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Gap Creationism, also called Restitution creationism or Ruin-Reconstruction, are terms used to describe a particular set of Christian beliefs about the creation of the Universe and the origin of man. The concept of the Gap Theory is widely thought to have been invented by Thomas Chalmers in the early 1800s, though some adherents maintain that it can be traced back to biblical times. Certainly it became quite popular when it was promoted by the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909.


Gap Creationists believe that science has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the Earth is in fact far older than can be accounted for by merely adding up the ages of Biblical patriarchs, as given in the Book of Genesis. By taking the age of each father at the birth of his son, and adding the "six days" of creation, Young Earth Creationists thereby arrive at an age for the earth, concluding that the Earth is only 6,000 – 7,000 years old. In order to hold the two seemingly-contradictory viewpoints that the Bible is inerrant in all matters of fact as well as faith and doctrine and that the Earth is very ancient, they must account for the supposition that certain facts about both the human past and the age of the Earth have been omitted from the Biblical account rather than falsified by it.

One approach to this problem is to state that between the six days of Creation and the Fall of Man and the subsequent initiation of human history there must have been a "gap" in the story of thousands of years, perhaps even tens of thousands or millions of years.


Many Gap Creationists postulate that this gap occurs between the seventh day, the one of rest, and the account of the Fall of Adam and Eve and hence that of Mankind though the agency of the temptation of Satan in the form of a snake. According to this theory, this amount of time would be sufficient for all of the geologic events which have happened to make the appearance of the Earth to be quite old.

Another popular approach is to assume that the gap occurs between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. This postulates that the earth was initially created whole and complete and that all geologic events pointing to an old Earth (and, perhaps, even evolution) occurred before some event that throws the Earth into the chaos described in Genesis 1:2. One explanation for the event that throws the Earth into chaos is the fall of Lucifer (Satan), as the creation account does not describe when his fall occurred, but at least two Old Testament accounts, and one account recorded in the Gospels as having been spoken by Jesus, are presumed to describe the fall of Lucifer. Those who hold this viewpoint on when the gap occurred point out that the "clock" on the "six days of Genesis" could not have started "ticking" until the (re)emergence of light in Genesis 1:3 as that verse indicates that this was the evening and morning that make the first day of Genesis, and light had to be present to initiate an evening.

However, this argument (that the light had to be present to initiate an evening) requires restricting the meaning of the Hebrew word "evening" (עֶרֶב) more narrowly than the Hebrew demands. While the word frequently is equivalent to the English word evening (the period of time just before until just after sunset), at times it is referring to the entire night when no light from the sun is visible. For example, in Job 7:4 the same Hebrew word is used and clearly refers to all of the night (which is how virtually all translations render it). In the passage in question (Genesis 1:5), "evening" and "morning" are said to constitute an entire day. Thus, the context strongly suggests that "evening" was meant to refer to "night" (the period of dark); and "morning", to "day" (the period of light).

The viewpoint that a gap took place between verses 1 and 2 makes the events within the "six days of Genesis" an act of re-creation (restoration of the Earth) rather than initial creation, and is part of the ideas held by some adherents of Dispensationalism as recorded by Rev. Clarence Larkin in his book Dispensational Truth. One of the stronger arguments for support of this viewpoint is found within the wording of Genesis 1:2 where the verse states that the "earth" (as a planet) was already a physical entity, covered in "waters" and existing in space-time, before God said "..let there be light" at Genesis 1:3.

Although the Bible gives no specific time for the interval between the initial creation (Genesis 1:1) and the start of the regeneration (Genesis 1:3), some Old Earth creationists see it as being merely thousands of years at the most on the basis that "a day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day" (see: Day-Age Creationism), while the majority of others feel that it must be considerably longer than that to account for what mainstream science describes as the "geologic record"; This "Old Earth" Creationist view is at considerable variance with "Young Earth" Creationists, although both doctrinal schools are found within Christian fundamentalism.

Supporting scriptures[]

In contradistinction with other Old Earth creationists, Gap creationists generally agree with the account of six literal 24-hour days as given in Genesis, and that everything done during this six day period was "very good". However, there are a number of scriptures which adherants contend support the Ruin/Reconstruction theory of an earth existing prior to this six day event.

  • God is light and cannot create anything in a less than perfect state, so a newly created earth from the hand of God shouldn't have been without form and void, and shrouded in darkness. Deuteromomy 32:4, 1 John 1:5
  • The Holy Spirit was "renewing" the face of the earth as he hovered over the face of the waters. Psalm 104:30
  • Angels already existed at the time of the Genesis account, so there had been at least one creative act of God before this. Job 38:4-7
  • Satan had fallen from grace "in the beginning". The existence of a sinful state in the universe, but not yet in mankind, is evidenced by the serpent's temptation of Adam and Eve before they were corrupted by sin. Ezekiel 28:11-19, John 8:44
  • The death that "came to all men" was spiritual death, and not physical death. At least two men in the past (Enoch and Elijah) did not die physically, and some believers will be raptured without physical death in the future. Therefore, while Adam's sin brought both physical and spiritual death to the world, physical death did not come to all men. Genesis 5:23-24, 2 Kings 2:11, Hebrews 11:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

These scriptures are cited by supporters of the Gap theory without an appeal to scientific or secular investigations. Gap creationists do not necessarily agree with theories given by science, including the Big Bang and Evolution and others. The contention is simply that Scripture records the Genesis account to be a reconstruction of an existing earth.


Ruin-Restoration theorists contend that Genesis 1:2 is correctly translated "became without form and void" instead of "was without form and void". Critics argue that the rendering "became" requires the Hebrew idiom "to be" and the preposition "to" (Hebrew le). They also argue that the waw disjunctive grammar means that it is a parenthetical statement describing the earth as it was first created; the translation "became" would have used the waw consecutive, describing the next event in a sequence.

Gap theorists also contend that the King James Version (KJV) translation of Genesis 1:28 of "replenish the earth" means to "refill". However, when the KJV was translated in 1611, "replenish" meant "to fill completely" (cf. replete), which is what the Hebrew word male meant. [1]

Critics argue that the finished creation was described as "very good", which they claim is incompatible with the Fall of Satan and a destructive "Lucifer Flood" that destroyed the alleged previous creation. Furthermore, the long-age interpretation of the fossil record shows human and animal death before Adam, whereas Scripture teaches that death is "the last enemy" (1 Corinthians 15:26) resulting from Adam's Fall (Genesis 3:17, Romans 5:12-19, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22).

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