There are arguments which I have observed which would seek to assert different occasions, or times or phases (depending on how the argument is worded) regarding Genesis 1:1 :

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth [KJV]

and John 1:1 :

In the beginning was the word ... [KJV].

From my childhood, I have accepted these two as synonymous. At school, I vocally resisted the attempts of my Chemistry teacher to teach me of previous ages not spoken of in scripture and I vocally resisted the attempts of my biology teacher to teach me Darwinian evolution. I made my own inclinations quite clear.

Rather I read, as a schoolboy, in 1969, and accepted almost fully, Morris and Whitcomb's book 'The Genesis Flood, in which is set forth, in considerable scientific detail, what is now termed 'young earth creationism'.

In adulthood, I have continued to make myself clear, now as a Licentiate of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and now also as one with further training in Molecular Biochemistry, within the Pharmaceutical Industry.

To me, there is no valid need or reason to see the Genesis statement 'in the beginning' and John's statement 'in the beginning' as being anything other than synonymous.

And I am led to suspect (though nobody is actually admitting to it, thus far) that the unspoken need and reason for these two statements to be parted one from another in logic is that there might be inserted, between the two, a period of time - possibly a period of 'geological ages' - in order to satisfy the requirements of those who do not accept 'young earth creationism'.

In fact, I do not assert any age for the earth, for the first three 'days' (when no sun, moon or stars existed and when there was no intelligent being on the earth to observe, record or document any events) cannot, in my own view, be asserted to be any period of 'time' as we know it. And I am aware, having studied radioactivity and worked with many isotopes, that the age of the earth cannot be asserted by 'backward extrapolation' of current 'relative abundances'.

What I do assert, most strongly, is the fact of seventy generations from Adam to Christ (as made clear by Luke) ; the fact that evolution is not the reason for the existence of distinct species ; and the fact that the Flood was global and catastrophic, as is evidenced in contemporary geology, in unbiased archaeology and in many aspects of human history.

But I am curious as to the motivation of those who see 'two different beginnings'. Am I correct in my suspicion or is there other valid reason or motivation for this ?

My question relates to the two major divisions of 'young earth creationism' and 'old earth creationism' and is not a matter of denominations. I am interested in answers from both of those factions, for I, fundamentally, belong to neither.

EDIT (in response to answers regarding 'Ruin Reconstruction Theory' or 'Re-creation Theory') :

In answer to re-creation or re-construction theories, please see my own studies of 'waste and void' in pp 18-29 of the following link. This is a complex study and cannot be abbreviated.

(Requires sign-in to Google Docs.)

The Gates of Pearl

  • I'm not a YEC, but I do think the YEC position is reasonable and accords with epistemic evidence at least as well as an old-earth view. The only distinction I think would be relevant to the two beginnings would be a philosophical one. One the one hand, you have the beginning of the universe, which is in Genesis. On the other hand, you have the state of things from eternity past, which in a logical sense (though not temporal, since God is outside of time) is prior to the beginning specified in Genesis. This is because John 1 is saying something about God eternally.
    – jaredad7
    Aug 23, 2022 at 19:44
  • 1
    @jaredad7 The above comment treats eternity as though it were a long period of time. It is not. The above comment assumes that this 'long period of time' preceded 'In the beginning' and this long period of time can therefore be regarded as a 'previous beginning'. Eternity is not a long period of time. It is another state altogether. Eternity is not 'time' : it is other than time. Thus, there can only be one beginning - when all things (other than God himself, the eternal) began.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 24, 2022 at 7:53
  • I explicitly stated that the state of things from eternity past does not temporally, but logically, precedes the "In the beginning" of Genesis. I'm not sure how you inferred that I was intending to make a temporal claim about it when I explicitly stated that I was intending not to do that.
    – jaredad7
    Aug 25, 2022 at 17:23
  • @jaredad7 You posit a 'state' which is 'prior' to the beginning . . . . which you describe as 'eternity past'. If it is 'past' then that is a matter of time, not of eternity. Yes, you said you did not intend to do something. But in fact you did do it. (Though you did not intend to do it.)
    – Nigel J
    Aug 25, 2022 at 18:04
  • I did not merely posit a state which is prior full stop, but a fact which is logically prior to the creation of the world. The use of the adjective "logically" clarifies that this is not a statement about temporal matters, but logical ones. Do you deny that there is some sense in which God is "before" the world, in which He is "prior" to it? I think my words are fairly plain and intelligible, but in charity I am going to presume there is some genuine misunderstanding here, and not sophistry.
    – jaredad7
    Aug 25, 2022 at 18:30

3 Answers 3


Gap theory (Ruin Reconstruction Theory) is an attempt to reconcile those who wish to take the Bible literally with a scientific view of a very old Earth.

The universe—heaven and Earth—was originally ("in the beginning") created aeons ago; life flourished for millions or billions of years. But this world (perhaps just Earth and not the entire universe) grew to be evil, and God destroyed it in a gigantic cataclysm. Earth became "without form and void" as a result of this destruction. (Gap theorists hold that the verb in the second verse is more accurately translated as became or had become rather than as was. The familiar six-day creation—a re-creation really—then followed, mere thousands of years ago, upon the ruin and chaos of this ancient former world.

Gap theory advocates, by this maneuver, are able to reconcile the scientific evidence for an old Earth and universe and for life itself. They, just as much as the young-Earth creationists, reject evolution; to them, the re-creation six thousand or so years ago was not entirely ex nihilo (although humans may have been created out of nothing) but was certainly by divine fiat. Therefore, although they differ markedly from "strict" creationists regarding the age of Earth, their antievolution attitudes and arguments are virtually identical. - [NCSE Creation/Evolution Journal, vol.8, no.3, Fall 1988 1

This insertion of a vast expanse of time between the first two verses of Genesis is undertaken without any reference at all to the first verse of John's gospel.

