"In the beginning, God created the heavens 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 waters."
In these two opening verses to the book of Genesis, Moses gives the account of the origin of the universe. He does not give an indepth account of God's workings. He does not indicate a gradual process which culminated in creation. Instead, he simply states a fact: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." However, even with this definitive statement, many questions have been raised as to the exact method of creation. These theories are mainly given to try and allow the theories of creation and evolution to run side by side. The reason for this "need" is that science claims an age of billions of years for the earth, while the Bible claims only six thousand years from the time of creation. Rather than simply accept the inspired Biblical doctrine, men have tried to create a new theory which would allow God to be the Creator, but would still fit in the billions of years "required" by science. These theories include the Day-Age Theory, Theistic Evolution, and the Gap Theory. It is necessary to understand the framework of these theories so that the Christian can accurately defend his Bible.
The Day-Age Theory of creation deals with the idea that the six days of creation illustrated in Genesis chapter one are actually time intervals as opposed to literal twenty-four hour days. The key plank which proponents of this theory stand on is that II Peter 3:8 states, "One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Armed with this verse, advocates of the Day-Age Theory claim that the word "day" which God inspired Moses to use, can in God's way of thinking represent a indefinite period. Having noted this, they will go on to claim that the Hebrew word used in Genesis chapter one, "yom" can refer to an indefinite period of time as well as a twenty-four hour day. Finally, advocates will note that the events of the sixth day could not possibly all have happened on the same day. This is to give added support to their determination that creation could not have occurred in six twenty-four hour days.
... after creating all the land animals the sixth day, God created man, both male and female. Then ...we are told that God created Adam, gave him the responsibility of tending the Garden of Eden for some time until He observed him to be lonely. He then granted him the fellowship of all the beasts and animals of the earth, with opportunity to bestow names upon them all. Some undetermined period after that God observed that Adam was still lonely and finally fashioned a human wife for him... Who can imagine that all these transactions could possibly have taken place... within twenty-four hours. (1)
For these reasons, proponents of the Day-Age Theory
feel that the geologic ages can be placed within the first
six days of creation as recorded in Genesis one.
However, there are several problems with the Day-Age Theory. First, and foremost, there is absolutely no reason to believe that the six days can not be literal twenty four-hour days. In the first place, the word "day" appears in over two hundred places in the Old Testament with ordinals, such as the first day or the second day. In every one of these references outside the first chapter of Genesis the word refers to a literal twenty-four hour day. Thus, there is no reason to assume that the word "day" appearing with an ordinal number should be used any differently here.
The second reason for believing that "day" refers to twenty-four hours is the basic use of the Hebrew word "yom". "Yom" appears over 1900 times within the Old Testament. Of these, only sixty-five instances are translated "time" as opposed to "day." In other words, in 95 percent of the cases, "yom" is given its literal usage. There is no special reason why it can not maintain that usage in this particular passage of Scripture. Dr. Henry Morris indicates that the reader should ask himself what words the writer of Genesis would have used if he wished to convey the idea of six literal days. His answer is that the writer would have used the actual words of Genesis one.(2) Thus, the comparitive translations of "yom" do not obligate the reader to accept the Day-Age Theory.
Following on this logic, opponents of the theory mount their attack. The term "morning" and "evening" are used in reference to the days in Genesis one. These words would logically seem to set a boundary on the time span of those days. Proponents of the theory will argue that God is simply attempting to relate the periods to actual days as would be understood by the readers. This arguement is very weak, and is nothing more than an attempt to get around something that destroys the theory. In addition to the logical aspect of "evening and morning" the weight of Scripture must be viewed. These terms are used over one hundred times in the Old Testament, and on every occasion they refer to a literal twenty-four hour day.(3) Since it is always proper to interpret one passage of Scripture in light of other related passages, it is obvious to assume that the days in Genesis one refer to literal days.
One final arguement can be given against the Day-Age Theory. This is the fact that Exodus 20:8-11 teach six literal days. The fourth commandment is to "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." God teaches that He wants His people to do all their work in six days and rest on the seventh. He gives His reason in verse eleven: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth the sea and all that in in them is, and rested the seventh day." This limits Genesis one to a reference to literal days.
