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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2005
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Claim CI401:

The methodology of science limits itself to considering only natural causes. This rules out the possibility of design as a cause, even though inferring design, consistent with scientific methods, is logically based on data observed in nature.


Calvert, John H., W. S. Harris and J. F. Sjogren, 2001. Science standards (letter to Kansas State Board of Education, 8 Feb. 2001).


  1. The claim is obviously false, because science can and does detect design in several contexts, such as archaeology and forensics. Design theorists themselves point to such examples as evidence that design can be detected (Dembski 2002). Considering intelligent design besides human design, though, is ruled out by the fact that proponents say nothing positive about what such intelligent design implies.

  2. Science does not limit itself to considering only natural causes. There have been numerous scientific investigations of phenomena which presumably do not have natural causes, such as the power of prayer (Astin et al. 2000; Cha et al. 2001; but see Flamm 2004, 2005; Krucoff et al. 2005), divination (Enright 1999; Randi 1982), and life after death (Schwartz et al. 2001). What matters to science is not that something be natural (whatever that means), but that observations can be objectively and reliably verified by others.


Isaak, Mark, 2002. A philosophical premise of 'naturalism'?


  1. Astin, J. A., E. Harkness and E. Ernst. 2000. The efficacy of "distant healing": a systematic review of randomized trials. Annals of Internal Medicine 132(11): 903-910.
  2. Cha, K. Y., D. P. Wirth, and R. A. Lobo. 2001. Does prayer influence the success of in vitro fertilization-embryo transfer? Report of a masked, randomized trial. Journal of Reproductive Medicine 46: 781-787.
  3. Dembski, William A. 2002. Becoming a disciplined science: Prospects, pitfalls, and reality check for ID.
  4. Enright, J. T. 1999. Testing dowsing: The failure of the Munich experiments. Skeptical Inquirer 23(1): 39-46.
  5. Flamm, Bruce. 2004. The Columbia University "miracle" study: Flawed and fraud. Skeptical Inquirer 28(5): 25-31.
  6. Flamm, Bruce. 2005. The bizarre Columbia University "miracle" saga continues. Skeptical Inquirer 29(2): 52-53.
  7. Krucoff, Mitchell W. et al. 2005. Music, imagery, touch, and prayer as adjuncts to interventional cardiac care: the Monitoring and Actualisation of Noetic Trainings (MANTRA) II randomised study. Lancet 366: 211-217.
  8. Randi, James. 1982. Australian Skeptics 1980 divining test. The Skeptic 2(1): 2-6.
  9. Schwartz, Gary E. R., Linda G. S. Russek, Lonnie A. Nelson and Christopher Barentsen. 2001. Accuracy and replicability of anomalous after-death communication across highly skilled mediums. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 65(862): 1-25.
  10. Wiseman, R., J. Beloff and R. L. Morris. 1996. Testing the ESP claims of SORRAT. Skeptical Inquirer 20(5): 45-46,61.

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created 2003-6-4, modified 2005-10-7