The uncertainty of one thing, does not necessarily affect the certainty of another thing. Our ignorance of many points need not suspend our assurance of a few. Before we yield, in any particular instance, to the skepticism which this sort of insinuation would induce, we ought accurately to ascertain, whether our ignorance or doubt concern those precise points upon which our conclusion rests.1
Explaining away the miracles of God is not a new phenomenon. Scholars have attempted for several centuries to develop mechanistic or naturalistic explanations for everything from the epic Ten Plagues of Egypt and the crossing of the so-called “Reed” Sea, to the various theories “humanizing” our Lord’s resurrection—all in an attempt to naturalize God’s supernatural power.
This intellectual rebellion against God (for that’s what it really is) appears to be driven by the same presumptive lie Eve bought into at the prompting of Lucifer, the great Enemy—“ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Not satisfied with the prescriptive restriction of God in Eden, fallen man continues to flaunt his arrogant ego by explaining what God does in terms that his own finite mind can comprehend.
Many of these attempts are rather easy to spot—especially by those who love the Word of God. The resurgence of the various theistic evolution theories, led by groups such as BioLogos that espouse the “creation by evolution” mantra, would be theologically irrelevant if it were not that embracing evolution requires a rejection of the doctrine of inerrancy, the revealed nature of God Himself, and much of obvious science as well.
The danger of such proponents is not that their error is so sophisticated that only highly educated scholars can refute it, but rather that their power of persuasion and influence is based on their attempt to be inclusive and loving, gracious to those who disagree with their enlightened position, and the apparently irrefutable argument that their education puts them in a place of paternal superiority over the non-trained. Jesus warned against such false prophets, “which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
Were it merely these big issues that the Kingdom must contend with (creation, evolution, rejection of such obvious miracles as the Ten Plagues and Christ’s resurrection, etc.), we could rather easily avoid their “profane and vain babblings” (1 Timothy 6:20) and leave the rebuttal to the Holy Spirit in His convicting work of regeneration.
However, their foundational error is to reject the worship of the Creator, valuing the creature more than that which can be clearly seen as evidence that God alone is Creator (Romans 1:18-25; Psalm 19:1-4). Such rejection of the Creator inevitably leads to a comfortable inclusion of non-supernatural rationale and a growing extension of natural explanations for the sovereign oversight of God in the functioning of our universe.
This Enemy-driven embracing of the “way which seemeth right unto a man” (Proverbs 14:12) is sweeping more and more professing Christians into a toleration of doubt in the authority of Scripture and a growing acceptance of natural explanations for the obvious presentation of supernatural sovereignty and omnipotent oversight of the creation.
“Many,” the apostle Peter notes, “shall follow their pernicious ways” (2 Peter 2:2).
Much of our Christian confidence resides in our faith in the revealed Word of God. When we are taught to question—or perhaps even to disbelieve—the words of Scripture, then we will sense the disquiet of the Holy Spirit who is charged with guiding us into all truth. If we ignore His prompting, we soon face the possibility of developing a seared conscience (1 Timothy 4:2), which will either hobble or disable our ability to grasp the truth that surrounds us.
This is particularly so when Scripture offers a broad view of God’s providential sovereignty, as when He expresses Himself in the age-long conservation of our planet.
The LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seed-time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. (Genesis 8:21-22)
Seldom do we even consider that the very continued existence of the earth is by the Creator’s supernatural protection and oversight. Much less do we seek for evidence of that providential care. No, more often we simply accept that “things” are working just fine, or we laud “nature” for its implied power to maintain the status quo.
From a scientific perspective, God provides profound insight in the covenant to Noah cited above. The Creator Himself will take on the responsibility to conserve—to preserve the designed processes of His creation so that it (the planet and its various life forms) will continue to function with sufficient efficiency to maintain operational effectiveness. Fundamentally, this tells us that the conservative processes that we see operating all around us are overseen, supernaturally and providentially, by the very Creator who brought them into existence in the first place (Isaiah 46:10-11).
Those broad processes are really evidences of God’s initial design structures, which are now being overseen and directed by the providential sovereignty of the Creator. The so-called process of “natural selection” is a good example of how men have thrown their light of worship on the created thing rather than on the creating Person. Instead of giving the credit to some “force” of nature, personifying and in many cases deifying the process, we should identify the observable mechanics that God has built into our environment and glorify the Creator rather than that which was created.
Perhaps the reader will recall that God issued a divine mandate to the various animal “kinds” to “be fruitful, and multiply, and fill…” (Genesis 1:22). The authority to direct and subdue the processes and life of earth was delegated to mankind (Genesis 1:28).
The evidence for God’s design has expanded exponentially as our human skill develops technology with an ever-increasing ability to explore both the big and the small. This may be most astounding as we gain a clearer understanding of the enormous information in the genomes of living things. The more we learn about the processes of life and the functions of cells, the more beautiful and intricate are those mysteries that underlie reality.
Perhaps instead of sweeping those great mysteries into an inscrutable category of “natural” phenomena, we should begin to consider how our Creator programmed and designed those functions so that they would work at any time and in any environment as creatures “fill the earth.” Instead of accommodating evolutionary jargon—such as natural selection—that either ignores or purposefully excludes the sovereign Creator’s work, we should begin to examine the data in the light of the directives of Genesis and seek to understand what God has placed into His creation that would permit the transmission of “seed” in such a way that the different created kinds would be able to “fill” the various environments on the earth.
Believers—who are not only the beneficiaries of God’s human creation with the mandate of dominion over the earth, but are also the twice-born created after God “in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24)—should surely be able to uncover the evidence of God’s sovereign design that will bring glory to the Creator rather than aggrandizing the faceless and impotent god of evolutionary randomness.
- Paley, William S. (July 1743–May 25, 1805). 1972. Natural Theology. Houston, TX: St. Thomas Press, 53-54. Originally published in 1804.
* Dr. Morris is Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Morris III, H. 2011. Naturalizing the Supernatural. Acts & Facts. 40 (3): 4-5.