Does the Scientific Method Preclude the Existence of Miracles?
by Bill Pratt
This is a familiar theme for long-time readers of the blog. I am deeply interested in where the scientific method can shed light and where its light begins to fade. For mankind, to know everything is to know all that really exists. If you think of everything that exists as falling inside a giant circle, the question that fascinates me is, “How much of the area of that circle can the scientific method enlighten?” Is it the whole circle? Is it half? Is it a tiny fraction of the circle?
The question asks us to take a position on the supernatural and spiritual. If you believe that there is a vast supernatural world out there, a world where God, angels, and demons exist, then you will probably say that the scientific method can only illuminate a small fraction of the circle of all things that exist. The scientific method can only tell us about things or events that occur inside the four dimensions of space-time.
If, however, you believe that the four dimensions of space-time are all that exists and that the supernatural is imaginary, then the entire circle of all that exists can eventually be filled out by the scientific method. In my discussions with skeptics over the years, there are those who fall in this latter group, but there are also those who remain open to the existence of the supernatural.
Those who maintain that the scientific method will eventually fill in the entire circle sometimes go on to make the following claim: “The scientific method forces us to conclude that miracles cannot occur.” To me, this is a deeply confused statement. It is true that miracles, in their totality, entail a supernatural element. It is true that science cannot directly observe that which is supernatural, as the supernatural does not exist in space-time where science can operate. But to say that the scientific method absolutely precludes miracles from existing is false…
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