Science and the Supernatural

“The supernatural can never explain the physical world we observe.” says a friend.

“Of course it can’t. It wasn’t supposed to–at least in the scientific sense.” is my reply.

So my friend has this motorcycle which he really loves to fix up and ride, and I try to explain, “You might as well say that ‘love’ can never show you how to change the oil on your motorcycle. Science tries to tell us how things work–not why they exist, or what our relationship should be to them. ‘Love’ might not tell you how to change the oil on your motorcycle, but meditating on love might help you understand why you love that motorcycle, and why you love to ride it on a beautiful Autumn day, and if the motorcycle is a gift from your wife, then love will also show you why that motorcycle has meaning beyond its mechanical genius. Love may not tell you how to change the oil, but it is the one thing that makes your motorcycle more than an ingenious lump of metal.

So with religion and science. The supernatural realm is not some kind of philosophical ‘deus ex machina’–a God of the gaps–an answer for natural mysteries when we have no other answer. Instead the supernatural realm is a given within a philosophical view of the cosmos. It is the universal experience of the human race that the unseen realm is ‘there’. It’s part of reality. Deciding how it interacts with the visible realm and what it has to do with me and my destiny is where the fun begins.

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