The following claim X,

Something had a round trip from the Earth to the Mars within 1 second

might be treated by science as a supernatural claim because it violates the natural law (i.e. speed limit of object with mass). Thus for science, any claim that contradicts with current natural laws will be treated as supernatural claim.

My question is, if the claim X had been raised back when the natural speed limit was not discovered, was it supposed to be treated as a supernatural claim or not?

If yes, why? If no, then the only rationality is that it didn't contradict with discovered natural laws. Now, every supernatural claim also has a possibility to become true in future with new scientific discovery. Then why do science deny supernatural claims so confidently and do not consider them as investigable hypotheses? Any rationality?

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    A claim is only supernatural if it asserts going against the natural course of things (and it is not necessary that science already formulated a law it would go against for that).Traveling to Mars in one second is highly implausible, but not, in itself, supernatural. There are far-fetched ways to accomplish that under general relativity, for example. Even if we did not know of any such way one can still claim that some natural way of doing it exists. But one needs to claim the opposite to make it supernatural.
    – Conifold
    Commented May 8, 2021 at 12:35
  • Declaring what is supernatural, depended on knowing what was natural. People thought that unicorns having a horn that could cure poisoning was natural. We have greatly confined nature, and limited the range of phenomena we expect to encounter, and amplified the consequences of anomalies that we do encounter, if they meet standards of reliability.
    – CriglCragl
    Commented May 8, 2021 at 16:45
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    @CriglCragl, why not post this as an answer? Commented May 8, 2021 at 17:50
  • Of course, there is: fiction, myth, and unexplained and explained natural phenomena. Many historians claim there is some truth in myth, such as providing insight into culture and social norms, and some myths were made to explain unknown natural phenomena, and in ancient Greece the Pre-Socratics sought to move away from fiction and myth by adopting rational inquiry - leading to further discoveries and the making of the foundation of science. Can we extend the definition of 'supernatural'? The fact all life follows the same or similar pattern is an incredible phenomena, but is it supernatural?
    – user48972
    Commented May 8, 2021 at 22:24
  • All proofs lie in the assertion, not in the negation. You cannot prove a negation. If something can be observed and measured, it can be proved. If it cannot be measured it cannot be proved. The burden of proof is on the one claiming or asserting that something can travel 1 sec between Mars and Earth. I can claim the green unicorns exist, but its not up to science to disprove it, its up to the one who claims they exist to prove it. Commented May 9, 2021 at 4:19

5 Answers 5


Science is about measurement; supernatural claims are those which depend (in one way or another) upon something which is intrinsically unmeasurable.

Thus the claim:

"Something had a round trip from the Earth to the Mars within 1 second"

is seemingly subject to measurement (assuming that this act of superluminal travel is replicable), and so falls within the realm of 'natural' science. This claim is either right or wrong. If we cannot measure it we assume it's wrong, because it contradicts statements about the speed of light that we can measure. If we can measure it, we may not know how or why it's possible, but we've clearly demonstrated the statement to be right.

Now, if we tweak the question to say:

"God can carry someone to Mars and back in one second"

we have introduce an unmeasurable element — the powers of a God — and so the statement becomes a supernatural claim. Even if we were to see and measure someone traveling to Mars and back in one second, we've merely seen the event happen, we haven't somehow measured the 'Godness' of the force behind it.


‘Good’ science treats all claims equally: if the claim can be proven to be correct then our understanding of science is enlarged or refined to accommodate it. The vast majority of observations fit in with existing knowledge and will receive little scrutiny, while those that don’t fit are scrutinised carefully to see what can be learned.

  • Equally? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
    – CriglCragl
    Commented May 25, 2021 at 22:10

Supernatural claims have evidence against them from the outset of the claim these days. We have seen the history of many similar claims never having been proven. Ever since Thales and the birth of science, deity based explanations for things have been shrinking. Science has never been overturned by a supernatural explanation, whereas the reverse happens frequently.

While all of this isn't absolute proof against supernatural claims, it is evidence making them unlikely. Making a claim about a universal speed limit without relativity wouldn't have evidence for or against it, as natural claims have no history of being useless, practically speaking, unlike supernatural claims.


Supernatural is defined as that which is "beyond natural".

Oxford defines it as "Manifestation or event attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature".

Cambridge defines it as "Things that cannot be explained by science".

What it implicitly means is phenomena that are (or caused by forces that are) by definition beyond the scope of scientific verifiability, ie beyond empirical observation.

Deriving from the Theory of Verifiability, claims that are non-falsifiable, would be "nonsense" (beyond the senses). So such claims would hence be supernatural claims.

Following upon this, your claim of "Something had a round trip from the Earth to the Mars within 1 second" is not really a supernatural claim as it is theoretically possible to verify this claim scientifically.

For actual supernatural claims like "God is omnipotent", science can do nothing to either prove or disprove them.


I tend to concur with SMJoe's position in that the general definition of the word, "Supernatural", is something that is "beyond natural".

The so-called, "Supernatural", delves into subject matters that transcend the laws of the physical universe. Topics, such as, God, spirituality and the afterlife, are entities that are NOT subordinate to the laws of nature. Therefore, the willingness to prove-(or affirm) the existence of such Supernatural entities, is an impossibility since the system of proof-(both historically and contemporaneously), is exclusively designed for physically based topics.

Traveling from Earth to Mars, in one second, is, at this point in our technological development and historical evolution, an impossibility. However, if and when the time comes whereby a group of Scientists-(or perhaps a brilliantly gifted Scientist), invents a technology that allows humans to conduct interplanetary travel within a few seconds, then, such an invention would not be defined as "Supernatural", but rather, as one of the most impressive developments in Aerospace Engineering and Technology.

Keep in mind that the Space program is only about 60-65 years old and the Airplane was invented (and initially flown), a little more than 100 years ago by the Wright Brothers. If, for example, we had lived in the year 1900 and were told that by the latter part of the 20th century, humankind would have actually achieved the historically lifelong dream of reaching the skies, the ridiculers, naysayers and skeptics of 1900, would have laughed and scoffed at such an idea. And yet, by the latter part of the 20th century, humankind's ability to fly to the sky and beyond, was actually achieved, thereby contradicting the ridiculers, naysayers and skeptics of 1900.

In other words, the historical and contemporary evolution of Science and Technology has and continues to defy impossibilities within the PHYSICAL realm, but NOT BEYOND the physical realm-(if such a realm even exists). Flying from Earth to Mars, at an incredible speed, would be an impressive achievement within Physical Science and would not be an example or sign of the Supernatural.

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