By: Terri McInnis
As Communications Director at Prophecy in the News, I recently received an email from a gentleman asking me why we cared about whether the earth was young or old. He went on to say that we should only be concerned with the salvation message of Jesus Christ and not worry about the age of the earth. I agree, that the message of the free gift of salvation to mankind through the blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the single most important reason for what we do every day at Prophecy in the News. But, a lot of Christians think that the creation story is just not that important and it can be confusing and interpreted in many different ways. I want to show you why we cannot understand the Bible as a whole unless we get “in the beginning” right. Simple common sense tells us that. Let me further explain.
Weston Fields, author of the book, Unformed And Unfilled (A Critique of the Gap Theory) said, “Man has always sought answers concerning his origin. It is certain that at a particular point in history, namely the last half of the 15th century B.C., God inscripturated (preserved), by Moses, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, His official record in Genesis of the origin of the universe and everything contained in it. Unfortunately, however, the mere putting of this cosmogony (the branch of science that deals with the origin of the universe), into words of human language did not guarantee that men would understand the precise meaning God intended. Certain words are to convey certain meanings, the greater the number of words grouped together the greater are the possibilities for divergence in their interpretation. Moreover, the matter becomes further complicated when the words must be translated into another language. Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 is a case in point.”
Fields goes on to explain that, “some have compromised the truths of Scripture by seeking what appear to be unnatural interpretations of Scripture, in order to form harmony between the facts of the Bible and what are felt to be the facts of science, many of which are only theories. The “Gap Theory” is such an attempted harmonization.”
Weston Fields was correct in how he explained why Bible-believing Christians find it necessary to hang on to what mankind has created under the classification of “science.” Through our personal use of “common sense,” we know that science is only a “theory” to be proved and disproved and is changing all the time, but it is not an absolute because man has created these theories. Ask any number of the scientist in the world today how old the earth is and you will probably get several different answers. Like I said, “Man has created “science” to try and justify his beliefs, or better yet, his unbelief that God could actually exist and be the Almighty who created everything.” The word “science” comes from the Latin word scientia, meaning “knowledge.” The scientific community defines the term as “a systematic attempt to discover, by means of observation and reasoning, particular facts about the world, and to establish laws connecting facts with one another and, in some cases, to make it possible to predict future occurrences.”
Remember something very important when you are analyzing the Bible and the beginning of time. There were no eyewitnesses to the beginning of the universe. No scientist, no Bible scholars or theologians, only God. When someone tells you that they know for a fact that the earth is millions of years old, common sense tells us that that’s not possible. But, you also have to ask yourself, how do people that claim the earth is only around 6,000 years old, dare to claim that the “Young Earth Theory” is the truth. Remember, no one was there in the beginning, but God. I want to show you in the Bible where I truly believe those who cling to the idea that it took millions of years for this earth to develop and evolve, are misled.
I am sure you may question; how could I know this for a fact? The answer is simple, because we have the word of God in the Bible, to tell us the truth. As Christians, we have to be willing to see it and understand it correctly. You can put 10 different Bible scholars in the same room and ask them the same question from the Bible and you are very likely to get 10 different answers. There are so many different interpretations of the Word of God today, but the secret is in “understanding the Bible correctly” when it comes to the creation of the earth. That takes courage to go against those throughout history, and even what many current day, so-called Bible scholars and theologians, have led us to believe. I am going to show you in the Bible why their teachings are false teachings.
The problem is, Bible scholars and theologians, beginning with Dr. Thomas Chalmers in 1814 who originally invented the “Gap Theory,” along with George H. Pember in 1876 who wrote Earth’s Earliest Ages, all the way down to the Scofield Reference Bible with the first edition in 1909 and 1917, have twisted, changed, turned and falsely interpreted the Bible to make it say what they want others to believe. Don’t get me wrong, C.I. Scofield is highly respected for most of his biblical teachings, especially his promotion of the dispensational theology of John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), just not his gap theory on creation.
