Supernaturalism, Naturalism and Materialism

Updated: 1 August 2017

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Supernaturalism, Naturalism and Materialism

Big words - what do they mean for me? Lots really, if there is to be any hope of real happiness.


Do you mean ghosts, ESP and all that stuff? No, not especially. Here is a definition from

Definition of supernatural

  1. of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil
  2. or
    1. departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature
    2. attributed to an invisible agent (such as a ghost or spirit)

Yes, it allows for ghosts to come into the picture (which is not the same as saying they can or do). The key of the definition is "existence beyond the visible observable universe" and "to appear to transcend the laws of nature".

So, Supernaturalism is believing that there is at least Someone with existence beyond the natural universe we observe around us.


And Naturalism just means the opposite: believing that there is nothing outside the natural universe. But this has serious results for everyone one of us. If there is nothing other than nature and its physical laws, then all the things that give life value are of necessity also just the results of these blind, senseless laws of nature. Think about it: love, justice, joy, courage, beauty, freedom (and also hatred, anger, sorrow, cowardice, ugliness and slavery) are just meaningless out-workings of the blind and senseless machine of Nature, of the Universe. They are all delusions, and to take any of them seriously is mere illusion. When I first faced this idea as a teenager many years ago I found it terrifying and unbearably sad.


This is almost the same as Naturalism. Almost but not quite. As a philosophy of life, yes, it says "Matter is all there is", so it is the same as Naturalism. Everything is meaningless. But as a way of life, it goes further and at its worst becomes "since things are all there are, get as much as you can. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die, and to hell with everyone else!"

If you are tempted to say "That's horrible!" yet think of yourself as a naturalist/materialist, then even your outrage at it is yet another part of the mindless machine. There is no way out, no exit door.

Where does this leave us?

The ultimate question is "Did Someone make the Universe?" The possible answers are just "Yes" and "No".

Did Someone make the Universe?

What am I to do?

If, like me, you find the Naturalist/Materialist answer repugnant, hopeless, you owe it to yourself to explore the other side - is there Someone out there? Never give up! While there is life, there really is hope. As a young man I explored all sorts of claims on the Supernatural side. What did I find? There are clues on this site, if you really want to find out. You might not agree with my conclusion, but the exercise may do you some good ;)

"The concept of an unbroken line from the molecule to man on the basis of time and chance is, it seems to me, very clearly a faith position held by modern rationalistic man. He holds it tenaciously because it is the only thing which he has to give unity to the particulars of knowledge he has in his hand; and it is all he has to give an illusion of meaning for man in a meaningless universe." - Francis Schaeffer, 'No Final Conflict', end of chapter 3. Copyright 1975, L'Abri Fellowship.

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