Thursday, April 19, 2007

Science Always Replaces Supernatural Explanations

An Argument Against Supernaturalism

1. In the past, every supernatural or paranormal explanation of phenomena
that humans believed turned out to be mistaken; there was a natural, physical explanation.

Fever was thought to be caused by demon possession.
Insanity was thought to caused by spirits.
Epilepsy was thought to be caused by evil spirits.
Bad weather was thought to be the wrath of angry gods.
Disease was thought to punish the wicked.
Settling foundations of buildings were thought to be ghosts.
Elves and fairies were thought to bring good/bad luck.
Witches were thought to be able to cast spells and curses.
Unexplained natural phenomena were explained by magic.
Pregnancies in convents were thought to be incubi (not priests)
Sexual dreams and encounters at night for men were thought to be succubi.
Mythological gods were thought to govern every aspect of the natural world.

2. Many of the specific explanations of phenomena offered in connection with the existence of the Judeo-Christian God have turned out to be mistaken.

The wicked aren't punished with disease
The good aren't blessed with success.
Prayer doesn't work.
Modern organisms evolved from lower life forms, they weren't created 6,000 years ago in the finished state.
Many miracle claims have turned out to be mistakes, frauds, or deceptions.

3. It is reasonable to conclude that all supernatural explanations are mistaken and that we will discover a natural, physical explanation for everything.

4. Therefore, it is not reasonable to believe that the existence of the Judeo-Christian God adequately explains anything and that there is no such supernatural entity.


Unknown said...

Thanks for making this list of important (though excruciatingly obvious) facts.

Jon said...

I'm not so sure that we will find a natural explanation for literally everything (i.e. the exact origin and fundamental essence/stuff/construct of the universe). What stuff is a quark/what is it's deeper or deepest construct? The conclusion and most of the premises are agreable.

Matt McCormick said...

Certainly what Jon says is right. It's an unusual kind of inductive argument. It's possible that natural explanations will break down at some really fundamental quantum level. But aside from a lot of speculation, we really don't have any positive reasons to think that science will be shut down there. And we have vast numbers of examples of science tackling some topic that was widely thought to be impenetrable only to find that science succeeded there too. Theists would be ill advised to confidently assert that "Sure, science has explained everything so far, but this thing, THIS THING... cannot and will not be explained by science." That kind of unfounded swagger usually just result in embarrassment later.

Anonymous said...

I think the following "miracle of God" conclusively demonstrates the existence of God:

Anonymous said...

As strong of a case that the naturalist can make, if there exist cases that are not explainable by science, even if they are potentially explainable, to conclude that there is nothing spiritual will be as much an appeal to ignorance as saying that there is something spiritual.

M. Tully said...


Great evidence. God hates gas pumps! Got it, what do I do with it?