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  1. #1
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    Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Being?

    In another thread, a discussion took off based on the following claim (paraphrased):

    ‘The existence of a supernatural being cannot be proven’

    A poster in that thread took issue with this claim and offered (something like) the following as an example where a thing that cannot be observed can be proven to at least exist, based exclusively on its observed effects.

    1. The electronic device can only be unlocked by X’s fingerprint.
    2. X is currently not in the room with the electronic device.
    3. The electronic device is currently unlocked.
    4. Therefore, X exists

    In this case, we cannot observe X, but we can see the effects that could only have come from X (barring exceptions like a device malfunction or someone stealing X’s finger, etc). So we can be reasonably sure that the effect was indeed caused by X and that, by extension, X must exist.

    More broadly, because we have experience with both people with fingerprints and electronic devices with fingerprint scanners, we can say that the deductive argument above is at least a reasonable demonstration that X exists insofar as the scenario is concerned.

    However, in the case of “supernatural” beings, I submit that we cannot draw a line of deduction that convincingly connects any such being with any observable event in nature. That is because, if we cannot observe a thing, we cannot claim to know anything about it, including that it is the cause of a given event.

    Dark energy is a good example of a thing we cannot observe, and don’t know anything about.

    Dark energy is “a theoretical repulsive force that counteracts gravity and causes the universe to expand at an accelerating rate”.

    In the case of Dark Energy, the term “Dark Energy” is simply a placeholder for the cause of an effect that we can observe. But the fact is that we have no idea what’s causing the effect (universal expansion) except for some sort of repulsive force. We haven’t deduced that dark energy causes the effect. We’ve only determined that there is an effect, and for now, we call that repulsive force “dark energy”.

    “Supernatural” typically means that it transcends nature; that is it separate and distinct from nature; that is unobservable from the natural world. My contention is that if we have no experience with a thing, we cannot go on to say anything more about it, let alone go on to claim that it must be the cause of a given event. If we cannot observe a thing by any means, then all we can do is assign a placeholder term that carries with it no informing properties; it literally tells us nothing.

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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    However, in the case of “supernatural” beings, I submit that we cannot draw a line of deduction that convincingly connects any such being with any observable event in nature. That is because, if we cannot observe a thing, we cannot claim to know anything about it, including that it is the cause of a given event.

    Dark energy is a good example of a thing we cannot observe, and don’t know anything about.

    Dark energy is “a theoretical repulsive force that counteracts gravity and causes the universe to expand at an accelerating rate”.
    This is a good example.

    Two proposed forms for dark energy are the cosmological constant, a constant energy density filling space homogeneously,[8] and scalar fields such as quintessence or moduli, dynamic quantities whose energy density can vary in time and space.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_energy

    Each of these proposed types of dark energy have specific characteristics and quantities and predicted effects. We know that properties via other means, inferences from models for example. So even though we don't have direct experience with the energy, we do have an understanding of its properties (if it were to exist).


    Quote Originally Posted by Dio
    that is unobservable from the natural world.
    It isn't massively relevant to the thread, so feel free to ignore it, but I'm not sure that this is the case. Ghosts are generally considered supernatural, but they are supposed to manifest and are observable directly in our universe. Plenty of other supernatural beings were said to be observable as well (Zeus, Thor, etc).
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    This is a good example.

    Two proposed forms for dark energy are the cosmological constant, a constant energy density filling space homogeneously,[8] and scalar fields such as quintessence or moduli, dynamic quantities whose energy density can vary in time and space.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_energy

    Each of these proposed types of dark energy have specific characteristics and quantities and predicted effects. We know that properties via other means, inferences from models for example. So even though we don't have direct experience with the energy, we do have an understanding of its properties (if it were to exist)
    Ok, I think this is very important. It's not that we don't have ANY experience repulsive forces. We do. So all we know about what we call "dark energy" is that it's some sort of repulsive force that's causing the effect we observe. So I would say that the dark energy example is not a good example of a thing with which we have no experience, because if we have experience with its properties, we have some experience with the thing itself.

    I think this goes right to the next point in my comment below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    It isn't massively relevant to the thread, so feel free to ignore it, but I'm not sure that this is the case. Ghosts are generally considered supernatural, but they are supposed to manifest and are observable directly in our universe. Plenty of other supernatural beings were said to be observable as well (Zeus, Thor, etc).
    Ok, so this is why it's important to define what we're talking about here. This is also where I (personally; not speaking for anyone else) would not consider ghosts to be supernatural. Theoretically, if we can see them, then we can detect them. If they are detectable, then they are part of the natural world. And if they are a part of the natural world, they are by definition NOT supernatural. So I think it would be good to have a useful definition of "supernatural" agreed upon here. Fair enough?

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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    --On Supernatural--
    If we define supernatural as anything that occurs within our universe, then the supernatural can be said to exist if anything not of or in this universe exists. Such as whatever caused the big bang, as long as that cause was not itself. For this kind of supernatural I think there is a good argument that it exists, be it a multi-verse cause, an intelligent agent or infinite regression.

    If we broaden supernatural beyond the above, the "natural" becomes equivalent with existence, and so the idea of a "super natural" becomes a nonsensical term, and one that would have no real bearing on a discussion of God or spirits etc.

    If however we hold supernatural to be something more on the lines of something outside of a specific nature. For example, if the nature of Cancer is to grow until the host is killed. Then Cancer Disappearing is "supernatural" because it isn't in the nature of cancer to disappear itself. Of course this can be said to have some other "natural" cause, but that cause is supernatural to the cancer.
    A dog speaking English would be another example of "Supernatural", even if the cause were a man made computer implanted to translate dog thought and activate vocal cords. Computers and man are completely natural, but the dog itself would not be acting in it's nature.


    This 3rd one seems to be the most useful understanding of what supernatural is. Jesus walking on water is "supernatural", even though it is completely natural for God to command all the elements and forces of nature. Otherwise I'm completely comfortable saying that there is no such thing as a supernatural being, after all it's only natural that God exists.

    Of course I suppose that some have used the idea of "what can be observed" as the idea of natural, but that seems terribly flawed. If all of mankind had no senses whatsoever, would everything then be supernatural? In this way the idea of supernatural becomes a moving goal post. Inside of a Black hole is supernatural.. until we breach the event horizon. Infrared light was supernatural, until we invented the correct goggles. You get the idea. The idea of supernatural is then simply defined by our own ignorance, and is not a commentary on the objective truth of the matter. A person who thus says,"I don't believe in the supernatural" is literally reduced to saying "If I can't see it, then it doesn't exist".

    Am I missing an idea, is that exhaustive list?
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

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  8. #5
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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Am I missing an idea, is that exhaustive list?
    I think you went into far too many other subjects for our purposes here. For example, the question of having no senses is interesting, but it is not useful in talking about what "supernatural" itself means. All living things have some differences in their individual senses and thus in the way they experience nature, but that fact doesn't bear what it means for a thing to be "supernatural" in and of itself.

    We need to understand what is meant by "supernatural"; that's it. It's fine to say that the natural world is simply nature; the universe and everything in it. So what is "supernatural"?

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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    I think you went into far too many other subjects for our purposes here. For example, the question of having no senses is interesting, but it is not useful in talking about what "supernatural" itself means. All living things have some differences in their individual senses and thus in the way they experience nature, but that fact doesn't bear what it means for a thing to be "supernatural" in and of itself.
    Fair enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    We need to understand what is meant by "supernatural"; that's it. It's fine to say that the natural world is simply nature; the universe and everything in it. So what is "supernatural"?
    Nothing that actually exists, not even Jesus Christ returning in the clouds on a white horse to battle Satan at Magido, Mosses parting the Red Sea, or turning the river to blood.. all completely natural events (if they did or when they do occur) as they occur in this universe.
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

  10. #7
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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by JimJones8934 View Post
    I know! What I meant was that we need to define what supernatural is before we can even begin.
    Right, which is why I had to supplement your question. We don't know what the word even means yet, so it's too soon to be asking about ghosts and Harry Potter. The question "What does supernatural mean" needs to be answered before we can start talking about Harry Potter and so on.

