The filo….sop…nat….what!?! Yes, the Philosophical Naturalism Hermeneutic. Let me explain the terms and why I am stringing them together.
Philosophical (the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence)
Naturalism (an assumption that says everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted)
Hermeneutic (a method or theory of interpreting the Bible)
The Philosophical Naturalism Hermeneutic is the method by which many modern professing Christians interpret the text of Scripture. Philosophical Naturalism is the assumption by which evolutionary proponents interpret scientific evidence. It is an assumption that there is no God therefore supernatural and spiritual causes are not permitted.
Atheism’s foundation is a circular argument. It begins with a naturalistic assumption, evidence like star light, the geological layers, radiometric dating, etc. are then interpreted with this assumption, the interpretation is then used to say “there is no God”. This is begging the question, the argument began with “there is no God”.
It should not be surprising that the unbelieving world, who are actively suppressing the truth about God in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18), would embrace a circular argument. What is disturbing though is when professing Christians accept conclusions to arguments about Creation that start with the assumption that there is no God. They will then use these conclusions to interpret the Bible, a book that says there is a God. It simply makes no rational sense.
We as Christians should be the most rational people on the planet. We worship the God who is the source of the Laws of Logic and Who makes reasoning possible. Why would we ever accept an argument that starts with “there is no God”?
All old earth creation and theistic evolutionary positions are accepting the conclusions to naturalistic arguments. There is no possible way to get billions or even millions of years of time from the text of Scripture. Any attempt to do so is only trying to insert the conclusion of an argument that started with “there is no God” into the text.
Anyone with a basic understanding of logic understands that if even one of the premises of an argument is wrong the conclusion fails. Any person who professes Christianity by this mere profession is stating the premise “there is no God” is false therefore all conclusions that start with this premise should fail for this person. Sadly they do not.
Another problem I see is that there are many Christians who may personally hold to the literal Biblical Creation view but have an ambivalent or no care attitude about those who do embrace non-Biblical views of Creation. This attitude along with the non-Biblical views themselves are serious and I will lay out several reasons why.
The first problem is that the Philosophical Naturalism Hermeneutic is blasphemy. For a Christian to accept the conclusion to a naturalistic argument as true implies that he is accepting all the premises to be true as the argument would fail if even one premise was false. That means that the professing Christian is accepting as true the premise “there is no God”. This is blasphemy. The Third Commandment says in Exodus 20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” (NIV) This is a serious offence against God and failing in what Jesus called the first and greatest commandment. Matthew 22:37 “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.” (NIV)
The second problem with the Philosophical Naturalism Hermeneutic is that it is questioning the Word of God. It is falling back into the very first sin that was the cause of this fallen world. Genesis 3:1 “He said to the woman, “Did God really say“” (NIV) Jesus himself said in John 5:46 “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. 47 But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (NIV) Moses wrote the book of Genesis. Old earth Creationists and Theistic Evolutionists reject what Jesus said here because they claim they can believe what Jesus said without believing literally what Moses said. Jesus removes this possibility with his statement “you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?“. Jesus also said in Matthew 19:4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,” (NIV) Was Jesus mistaken? Did He really mean that God created them male and female at the beginning?
The third issue with the Philosophical Naturalism Hermeneutic is that it has serious theological and soteriological implications. If the earth and universe are indeed millions or billions of years old this would place death, disease and destruction before the sin of Adam. Romans 5 and Genesis 3 clearly place death, disease and destruction after the sin of Adam and that these are the result of Adam’s sin. God said after He had completed creation that it was very good. (Genesis 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.(NIV)) If a universe in decay with death, disease and destruction is “good” according to God what does this say about God? Why should we have any reason to believe that the new heaven and earth will be any better if God called decay and death “good”? This error also diminishes the seriousness of sin. If the Philosophical Naturalism Hermeneutic is correct then sin is not that big of a deal. It was not the primary reason for the current state of affairs in our reality. It is just a minor issue that probably should be resolved.
I do want to be clear that I am not saying that a young earth creationist view is a requirement for salvation. I am a firm believer in “sola fide” however the error is serious and needs to be addressed by all those who profess Christ as Lord. We all grow in the Lord and I have seen that in my own life. I have never had nor will I ever have a perfect view of scripture. I am using a fallen mind but this is not an excuse to ignore gross error. As God reveals truth to us we should continue in allowing it to renew our mind. Accepting conclusions in naturalistic arguments and using them to interpret scripture is a sin we must repent of. I have had to repent of this sin myself so I am not writing this post with a holier than thou mindset. I am also a sinner saved by Grace. God Bless.