If a “historian” or “scholar” chooses to apply methodological naturalism to the Bible, he will have to pay for that move in two respects:
1.Remember that methodological naturalism allows for the possibility of miracles. What it disallows is making allowance for miracles in the interpretation of a natural or historical event.
It cannot rule out the occurrence of the miraculous because it’s a purely methodological principle. To declare miracles impossible would amount to a metaphysical claim.
But this, in turn, generates the following dilemma. Since methodological naturalism must make room for the possibility of miracles while, at the same time, ruling out a miraculous interpretation of a natural or historical event, then methodological naturalism must take the position that a naturalistic explanation is always preferable even if a naturalistic explanation is false.
That is to say, by making allowance for the possibility of miracles, it must also allow for the possibility that a miraculous explanation might sometimes be the true explanation. And yet it cannot permit a miraculous explanation for any event. Hence, it cannot permit a miraculous explanation even if the miraculous explanation happens to be the best explanation of the event. Happens, indeed, to be the correct explanation.
Why would any responsible historian or scholar commit himself to a methodology that automatically precludes or excludes the true interpretation of a natural or historical event? What’s the value of a methodology that forbids you from ever considering an interpretation which may, in fact, be the correct interpretation?
Isn’t the value of a historical or scientific method to arrive at a true explanation?
2.But methodological naturalism generates yet another conundrum. If a “historian” or “scholar” adopts methodological naturalism, then he thereby forfeits the right to classify miracles as improbable. For probability is a metaphysical concept. It involves a claim about the nature of the world. Yet what supposedly distinguishes methodological naturalism from metaphysical naturalism is the ontological neutral of methodological naturalism.
In that event, methodological naturalism is debarred from treating supernatural events as any less probable than natural events. There can be no antecedent presumption one way or the other.
But in that case, a “historian” or “scholar” who applies methodological naturalism to the Bible can’t very well claim that any other explanation, however unlikely, is still more likely than a supernatural explanation. To do so would smuggle in metaphysical naturalism under the guise of methodological naturalism.
Yet if methodological naturalism can’t properly treat a supernaturalistic interpretation of events as any less likely than a naturalistic interpretation of events, then what conceivable warrant does it have to invariably favor a naturalistic interpretation to over a supernaturalistic interpretation? Logically speaking, it should be equally open to both possibilities.