As to the other arguements of Day-Age proponents, they can be easily refuted. II Peter 3:8 occurs in the midst of a passage dealing with the Lord's return. People were beginning to doubt that Christ would return at all because it had been so long since His ascension. Peter is simply reminding them that God is not bound by the limits of time. As an omnipresent, infinite Being, He does not view time as we do, but views all time as one collective whole. Thus Peter writes to remind them that while a single day may seem long to them, it is no different then a thousand years for Christ's return, the time span will have meant virtually nothing to God. As to the arguement that all the events of day six could not have occured within twenty-four hours, the question comes back, why not? The creation of the animals and Adam would have taken just a moment of time and then Adam, with his unfallen brain could easily have named the animals. This arguement holds no bearing on the issue. Thus it can be seen that the Day-Age Theory of Creation can not be true.
The second popular theory is that of Theistic Evolution. This theory suggests that God used a process of Time bringing Adam into creation, rather than create him instantly. This is a very dangerous view. By adopting this view, the individual must reject what the Bible teaches about the creation of man. The Bible teaches that man was created from the dust of the ground. There is no indication of a lingering process. On the basis of linguistics alone, Adam could not be the product of theistic evolution.
I Corinthians 11:8 states, "For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man." The preposition "of" carries with it the idea of ultimate physical origin. But if theistic evolution is true, then woman must have come through a female animal, not Adam.(4) Another arguement against this theory is the phrase "living soul" found in Genesis 2:7. This phrase should actually be translated "living creature" for it is the same phrase as is applied to sea creatures in Genesis 1:20, 21. (5) This teaches that Adam was a completely new living being, and did not evolve. In light of Scriptural evidence, theistic evolution heretical approach to creation which falls far short of the Biblical revelation.
The final major theory of creation which attempts to reconcile the teachings of the Bible into the teachings of science is the Gap Theory. Simply stated, this theory teaches that a time gap of an undetermined interval occured between Genesis 1: and 1:2. Into this gap, all the geological ages of time are placed to account for the reported age of the earth. This theory was first popularized by Dr. Thomas Chalmers in the 19th century as an attempt to, "harmonize the Genesis account of creation with the vast time periods of earth's history demanded by Uniformitarian
geologists.(6) This theory has since become quite popular,
and should be examined carefully.
One of the major supports for the Gap Theory is the fact that the Hebrew word "hayetha", which is translated "was" in Genesis 1:2 can also be translated "became". An example of this is found in Genesis 19:26 which states, "But his wife looked back from him and became a pillar of salt." There are five other instances of this type of translation within the Pentateuch. In Genesis 3:20, "hayetha" is translated "was" but would probably fit the context better if it were translated "became": "and Adam called his wife Eve because she was the mother of all living." Based on these instances, the proponents of the theory feel that it would be satisfactory to translate Genesis 1:2, "and the earth became without form and void." This translation would appear to indicate that something had happened which had turned God's original creation into chaos.
Along the same lines, Gap Theory advocates feel that verse two can not be translated "was" because that would indicate that God's initial creation was chaos and confusion. Isaiah 45:18 states, "God himself who formed the world and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited." The words "in vain" used in this verse are the translation of the Hebrew word "tohw" which is also found in verse two of
Genesis one in the form "tohu wa-bohu", and is translated "without form and void". Thus, if "layethu" is to be translated "was", then Genesis 1:2 and Isaiah 45:18 contradict each other in that Genesis states that God's initial creation was in vain. So proponents of the theory feel that this calls for "hayetha" to be translated "Become".
"Tohu wa-bohu" is important for another reason. This phrase occurs only two other times in Scripture. In both of these passages, "the rhyming compound describes a state affected by God's judgment."(7)Based on this statement, those who support the theory feel that the phrase in Genesis 1:2 must also refer to judgment. In fact, in the twenty instances in the Old Testament where "tohu" appears by itself, many times the term is used in an evil sense.(8) Advocates of the theory use this information to say that a judgment must have fallen upon the earth to result in the chaos. Gap Theory Theologians do not believe that God would have created something in an imperfect manner.
God therefore created everything and still creates everything in a state of perfection: why, then, in the beginning should He have created the universe in a state of desolation, of confusion, of disorder, of gloom... as God does not create or cause moral disorder.... that is to say; sin -- so
He can not produce physical disorder: because just as sin is disorder in spiritual creatures, so chaos is sin in the material universe.(9)
Going along with this whole idea is the concept that
darkness generally implies evil and judgment also. This,
in addition to previously cited evidence, makes those who
support the Gap Theory believe that Genesis 1:2 indicates
a state of judgment upon the earth.