I recently discovered in the Scofield Study Bible (New and Improved Edition ‘1996’) that in his study notes just above Chapter 1 of Genesis, the last sentence of his commentary reads, “The events recorded in Genesis cover a period of 2,315 years (Ussher).” Scofield was referring to Archbishop James Ussher (1581-1656). Knowing that Scofield believed in the millions of years between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, I found this statement in his comments a little puzzling.
Scofield displayed his commentary at the top of each page of his Bible, where from the event chronology calculated by Ussher, he dated the creation of the world at 4004 BC and Noah’s flood at 2349 BC.
Referring to Genesis 1:1 he states, “The first creative act refers to the dateless past, and gives scope to all the geologic ages.” He believed in a “primitive order,” a world filled with animal life in the very distant past. Scientist have led us to believe until just recently, that this evidence of the long dead animal life remains today “as fossils.” Scofield confidently proposed, in his first and succeeding editions, that the earth had suffered a “catastrophe” associated with Satan’s fall and expulsion from heaven (Isaiah 14:12-14). This event had lethal and disastrous results on earth. In recent times there was a re-creation described in the later verses of Genesis 1.
Scofield’s proposal of his time became known as the “Gap Theory” and Ruin-Restoration creationism. It held sway for many years among Christian circles. The gap theory held appeal for many years because it was equivalent to “having your cake and eating it too,” satisfying both the need for a very old earth, conforming to what was believed to be, overwhelming scientific evidence of ancient fossils, and a recent creation of the young earth as well.
In our PITN bookstore, we offer a DVD series called, “Beyond: Is Genesis History? that is an excellent documentary that not only teaches, but proves that the ancient “fossil” theory that is the basis for the “Gap Theory” is completely false.
If you know anything about history, up until the late 1700s, most Christians believed that the earth was about 6,000 years old. If you add up the chronological dates in the Bible, you come to that conclusion. As Hebrew and Samaritan scholars of the Hebrew text recognized Moses as the writer of the first five books of the Bible and author of Genesis, it is believed that the writing of Genesis should be dated to the time of the Exodus. The Bible says in Deuteronomy 34:10, “And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”
To find the truth, what we really need is common sense when looking in the Bible. Let’s take a serious look at the Scriptures to understand two very different beliefs of today.
The beginning of time and history was undoubtedly an unbelievable awesome event, beyond our wildest comprehension. There are several ways that Christians believe the earth was created, but the two most prominent are the following:
One is called the “Young Earth” theory in which they believe that the earth, the universe and the heavens above were created for the first time by the almighty God in 6-literal 24-hour days. In today’s culture, the thought of creation occurring about 6,000 years ago is frequently mocked by non-Christians and only in the last few years, have Christians also begin to mock this idea. In 1650, James Usher (1581-1656), the famous and respected Archbishop of Armagh and primate of Ireland in the seventeenth century, is today greatly ridiculed for declaring that he believed that the creation day was Sunday 23, October 4004 B.C. (about 6,000 years ago). He formed the basis for the chronology system of the King James Bible that had been widely accepted. By using the genealogical data throughout the Old Testament, he calculated that there were 4,036 years from Adam to the time of Christ.
John Lightfoot (1602-1675) an English churchman, rabbinical scholar and Master of St. Catharine’s College in Cambridge, worked further with Ussher’s chronology and deduced that creation took place during the “week of October 18 to 24, 4004 B.C., with Adam being created on October 23, at 9:00 a.m., forty-fifth meridian time.” The scientist who have accepted contemporary geology scoff at this and some Christians find this exact time and date a bit amusing, believing such precision is impossible. My father, Dr. J.R. Church, investigated this subject in his article “The Untold Story Behind Creation Week” (February 2018 Magazine). As a believer in the “Young Earth” theory, he said that most conservative Christian theologians believe that Adam was created in 4004 B.C. and Jewish scholars observe the new moon of September or early October as the birthday of the world. They claim that the first day of Creation happened on Rosh Hashanah, the new moon of late September.
