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← Teaching science in public schools without stepping around religion

Steve Zara's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by Steve Zara

Comment 22 by Nordic11

Alan and Steve, your reasoning is circular. You believe we should deny all supernatural claims because science cannot detect or study them, but science cannot study them because they are super-natural- apart from the natural world.

No. That's not why I deny all supernatural claims. I deny them because there is no valid category called 'supernatural'. The division between natural and supernatural is meaningless, it's just a theological trick to try and prevent science from investigating theological claims.

All claims about reality are testable in principle, because we can test why people make the claims, and whether their reasons for making the claims are justified or not. All claims about reality are testable because those making the claims are part of what we call the natural world (if we have to use that term). Claims about the so-called supernatural become anchored to the natural world through the fact of the natural nature of the claimants.

Therefore, the idea of non-testability is incoherent. It's not a sensible claim to make. In-principle non-testability is not a valid attribute to apply to anything, because even if it did make sense, you could never show that it was true! (This also means that supernaturalism is a self-defeating concept - it is impossible to show that something truly is supernatural, because that would mean that supernaturalness is a testable attribute!)

And so, supernaturalism is a term that should never be used, because all it really means is there is a desire that science should be kept at bay.

I think we should have no tolerance for the term, at least once the problems with it have been made clear.

So, if you believe in a supreme being of some kind, that is logically reasonable (even if not scientifically reasonable), but you can't try and prevent investigation of that belief by insisting that the being is supernatural. It just doesn't work.

Tue, 17 Jul 2012 14:06:55 UTC | #949424