Natural Supernaturalism

Natural Supernaturalism January 7, 2014

Naturalistic explanations of nature’s existence are impossible, David Hart contends (The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss, 96), because “nature . . . is that which by definition already exists.”

Nature’s explanation thus inevitably and “logically” must lie “beyond the system of causes that nature comprises; it is, quite literally, ‘hyperphysical,’ or, shifting into Latin, super naturam.” Supernatural explanation doesn’t merely enter in when natural explanation is exhausted; it also means “that at no point is anything purely, self-sufficiently natural in the first place.”

Hart goes on to argue that what we actually experience in the world is precisely the “supernatural” reality of existence. What we encounter immediately is the sheer being of a thing, that it is; and that is a reality that cannot be explained naturally. As Hart puts it, “we are able to ask what it is only in first knowing that it is; and so in knowing nature we have always already gone beyond its intrinsic limits. No one lives in a ‘naturalistic’ reality, and the very notion of nature as a perfectly self-enclosed continuum is a figment of the imagination. It is the supernatural of which we have direct certainty [the that], and only in consequence of that can the reality of nature be assumed, not as an absolutely incontrovertible fact but simply as far and away the likeliest explanation.”

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