Summary: Henry Morris, a Young Earth believer, debates that the Old Earth is impossible.
IX. Why The Gap Theory Won't Work by Henry M. Morris
A. Those who advocate the gap theory agree that the six days of the creation week were literal days, but they interpret them only as days of recreation, with God creating again many of the kinds of animals and plants destroyed in the cataclysm.
B. What is the Purpose of the Gap Theory?
The gap theory was developed mainly for the purpose of accommodating the great ages demanded by evolutionary geologists. This idea was first popularized by a Scottish theologian, Thomas Chalmers, early in the 19th century. In this country, the famous Scofield Study Bible made it an almost universally accepted teaching among fundamentalists.
C. However, serious conflicts do remain.
In fact, there are few, if any, professionally trained geologists and astronomers (to my knowledge there are none) who accept the gap theory. The promoters of this theory have mostly been Bible teachers who hoped they could place these great ages in a gap between the first two verses of Genesis, and thus not have to deal with them at all.
D. Is the Gap Theory Scientific?
The reason why geologists will not accept the gap theory is that it contradicts their assumption that the past is continuous with the present. There is no room in their naturalistic approach to science for a global cataclysm that would destroy all life and then require a new creation of plants, animals, and people such as the gap theory proposes.
Any cataclysm that would leave the earth "without form and void" (or "a shapeless chaotic mass" as The Living Bible expresses it), with "darkness on the face of the deep" everywhere, would require a worldwide nuclear or volcanic explosion that would effectively disintegrate the whole crust of the earth. All pre-cataclysm mountains would be blown into the sea and billions of tons of rocks and dust blown into the atmosphere, leaving the earth covered with "the deep" everywhere and "darkness" covering the
Such a cataclysm would disintegrate any previously deposited sedimentary deposits with their fossils and thus obliterate all evidence of any previous "geological ages." Thus the gap theory, which is supposed to accommodate the geological ages, requires a cataclysm which would destroy all evidence for the geological ages.
E. Is it Theologically Sound?
The God of Creation is an omnipotent and omniscient God, and is also a God of grace, mercy, and love. The very concept of the geological ages, on the other hand, implies a wasteful and cruel "god," and therefore probably no god at all.
The supposed geologic ages are identified in terms of the fossils found in the earth's sedimentary rocks, and there are multiplied billions of them there. But fossils speak of death—even violent death. The preservation of dead animals requires rapid burial if they are to last very long. There are many regions, for example, where there are millions of fossil fish preserved in the rocks. There are dinosaur fossil beds on every continent, as well as great beds of fossil marine invertebrates practically everywhere. These may
indeed speak of cataclysmic death and burial, but not a cataclysm operating slowly over billions of years, as the geological ages imply. If the gap theory were valid, it would mean that God had instituted an ages-long system of suffering and death over the world, before there were ever any men and women to place in dominion over that world, and then suddenly destroy it in a violent cataclysm. Why would an omnipotent, merciful God do such a wasteful and cruel thing as that?
They cannot blame Satan, either. According to the gap theory, Satan's fall took place at the end of the geological ages, followed by the great pre-Adamic cataclysm on the earth. Thus the geological ages, with their eons of cruelty and waste, took place even before Satan's sin. God Himself would be solely responsible for the whole debacle, if it really happened.
F. But is the Gap Theory Biblical?
If there really had been billions of years of animals suffering and dying before Genesis 1:2, why would God say nothing about it? The best they can offer in support of such a notion are some out-of-context quotes from Isaiah and Jeremiah, along with an ad hoc translation of Genesis 1:1,2.
And why would God send such a devastating cataclysm at all? Satan's fall did not occur until after the creation week of Genesis 1, for at that time God had pronounced the whole creation "very good" (Genesis 1: 31). [Satan was not created during the six days of creation documented in Genesis. All of that creation was very good, and Satan is not good. Owen Weber http://pages.prodigy.net/owebr/gap.htm] At present, however, "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together" (Romans 8:22) because of the great curse pronounced by God on man's dominion (Genesis 3:17-19), as a result of sin.