(also known as Ruin-Restoration creationism, Restoration
creationism, or "The Gap Theory"), is a form of Old
Earth creationism that posits that the six-day creation,
as described in the Book of Genesis, involved literal
24-hour days, but that there was a gap of time between
two distinct creations in the first and the second
verses of Genesis, explaining many scientific
observations, including the age of the Earth. In this it differs from Day-Age
creationism, which posits that the 'days' of creation
were much longer periods (of thousands or millions of
years), and from Young Earth creationism, which although
it agrees concerning the six literal 24-hour days of
creation, does not posit any gap of time.
Gap creationism became increasingly attractive near the
end of the eighteenth century and first half of the
nineteenth century, because the newly established
science of geology had determined that the Earth was far
older than a literal interpretation of Genesis and the
Bible-based Flood geology would allow. Gap creation
allowed religious geologists (who comprised the majority
of the geological community at the time) to reconcile
their faith in the Bible with the new authority of
science. According to the doctrine of natural theology,
science was in this period considered a second
revelation, God's word in nature as well as in
scripture, so the two could not contradict each other.
Gap creationism was popularized by Thomas Chalmers, a
divinity professor at the University of Edinburgh,
founder of the Free Church of Scotland, and author of
one of the Bridgewater Treatises, who attributed it to
17th century Dutch Arminian theologian Simon Episcopius.
Other early proponents included Oxford University
geology professor and fellow Bridgewater author William
Buckland, Sharon Turner and Edward Hitchcock.
It gained widespread attention when a "second creative
act" was discussed prominently in the reference notes
for Genesis in the influential 1917 Scofield Reference
In 1954, a few years before the re-emergence of Young
Earth Flood geology eclipsed Gap creationism,
influential evangelical theologian Bernard Ramm wrote in
The Christian View of Science and Scripture:
The gap theory has become the standard interpretation
throughout hyper-orthodoxy, 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.
This book by Ramm was influential in the formation of
another alternative to gap creationism, that of
progressive creationism, which found favour with more
conservative members of the American Scientific
Affiliation (a fellowship of scientists who are
Christians), with the more modernist wing of that
fellowship favouring theistic evolution.
Proponents of this form of creationism have included
Cyrus I. Scofield, Harry Rimmer, L. Allen Higley, Jimmy
Swaggart, G. H. Pember, L. Allen Higley, Arthur
Pink, Donald Grey Barnhouse and Clarence Larkin.
Canadian physiologist Arthur Custance has argued that
the belief can be traced back to biblical times, citing
the Targum of Onkelos (2nd c. BC), Akiba ben Joseph's
Sefer Hazzohar (1st c. AD), Origen's De Principiis (3rd
c. AD), and Caedmon (7th c. AD).
Interpretation of Genesis
Gap creationists believe that science has proven beyond
reasonable doubt that the Earth is far older than can be
accounted for by, for instance, adding up the ages of
Biblical patriarchs and comparing it with secular
historical data, as James Ussher famously attempted in
the 17th century when he developed the Ussher
Darwin is the Missing Link
To maintain that the Genesis creation account is
inerrant in matters of scientific fact, Gap
creationists suppose that certain facts about
the past and the age of the Earth have been
omitted from the Genesis account; specifically
that there was a gap of time in the Biblical
account that lasted an unknown number of years
between a first creation in Genesis 1:1 and a
second creation in Genesis 1:2-31. By positing
such an event, various observations in a wide
range of fields, including the age of the Earth,
the age of the universe, dinosaurs, fossils, ice
cores, ice ages, and geological formations are
allowed by adherents to
have occurred as outlined by science without
contradicting their literal belief in Genesis.
Because there is no specific information given in
Genesis concerning the proposed gap of time, other
scriptures are used to support and explain what may have
occurred during this period and to explain the specific
linguistic reasoning behind this interpretation of the
Hebrew text. A short list of examples is given below:
* The word "was" in Genesis 1:2 is more
accurately translated "became". Such a word
choice makes the gap interpretation quite easier
to see in modern English.
* God is perfect and everything he does is
perfect, so a newly created earth from the hand
of God shouldn't have been without form and void
and shrouded in darkness. Deuteronomy 32:4,
Isaiah 45:18 1 John 1:5
* The Holy Spirit was "renewing" the face of the
earth as he hovered over the face of the waters.
* Angels already existed in a state of grace
when God "laid the foundations of the Earth", so
there had been at least one creative act of God
before the six days of Genesis. Job 38:4-7
* Satan had fallen from grace "in the beginning"
which, since the serpent tempted Adam and Eve,
had to have occurred before the Fall of man.
Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:11-19, John 8:44
* Space, time, water, and the rock which constitutes the
main body of the earth, existed before the period of six
days began in Genesis 1:3.