The Genesis Gap Theory and dinosaurs

I don’t think it’s all that important for everyday Christians to understand how dinosaurs (and their extinction) fit into the biblical creation narrative, even though questions related to them seem to come up more often with today’s generation than past ones.

It’s not a matter that even remotely shakes my faith or is something I desperately need an answer to for me to live my life for Christ, but I certainly would love to have a better response than, “It’s not clearly detailed in the Bible.” I’d love to be able to say something theologically sound, if there is indeed something you might know of that would help me construct a better answer.

I fully understand the Bible is not a blow-by-blow account of every aspect of creation, which would require trillions of pages, would be quite boring and really wouldn’t be much of a faith book; but instead it’s a love letter from God to us, one that provides information critical to our salvation and to our better understanding of who God is and how He wants us to live.

The creation of dinosaurs is not something I thought about — or was even concerned about — when I was young, and it’s definitely not critical to my faith now; yet it has been a question young people have asked me. In fact, many of today’s youth seem to ask a lot of questions about things the Bible doesn’t clearly detail — things many of us older folks (I’m 54) just glossed over because we kind of accepted that God shared the things He wanted to share.

From what I’ve learned, though — and please tell me if there are others not listed below — there are three main ideas:

  1. The behemoth spoken of in Job was a dinosaur, so they existed alongside man and were … (see No. 2).

  2. … created on the fifth day, along with other animals.

  3. The Genesis Gap Theory, where one believes there is a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, and that dinosaurs and possibly other things were created and then were destroyed (possibly from the fall of the angels, which could have hit Earth like meteorites and consumed the dinosaurs).

I don’t really have a solid opinion on the matter, and I welcome all responses.

My pastor once floated the Gap Theory — as just that: a theory — and I explored the text more in Genesis and found some very interesting things. Mostly, the use of “created” in some instances vs. not saying “created” for other things God did.

Maybe that’s just a translation thing, such as other places in the Bible where two different words technically are the same even though they appear differently. If the different word is meant to be taken differently, “created” would seem to imply ex nihilo, and then some of the other things not listed as “created” could have existed in the gap (the pre-Genesis 1:2 world), and God simply recreated them post 1:2.

Too many to list here, but it’s been argued that (a) God is not credited with “creating” light, but instead it says, “Let there be light” — possibly suggesting light existed between 1:1 and 1:2, and that God “flipped the switch back on” by 1:2, after some unknown cataclysmic event blackened the sky.

I’ve also heard the argument that it’s contrary to God’s nature to create anything that’s “formless and void,” as the text says, because He later said He created all things with a purpose. The argument suggests something happened over millions of years between 1:1 and 1:2 that threw Earth into that void, formless state, thus explaining the very old carbon dating on fossils.

Just a note: I’m fully aware that many are highly opposed to The Gap Theory and believe it is simply the idea of someone who wanted to explain away the questions that have arisen in relation to the carbon dating of fossils.

Lastly, there is that whole “was” or “became” thing in the opening of Genesis, where “Now the Earth was …” is noted with “or became” in the footnotes section. “Became” might add weight to the Gap Theory. Any thoughts on when and why the replacement “became” was added?

As for the traditional view on dinosaurs, if they existed alongside man, (a) when did they go extinct, and why didn’t what caused their extinction also cause man’s extinction; and (b) why isn’t there more than one possible reference to dinosaurs in the Bible (in Job)?

Please be kind in your response, as I’m just trying to learn and I don’t have extensive theological training, as it seems many of you have (I read lots of other posts and replies before I created this topic and was highly impressed with the deep scriptural understanding many of you have).

Thank you.

So good to have you here Greg. These questions are common for those new to some of these concepts, and hopefully we can help you in your understanding of how to integrate all these parts together.