It is believed that Ussher and Lightfoot failed to take into account the possibility of gaps in the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11, but it is noted that they are much, much closer in the true age of the earth then geologists who believe the earth is billions of years old!
The second is the “Old Earth” theory in which they claim there were billions of years between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. “And the earth was without form, and void.” This theory known as the “Gap Theory” proposes a complete and perfect creation of both universe and earth in Genesis 1:1, a ruin of the earth during a chronological gap of millions of years between 1:1 and 1:2, and a subsequent re-creation of the earth beginning with Genesis 1:3. This “Gap Theory” is also known as the “Ruin-and-Restoration Theory.” Not all gap theorists agree on the exact details of this theory, but there is one unifying principle among all gap theorists. It is the unifying belief that Genesis 1:2 records the ruin of a once-perfect earth, with a lengthy time-gap between the original creation and the restoration that they believe is recorded in Genesis 1:3.
To understand why Christians today believe and teach the theory of millions of years of creation, we need to look at the history of the “Gap Theory.”
A French scholar, Bernard Palissy who lived from 1510-1589 believed the Earth was much older based on his observations that rain, wind, and tides were the cause for much of the present-day appearance of the Earth. He wrote that these forces could not work over such a short period of time to produce the changes. He was burned at the stake in 1589. A bad time for scientific inquiry.
In the 1770’s, James Hutton, Father of Geology (Scotland, 1726-1797) published a book called, `Theory of the Earth’ in 1785.
He demonstrated that Hadrian’s Wall, also called the Roman Wall and Picts’ Wall, was built by Romans as a defensive fortification in the Roman province of Britannia that begun in AD 122 and that after 1500 years there was no change in the wall. Thus, he suspected that Earth was much older than 6000 years.
This is the theory of uniformitarianism, that slow processes shaped the earth. Mountains arise continuously as a balance against erosion and weathering. “Present is key to the past”. The physical and chemical laws that govern nature are uniform.
When James Hutton published his book, Christians panicked! They believed that the scientist of that day had proven that the earth was much older than they once believed, so because they didn’t want to be left out, they created a way in which they could put long periods of time into the Bible.
In the mid-1800’s, Scottish geologist Sir Charles Lyell, who popularized the revolutionary work of James Hutton, expanded on uniformitarianism to develop gradualism, the view that all features of the Earth’s surface are produced by physical, chemical, and biological processes through long periods of geological time.
His system was based on two propositions: the causes of geologic change operating include all the causes that have acted from the earliest time, and these causes have always operated at the same average levels of energy. These two propositions add up to a “steady-state” theory of the Earth. Changes in climate have fluctuated around a mean, reflecting changes in the position of land and sea.
Lyell’s position suggested that the world had always been (roughly) similar to its current state. In particular, Lyell believed that the species composition of the world remained unchanged, with at least some members of all classes of organisms existing throughout the history of the earth.
Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), invented of the “Gap Theory” to compromise the Bible with the new “truths” of science in 1814. Chalmers was a Scottish minister, professor of theology, political economist, and a leader of the Church of Scotland and of the Free Church of Scotland.
When this happened, Christians began to accept that the earth was millions of years old, and about 50 years later, Darwin’s book came out and met little resistance from most Christians.
Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882), was an English naturalist, geologist, biologist and agnostic, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. Darwin at first shocked religious Victorian society by suggesting that animals and humans shared a common ancestry. However, his non-religious biology appealed to the rising class of professional scientists, and by the time of his death, evolutionary imagery had spread through all of science, literature, and politics.
