If creation was supernatural, how could methodological naturalism ever discover it?

As I understand it, modern science is based on methodological naturalism. That being the case, how could it ever detect evidence of a supernatural process?

They can’t without revelation. but that doesn’t mean they won’t try! Science (in general) always tries to deal with cosmology and eventually ends up in ontology (IMHO).

Then, assuming you are right, and assuming for the moment…if only for discussion’s sake…that Gen 1 is a straighforward account of a supernatural six-day creation of the universe, 1) why should anyone expect science to ever confirm this account? and 2) on what basis should we decide whether to accept science’s natural explanation or the Bible’s supernatural explanation as the ontologically true explanation?

While science couldn’t detect a supernatural cause of creation it can detect evidence that shows it wasn’t supernatural in terms of “poof” it’s there 6,000 years ago. They only way to explain this evidence in my mind is to realize that the message of Genesis is NOT that God created in six days 6,000 years ago but that God created. I know you have a hard time with this but you need to realize that the creation of the earth 4.543 billion years ago is just as supernatural as creation 6,000 years ago. In both cases God did it. Which in my book makes it supernatural.

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  1. I take it that the reason you’re willing to retain the latter from Gen 1 but not the former is that science challenges the former but not the latter (though Richard Dawkins and many others would have it otherwise). Please confirm or correct.

  2. I take it you are willing to retain “God created” but not “God created by speaking.” Please confirm or correct.

  1. Nobody could affirm Gen 1 as an account that could ever be affirmed by science.
  2. A “natural” explanation is science’s only means of explanation.

We are talking about two different frames of reference.
YEC requires Genesis 1 to be a cosmology which science certainly refutes. YEC is applying ontology to cosmology.
Yet science can only explain a cosmology, never an ontology.

In layman’s terms, Science can certainly explain How. It cannot explain Why. The difference is a category state of knowledge. Genesis is speaking to the functional state of why humans, and the cosmos exist. The explanation of how that occurs is not in view in any sense. The initial cause of the “big bang” is an ontology, afterward only science can reveal the intricacies of the How of a cosmology.

The basis of faith in the Creator informs us to Why science sees what it sees. On the other hand, Science can only explain the how and have no means of determining why.

I know this is basic, but I get frustrated with the arguments here between science and the Scriptures because so many of the arguments cross the categorical lines between cosmology and ontology.

Anybody has the right to choose which ontology speaks to their faith belief. The reason for the Atheistic Evolution is that the scientists involved have chosen the atheistic ontology. We will never be able to use science to prove the ontology of Christianity.

Try reading John 3:1-21 and do a word study comparing it to Genesis 1:1-2. It is the closest thing I have seen to applying the ontology of Christianity to cosmology. Doing so shows how Yeshua was giving rationale for the existence of the cosmos with John 3:16 as the central key for Genesis 1:1-2. They are linked. I have a study on this but I don’t have a website to post it to link to this forum.
What this means is I believe that Genesis 1:1-2 is the only place the scripture refers to the cosmology in any way scientific in nature. In John it speaks of the seen (earthly, material which makes up the entire “seen” cosmos. And the Unseen (immaterial, may include energy, forces, quantum physics, and or "spiritual beings and forces “of the air”).

After that it is all etiology applied as an ontology.

With respect.

It is not science it’s God’s own creation. Have you not grapsed that yet? How do you handle the conflict when God’s word says one thing and God’s creation says another? And it is not science, it is what you can see with the eyes God gave you and using the brain God gave you.

When you can explain how God can have a literal voice I will accept this as a problem. Until then I take speaking to mean his will/power/authority or whatever other term suits your fancy. Pretty sure this is one of those figurative passages. Like other passages such as “a blast from His nostrils.”

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You don’t believe a person’s senses can deceive him?

John 12:28

I think I understand what you are saying here; moreover, I accept and appreciate the general thrust of it. That said, let me ask you about one sub-point.

Many on this board, and elsewhere for that matter, who believe God created by means of evolution will say to me that their takeaway from Gen 1 is essentially “God did it.” This always surprises me - not because they extract what seems to be the bare minimum that reading such a text would require, but that they do not see the bare minimum as “God did it by speaking.” I say this because when I consider Genesis 1 and ask myself what might be considered the central theme of the chapter (whether reading it literally, figuratively, or any other way), I don’t think I would come up with “God did it” because that seems an unnatural conclusion given the way that the narrative is presented. In fact, you could almost say that the emphasis of this passage is more on the word of God than it is on God Himself.

I am not suggesting how an acknowledgement of what I’m saying might change anything material about the things we are discussing. I have not thought it through that far. I’m only saying that I’m struck by the strangeness of evolutionary creationists omitting such a prominent feature of the text in their declaration of its essential truth, especially when, given the way they interpret the Bible, it would pose no apparent hindrance to believing everything they already believe about evolution and the Bible. In other words, I don’t see how it would compromise their stance in any way to acknowledge such an obvious emphasis of the text.