In reading your post, one thing that may be helpful is looking at how different people read Genesis. I would recommend John Walton’s Lost World books and perhap Denis Lamoureux’s books for some insight. But, to get things started, perhaps it would be helpful to look at the difference between non-concordist readings and concordist readings. Concordist readings hold that early chapters in Genesis are consistent with and are addressing historical and scientific events. The Gap Theory is concordist in that aspect, as are the YEC, and progressive creationist models. Evolutionary Creationism, EC, is predominately non-concordist, which means it does not hold that the author of Genesis was trying to communicate history or science, but rather was communicating theologic and spiritual truths. There is some overlap from individual to individual of course, and at times it is hard for me to not lapse into concordism and see evolution in the scriptures when God states the earth brought forth living creatures, and even reading a larger population of humans being present outside the garden when Cain did his thing, but ultimately, I feel a non- concordist reading is most correct, and certainly makes the questions raised by concordism irrelevant.

Enough from me for now. Any thoughts?



Thank you very much for the book suggestions and the additional information. I’ll also definitely need to explore some of the terms you used, as I’m unfamiliar with at least one, maybe two.

What a quick reply, too. I look forward to reading more about these things.

Hi, Greg! And welcome! It’s good to hear from you.

Indeed there are smart and credentialed people that do hang out here - but there are many of us here also who bring nothing to the table except an intense interest and maybe considerable exposure to these subjects over the years. So don’t feel like you need to apologize for anything! Humility goes a long ways here - both for highly accomplished sorts as well as more ordinary sorts; just as lack of humility can also speak volumes (from either end of that spectrum). Some people come in with guns blazing - intent on blasting or converting ‘the heathen’ here, while others come in armed primarily with curiosity and a willingness to learn as well as share from their own insights. The latter fare much better.



Thank you for welcoming me. Like you, I have a strong interest in these types of things and was thrilled to have stumbled across this site. As I said, I was hesitant to post a topic after seeing how so many here are steeped in theological understanding.

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There are some good articles on the main page that are a good place to start. Here is a link to one on concordism. The search function will bring up some more, and address different levels of concordist thought, as there are a lot of shades of gray rather than it being black and white.

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Welcome Greg

I was raised in a self declared fundamentalist church and earned a Bible college degree some four decades back. From today’s perspective, it seems odd that I cannot recall any colleague, pastor, or instructor who then held that humans ever lived with dinosaurs. A literal global flood?- absolutely. But no Flintstones.

The annotated Scofield Study Bible, which backed the so called gap theory, reflected much of the thinking. While there has long been young earth advocates, the main discussion divided between the gap theory ( which really should be thought of as not so much a gap as just a continuation) and day-age approaches. I’m not defending these as viable concordant solutions, but they did allow for acceptance of the age of the earth.

The increasing influence, however, of Morris and Whitcomb’s The Genesis Flood, and rise of young earth parachurch organizations, shifted the center of gravity to the point where YEC claims that the traditional view is that dinosaurs existed alongside man. In fact, the real traditional view through the long history of the church is that God created all the recognizable animals exactly as Adam named them, that no such creation could ever go extinct, and of course, there could be no traditional view of dinosaurs as they were unknown.

As for the Behemoth of Job

Under the lotus plants it lies,
hidden among the reeds in the marsh.

The lotuses conceal it in their shadow;
the poplars by the stream surround it.

It is right there in the passage; clearly not a large sauropod dinosaur. I cannot fathom how that idea even took hold.

The ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians left umpteen thousands of depictions and artifacts of every manner of beast that inhabited their world carved in their temples, buried in their graves, and just lying loose. And they somehow failed to notice dinosaurs? Did not leave extensive writings on them? If you encountered a dinosaur, would you after just talk about the weather?


Welcome @Greg_Deal !

Looking at the full passage, it just hit me that this fits the description of a crocodile. It is strong but also hides in the marsh. The only thing that seems out of place is that it eats grass but there are some carnivores that will eat grass to aid digestion. Grass can also just translate to herbage.

I found this article about some extinct crocodiles that were herbivores. You can view it in reader mode without subscription.

Plant-eating crocodiles thrived in dinosaur times.

Still, even modern crocs are not strict carnivores. Many species have been found to occasionally eat fruit, sometimes straight from the tree. And American alligators fed largely plant-based diets for a few months did not appear to suffer any negative health consequences. Clearly, crocodilians are more flexible than they are usually given credit for, and today’s crocs are far better adapted than the common misnomer “living fossil” might imply.

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Thank you for your response. If you Google “behemoth and dinosaur” you’ll find numerous articles exploring the idea the behemoth was a dinosaur. That doesn’t make them right, though, and you are right: If dinosaurs lived alongside humans, we should have some recorded history of it.