Charles Darwin had spent the summer of 1825 as an apprentice doctor, helping his father treat the poor of Shropshire, before going to the University of Edinburgh Medical School. Darwin wasn’t happy there and he neglected his medical studies. This annoyed his father, so he sent him to Christ’s College, Cambridge, to get a degree and become an Anglican country parson, better known as a preacher. At the age of 22, he had just got out of Bible college when he set sail on the HMS Beagle. On his 5- year voyage, he took Charles Lyell’s book, Principles of Geology. That book changed his life forever. In a letter he wrote in 1868 to Russel Wallace (leading Victorian naturalist with interests in evolutionary theory), Darwin said the following:
“I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation. The fact that many false religions have spread over large portions of the earth like wild-fire had some weight with me. Beautiful as is the morality of the New Testament, it can be hardly denied that its perfection depends in part on the interpretation which we now put on metaphors and allegories.
But I was very unwilling to give up my belief… Thus disbelief [in the Bible] crept over me at a very slow rate, but was at last complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct. I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all of my friends, will be everlastingly punished.
And this is a damnable doctrine.”
It is all based on evolution, even though Christians will tell you that they don’t believe in the evolution of man. Only the evolution of the forming of the earth and animals, during the “Gap” of millions of years. It is all based on the need for evolution to actually occur. Why would we want to go back to Godless scientist and use their very flawed methods to come up with an age of the universe?
Darwin’s evolution would have never been successful if it hadn’t been for the majority of Christians believing in the “Gap Theory” 50 years earlier.
This is why you see famous people such as Rev. Clarence Larkin (1850-1924), an American Baptist preacher, Bible teacher and author of books on Dispensationalism, believe in the Gap Theory.
In my studies of the Gap Theory, I was shocked to find out how many famous Bible teachers believed in the Gap Theory. Even Christian Colleges around the country teach this Gap Theory. I guess the saying holds true, “birds of a feather flock together,” but it doesn’t make it right or biblical.
The Genesis “Gap Theory is simply a compromise and a way to appease the pagan priesthood of Darwin. Christians that believe in the “Gap Theory” are always the first ones to scream, “We are not evolutionist,” yet they insist on inserting millions of years into the Bible, as taught by Darwin. Yes, Old Earth Creationism incorporates evolution, which requires natural selection, which requires death.
Weston Fields tells us the traditional “Gap Theory” has variations due to personal preference. After God created a perfect heaven and earth, Lucifer (Satan) rebelled against God when he desired to become like God and was cast from heaven to become ruler of the earth, which was peopled by a race of “men” without any souls. These “men” with no souls are believed to be the angels that fell from heaven along with Lucifer.
The Creation and Fall of Lucifer
The Bible doesn’t give an exact time of Satan’s creation or of his fall but does give some clues. Paul says in Colossians that God/Christ created all things:
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, ….. (Colossians 1:16 KJV).
The Bible speaks of the third heaven or “heaven of heavens” in I Kings 8:27 where the angels live.
The “heaven of heavens” is the residing place of the heavenly host, angels, and so on. This would seem to be the third heaven, which Paul mentions:
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven
(2 Corinthians 12:2 KJV).
Biblical passages also tell us that God created the “heaven of heavens.”
Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee. (Nehemiah 9:6 KJV)
So logically, Satan was created, as was the “heaven of heavens.” We already found that Satan was originally in heaven prior to his fall. The question becomes, when was the heaven of heavens created?
We assume that the “heaven of heavens” was created along with the physical heavens (the space-time continuum, i.e., the physical universe, where the stars, sun, and moon would abide after they were created on day 4 during creation week.
A clear distinction is made between at least two heavens—the physical heavens and the heaven of heavens. The physical heavens include the expanse made on day 2, the place where the stars were placed on day 4, and the atmosphere (birds are referred to as “of the air” and “of the heavens,” e.g., 1 Kings14:11; Job 12:7; Psalm 104:12).
Since the heaven of heavens is referred to with the earth, seas, and physical heaven, we can safely assume that they were all created during the same time frame—during creation week. The creation of the heaven of heavens did not take place on day 7, as God rested on that day from all of His work of creating. So, it must have happened sometime during the six prior days.
