Can Science consider and study Supernatural
This question is at the heart of the Creation / Evolution
debate, because both sides answer the question differently. Since
Evolution is based on absolute
Naturalism, Evolutionists argue ether that
the supernatural does not exist or that if it does it is outside
the domain of science. So Evolutionist answer to this question is
solidly no and they use their definition of
science against all alternatives to Evolution. Creationists on
the other hand would answer the question yes.
To answer the above question it is first necessary to define
two terms Science, and Supernatural.
The act and embodiment of performing the
in order to discover empirically proven truth.
The act and embodiment of constructing
falsifiable theories which are not subsequently
Of or relating to existence outside the natural
Attributed to a power that seems to violate or go
beyond natural forces.
Of or relating to a deity.
Of or relating to the immediate exercise of
divine power; miraculous.
Of or relating to the miraculous.
The American HeritageŽ Dictionary of the English Language:
Science involves use of the
Scientific method and the
construction of falsifiable theories. Since there is nothing in
the Scientific method requires Natural
causes or explanations then the only real issue is
falsifiability. In general a Supernatural theory can be falsified
by objectively showing that there is a natural cause for a given
As the above definition shows the Supernatural is not
necessarily a mysterious, indescribable, and unknowable thing.
The primary definition would fit any thing from outside the
natural world, that is outside the space-time of our universe.
Since General relativity shows us that
there is an outside to the universe, it is not unreasonable to
consider that events can occur inside our universe, that are
cause by something outside it. While the second definition shows
that Supernatural phenomenon need not obey our natural laws, it
does not mean that they are not governed by their own laws. As
shown by the last three definitions the Supernatural may involve
intelligent agents such as God, while intelligent agents are hard
to deal with, they can not be eliminated since human being are
intelligent agents and ignoring our influence in the natural
would produce large theoretical errors.
The supernatural is not the same as magic. Real magic would be
supernatural but that does not equate the two. Supernatural
events could; in theory; be mechanistic or the actions of the an
intelligent agent, they simply do not operate by the same laws
natural events do. Now natural causes should be used where they
suffice, but naturalism assumes that they always suffice. While a
supernatural cause should not be jumped to out of hand, it is
equally wrong to eliminate them out of hand.
So there is nothing in the definition of ether Science or
Supernatural that eliminates the Supernatural from scientific
consideration. The claim by Evolutionist that Science can not
consider the Supernatural a purely philosophical and essentially
The Supernatural cannot be observed.
There are plenty of natural entities in science
that can not be observed such as subatomic
particles, dark mater, dark energy, but are
theorized to exist based on what can be observed.
Postulating a supernatural event based on what is
observed would be no different.
Some times the supernatural can be observed.
People so occasionally report seeing, hearing and
other wise sensing the presence of ghosts,
angles, demons and others. So apparently the
supernatural can some times be observed.
One supernatural explanation can not be
distinguish from another.
This presupposes that all supernatural
explanations are the same. It implies that
invoking the supernatural is a blanket
While for a single event it may be impossible to
distinguish between different supernatural
explanations, the same thing is true of natural
explanations. To distinguish between different
explanations, natural or supernatural requires
Supernatural explanations can produce predictions
of about future similar events. Ghosts provides a
good example, since there are two basic competing
Ghosts are spirits, in other words
intelligent entities. This predicts
different behaviors at each sightings but
consistent with an individual. This may
include unique interactions with viewers.
Ghosts are psychic recording of past
events. This predicts repeat behavior at
different sightings. This also predicts
no interactions with viewers.
Each theory makes predictions about how ghosts
will behave. In this case there are different
sightings that match each theory such that
studying a ghosts behavior can
distinguish between two different supernatural
explanations for ghosts.
It is impossible to generalize supernatural
This not true. The above theories on ghosts are
generalizations. There are difficulties in
generalizing supernatural explanations but that
does not mean that it is impossible. Difficulties
in generalizing supernatural explanations can
result from several causes
Rarity of a supernatural event. Some
supernatural events do not happen
frequently enough; maybe only once; to
make a generalization possible in that
case, but the same thing could occur with
natural events, if similar events do not
occur frequently enough to observe more
than a few occurrences.
Insufficient data on a supernatural
event. If similar supernatural events are
not adequately observed then
generalizations may be impossible do to
lack of information. The same thing could
occur with natural events that are not
It is difficult to generalize intelligent
activity. Many supernatural events
clearly involve intelligent entities and
the behavior of intelligent entities
would be hard, but not necessarily
impossible; to generalize, particularly
when dealing with more than one non human
intelligent entity. The is true of
natural intelligent entities since even
among humans, some people will always
behave out side any generalization. If
one is dealing with more than one type of
natural non human intelligent entity, a
generalization is impossible.
Some events once thought to be supernatural are
now known to be natural.
While this is true, it is a false analogy. Such
events were deemed to be supernatural because
nature was poorly understood by those who made
such claims. However a scientific application of
supernatural explanations concludes that natural
process are inadequate, not do lack of knowledge
but an actual inability of chance and natural law
to suffice as an explanation.
It is possible that a supernatural explanation
could be replaced by a natural one if more data
becomes available, but the revere is also
possible. In both cases, this is just one
hypothesis replacing another and such is the
nature of science.
This also shows that a supernatural hypothesis is
A supernatural explanation can only be postulated
by eliminating all possible natural explanations.
This depends on what one means by eliminating all
possible natural explanations.
Some times it is claimed to include
natural explanations not yet conceived
of. This is absurd since it impossible to
eliminate a theory that does not yet
It would have to be restricted to natural
explanations that are consistent with the
theoretical system under consideration,
since any that is not consistent with it
would be eliminated by definition.
Sometimes all possible
natural explanations can be eliminated,
by virtue of inconsistency with the laws
of nature or being impossibly improbable.
Supernatural explanations hinder science.
The same can be said of absolute naturalism since
it eliminates a large class of phenomenon and
possible explanations. This objection presupposes
that supernatural explanations are magical as if
simply invoking the Supernatural is and
explanation; this is not the case. A proper
supernatural explanation would explain how the
event happened, but simply not be limited to the
natural laws of our universe.
For example a scientists observes water
running up hill, he eliminates water
pressure or some other normal mechanism
such as local a mass anomaly. He then
concludes that the water behavior is
consistent with space-time be bent to
produce a gravitational field, but there
is no mass to do the job. He might
conclude since this behavior violates
natural law that something from outside
space time ( by definition supernatural )
is causing the space-time bend. This
would be no different in principle than
inventing some supposed natural object
that is equally on seen; such as dark
mater or energy.
If a supernatural event is studied long enough or
multiple supernatural event were studied some
details about the supernatural cause might be
deduced as is done with natural unseen objects
like subatomic particles.
This objection equates the supernatural to
superstition and magic, but it is not equivalent
to them. It is one thing to use natural cases
where they suffice but it is quite another to
assume that they always do suffice.
There is nothing in the definition of science that precludes a
supernatural hypothesis . Furthermore a supernatural hypothesis
can meet the qualifications of prediction and falsification. A
supernatural hypothesis is not the same as superstition or magic,
but are simply explanations that are from outside the universe
and / or do not obey natural laws. Such explanations can but need
not include God. The denial of the supernatural that is part of
naturalism is a purely philosophical and essentially atheistic
position. By excluding supernatural hypothesis from consideration
it eliminates out of hand a large body of possible explanations
for past, present and future phenomenon. In origins and
historical research a total denial of the supernatural will
cause grave error if indeed supernatural events have occurred, as
such the supernatural needs be considered.