Is the Gap Theory a possible explanation for the long ages suggested by the fossil record?
The Gap Theory teaches that there is a gap of time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 of several million years, if not billions of years. Most Christians dislike this theory because it conflicts with the popular and clean-cut theory that God created the universe 6,000 years ago.
The evidence for an earth older than 6,000 years is quite lengthy. Here are some key indicators that point to an old earth:
Mount Everest - Ages ago, the Eurasian and Indian continents collided spectacularly to form the Himalayas. Geological movement continues to take place to this day as India is gradually pushed beneath China and Nepal at a rate of about 3 inches per year. Going by the current rate of upwelling, it would have taken Mount Everest at least 100,000 years to rise to its 29,035-foot elevation. Before the great collision, the bedrock that makes up the Himalayan range was at the bottom of the Indian Ocean. The top 1,500 feet of Mount Everest is comprised of limestone. This type of rock is slowly formed by the deposition and consolidation of the skeletons of marine invertebrates. Because these creatures are miniscule, it would take a very long time to accumulate these limestone layers.
Coral reefs - Coral is formed by the skeletons and calcium deposits of tiny animals that live in warm shallow seas. It has been estimated that it takes about 100 years to produce a few centimeters of coral growth. One coral atoll has been measured at 3,900 feet in depth.
Light and cosmic events - The sun is one of countless numbers of stars in our galaxy. The galaxy is more than 100,000 light years across. This means that light from some stars in our galaxy has taken many tens of thousands of years to reach earth. A common explanation for our ability to see stars that are millions of light years away is that God created the light from these distant stars already in transit. There are two more factors to consider. As light travels through the universe, its properties are altered by forces it encounters, which gives us a travel log of its journey. Many of the cosmic events we see in the universe take millions of years to occur. It doesn't seem logical for God to have constructed such a multifaceted elaborate hoax.
Bristlecone pine trees - The annual growth rings of trees are among the most reliable measures of time. Some Bristlecone pine trees in the White-Inyo mountain range of California date back beyond 6000 BC.
Ice Ages - In North America, more than 20 glacial advances and retreats have occurred during the last 2 million years. It takes a foot of snowfall to produce an inch of glacial ice. Considering that some of the ice has been thousands of feet thick, centuries of snow are needed to produce each ice age event. These glaciers would have had to move across the land like freight trains to fit into the 6,000-year model.
Hawaiian Island chain - If you could remove all of the water from the Pacific Ocean, you would find that the Hawaiian Islands are peaks on a 10,000-foot-high ridge that extends 3,000 miles to the northwest. The Hawaiian chain gets progressively older and becomes more eroded the farther you travel beyond the volcanically active region of the "Big Island" of Hawaii. All three factors--the movement of the ocean's crust, the building up of volcanic islands, and their erosion--are very time-consuming geological processes.