Then God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished,… (Genesis1:31–2:1).
Everything that God made, whether on earth, sky, seas, or heaven, was “very good.” Did this include the heaven of heavens and Satan and the angels?
Absolutely! Satan is spoken to in Ezekiel 28:15:
Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
This passage says that Satan was blameless, hence he was very good originally. It would make sense then that the heaven of heavens was also a recipient of this blessed saying, since Satan was. In fact, this is what we would expect from an all-good God: a very good creation. Deuteronomy 32:4 says every work of God is perfect. So, the heaven of heavens, Satan, and the angels were originally very good.
Ezekiel 28:15 says “from the day” (emphasis added) Satan was created. Obviously, then, Satan had a beginning; he is not infinite as God is. Thus, Satan has some sort of binding to time. In the Ezekiel 28:15 passage we note that Satan was originally perfect (blameless) from the day he was created until he sinned (wickedness was found in him).
When Did Satan Fall?
When he sinned, he was cast from heaven (Isaiah 14:12). This must have been after day 6 of creation week because God pronounced everything very good (Genesis 1:31). Otherwise, God would have pronounced Satan’s rebellion very good; yet throughout Scripture, God is absolute that sin is detestable in His eyes.
Archbishop Ussher, the great 17th-century Bible scholar, placed Satan’s fall on the tenth day of the first year, which is the Day of Atonement
The fall of Satan would likely have been soon after day 7 and I recently spoke with Pastor Billy Crone about this and he agreed with me.
Death is the punishment for sin. Sin originates in desire—one’s own desire. James 1:14 hints that evil comes from one’s own desire. It was by Satan’s own desire that his pride in his own beauty and abilities overtook him.
In the “very good” original creation, it seems likely that Satan and mankind had the power of contrite choice. In the Garden of Eden, the woman was convinced by her own desire (the tree was desirable to make one wise—Genesis 3:6). Satan had not entered her; she was enticed by her own desire.
Was Satan required for man to sin?
Satan’s temptation of the woman instigated her to look at the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but it was she who desired it and sinned. Can we really say with certainty that on another day, without Satan, the woman and/or Adam would not have desired the fruit and sinned?
Bodie Hodge – Speaker, Writer, and Researcher for Answers in Genesis explains:
“In reality, we suffer death and the Curse because Adam sinned (Genesis 3) and we sinned in Adam (Hebrews 7:9–10), and we continue to sin (Romans 5:12).
Wherefore, 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:
What I am about to tell you is the single most important reason that we at PITN do not agree with the “Gap Theory” and the “Old Earth” theory. It is believed by gap theorist that because of Lucifer’s fall, sin entered the universe and brought on the earth God’s judgment in the form of a flood (indicated by the water of Genesis 1:2), and then a global ice-age when the light and heat from the sun were somehow removed. All the plant, animal, and human fossils upon the earth today date from this “Lucifer’s flood” and do not bear any genetic relationship with the plants, animals, and fossils living upon the earth today.
The Gap Theory places the fossil records into this large gap and it places the entire fossil record before Adam. Since fossil record is a record of death, decay, struggle, and destruction, that means the Gap Theory teaches death before sin. If that is what we are teaching, we have just undermined the whole foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If there was already death and decay and disease before Adam, then why did Jesus have to go to the Cross?
There are a lot of different reasons why I believe that the “Gap Theory” is blatantly wrong, but the single most important reason comes from Romans 5:12. The Bible says, “Wherefore, 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.” It didn’t say that sin was already in the world because of the fall of Lucifer. It didn’t say that sin had been in the world before Adam. It simply said, but by “one man” meaning Adam, sin entered into the world. Common sense tells us that it is understood by this Bible verse that there could not have been death before Adam on the earth. There could not have been sin on this earth before Adam, as the Bible says it was through Adam that sin came into the world.
