Intelligent Design Icon Intelligent Design
Physics, Earth & Space Icon Physics, Earth & Space

How the Supernatural Entered Science

Image credit: Granville Sewell.

I recently came across a nice little video (below) which seems to prove that π = 0. Each step seems reasonable, but you know there must be errors even before you find them because the conclusion is absurd, and the challenge is to find the errors. The video does finally point out the error in the proof.

Materialist scientists have been trying for over 150 years to show how a few (four, apparently) fundamental, unintelligent forces of physics alone could have rearranged the basic particles of physics on the early Earth into what we see today, such as spaceships, nuclear power plants, computers, and smart phones. The conclusion that unintelligent forces alone could rearrange atoms into smart phones is absurd, so you know there must be errors somewhere in any attempt to show how they did, even before you find them. Evolution News articles frequently point out errors and unproven assertions in the materialists’ explanations for how unintelligent forces alone could have created life on Earth and caused it to develop into animals capable of building computers. For example, here is one I wrote recently: “The Other Unsolved Problem of Evolution.”

Materialists nevertheless insist that however implausible their current theories may be on how unintelligent forces alone could have created spaceships and smart phones, the alternative of intelligent design is not science because it invokes “supernatural” forces. 

“No Clear Distinction”

But, in fact, if “supernatural” is defined as “forever beyond the ability of science to predict or explain,” quantum mechanics already introduced a supernatural element into science a century ago. British astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington said that quantum mechanics “leaves us with no clear distinction between the natural and the supernatural.” Now, science cannot ever say with certainty what the effects of the forces of physics on a particular particle will be. It can only provide us with a “probability distribution,” through the Schrӧdinger equation. But “probability” does not necessarily imply “random” or “unintelligent” causes. That is a philosophical conclusion. It just means that even though we don’t really know what is going on at the microscopic level, we can still predict macroscopic phenomena with high confidence. 

The Supernatural Element

Chapter 8 on quantum mechanics (“The Supernatural Element in Nature”) in my 2015 Discovery Institute Press book, In the Beginning and Other Essays on Intelligent Design, concludes with the following paragraphs:

We have already seen in Chapter 6 that the discovery of the big bang means that atheists can no longer complain that those who believe that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth” are profaning science with supernatural speculation. Since there were no natural causes before Nature came into existence suddenly a few billion years ago, they are now just as guilty; now everyone must speculate about the supernatural forces which created our universe, the debate is now only about whether those forces were intelligent or unintelligent. Now the same can be said about the origin of life, or the origin of species: the atheist can no longer criticize proponents of intelligent design for staining the purity of science by trying to introduce supernatural causes into the picture…. Now it must be accepted by everyone- — everyone who is aware of quantum mechanics, at least — that there is a supernatural component to all natural phenomena, the question is again only whether this supernatural component is intelligent or unintelligent. And while it is difficult to see any clear and compelling evidence of intelligent design in many “natural” phenomena, when we look at the origin and development of life, the evidence is overwhelming. Even if we accept the Darwinist’s claim — wholly unsupported by the evidence — that species developed very gradually, the question is still there: was the supernatural element involved intelligent or truly “random,” as Darwin believed?

In summary, those who claim that science has eliminated the supernatural from Nature have a view of science that has been out of date for 90 years. When we try to reduce all of reality to matter in motion, we find quite a surprise: there at the bottom, controlling the motion of matter, is the remarkable Schrӧdinger equation of quantum mechanics, which tells us that science is an entertaining and useful tool to help us understand our world, but it does not have all the answers, and never will

The image at the top, incidentally, shows three level surfaces of the probability distribution for an electron near two protons, in its lowest energy state. This is calculated by solving the Schrӧdinger equation. See my 2018 John Wiley book, Solving Partial Differential Equation Applications with PDE2D. The Schrӧdinger equation is discussed in another context in a 2015 Evolution News article I wrote, ”The Fundamental Equation of Chemistry Is Itself Fine-Tuned.”­