ARGUMENT #6: Supernatural explanations are outside of the realm of cause and effect. Without the regularity of cause and effect laws, science becomes impossible.

RESPONSE: Norman Geisler explains that there is a scientific difference between origin and operational science:[1]

Operation Science: This is empirical, observable, and repeatable. It functions according to natural law, and it can be tested repeatedly in a lab. Here, Christians and naturalists have no disagreement.

Origin Science: This is forensic and speculative. For example, when a person is killed, we can’t repeat the murder. Instead, we can verify the scene by comparing weapons, injuries to the body, blood spatter, and finger prints. By doing this, we are trying to reconstruct the original event –even though it cannot be repeated. Here, Christians and naturalists might disagree, because it is a non-repeatable event (e.g. the Big Bang, fine-tuning, origin of first life, the resurrection of Christ, etc.).

Professor John Lennox explains that a Ford car runs on natural law, but it wasn’t created by natural law.[2] Instead, it was created by a personal cause: an engineer. Lennox writes,

The laws of physics can explain how the jet engine works, but not how it came to exist in the first place. It is self-evident that a jet engine could not have been created by the laws of physics on their own… the laws that we find cannot themselves even cause anything, let alone create it.[3]

For this reason, when dealing with non-repeatable, singularities like the origin or the fine-tuning of the universe, we need to engage in forensic science –not empirical science; we need to engage in origin science –not operational science. Since the singularity cannot be repeated, we need to make an inference to the best explanation. Put another way, while empirical science studies regular events, forensic science studies singular events.

When a naturalistic scientist asks the theist to make testable, naturalistic predictions, they are committing a categorical error, because these past singularities might not be able to be repeated with naturalistic causes. For instance, if you are a Christian, ask yourself: What was the natural explanation for the resurrection of Christ? Of course, the Bible tells us that this singular event cannot be explained with a natural cause, because it was supernaturally caused. Naturalistic scientists would search indefinitely to find a natural cause for the resurrection, because there isn’t one.

However, miraculous acts of God do not change natural law. Instead, they are non-repeatable exceptions to natural law. By definition, miracles are rare and non-repeatable. In fact, without the regularity of natural law, miraculous acts would be impossible to define. For example, consider if an apple was hanging delicately from a tree. Natural law would dictate that unsupported objects like this will fall to the Earth. Eventually, when the stem of the apple breaks, the apple will move according to natural law, falling toward the Earth. However, imagine if you (a personal and intelligent cause) reached out and caught the apple before it hit the ground. Would this be a violation of natural law?Of course not! Instead, as a personal cause, you should be able to intervene into the world of cause-and-effect. This wouldn’t ruin science as we know it. Science can still study the normal, repeatable laws of nature. However, because miracles are (by definition) rare, they shouldn’t interfere with the ordinary study of science.

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[1] Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1999. 225.

[2] Lennox, John C. God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God? Oxford: Lion, 2007. 44.

[3] Lennox, John C. Gunning for God: Why the New Atheists Are Missing the Target. Oxford: Lion, 2011. 32-33.