It’s just the view I’ve always heard, and then I found all those articles addressing what I’d heard (see attached screenshot from one of them).

I personally like The Gap Theory, but that’s only because it piqued my interest in the overarching concept. I’m wide open on learning about other theories.

I don’t claim to have the knowledge base many of you folks have. That makes it a tad scary to post stuff here, but everyone has been nice and helpful.

My theological knowledge goes about as deep as having read the entire Bible several times and then attending Bible studies and small groups at my church. I was accepted into the M.Div. program at Anderson University here in South Carolina, but I’ve had to delay it twice because both of my 90-year-old parents have been in medical rehabilitation hospitals in Asheville, N.C. (my dad for six months and my mom for three). They are home now, so I hope to reschedule my start date.

It seems many here either have formal theological training or they’ve done lots of extensive independent studies. Exegesis and hermeneutics were two of the four classes I was scheduled to take in my first semester. Like I told someone else here, I just want to learn, and I stumbled across this site, read the posts and was intrigued.

I’m a longtime news and sports reporter (30 years) and graphic designer at a daily newspaper in S.C., so I already enjoy writing — and I also love engaging in discussions (as a reporter, I’m not allowed to have any back and forth with readers who post on the paper’s social media sites because we’re supposed to remain as unbiased as possible).

I might not have the theological training — yet — to discuss deep theology with many of you, but if someone needs a writer, editor or graphic designer for anything, I’m your man. LOL.

I posted a snippet from just one of the behemoth/dinosaur articles below.


The gap theory fails because the order of creation is not aligned with what we see from the fossil record.


How do we know that if we don’t know the time gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2? Could be millions of years in the gap. Maybe you know something I don’t.

In Genesis it has plants (described as grasses and flowering plants) first, birds and fish second, and land animals last. That doesn’t line up with the fossil record. It gets even more complicated if you include whales and fish being created second. The order in the fossil record is fish first, the first plants second (but not all of the plants described in Genesis), the first land animals third, and birds fourth. If we get overly detailed we get a whole mish mash of species groups appearing at different times, be it flowering plants, cetaceans, grasses, cattle, insects, mammals, etc.

It is interesting to note that days 1-3 are mirrored in days 4-6 (cribbing from Wikipedia)

Day 1 light Day 4 celestial bodies
Day 2 sea and firmament Day 5 birds and fish
Day 3 land and plants Day 6 land animals and humans

I believe that there is a gap of about 9 billion years between the first 2 verses but there were no dinosaurs then. The big bang about 13.5 bya is verse 1 and then verse 2 is the creation of the earth in its initial state 4.5 bya. I think that Theia (a Mars sized planet) hitting earth 4.5 bya and then the late heavy bombardment 4.1 to 3.8 bya could be a figure to describe the war in heaven and satan and his fallen angles being cast to the earth. He shows up very early in Genesis as the serpent.

  • Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.

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Another point to consider in the whole discussion `is how to read scripture so as to not layer our modern views over it. My understanding of how God gave us scripture is that he inspired the original writers to write using their knowledge, experience, culture, and words to communicate to the audience whatever message God had for them, and ultimately for us. A writer would use imagery that he was familiar with to communicate, and would not write about things that could not be understood, science that came along thousands of years later, or animals that did not exist in his or his audience’s time and memory. There is no mention of penguins, kangaroos, or pandas. Or dinosaurs.

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I’m confused. The Gap Theory doesn’t follow the regular creation timeline and order. It supposes that there is an earlier, unmentioned creation (between G 1:1 and 1:2, before the regular days of creation).

Thanks for sharing. That’s an interesting view to explore.

That is a very good point. Do you think John did that when writing Revelation?

“birds” in Genesis are fliers of the heavens. Things created to fly which would be flying insects. Modern birds (from dinosaurs) and bats are land animals. “whales” are more correctly translated as sea creatures. There is no conflict in the order of creation with modern science.

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Ah, my mistake. Thanks for the correction.


I know the the general order of how life evolved and I know the order of days and the species mentioned in Genesis 1 and I know they don’t align. Does not matter how much time happened between any of them. It’s still out of order.

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