Much ado has been made among my peers regarding my belief in The Gap. I have heard many attacks on The Gap, and I have mentioned and disputed them HERE. However, there have been very few attempts to explain their own beliefs on the matter. I have deduced that many of them likely believe in the “young earth” theory. I ultimately agree that there is some support for their positions, but it is not infallible. Because I believe The Gap, I cannot wholeheartedly agree with young earth, though we align on more than we disagree with.
I must reject young earth theory, because it rejects The Gap.
In my estimation, it is entirely possible that both can be true, but the use of young earth to reject The Gap puts it at odds with the Scriptures that reinforce The Gap. Since young earth theorists can only stomach one “theory” or the other, I must rule against them.
They believe my view is a heresy. I will show them grace by not doing the same. Instead, I will explain why young earth theory is incomplete.
What is “young earth” theory?
Though “young earth” creationists argue that their view is rooted in a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis, they “young earth theory” was first developed by Henry Morris and John Whitcomb in 1961.
(The Gap is attributed to Thomas Chalmers in 1814, though Chalmers cites his inspiration from Simon Episcopus in the early 1600s. Young earthers would say that The Bible, not Morris and Whitcomb, is their source. Gappers would say the same about Chalmers or Episcopus).
Young earth theory posits the universe was created in 6 literal days about 6000 years ago. By tracing the genealogies of the Bible and the ages given for various heroes of the Book, the math adds up to Adam being created around 4000BC.
They differ from The Gap only in that they do not believe in a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 and, therefore, no pre-Adamic earth that was created and destroyed. So from Genesis 1:2 to the end of the book of Revelation, there is little disagreement on the events of the Bible.
The disagreements I have with young earth theorists come in their attacks against The Gap, which they erroneously lump in with macroevolution.
THERE WAS NO DEATH OF MAN OR ANIMAL BEFORE THE FALL
When I first heard this one, I had to admit that I struggled with it. I knew that Adam was a vegetarian, and there was no mention of animals eating animals or even Adam killing animals in Eden.
That is when I had to really dig into the verses used.
To preface: my view of the Bible is that my King James Version is the inerrant, inspired, preserved word of God in the English language that needs not be corrected by the original language texts or any competing English text.
In other words, when my Bible says something, I believe it without question.
That being said, here is the young earth argument according to an academic scholar with a Ph.D in geology and a Master’s of Divinity writing on behalf of “Answers in Genesis,” one of the pre-eminent young earth institutions:
“Adam and Eve sinned, resulting in the judgment of God on the whole creation. Instantly Adam and Eve died spiritually, evidenced by their hiding from God. But they also began to die physically and Paul clearly had physical death in mind in Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:21–22 (as the context shows), when he says that death came into the human race through Adam’s sin.”
Romans 5:12 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:” and we know from Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
All men have sinned. Because of Adam sin entered the world, and death entered by way of sin. Therefore, there was no human or animal death prior to the fall of Adam. Right?
Romans 5:12 says, “so death passed upon all men…” That’s all MEN. ALL MEN. This says absolutely nothing about animal death. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 likewise refers to ALL MEN. It says, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” The all here are men, as animals are not “made alive” “in Christ.”
Again, ALL MEN. Not all men and animals. I will come back to death in the garden in a minute. Because the argument about animals is forthcoming.
Were animals immortal?
Immortal animals. Imagine a world in which rabbits are capable of breeding without dying. There would be no land left for us to take a step on without landing on a cute little bunny!
The author continues,
“The serpent was cursed, along with other animals, resulting in a physical transformation. It is reasonable to assume that the other cursed animals were also altered physically in some way, either morphologically or at least behaviorally (Genesis 3:14). Eve was changed physically to have increased pain in child-birth (Genesis 3:16). And the ground itself was cursed (Genesis 3:17–19), a fact which was still on the minds of people 1,000 years later when Noah was born (Genesis 5:29).”