Do you have any thoughts on this?

That is an interesting point, in that we use our senses to read the Bible, we depend on our prior experience and education to make sense of the words, and we depend on the faithfulness of those who have translated and transmitted it into words we can comprehend through the millennia along with the work of God to preserve it to communicate his purpose. In a way it is little different that how we look at creation.

If the supernatural produced observations in the natural world then methodological naturalism (MN) could detect the supernatural. The issue is that those who claim the supernatural exists insist that the supernatural is invisible, indiscernible from natural processes, or entirely within the subjective experience of the believer.

On its face, I see no reason why the supernatural could not create obvious and ongoing changes in the universe around us. When the Chosen People left Egypt they were guided through the desert by a pillar of smoke and fire. There are many miracles described in the Bible that would be very amenable to study under MN.

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  1. If the universe were created a few thousand years ago then MN could find that age. There is no reason that it couldn’t.

  2. If the evidence points to a universe that is billions of years old, an Earth that is 4.5 billion years old, and the slow development of species over the last 3 billion years, then you go with the physical evidence. Otherwise, you have a Creator that faked all of this evidence which leads to some rather tortured theological positions. Physical evidence can’t be an allegory or a metaphor, but creation myths can be. It would seem to me that Genesis as an allegory is a much better option than a deceitful Creator.


I detect a theme here in the last three comments and many other comments I have read on this board in the last 2-3 weeks, an underlying assumption that could be stated as follows:

God has two books through which He speaks: the book of nature and the book of scripture, and the latter is easier to misinterpret than the former.

Yes that is a very common theme here. There are blogs written about it but I couldn’t quickly find them.

I am not sure I would agree that one is easier to interpret than the other, I will say they should not be interpreted in isolation of one from the other. It is when you combine the two that it gets difficult.

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I would never have guessed that from the comments of yours I’ve read.

That is one way of putting it , but could use a little elaboration. They are very dissimilar in both form and message. Nature or creation may reflect God’s glory and we can glimpse something of his nature in it, but we cannot find much spiritual truth from it. Observing nature is also more direct. It is a WYSIWYG sort of world. In contrast, scripture is passed through many languages and many thousands of years with the associated difficulty in determining what it says, relying on faith and the Holy Spirit to guide. It is not a direct process of observation, and we have to approach it with an open heart and a humble spirit.

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I qualified that with a “not sure” which means I am speaking figuratively and not literally. :slight_smile:


I agree with you completely! I love the narrative. That is the way Elohim has chosen to speak to his people is by verbal (spoken) narrative (Genesis), eventually turned into written narrative (OT), then turned into Living Narrative (Yeshua and the NT).

Yes, Elohim Spoke these things into existence. Now our humanity suggests that if he spoke something, that it popped into being immediately. That is part of our modern misunderstanding of the creation narrative. We don’t function as listening audience so we read Genesis as if it is some kind of technical text instead of the dramatic story it was written as. The assumption is he speaks and immediately happened. But what if not?

I was speaking with my pastor a couple of weeks ago. We were discussing his upcoming sermon series on Exodus. He was pondering how it would go over if he was to read long passages of the burning bush and the plagues narrative.
I suggested that that was a fine way to introduce the concept of the listening narrative to the congregation, if it was suitably dramatized. He did it in a wonderfully dramatic prose that was nearly poetic in rhythm. (He is the most talented preaching pastor I have ever met in a local congregation!)

The point is that the narrative style and focus of the Genesis text is opposed to a technical treatise.
Likewise, Elohim speaking creation into being is a long-long story. Imagine if he spoke (or sang as some suggest-- C.S. Lewis in Narnia and Tolkien in the Silmarillion) the creation into being. He sang for 13.5 billion years to bring it all into existence for us!
I call that an attention to detail! I call that a love song of Eternity!. That is why I love the Evolutionary Creationism song.
(whew…where did that come from? I sometimes get carried away…:blush:)

You’re right Mike. Keep up speaking about it. Maybe it will get through to some. I’ll try to help.

To that point, I think it would be difficult to mirror the following definition of science (which I obtained from a YouTube video of an @Swamidass lecture for the Veritas Forum), the study of nature, when trying to define theology, the study of the Scriptures. That is, it’s not readily apparent to me that you could plug different words into this same structure and produce an accurate and useful definition for theology.

What is Science?

Experimentally finding a specific type of Truth:
mechanistic explanations
of the physical world
that are observable,
and repeatable;
while trusting prior scientific work,
communicating with the scientific community,
and motivated by a passion to know.

Thus the respective definitions science and theology seem asymmetrical to me. I think this is but one of the reasons that the conceptual yoking of the “two books” doesn’t commend itself to me as much as it does to some of you.

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I actually agree with this statement wholeheartedly, and think that many if not most here also see it that way. While I hold that “both books” can reveal some aspect of God, it is not productive to link them together as they speak to different things. In fact, it is the YEC viewpoint that they are linked and speak to the same issues.