Science & Education

, Volume 18, Issue 6–7, pp 813–837 | Cite as

Can Science Test Supernatural Worldviews?

Article

Abstract

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’.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was motivated in part by discussions on Professor Victor Stenger’s ‘A-VOID’ online list serve and by two articles, Monton (2006) and Stenger (2006a), which defend a similar thesis. The author is grateful to the editor, Dr. Michael Matthews, Jonathan Colvin, Keith Douglas, Anna Grossman, William Jefferys, Brent Meeker, Victor Stenger, RJ Welsh, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions on a previous version of the paper. Special thanks to Brent Meeker for significant editorial contributions.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyAlbert Einstein College of MedicineBronxUSA

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