Thomas Chalmers' Gap
“For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
In 1814, Thomas Chalmers was a young Scottish clergyman with an interest in geology. He had grown up with the deep-time views of James Hutton, and the work of more contemporary geologists seems to have caused Chalmers difficulties in accepting these ideas along with the book of Genesis. So it was that in 1814, Chalmers wrote a review of Georges Cuvier’s book Theory of the Earth. Cuvier was a catastrophist. That is, he believed that fossils were caused by flooding. However, to accommodate Hutton’s views on long ages, Cuvier accepted multiple floods rather than one Flood, equating the last of these floods with that of Genesis 6 through 8.
Chalmers wrote: “It is true that his theory approximates to the book of Genesis more nearly than those of many of his predecessors.” While that may indeed be true, it should be noted that Cuvier was still prepared to accept long ages because of opinions from outside the Bible, and the young Chalmers accepted these ages. So Chalmers developed his own idea. Instead of multiple catastrophism, he had two – the actual Flood and an earlier flood, thousands or even millions of years earlier, caused, so he said, by Lucifer’s sin in heaven. This early Luciferian flood had to be fitted into Scripture, so Chalmers believed that these events must have been after God had set the world going but before the events of Genesis 1:2 onwards. For this reason, Chalmers’ ideas became known as the Gap Theory.
Exodus 20 reminds us that the initial creation of everything was part of the six-day creation week. So we see that Chalmers’ elegant compromise is not possible.
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