We continue our topical study on the issue of the creation account as found in Genesis, chapter one and two. Just to recap, this is based on a paper that I wrote in 2014 for a class called Old Testament Background Studies in Genesis. In it, I briefly looked at some of the various views of the creation accounts to point out their weaknesses and strengths, at least as far as I could discern, and which ones we as Bible-believing Christians should reject and embrace. Again, this study is not meant to be exhaustive, but to serve as a good starting point for the reader to pursue on their own. Last time, we looked at what is called the Pictoral Day, Old Earth Creationism, and Young Earth Creationism. Today, we will look at the Gap Theory and Naturalistic Evolution.
The Gap Theory first made its way into the mainstream as a result of the printing of the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909. Yes, that beloved reference Bible. This theory assumes a gap of time between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1. It is during this time that they postulate that a pre-Adamic world once existed and was subsequently destroyed in the rebellion of Lucifer and the fallen angels that are referred to in Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14.
The reason for this view is found in Genesis 1:2 which says that “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters”. At issue is the word “was” which they believe should be translated as “became”. In other words, the earth became formless and void as a result of some act of judgment in time past. It is in this “gap” of time that they conclude that “all the ages that are demanded by geologists occurred and ended with the glacial age”. The theory also explains why there is the apparent contradiction in how old science says the earth is and the biblical account.
The theory goes on to surmise that in Genesis 1:3, God starts the process of reparation as described in the six days of creation. The rationale for this view comes from a “desire to reconcile the voluminous scientific evidence for Earth’s antiquity” and still concedes the six literal days of creation. In the end though, too much of the theory rests on the translation of the word “was” and the questionable use of the phrase “formless and void.”
Next is the view that is referred to as Naturalistic Evolution. Before 1900, the issue of evolution was a non-controversial subject. Everyone, for the most part, embraced the biblical view of creation either by conviction or conformity. However, the issue of evolution was brought to the forefront by the Progressive Movement in the early 20th Century in a series of court cases that eventually came to be known as the Scopes Monkey Trial.
In essence, Naturalistic Evolution teaches that all creation is purely accidental and that no supreme power was involved at all. It presupposes that everything came into existence in a randomly generated sequence through mutation and natural selection. Of course, this view by necessity requires millions, if not billions of years, for these mutations to take place. Charles Ryrie puts it this way, “If one were to reduce the process to a formula it would look like this: M(utations) + N(atural) S(election) x T(ime) = Evolution.”
It is interesting that in regards to the necessity of time for the evolutionary process to take place, Tremper Longman points out in his book How to Read Genesis, "Many modern readers stumble over the six days of creation. They ask how it could have happened so quickly. It is interesting to note that before the nineteenth century and the work of Charles Darwin the question was just the opposite. For instance, in the sixteenth century John Calvin encountered skepticism concerning the biblical account because it took God so long to create. The biblical account seemed ridiculous to many readers in the sixteenth century because they knew that God could create instantaneously if he so willed.”
Of course, Naturalistic Evolution does have its weaknesses as well. Some of these include issues with mutations that tend to be overwhelmingly useless or even detrimental, natural selection which rarely brings about improvements, time for probability and chance, and the second law of thermodynamics which says that all things move from orderliness to chaos, and yet, it supposes the exact opposite.