It didn’t say that when Adam lived in the Garden of Eden, he was walking on an earth filled with millions of years of fossils which represent millions of years of death, decay and disease. If that was what the earth was like, how in the world could God have said in Genesis 1:31, “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”
God never proclaimed that death and disease were “very good.” God would have been a liar and we know that is definitely NOT TRUE!
It is impossible to believe in the “Old Earth” theory and not admit that physical death took place before Adam was on the earth.
So, ask yourself, as the man in my email asked me… “Just why does this matter?”
Because, if we could miraculously find a place for the billions of years within creation as believed in the “Gap Theory” without sacrificing the inerrancy of the Bible, that says the Protestant Bible is without error or fault in all its teachings, then we would have to accept that death and bloodshed came before Adam and Eve sinned.
Before you can go any further, you need to stop and think about the consequences of what I have just said. The “Old Earth-Gap Theory” believes that “death and bloodshed on the earth came before the sin of Adam.” When we use our common sense, we are able to understand that if this were the case and the “Gap Theory” is the truth, and sin came into the world before Adam, through the fall of Lucifer which was always thought to have been also, before Adam, then the crucifixion of Jesus Christ has absolutely no meaning at all. You see, we as sinners needed the crucifixion of Jesus Christ to reconcile us to God, in accordance with the law of the Old Testament that states that death is the consequence of sin. If what the Bible tells us in Romans 5:12 is not true and sin was on the earth before Adam, then Jesus had no reason to die for our sins. His death would have been meaningless and our common sense, along with our faith in God, tells us that this is absolutely not true. The death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is the only meaning and most important meaning for our very existence. Without it, life has zero meaning!
The beginning of time and history was undoubtedly an unbelievable awesome event, beyond our wildest comprehension. I believe that is why so many people, even Christians, have a hard time believing that God could have created the earth in 6-24 hour days. Impossible…right? To believe that, you would have to take a leap of faith and so many Christians just can’t find that leap of faith. You would have to stand up for the Word of God and go against many other Christians and definitely against society in general. So, many Christians justify their theories with man-made science and somehow squeeze it into the scriptures.
Genesis 1:1 simply states… “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
This verse introduces us to the key person of all the Scriptures in the Bible – God – and it takes us back to the start of the world. Not a world that had been forming for millions of years, but a world that was just being created for the first time. Genesis 1:1 doesn’t define who God is, or where He came from, or even what He looks like. Rather, this first verse in the first book of the Bible offers the simple truth that God was in existence even before the beginning and reveals to us how everything in the universe began. God is the Creator of life and matter and whatever exists owes its origin to Him. We understand that God, as the Creator, brought something out of nothing and we accept this by faith.
You know, if you are still in disbelief of the “Young Earth,” think about this. Through the centuries there has been much discussion as to whether the days of Genesis 1 are literal, 24-hour days or longer periods of time. If you believe that each day of Creation represents a longer period of time such as a geological age, consider the following: On the third day, fruit trees were made. On the fifth day, the insects necessary to pollinate the fruit trees were made. If each day was longer than a 24-hour period, perhaps even millions of years, how did the fruit trees survive without the necessary insects?”
It’s not possible!
As Christians, we have to be willing to see it and understand it correctly. That takes courage to go against what the masses throughout history, many being the so-called Bible scholars and theologians, who have led us to believe the false teachings. The problem is, Bible scholars and theologians have twisted, changed, turned and falsely interpreted the Bible to make it say what they want others to believe. The Bible certainly warns us of false teachers and their false teachings. The question is… “are you foolish enough to follow the word of men, or courageous enough to follow the word of God.”
Common sense tells us that reinterpreting the Bible to suit the science of the day, most definitely undermines this concept and this is the number one reason that we at Prophecy in the News, believe in the Young Earth, because we believe in what the Bible says, the way God intended it to be read.
This article was first published in the September 2018 Magazine.