This is an incredibly poor argument given that young earth theorists reject “assumptions” made by The Gap. When it comes to their own argument, “it is reasonable to assume” that the curse upon the serpent (which does not mention death at all) somehow changed the physiology of “other cursed animals.”
So we have a problem of assumption in a theory that rejects assumption.
Another author at Answers in Genesis writes, “Genesis 3:14 indicates that animals, which were cursed along with the serpent, would no longer live forever but have a limited life (all the days of your life). This is the first hint of animal death. Since animals were cursed, they too will now die.”
Genesis 3:14 “And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:”
They focus on “all the days of thy life,” which does not mean that the serpent had unlimited days prior to this act. The context seems clear that from this day forward, “all the days of thy life.” This is absolutely no evidence of animal immortality.
Another assumption then, yes?
There seems to be a pattern developing.
Let’s come back to human immortality and death resulting from the Adamic curse.
Were Adam and Eve Immortal?
I have established that ALL MEN die as a result of sin. Does this mean that Adam and Eve were immortal? What does the Bible say about this?
Genesis 2:17 says, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
This is a conditional statement. IF they eat of the tree, THEN “in the day” they “shalt surely die.” In that day…they shalt surely die. The day they ate, they would die.
But they lived several hundred more years. This, for young earthers, is evidence of their immortality being removed due to the curse, and they began to physically die in that day. They likely spiritually died as well.
So far, so good.
However, there is another problem.
When Adam and Eve were removed from the garden, Genesis 3:22 says, “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:”
This is a conditional statement. If man takes from the tree of life, they will eat and live for ever. The “and” is important here. He “put forth his hand” AND “take also of the tree of life” AND “eat” AND “live for ever.”
It is abundantly clear that Adam and Eve’s immortality came by eating from the tree of life.
Revelation 22:2 speaks of the New Jerusalem where, “In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, [was there] the tree of life, which bare twelve [manner of] fruits, [and] yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree [were] for the healing of the nations.”
The tree of life is for healing, even in the New Jerusalem where all is perfect and “there shall be no more curse” (v. 3).
No curse, just as in pre-fall Eden. Yet the tree of life can still heal.
If Adam and Eve were immortal, they would not need a tree that grants “life for ever.” If there is no death when there is no curse, then why is the tree of life necessary in the New Jerusalem?
The answer: It is possible for humans to die, even without the Adamic curse.
Ergo, death was possible before the fall – both human and animal.
QUESTIONS INSUFFICIENTLY OR NOT AT ALL ANSWERED BY YOUNG EARTH THEORY
When was the fall of Satan and his angels? We know Satan was in the garden. If everything was created in six days and there is no gap, when was the fall? Did they fall before the universe was created? Where did they go if that was the case?
The Gap posits that they lived on the earth that was destroyed during The Gap. This is reinforced by the lack of God saying “it was good” when he created the “second heaven” in Genesis 1 – this is likely where He placed Satan and his angels until He recreated the earth.
When did dinosaurs roam the earth? Young earthers point to Job’s descriptions of Leviathan and Behemoth in as evidence that dinosaur and man lived together (and I guess a T-Rex was vegetarian prior to the Fall of Adam – some, like Ken Ham, would have us to believe that animals were vegetarian until after Noah’s flood). However, Leviathan and Behemoth are not dinosaurs. They are descriptions of Satan. Furthermore, one would have to wonder who either of those beasts fit on Noah’s Ark if “every creature” was represented.
Once again, there are no verses that describe dinosaurs apart from the misunderstanding of Job 40-41.
This is another assumption.
Gap allows for dinosaurs to have existed prior to Genesis 1:2, which is why their remains can be found, yet there is so very little evidence that they lived during the time of man.
