It is the sad duty of AiG to point out where otherwise conservative evangelicals have compromised on the truth of Scripture beginning with Genesis. It is all too common for evangelicals to be bemused by the claims of secular, evolutionary science, and to want to re-interpret Genesis to ‘fit in’ with these claims. For this reason, we have articles on compromises of Scripture such as the Gap Theory, the Framework Hypothesis, Theistic Evolution and Progressive Creation, to name but four.
Both views, however, start with science rather than Scripture and therefore base their interpretation of Scripture on science.
In the last few years, another compromise of biblical truth has emerged, actually from within what might be termed the ‘Young Earth Creation’ movement. Advocates of this new compromise, known sometimes as the ‘Recolonisation Theory’ and sometimes as the European Flood Model, claim to hold to a biblical creationist position. The ‘moderate’ Recolonisers, defined below, stretch the age of the earth very little, or not at all, whereas the ‘strong’ Recolonisers stretch their age for the earth to as much as 18,000 years. Both views, however, start with science rather than Scripture and therefore base their interpretation of Scripture on science, rather than the other way round. Although it is worth pointing out that the Recolonisation position is not in the same league of compromise as the four compromises quoted above, we maintain that the claims of the Recolonisers cannot be supported by the plain reading of Scripture, and are therefore a step in the wrong direction for the creation position.
We have to say that at Answers in Genesis (UK/Europe), we take exception to the Recolonisation Theory being called the ‘European Flood Model’, as it implies that it is the view taken by creationists in Europe. We are European creationists—and we do not hold to a Recolonisation position, nor does the Creation Science Movement, another UK-based creationist organisation.
What is Recolonisation Theory?
The Recolonisers believe that the fossil record is to be understood more or less in the order in which evolutionary geologists picture it, although they dispute all the timescales. They see this fossil record as indicative of life recolonising the world after the devastation caused by the Flood of Noah’s time. They assume that the Flood itself is responsible for none of the fossil record, believing that organisms killed by the Flood have been totally obliterated, and therefore are not visible in the fossil record.
This Recolonisation after the Flood often requires the Recolonisers to lengthen the age of the earth by a few thousand years. (By the way, a detailed criticism of Recolonisation Theory has previously been published by McIntosh, Edmondson and Taylor,1,2 and another by Holt.3)
Who are the Recolonisers?
There appears to be two distinct groups of Recolonisers. The ‘moderate’ group’s views are expounded at http://www.recolonisation.org.uk, and whereas not all believe in expanding the biblical genealogies,4 others would typically expand the genealogies to span a time of about 12,000 years, to allow stability by the time of Abraham (about 2,000 BC)—after, in their view, a time of huge post-Flood geological activity. Typical papers expounding their geology are by Garton5 Tyler6 and Johnstone.7 It must be emphasised that many of this ‘moderate’ group of Recolonisers are not compromising Scripture in their interpretation of the chronogenealogies, or the age of the Earth. It is the next group that causes us great concern. Indeed, the ‘strong’ Recolonisation view, described below, should cause equal concern to the ‘moderate’ wing.
This second group of ‘strong’ Recolonisers, which includes Stephen Robinson and Anthony Bush, goes further and pushes the Flood into a much more distant past. Bush is the owner of the wonderful Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm (www.noahsarkzoofarm.co.uk), a unique UK tourist venture which the authors still recommend for people to visit, despite our reserve for the one small display about Recolonisation. Robinson and Bush also have a website for their views at http://www.earthhistory.co.uk. Typical papers containing their views are given in the footnotes.8,9,10,11
Why do some Recolonisers reject a 6,000 year age?
What impresses the visitor to both these websites is that they both start with perceived problems with the fossil record. The exact details of their difficulties with our approach to the fossil record will be discussed in a subsequent article. For now, we simply want to observe that the Recolonisers have developed their theory from the wrong starting point. Although they claim to have a high view of Scripture, it is noteworthy that they have allowed their ‘science’ to lead their understanding of the Bible, rather than the reverse.
