Reading Time: < 1 minute

Yonatan Fishman, PhD, Department of Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, wrote a really interesting paper contesting the idea that science and the supernatural do not overlap, and that there is no way to test the supernatural. The paper can be found here and is well worth a  read. I hope to give it a greater commentary in the near, not-so-mentally busy future!

The abstract is as follows:

Several prominent scientists, philosophers, and scientific institutions have argued that science cannot test supernatural worldviews on the grounds that (1) science presupposes a naturalistic worldview (Naturalism) or that (2) claims involving supernatural phenomena are inherently beyond the scope of scientific investigation. The present paper argues that these assumptions are questionable and that indeed science can test supernatural claims. While scientific evidence may ultimately support a naturalistic worldview, science does not presuppose Naturalism as an a priori commitment, and supernatural claims are amenable to scientific evaluation. This conclusion challenges the rationale behind a recent judicial ruling in the United States concerning the teaching of “Intelligent Design” in public schools as an alternative to evolution and the official statements of two major scientific institutions that exert a substantial influence on science educational policies in the United States. Given that science does have implications concerning the probable truth of supernatural worldviews, claims should not be excluded a priori from science education simply because they might be characterized as supernatural, paranormal, or religious. Rather, claims should be excluded from science education when the evidence does not support them, regardless of whether they are designated as ‘natural’ or ‘supernatural’.

Simply put, if a supernatural phenomenon has impact on the real and physical world such that we can make some observation about its existence, then we can in some sense test it.

Avatar photo

Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...