Where did the “unclean” and “familiar” spirits come from? Young earthers can only speculate. Demons, devils, fallen angels, the Bible is unclear on their origin. Gappers believe they were remnants of whatever civilization was destroyed during the gap. I do not believe they are fallen angels, because they possess properties that angels do not have (ever heard of an angel possession or thousands of angels occupying a human body?). I prefer the Gap explanation, but I cannot say for sure either way.
Why were Adam and Even instructed to “replenish” the earth? This causes a number of twists and turns. The exact same command was given to Noah after the destruction of all life. It makes sense that the first use of the phrase was in reference to replenishing life after total destruction. This is how the “law of first mention” works.
To wriggle out of this, young earthers point to the “original Hebrew” that translates the same Hebrew word earlier in Genesis as “fill.” I reject the need to go back to Hebrew, when the words of God in my KJV are inerrant. However, to replace Noah’s command to “fill” the earth does not change the argument.
Fill it with what, and why? Well, to fill the earth with people. Why? Because all life was destroyed. If the command echoes that given to Adam, then Adam was also to fill the earth with people because all life was destroyed. But when did that happen?
During the gap, obviously.
Without form, and void. This statement is used twice. Once in Genesis 1:2 to describe the state of the earth at creation. The second time is in Jeremiah 4:23, “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.”
Here are our options for Jeremiah. Is this a direct reference to Genesis 1:2 or is it a glimpse of a post-Tribulation destruction?
In verse 26, we see “beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by his fierce anger.”
Cities? When were there cities before Genesis 1:2? This must be a Tribulation reference then, right? It is possible. However, the entire context sounds a lot like Genesis 1:2.
“without form, and void” in Jeremiah is about the heavens and earth being destroyed, yet there was a civilization that was destroyed along with it.
Is it that far of a stretch to apply the “law of first mention” to Genesis 1:2? I believe there were civilizations of some kind – likely whatever creatures became unclean or familiar spirits – on the earth. God then destroyed the heavens and earth during the Gap and remade them in Genesis 1:2 just as he will according to Revelation 21:1, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.”
I must reject the young earth theory
I know so many great men whom I greatly admire who reject The Gap for this young earth theory. As I said before, I do not disagree that Adam was created 6,000 years ago, sinned and was cursed, brought sin and death to all of us which led to God becoming man to die on the cross for our salvation, and that we must spread the gospel to all the world.
The Gap is superior in my view based on Scripture. In a false zero sum game that many Christians want to play, I must choose the Gap and reject young earth. Again, I am fine with believing both primary arguments – there is a gap, and the earth as we know it was created 6,000 years ago. It is when we get into dinosaurs, law of first mentions, replenishing, death prior to the fall, etc. that I diverge.
THE GOSPEL IS THE TRUTH THAT MATTERS. The rest of this is “secondary doctrine” in that it takes a backseat to the Gospel message. I enjoy speculating about The Gap, Young Earth, sons of God, Leviathan, eschatology (study of the end times), prophecy, legalism, music preferences, etc.
My rejection of young earth should not lead to any substantial disagreement on primary doctrines. My view is not a heresy, but neither is yours.
Whether you agree with me or not on this subject is secondary to so many other things. However, the aggression that I have experienced over this is both astounding and heartbreaking.
Watching men I respect bend over backwards to “reject assumptions” while making so many or appealing to the “original languages” instead of the Bibles they claim are their final authority is most disappointing.
We all want to be correct. We all want to follow the Scripture and be as accurate as possible in our reading, interpretation, and accuracy of the Book.
I would rather agree to disagree on this than break up a good fellowship. However, I will not be silent when challenged. Nor should you.
If you’d like to discuss this more, I am pretty easy to find. You can reach me in the comments below or on various social media platforms. Any conversation had via text, phone, in-person, or direct message will be confidential.
Hopefully you take the right things from this post. I am not seeking division, but unity and clarity. We are a better army when we are all on the same page – and that page should be the Bible.
Even though you might view me as a heretic, I will never say the same about you young earth theorists. We can still be friends, right?