Gap Theory

The Gap Theory was introduced in the early 1800s as a way to compromise Scripture with the newly-emerging “deep time” ideas that Enlightenment thinkers began to associate with rock layers. Geology was trending toward uniformitarianism (the idea that present processes and rates were the key to understanding the past, without global catastrophes such as the Flood) and that the Earth was far older than the Bible-based flood geology would allow. The Gap Theory allowed religious geologists to insert a gap of deep time between the first two verses of the Bible (Genesis 1:1 and 1:2).[i] They imagined eons of rock and fossil deposition, all supposedly orchestrated by the devil.

In reality, however, this attempt to compromise Scripture failed to harmonize with either secular geology or the Bible. Uniformitarian geologists reject the idea of any global Flood, whether the biblical Noah’s Flood, or a pre-Noachian Flood (some gap theorists call this “Lucifer’s Flood”). The Gap Theory fails key tests from the Bible and reason.

The theological “fatal flaw” of the Gap Theory is that it places the fall of Satan, the existence of evil, death, suffering, bloodshed, and disease in a world that God had declared “very good” (Genesis 1:31) and a world that had no death (everything ate plants, see Genesis 1:29–30). If Adam was already standing on a graveyard of fossils from animals that had died from bloodshed, suffering, disease, and cancer, what would have been the significance of God’s warning “… of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17)? Adam could have replied, “Of course I’m going to die, just like all of these creatures have already died all around me already—it’s the circle of life.”

Adam and Eve standing on a graveyard of fossils would hardly be “very good.” Indeed, Adam and Eve’s fall resulted in everything under their dominion falling too:

  • Sin brought death; Jesus raised the dead, and raised Himself from the grave.
  • Sin brought corruption of God’s original perfect design; Jesus healed the sick and cured diseases.
  • The curse of sin brought thorns and thistles to plant life; Jesus triumphed over the curse of sin while wearing a crown of thorns on the Cross.
  • Sin brought the first bloodshed (with God killing an animal to make a covering for Adam and Eve); Jesus was the last blood sacrifice necessary for our sins.
  • All of Creation groans under the weight of sin (Romans 8); Jesus will redeem all of creation unto Himself (Colossians 1).

The Bible is clear that there was no sin or death until man brought them into the world: “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12). First Corinthians 15:22 is also clear that there was no death in the world until man brought sin into it.

Also, the buried creatures from the devil’s bygone world should share no similarities with today’s living forms, and yet most basic fossil forms (which are marine invertebrates) look like living forms, and many specific fossils exactly resemble specific living creatures, called living fossils.

Finally, from a Scriptural and theological standpoint, the Gap Theory contradicts the very clear statement written by God with his own hand (in the 4th Commandment no less) that he “created the heavens, earth, the sea and everything in them” in six ordinary days (Exodus 20:8–11).


[i] Randy Moore & Mark D. Decker, More Than Darwin: An Encyclopedia of the People and Places of the Evolution-creationism Controversy (Greenwood Press, 2008): 302.