elaborate theories for the purpose of compromise by performing olympic level gymnastics in Bible interpretation. I’ll leave you with this quote by Marshall and Sandra Hall in their book, The Truth: God or Evolution?, “It is not easy to overthrow a belief, however absurd and harmful it may be, which your civilization has promulgated as the scientific truth for the better part of a century…Time, as poets and insurance salesmen remind us, is the enemy of life. But time has its friends, too. Without great, incomprehensible, immeasurable stretches of time to fall back on, the evolutionists would be sitting ducks for the barbed queries of even high school students. Time is the evolutionists’ refuge from the slings and arrows of logic, scientific evidence, common sense, and the multiplication table…. The proven uncertainties about scientific dating are a well-kept secret. The average person reading his newspaper or magazine gets the clear impression that dating is a science as exact as the addition of fractions…. Since no one can envision ten thousand years—much less a half-million or a million years—“scientists” can hide behind the two thousand millions of years that they say evolution took, and they can hide there in relative safety. They think.” (1974, pp. 74,69,71,75, emp. in orig.)

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gap_creationism

http://www.christiananswers.net/q-aig/aig-c003.html

http://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=575

http://www.icr.org/article/meaning-day-genesis/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Day-age_creationism

http://creationtoday.org/the-hebrew-yom-taking-one-day-at-a-time/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Earth_creationism

https://apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=308

Following are a list of links to check out if you are interested in further study:

http://xenohistorian.faithweb.com/genesis/index.html

https://answersingenesis.org/

http://apologeticspress.org/

Young Earth vs. Old Earth: Does it even matter?

Creation science v/s secular science. There was a battle, but we’re all too young to remember it. Does the age of the earth even matter? To some people it really doesn’t. For a long time I was one of those people. I mean, nobody’s eternal salvation hangs on whether or not they believe the earth is billions of years old or somewhere in the neighborhood of 6000ish. Personally, I’ve always loved science. It was my favorite subject in school and I believed everything that was presented to me as the ONLY correct interpretation of evidence and beyond reproach. Did that erode my faith in the Bible? Um…no- because I always believed that God created everything. He could have done so through the Big Bang and evolution as far as I was concerned. Viola’- no contradiction. If this describes how you feel about the issue, I totally get it. My goal here is not to necessarily change your mind, but to expand your understanding of the issues so that when you hear someone say they believe in a young earth your first response isn’t a massive eye roll followed by an immediate nosedive in your estimation of said person’s intelligence. As I have come to understand, the evidence for a young earth is extremely compelling- not just from a Biblical standpoint, but from a scientific standpoint as well.

So what caused my views to make an about face? Well, it wasn’t MY inquiring scientific mind. I didn’t change my mind until I was pushed into research by someone much more intelligent and much more “sciency” than I will ever be- my oldest son Kane. It all started with dinosaurs. From the time Kane was 18 months old he could identify, and clearly and correctly pronounce an astonishing number of dinosaurs. We’re not talking T-rex and Triceratops here…more like: Parasauralophus, Ornitholestes, Lambeosaurus, Giganotosaurus…As he got older, he could tell you anything you wanted to know about any dinosaur- what it ate, its size, what period it lived in (Cretaceous, Jurassic, etc.), even its scientific name. By the time he was in the first grade Kane was sure that he was going to be a Paleontologist and was asking me to research what colleges he could attend to follow that career path. Seriously. Here is an example of a “free time doodle” he made in the 3rd grade when he finished a test and was allowed to draw on the back. 

Don’t know what “arthroplura” is? Neither did I. When I asked, he responded with a sigh that it was “an extinct genus of millipede that lived in the Carboniferous period, but I think I misspelled it- I think it should have an “e” in there.” I looked it up. He was right. Right about everything- even the “e”. It should be spelled arthropleura.

