One of the major claims frequently made for excluding God from science is that science can only deal with the natural, but God is supernatural. Furthermore, within the scientific establishment, only theories based on absolute naturalism are even considered. Now when you are describing the general workings of nature this is not really a problem, but there are some areas where this philosophy runs into trouble. Furthermore, It is not just strange things that may not even exist such as ghosts and vampires, where this philosophy runs into trouble. However, the ultimate reason for insisting on restricting science to absolute naturalism is to keep God out of the picture entirely. Most importantly there is a fundamental assumption behind this dilemma that is often ignored, and that is that there is a real difference between natural and supernatural.

First of all, the word supernatural simply means beyond or exceeding the powers or laws of nature, there is nothing that indicates that there is no process behind it, that there is no way of explaining what happened, or that such an explanation is untestable. It merely indicates that the cause of what happened is beyond the ordinary laws of nature just saying.

Sure, if you simply claim something was supernatural, without any kind of an idea as to specifically what happened yes, it is going to be untestable. However, if you present a specific type of event that is above natural law but has consequences that proceed forward based on natural law making testable predictions, then that type of supernatural event can be tested. You actually run into the same problem if you simply claimed that something was an unnatural event, without specifying enough to test it.

Furthermore, if God created the universe and all that is in it including its natural laws then while generally considered supernatural, he would actually be the most natural thing that exists, because he existed before our universe and actually created it and laws that govern it. Ultimately the only difference between natural and supernatural is our attempt to distinguish them. Both natural and supernatural processes can be mechanical, and both can be the result of intelligent agency. Ultimately it is nothing but a difference in labels.

It needs to be understood that the difference between natural and supernatural is really just a question of whether or not what is happening has agency outside of the natural laws of our universe. It is not a case that one is explained the other is not explained, but whether or not it can be explained within the context of natural law. If it needs external agency from natural law, it can be considered supernatural.

Ultimately the distinction between natural and supernatural is artificial because in both cases, you are looking to explain what is going on. If that explanation requires going beyond natural law, then you have a supernatural explanation. If that supernatural explanation produces an effect that can be tested, then it is testable and potentially even falsifiable. The presupposition is often made that only naturalistic explanations are testable but that is not true. the problem in testing supernatural explanations comes from being too broad such as simply concluding that “God did it” and not pursuing the question any further. Pursuing the question further would include contemplating what God specifically did. Such an explanation, if precise enough, would be testable. At the same time, a naturalistic explanation that simply claims “natural forces did it” would not be specific enough to be testable. This results in a complete lack of any real distinction between natural and supernatural, and a false dichotomy between the two.

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