A similar attempt to reconcile Scripture with modern science posits a day/age scenario in which each of the six days of creation are not literally 24 hour periods but are, instead, periods of hundreds of millions or even billions of years. Again there is no mention of John 1:1 in the formulation of this theory.

Difficulties in or refusal to accept the "In the beginning" of Genesis and John as referring to the same instance are usually driven by a theological need to strip Jesus, the Son of God, of His pre-incarnate divinity. A common theme includes the notion that "the Word" was God's first, and only, direct creation after which everything else was created by God through the Word.

In this paradigm if Genesis 1:1 is the beginning of the creation of all that there is then John 1:1 has already occurred and if Genesis 1:1 can be widened to implicitly include the creation of the Word then "in the beginning" of John 1:1 is not equivalent to Genesis 1:1 but merely one aspect which is less than the whole.

  • Up-voted +1 but your last paragraph does not explain how the refusal to accept one beginning aids certain to disbelieve the Son of God's pre-incarnate divinity. Could you enlarge on that, perhaps ?
    – Nigel J
    Dec 17, 2020 at 14:34
  • Who are the prominent people who support the Gap Theory these days? I didn't think there were any anymore.
    – curiousdannii
    Dec 18, 2020 at 5:42
  • I've added an edit with a link to my own studies of 'waste and void' which provide an alternative conclusion to 're-construction' or 're-creation' theories.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 18, 2020 at 8:44
  • 1
    @NigelJ Thanks for pointing that out. Edited. Dec 18, 2020 at 13:26
  • 1
    @curiousdannii Apparently many COG and Baptists still taught this as of 2-3 years ago. christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/25848/… Dec 18, 2020 at 13:32

Apples and oranges, my friend. Apples and oranges.

John 1:1 and following concern the eternality of the Son of God, the Logos, who existed in eternity, but who became flesh in obedience to the Father and out of his great love for us, his image-bearers.

Moreover, while John 1:1 and following paint a co-mixture of both spiritual (viz., the Word) and material (viz. "all things" and "became flesh"), Genesis 1:1 and following concern primarily the material.

Put differently, there are not two beginnings but two different uses of the word beginning. The apostle John's use of the word is his attempt, aided by the Holy Spirit, to describe two realities. The first is an eternal reality to which no measurement of time can be attached. It is the eternality of God and the Word of God, the Logos.

The question arises as a paradox, however, concerning time versus no time. Eternity (no time) cannot be measured, but time can. Without the eternal, there would be no material, no temporal, no time. The spiritual and the eternal precede the material and temporal. That's John 1, writ large.

Genesis 1:1 and following concern primarily the physical, material, and temporal. Moses wrote for the benefit of the people he led out of captivity and servitude into freedom and theocratic nationhood. The Hebrews needed to be reminded of the creatorial power of YHWH. They could take comfort in his watchful care over them because he had proved himself to be both the Almighty Creator and a miracle worker (e.g., he parted the Red Sea). Moreover, YHWH had covenanted with their forebears, beginning with Abram (later, Abraham) to make them a great nation under God, as well as a witness and a blessing to the entire world (see Genesis 12:3).

As for your questions about two creations, or one creation and one re-creation, frankly I have no answers for you. I do, however, have a question for you. Why did Moses describe the earth the way he did in Genesis 1:2?

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters (NIV).

To me, that verse sounds as though there needed to be a re-creation of something that was already in existence. However, what seems to have been already in existence was an earth that was formless, empty, and dark. The God I worship is a God of order, not chaos (see 1 Corinthians 14:33). The earth as Moses describes it in Genesis 2:1 is in complete chaos. Why? How did it get that way?

Again, I have no answer for you. Perhaps some brave soul will be able to provide a biblical answer that satisfies you.

  • Up-voted +1. Thank you. Please see my edit - a link to my own studies of 'waste and void' which indicate another conclusion than the 'Ruin Reconstruction Theory'
    – Nigel J
    Dec 18, 2020 at 8:21

Since you mentioned that you are interested in all perspectives - Old Earth Creationism (OEC) as well as Young Earth Creationism, I believe that I can explain at least one popular variant of Old Earth Creationism concerning your question. This would be the OEC perspective of Hugh Ross and the scholars at reasons.org. They take the same perspective that both @rhetorician and @Mike Borden explained, namely that in John 1:1 we are really talking about the eternal existence of Jesus the Creator while in Genesis 1 we are talking about the physical creation of the cosmos, including earth and life on earth. Ross would go even further to assert that since Einstein's General Theory of Relativity points to the beginning of space and time itself, that this is all the more reason to take John 1:1 as from the point of eternity, beyond the space-time continuum that makes up our universe. Also, concerning the earth being "without form and void", this would correspond to what astrophysicists have found about the beginning of the earth being a chaotic mass of rocks until it was formed in stages to the beautiful planet that we have today. All of the "coincidences" that made this transformation take place were highly improbable even according to scientist non-believers. And Ross makes many calculations and shows specific instances concerning these improbable events (hence the difficulty of finding a similar planet to ours that could sustain carbon based life even among the numerous planets that have been found so far). So, to me this OEC perspective of the scholars at reasons.org are consistent with your original intuitions of your youth and yet provide a very coherent harmony with the majority of findings of science as well.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .