Members of the NZARH hold a naturalistic world-view. They believe that everything arises from natural properties and causes, and that supernatural explanations can safely be rejected.
Both science and religion try to make sense of our world but in fundamentally opposing ways.
Science uses observation and experimentation to systematically study the structure and behaviour of the physical world in order to make useful predictions. For an idea to have scientific merit it needs to be capable of being verified as an accurate explanation. This requires that the idea is able to be proven wrong and that the idea is open to revision or replacement based on the available evidence.
Religion is based on faith in supernatural explanations which are attributed to some force outside of the laws of nature. The answers provided by supernatural explanations are hollow. Stating that something is a result of a supernatural miracle is making a claim that can never be proved.
Whenever a claim of a supernatural miracle is made there will always be far more likely naturalistic explanations. The person making the claim could be mistaken. The human brain is good at filling in missing information but not always correctly so people may see strange things or hear voices that aren’t actually present. Sometimes people confuse a dream with reality. People can easily be deceived. The story may have simply been been made up or be the result of a trick or subterfuge.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Any claim of a supernatural miracle where the normal functioning of the universe has been interfered with should be treated with extreme scepticism.
Religious scriptures are human created stories that do not contain any knowledge that requires a supernatural explanation. Many of the supernatural claims contained in scripture are shared with similar tales and have been included to fulfil prophesy or to conform with the expectations of what the abilities of a heroic/religious leader should be.
Some religious believers put forward the feelings that they get when they pray to their god as evidence their god is real. The same feelings can be found in followers worshipping completely different gods. Any argument that can be used by different people to support different conclusions is clearly not a worthy argument.
God of the Gaps
Gods have been used to explain the weather, the movement of the planets, natural disasters, and the diversity of life. We now have natural explanations for all of these.
We should not invoke unsupported explanations such as a god was responsible for creating the universe or designing the fundamental physical constants of the Universe. To do so is to explain nothing as it is just shifted the problem to explaining what created/designed god. If something is beyond our current understanding we should simply accept that we don’t currently have the answer and either accept that, or try to solve the mystery.
JREF’s One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge
The James Randi Educational Foundation offers a US$1,000,000 prize to anyone who can demonstrate any psychic, supernatural or paranormal ability of any kind under mutually agreed upon scientific conditions.
Despite many people claiming to have supernatural abilities no one has taken the money. This makes it likely that claims of supernatural powers are a result of trickery, ignorance, or self-deception rather than any genuine ability.