Although intelligent design proponents avoid talking about the designer, the critics of intelligent design “know” that they are trying to sneak God into science. After all, who else could the designer be? The critics of creationism reject bringing God into science because God is a wild card that could make any hypothesis true. We seem locked in a battle of naturalism without God and divine supernaturalism. Is there anything in between these extremes?
In fact there is. We need only look at traditional Christian metaphysics. The intellect is something that is not natural – each intellect has to be created by God – but neither is it supernatural, that is, God’s direct intervention. We can call the intellect “hypernatural.” Note: the intellect is often called “mind” or “intelligence” but these words have other associations.
Who has intellect? Humans, angels, and God. God’s intellect is not created. Angels have intellects but not bodies, though they may take the appearance of bodies. The intellect is what most distinguishes humans from animals. The intellect allows humans to understand something of the thoughts of God. (What about “spirit”? As I understand it, a spirit includes intellect but also the ability to believe and have communion with other spirits.)
The creation of primal matter is supernatural – the direct action of God creating from nothing. But once primal matter is created, it needs to be ordered according to some design. Is the design of the natural world supernatural, too? No, or at least not necessarily. Humans can understand much or potentially all of the natural world by use of their intellect. So the design of the natural world is hypernatural.
Life is hypernatural because the operation of physical laws are not enough to originate life on their own. So the study of life is a hypernatural science. Hypernatural sciences are those that study the design of the natural world or hypernatural phenomena such as life.
What does a hypernatural science look like? Because the human intellect is hypernatural, analogies are possible between how a human might design the universe and how the universe was in fact designed. However, the intellect that designed the universe must have been much greater than a human intellect, yet this would be a difference of degree rather than kind.
It is significant that the first human, Adam, named all the animals. His intellect was clearly up to the task.
The hypernatural world is limited. What is hypernatural cannot create from nothing, nor does it necessarily have the power to implement its designs. Only God can implement any design. Who designed the hypernatural world? Only God could do that.