The "gap theory" was popularized among fundamental Bible-believing Christians by C.I. Scofield in the notes to his reference Bible. Through over half of the twentieth century it remained a standard interpretation held by a number of leaders within biblical Fundamentalism. With the publication of The Genesis Flood by Whitcomb and Morris in February of 1961 and the subsequent birth of the modern creationist movement, there began a shift toward a more straightforward reading of Genesis 1 and the gap theory quickly fell out of favor. The "gap theory" is, in its simplest form, a biblically based belief that there is a time gap of indeterminate length between the first two verses of Genesis, after the original creation of the universe but before "day one" of Genesis 1:3.
Supporters of the gap theory point to Genesis 1:2 which says that the "earth was without form and void" and Isaiah 45:18 which says that the Lord "created [the earth] not in vain" and argue that there is a contradiction between the two statements. Some gap supporters also use Genesis 1:28 where Adam was instructed to "replenish the earth" to imply that there was a pre-adamic race. In recent years, young earth creationists have not found these arguments to be compelling evidence for a gap of millions or even thousands of years between the first two verses of Genesis. Nor have they found the theory helpful in explaining the fossil record from a biblical perspective. They point out that Genesis 1:28 literally means "to fill"; Isaiah 45:18 simply means that God's plan for the earth was that it should be a home for man.
Many fundamentalists of past generations who espoused the gap theory did so out of a sincere attempt to properly interpret Scripture. They held a high view of the inspiration of the Bible and would be horrified to think that anyone today would consider them to be yielding any ground to evolutionists, an archenemy they opposed.
In conclusion, while the faculty of the Division of Natural Science at Bob Jones University understand the gap theory interpretation held by other sincere Bible-believing Christians, especially those of past generations, we see no necessity for it. We believe that the best way to understand both Scripture and the scientific evidence is in terms of an earth that is only 6 to 10 thousand years old. For this reason, none of our faculty either believes or teaches the gap theory.