From Reconciling understandings of Scripture and Science
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A crude summary for our purposes:

  • Philosophical Naturalism: there is no God
  • Methodological Naturalism: we can't bring God in as an explanation, even if we believe in God
  • Naturalism: the same as "Philosophical Naturalism" unless the context indicates otherwise

Philosophical Naturalism

See Naturalism (philosophy) on Wikipedia.


In philosophy, naturalism is the idea or belief that only natural laws and forces (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual ones) operate in the universe. Adherents of naturalism assert that natural laws are the only rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural world, and that the changing universe is at every stage a product of these laws.

Oxford University Press's now defunct online dictionary[1] defined "Naturalism" as "The philosophical belief that everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted." One example given was:

‘Most atheists and other advocates of philosophical naturalism also believe in materialism, the idea that everything that actually exists is material or physical.’

See naturalism at

Methodological Naturalism

See Methodological Naturalism on the same Wikipedia page.


Methodological naturalism requires scientists to seek explanations in the world around us based on what we can observe, test, replicate and verify. It is a self-imposed convention of science. . . . 

Methodological naturalism concerns itself with methods of learning what nature is. . . .  It attempts to explain and test scientific endeavors, hypotheses, and events with reference to natural causes and events. This second sense of the term "naturalism" seeks to provide a framework within which to conduct the scientific study of the laws of nature.