The reason for the state of judgement is believed
to be the fall of Lucifer from Heaven, as taught in
Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-19. Proponents of the
theory feel that this event is of a catastrophic nature
and could very easily have been the event which sent God's
judgement upon the earth. This is an essential plank, for
without a cause for divine Judgement, the Gap Theory could
never explain why the change in the earth's complexion
While it may be said that the supporters of the
Gap Theory have a good arguement, the light of Scripture
refutes their arguements. In response to the idea that
"hayetha" should be translated "became" instead of "was",
opponents of the theory point to the Scriptures. While it
is true that the translation "became" occurs six times in
the Pentateuch, in each of these times the text clearly
shows that a change took place. An example of this is
found in Genesis 3:22, which reads, "and the Lord God said,
Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil." There is no clear textual indication of a change taking place in Genesis 1:2. Also, while "hayetha" is translated "become" six times in the Pentateuch, it is translated "was" 258 times. In fact, in a broad overview of the entire Old Testament, the translation "became" appears 64 times while "was" appears 4900 times.(10) On the weight of numbers alone, a switch would seem very unnecessary.
Furthermore, the sentence structure suggests that the earth's condition in verse two is just as God created it in verse one, for we have an exact grammatical parallel in Jonah 3:3 ('Jonah arose and went to Ninevah... now Ninevah was an exceeding great city'), obviously Ninevah did not become a great city after Jonah entered it. (11)
Thus, the translation of "hayetha" as "became" really has no substance and although it truely is valid, should not be considered a strong defense.
Gap theory proponents will argue that original creation was not "without form and void" based on Isaiah 45:18. However, a better translation of this verse would be, "He did not create it to be a waste, for inhabiting He formed it."(12) This passage indicates that God simply did not plan for the earth to be devoid of life. That is why the phrase, "He formed it to be inhabited" is included in the verse. God's original creation was not without form void; that was only what He started with. God's creating activities are not completed till the creation of man on the sixth day. Then, the earth was no longer devoid of life. This also disagrees with arguements of the theory.
The next arguement of the theory dealt with the fact that "tohu wa-bohu" seems to indicate judgment whenever it is mentioned and that "tohu" by itself carries connotations of evil. This is true, However, "tohu" appears many times in the Word of God without referring to something evil. Job 26:7 states that God "stretcheth out the north over the empty place and hangeth the earth upon nothing." This certainly gives no indication of evil or judgement. In fact, the idea of areas being simply marked by an absence of life can fit nicely into the two other Scriptures which use "tohu wa-bohu"; Jeremiah 4:23 and Isaiah 34:11.(13) Thus, this arguement is not a solid defense for the Gap Theory either.
Darkness is not always a symbol of sin and judgement either. Psalm 104: 19-20 reads, "He appointed the moon for seasons; the sun knoweth its going down, flow makest darkness, and it is night, wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth." Thus it is seen that God created darkress and it should not necessarily be viewed as an evil thing. This is not a good criterion for accepting the Gap Theory.
Finally, the idea that Satan was cast down to earth between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 must be dealt with. Evidence would seem to indicate that Satan was probably cast down from Heaven some time after the six days of creation and before the fall of Adam and Eve. The major reason for this is that God continually refers to His creation as "good". If Satan were on the earth, it does not seem that God could smile at it. This idea of God calling His creation "good" also tampers with the Gap Theory in other ways. Gap Theory advocates place geological ages in that gap, and thus explain away the fossil evidence. Yet in doing this they indicate that death occurred before the time of creation. It is hard to believe that God would compliment a creation which already held the marks of sin and death.(14)
The final arguement against the Gap Theory stems from Romans 5:12, which states, "For as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." This passage of Scripture indicates that death entered into God's creation as a result of the sin of Adam. This being the case, it would be impossible for the fossil record of death to have existed prior to the time of Adam, because death came about as a result of his sin. Thus, Biblically, the Gap Theory can be disposed of.
How then can the age of the earth be explained. The explanations of the Gap Theory, Theistic Evolution, and the Day-Age Theory are unsatisfactory. So another explanation must be offered. This theory is two -fold. The first cause for the appearance of age is the fact that God created, a mature earth. When Adam was created, he did not appear as an infant, but as a mature man. When Adam looked up that first night, he was able to see the stars, the sun and the moon. He did not have to wait for hundreds of light years for the illumination from the stars to arrive. This leads to the theory that God created the universe with the appearance of age.(15) The second part of the theory deals with the Flood. A universal flood of the magnitude and strength of the one in Genesis chapters seven and eight would easily result in the geological shifts and fossil records now evident. This would easily account for the "age" of the earth. It is always best to accept the Biblical account of events. It is never necessary to try to interpret the Bible in the light of modern "science". True science and the Bible never contradict each other. Theories such as Theistic Evolution, the Day-Age Theory and the Gap Theory are false. The Biblical accounts must always be accepted as they are, and thus seeming problems will be solved.