For example, in order to accommodate the extra few thousand years required by Recolonisation, some of its proponents have declared that the genealogies of Genesis 5 and Genesis 11 are not complete.
It is no good, therefore, trying to understand ancient genealogies with the assumptions of a modern mind. When Genesis states that at such-and-such an age ‘X bore Y’ or ‘X begot Y’, it may seem that we are necessarily dealing with a seamless genealogy from father to son, but this is not the case. The word ‘begot’ in Hebrew, yalad, indicates mere descent – the fact that the descendant, no matter how far down the line, was in the loins of his ancestor. ‘Father’ could mean simply ‘ancestor’ rather than one’s immediate parent, and ‘child’ could mean simply ‘descendant’. Without external evidence to the contrary, Hebrew genealogies cannot be assumed to be complete.12
Furthermore, Robinson suggests that the incompleteness of the genealogies is demonstrated by comparison with genealogies in other ancient literature.
It is becoming almost axiomatic to quote James Barr, Oriel Professor of the interpretation of the Holy Scripture, Oxford University. As a ‘hostile witness’ (he doesn’t actually believe the Genesis account to be factual), Prof Barr nevertheless states that ‘the writer(s) of Genesis 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that … the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story.’13
Is it not ironic that Barr, who does not believe Genesis, understands that the writer intended us to take the genealogies as complete, whereas Robinson, who claims to believe Genesis, has to alter the meaning of the Hebrew word yalad to suit his geological opinion?
It is noteworthy that the ‘strong’ Recolonisers’ views of the Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies are identical to the views of other compromisers, such as the Progressive Creationist astronomer Hugh Ross, as the following shows:
The words translated in to English say this: “When X had lived Y years, he became the father of Z.” Someone reading the same passage in Hebrew would see a second possibility: “When X had lived Y years, he became the father of a family line that included or culminated in Z.”14
It follows that Dr Jonathan Sarfati’s thorough refutation of Ross’s errors hold true for the claims of those Recolonisers who argue for large gaps in the chronogenealogies.15 The whole of Sarfati’s article is a devastating critique of the view that Genesis 5 and 11 contain gaps.
Moreover, even the views of those Recolonisers who do not expand the genealogies contain possible seeds of compromise. For example, their model of continental submersion after the Flood is problematic. Because the Recolonisers accept the geological column, and because the Middle East has a great deal of what is called Cretaceous rock, it follows that the Middle East would need to be submerged after the Flood, at the very time of the Tower of Babel events in Genesis 11. This has led some of the Recolonisers to speculate that the Ark actually landed in Africa, and therefore that continent was the host to the events of Genesis 11 and 12. This would seem to be a very weak position exegetically and historically. It is such exegetical weaknesses that led Professor Andy McIntosh and his colleagues to comment: ‘Their science is driving their interpretation of Scripture, and not the other way round.’16
It is hoped that, from time to time, we will be able to publish further articles, which will examine some of the more specific claims of the Recolonisers. This article is intended to contain enough to alert the reader to the fact that Recolonisation Theory is not compatible with a plain reading of Genesis, nor is it in accord with the considered views of the world’s major creationist organisations. Despite the fact that the Recolonisers see themselves as Young-Earth Creationists and (rightly) do not accept millions of years, their views do not flow naturally from the Bible and their views ‘open the door’ to further future compromise with the supposed proven claims of old-earth geologists.
It is with regret and some personal pain—as some of the Recolonisers are personal friends of the authors—that we feel we must expose the teachings of any movement that is leaning in the direction of other compromises of biblical truth. These concerns have, on different previous occasions, been expressed in personal conversation by the authors to some of the Recolonisers. It is our hope and prayer that they will return once more to a biblical starting point in their analysis of scientific data.
Acknowledgment and final note
The authors would like to acknowledge the help of Professor Andy McIntosh in the preparation of this article.
In this article, the term Recolonisation has taken on the British spelling (with an ‘s’ rather than a ‘z’ as in the American spelling) for two reasons: the article was written by UK authors, and the movement is best known in UK/Europe, so the British spelling is preferred in the context of this article.