Significance of Genesis 1:1 "The Beginning"

Over the past several years, Marsha and I have become increasingly aware of how loosely Christians are interpreting Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning (or 'In beginning') God created the heavens and the earth."  Marsha recently asked me this question.

Ken, is the Gap Theory, that God created “something” on day one, then millions of years, before He commenced with day two? Is this theory the same thing as the “Old Earth” theory?

After researching this question thoroughly, I have come to this conclusion.

Essentially, yes, with minor differences. 

The Gap Theory assumes that the statement in Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," refers to an indefinite past happening that cannot be dated (ie, "eternity past," which doesn't exist.)  Then when the Bible says, "There was evening and morning, the first day," the Gap Theory assumes that this was the start of God's "re-creating" out of previously existing chaos.  But Isaiah 45:18 says that God "did not create the earth a chaos" (RSV). The word "formless" in Genesis only means "without distinguishing features." And Exodus 20:11 says that "In six days God created the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them."  This is most certainly not "indefinite."

Others, like Tim Keller, hold that all of Genesis 1 (all six/seven days) is figurative, and that the only "definite" event was the forming of man from the dust of the ground in Genesis 2.  He is a proponent of "theistic or God-controlled evolution," as opposed to those who hold at least for a six literal day "re-creation out of chaos."

In my extensive research, I haven't found one source (even "Fundamentalist" sources) who stake the claim that the statement "In the beginning" is a clear statement defining the beginning of time, counting the first 24 hour day as the reference for all chronological events since.  In fact, what I see the Bible saying is that God created time and the time+space Universe at exactly six o'clock (later Garden of Eden Time) in the evening and he created light (day) exactly 12 hours later.  Thus, the statement, "There was evening and there was morning, the first day" (which happened to be a Sunday; that's how definite it is.)

So the correct Biblical sequence of Creation events was as follows:

1.  The instantaneous creation of heavens by the word of God (6 pm).  And the cosmic "clock" started clicking.

2.  Creation of the angelic beings, including the "angel of light" (Satan) soon after creating the heavens as their dwelling place

3.  The earth, soon after creating the angels, so that they could "sing for joy" (ref. Job 38:7) The earth was a round mass covered uniformly with water, looking like a beautiful black pearl with no atmosphere to filter color.

4   Light (6 am), making the earth visible, with no other bodies in the heavens yet.

5.  End of first "day" (6 pm), thus the Hebrew reckoning of a "day" (Hebrew 'yom') starting at sundown (6 pm) 

What's interesting is that the above sequence of events is not only consistent with all of Scripture, but it's also consistent with the complete body of the observed laws of science, without contradiction.