Supernaturalist Explanations and the Prospects for a Theistic Science

Robert T. Pennock
The University of Texas at Austin

Phillip Johnson argues that evolutionary theory rides on the metaphysical coat-tails of scientific naturalism, and that if it were not for this "dogmatic philosophy," Creationism would be recognized as the true theory. He recommends that scientific naturalism be replaced by a science of "theistic realism" that incorporates the "absolute truth" of supernatural interventions in the world. I begin by arguing that scientific naturalism is not a dogmatic principle, but a methodological rule of inquiry for which we have good reasons that are based in requirements for empirical evidential warrant that arise out of considerations of lawfulness and explanation. Of course, methodological rules may be open to improvement, so I examine the possibility of a Johnsonian supernaturalist science, taking into account Johnson's special definition of "Creationism" and his conception of God. I consider how we would have to modify the scientific notions of law, explanation and confirmation if we allow that God may intervene in the world and show that these changes would undermine intersubjective empirical inquiry. Finally, I suggest that such a supernaturalist science should also be rejected on the very theological grounds that Johnson presumes since it would be tantamount to naturalizing God.

Copyright © Robert T. Pennock