By now you’re thinking, “I get it- your kid is really smart. What does this have to do with the Bible, science, and young earth?” Questions. Constant questions. That is what it has to do with the Bible, science, and young earth. Questions that I could not answer without creating new questions in his little mind. Questions about Genesis, the creation story, Adam and Eve, sin, Noah’s Ark and how these events correspond to the geologic time scale, origin of species, fossils, on and on andonandonandonandon… Let me tell you, my worn out response of “God could have done it that way if He wanted” was NOT cutting it! In his amazing little mind, he wanted (needed) to believe in both the Bible and science. Science is verifiable fact, right? The Bible is the inspired Word of our all sovereign Creator, God, right? They SHOULD corroborate each other! That didn’t seem to be happening. Even though he never said it out loud, I could see it all over his little face- he could see the “proof” science displayed, so Genesis must not be historically accurate. Well, what logically follows that assumption? If Genesis isn’t historically accurate, how can anyone claim that the rest of the Bible is? Here is the ultimate question that should give you pause and prompt you to look into the validity of the evidence for a young earth:

If sin entered the earth through Adam, and death through sin (Romans 5:12), where in the world does this scientifically documented prehistoric era in which death runs rampant fit in?

The point I am making is that you (like the old me) may not need to connect these particular dots, but for so many others out there this is literally the difference between believing and not believing. Needless to say I embarked on my mission of leaving no stone unturned to provide Kane’s answers. That’s when I stumbled upon the Answers in Genesis site and books by Ken Ham. Ken Ham and his team of scientists do a fabulous job of presenting the shockingly compelling case for a young earth. The evidence is compelling on its own merit and shocking because we are literally never made aware that such evidence exists! I feel like I should clarify before I go on, that all creation scientists do not agree on all issues across the board (of course!) For example, Ham uses a chronological Biblical timeline introduced by Archbishop James Ussher circa the year 1650. While it was cutting edge in its day, we are now privy to information that allows us to make some much needed changes in this chronology that result in a much more logical alignment with secular history. But, that’s a whole separate blog post- stay tuned.

Getting down to the brass tacks of this young earth vs old earth argument we come to a central truth: we must consider and weigh our sources. Secular scientists would have us discount some interpretations derived by scientists who believe in God on the basis of an inherent “Bible bias”. These same scientists would claim to operate under no bias, when in fact the opposite is true. Atheism creates at minimum the same amount of bias in interpretation on the opposite swing of the pendulum. These scientists can and have thrown out sound theory simply because it would corroborate the Bible. Zero bias doesn’t care what the religious implications of a sound theory may be, and this is NOT what secular scientists practice. A fabulous argument can be made that atheism in itself IS its own religion.

So where has that left us? The fact of the matter is that scientists who are atheist or agnostic outnumber scientists who do believe in God. Another fact is that our society sees science with a Biblical bias to be unacceptable, while secular or atheistic scientific findings are revered- even when they are logically deficient in their explanations. For example, secular science makes no disclosure of the horrific inadequacies of the relied upon dating systems that are foundational to the old earth narrative. (Another future post)These factors have had catastrophic effects on our education system. Prior to the Scopes Trial in 1925, students were given both sides of the scientific argument. (The Scopes Trial, that centered primarily around evolution, is an incredible story-by the way-and a whole separate forthcoming post) Post Scopes decision education looks entirely different. Secular science was declared the winner (by means of now debunked evidence and people not qualified to make the declaration) and creation science was relegated to quackery status. The brilliant scientists in the field of creation science and the scientists in all fields who are led by their belief in God and who ascribe to the Biblical account of creation are definitely not quacks. Check out the credentials of this list of current scientists who cast their lot in for a young earth: http://creation.com/creation-scientists. If you are a young earth creationist, rest assured you are in good company. SO, back to my original question- young earth vs old earth, does it even matter? That can be answered in a couple of ways. As it relates to your individual eternal salvation- no. But if you are are a scientifically oriented individual or have an opportunity to discuss creation science with a scientifically minded atheist or agnostic- it may be the difference between belief and unbelief.

In closing, I would like to encourage anyone who has an interest to investigate the amazing findings of creation scientists and the more than possibility,but probability, of a young earth. Prior to delving into this arena for the sake of my son, I had absolutely no idea of the excitement and awe that the findings of these brilliant scientists would incite. As so often happens with our children, I have found that Kane has taught me a more important lesson than I taught him. Kane has been the instigator for my discovery of an entirely new level of faith in , appreciation for, and sheer amazement of the God we serve.