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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2006
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Claim CA301.1:

If the correct explanation for a phenomenon happens to be supernatural, the naturalistic method of science will miss it. "With creationist explanations disqualified at the outset, it follows that the evidence will always support the naturalistic alternative."


Johnson, Phillip E., 1990. Evolution as dogma: The establishment of naturalism. First Things (Oct.), 15-22.


  1. Nobody has ever come up with a useful definition of supernatural. By most definitions, something having an effect on nature makes that something a part of nature itself. So any explanation for something we see in nature can be considered natural by definition.

  2. We cannot observe the supernatural, so the only way we could reach the supernatural explanation would be to eliminate all natural explanations. But we can never know that we have eliminated all possibilities. Even if a supernatural explanation is correct, we can never reach it.

  3. Suppose we do conclude that a supernatural explanation is correct. It is impossible, even in principle, to distinguish one supernatural explanation from another. Many people, including many scientists, are willing to accept certain supernatural explanations on faith. There is nothing wrong with that as long as they do not claim special privilege for their faith. Some people, however, are not satisfied unless others believe as they do; this group includes all those who want to make the supernatural a part of science. Since they cannot make their case by using naturalistic evidence, they must resort to other means, such as force of arms. (This is not hyperbole. Such groups continually attempt to get political enforcement on their side.)

  4. If we do miss a supernatural explanation, so what? Supernatural explanations cannot be generalized, so the explanation does not matter anywhere else. The usefulness of science comes from the ability to apply findings to different areas. Any supernatural explanation would be useless.

  5. Explanations in terms of the supernatural are evaluated to the extent it is actually possible to do so. For example, scientists have investigated faith healing (Benson et al. 2006) and creationist claims about a global flood and age of the earth.

  6. Creationist accounts of origins are not disqualified. People are free to believe whatever religion they choose. P. E. Johnson and others like him merely object to their religion not being taught as science to the exclusion of all other religious interpretations (not to mention to the exclusion of all of science).


  1. Benson, H. et al. 2006. Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients: a multicenter randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of receiving intercessory prayer. American Heart Journal 151(4): 934-942.

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created 2003-4-15, modified 2006-4-7