This month's Scientific American has a great "Skeptic" column by Michael Shermer: At the Boundary of Knowledge: Is it possible to measure supernatural or paranormal phenomena?
Shermer cites physicist Sean Carroll's book (The Big Picture, which I enjoyed) in this passage.
Take our understanding of particles and forces, which Carroll says “seems indisputably accurate within a very wide domain of applicability,” such that “a thousand or a million years from now, whatever amazing discoveries science will have made, our descendants are not going to be saying ‘Haha, those silly twenty-first-century scientists, believing in ‘neutrons’ and ‘electromagnetism.’”
Thus, Carroll concludes that the laws of physics “rule out the possibility of true psychic powers.” Why? Because the particles and forces of nature don’t allow us to bend spoons, levitate or read minds, and “we know that there aren’t new particles or forces out there yet to be discovered that would support them. Not simply because we haven’t found them yet, but because we definitely would have found them if they had the right characteristics to give us the requisite powers.”
Excellent points. After thousands of years of recorded human history, there is precisely zero solid demonstrable evidence of supernatural psychic powers. Which means, the chance is extremely close to zero that such powers exist.
In his next concluding passages, Shermer also demolishes the likelihood of a supernatural God.
What about a supernatural God? Perhaps such an entity exists outside nature and its laws. If so, how would we detect it with our instruments? If a deity used natural forces to, say, cure someone’s cancer by reprogramming the cancerous cells’ DNA, that would make God nothing more than a skilled genetic engineer. If God used unknown supernatural forces, how might they interact with the known natural forces? And if such supernatural forces could somehow stir the particles in our universe, shouldn’t we be able to detect them and thereby incorporate them into our theories about the natural world? Whence the supernatural?
It is at the horizon where the known meets the unknown that we are tempted to inject paranormal and supernatural forces to explain hitherto unsolved mysteries, but we must resist the temptation because such efforts can never succeed, not even in principle.
When I believed in a divine power that existed above and beyond the bounds of the natural world, arguments like these threatened my spiritual sensibilities.
Now, I worship at the Altar of Reality. So I'm attracted to whatever brings me closer to what is real, even if these truths are difficult to accept. I'd prefer that a loving God was waiting to embrace my immortal soul after I die.
But what I prefer and what is real outside of my preferring brain often are very different things. We've got to choose which to pay the most attention to.