By supernatural realm, we simply mean a realm where the methods of the natural sciences cannot be applied simply because the realm is beyond the laws of matter. Since there definitely seems to be metaphysical categories that eludes the scientific method—the Platonic realm, for example, which includes the “laws” of the universe and abstract objects—I am compelled to believe that a supernatural realm exists. This makes me a supernaturalist.

This supernatural realm is mutually exclusive and separate from the natural realm. It is not embedded in it as animists believe.


Schilbrack, K. (2022). The Concept of Religion. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2022). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.

However, “supernatural” suggests a two-level view of reality that separates the empirically available natural world from some other realm metaphorically “above” or “behind” it. Many cultures lack or reject a distinction between natural and supernatural (Saler 1977, 2021). They believe that disembodied persons or powers are not in some otherworldly realm but rather on the top of a certain mountain, in the depths of the forest, or “everywhere”. To avoid the assumption of a two-level view of reality, then, some scholars have replaced supernatural with other terms, such as “superhuman”.

In order to include loa, Allah, and the Dao but to exclude nations and economies, Kevin Schilbrack (2013) proposes the neologism “superempirical” to refer to non-empirical things that are also not the product of any empirical thing.