    Now, is there any chance you could let it go for what it is at this point? Any chance you could resist replying to this?

    ---------- Post added at 04:01 PM ---------- Previous post was at 03:59 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Nothing that actually exists, not even Jesus Christ returning in the clouds on a white horse to battle Satan at Magido, Mosses parting the Red Sea, or turning the river to blood.. all completely natural events (if they did or when they do occur) as they occur in this universe.
    I'm afraid I still don't know what you mean by this. Can you give a specific example of a supernatural thing, and describe some of the things that make it supernatural? Can it be positively detected in any way?

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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    I'm afraid I still don't know what you mean by this. Can you give a specific example of a supernatural thing, and describe some of the things that make it supernatural? Can it be positively detected in any way?
    As you have described it, I don't know any concept true or false that would qualify as supernatural. For example, Jesus, being born of a virgin as the Incarnate "word" of God (IE God in the flesh-An event that is generally held as to be one of the supernatural), would not be accurately described as a supernatural event, as it occurs within our universe.

    Or would you still consider those supernatural events, and I have misunderstood the definition you are using?
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    As you have described it, I don't know any concept true or false that would qualify as supernatural. For example, Jesus, being born of a virgin as the Incarnate "word" of God (IE God in the flesh-An event that is generally held as to be one of the supernatural), would not be accurately described as a supernatural event, as it occurs within our universe.

    Or would you still consider those supernatural events, and I have misunderstood the definition you are using?
    Yeah, see I would contest the virgin birth as being supernatural at the very least because parthenogenesis isn't unheard of in nature (some animals can give birth without having sex). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parthenogenesis

    So, because it occurs in nature, it cannot be definitively said that the virgin birth has no precedence in nature; such births DO occur in nature. Thus, we cannot point to that event and say "There is no possible explanation for such an event except for a supernatural cause".

    If we want to go ahead and move towards God as being supernatural, I'm fine with that. One thing that's often said about God is that we cannot observe him AT ALL; we can only observe the effects of what he does. Do you agree with this?

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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    So, because it occurs in nature, it cannot be definitively said that the virgin birth has no precedence in nature; such births DO occur in nature. Thus, we cannot point to that event and say "There is no possible explanation for such an event except for a supernatural cause".
    Fair enough, but even if it had been the only instance ever, or if it occurred in a manner not similar to what you described, it would have still been "natural" as it occurred in the universe.

    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    If we want to go ahead and move towards God as being supernatural, I'm fine with that. One thing that's often said about God is that we cannot observe him AT ALL; we can only observe the effects of what he does. Do you agree with this?
    Not really

    Quote Originally Posted by DA-BIBLE
    Exodus 33-19And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
    So it isn't a matter that God can't be seen as a definition for who he is, it is a limitation of our own senses at best or a limitation on our ability to live through the event.

    So I hold that we don't see God, not that he can't be seen. I believe it falls into a limitation of our senses category.
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Fair enough, but even if it had been the only instance ever, or if it occurred in a manner not similar to what you described, it would have still been "natural" as it occurred in the universe.
    Ok, so the "observable" piece is a problem (I did read the rest the quote I've omitted here, BTW. Just trying to keep things tidy). So we'll stow that property for now and see if it becomes relevant again later.

    Can you give me an example of what you would regard as a supernatural being, including some aspects that make it so?

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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    Can you give me an example of what you would regard as a supernatural being, including some aspects that make it so?
    I'll try a different approach

    Quote Originally Posted by MT
    If we define supernatural as anything that occurs within our universe, then the supernatural can be said to exist if anything not of or in this universe exists. Such as whatever caused the big bang, as long as that cause was not itself. For this kind of supernatural I think there is a good argument that it exists, be it a multi-verse cause, an intelligent agent or infinite regression.

    If we broaden supernatural beyond the above, the "natural" becomes equivalent with existence, and so the idea of a "super natural" becomes a nonsensical term, and one that would have no real bearing on a discussion of God or spirits etc.
    So for clarity we are working with the first idea, yes?

    In that case, God would be the only supernatural being, but he would also have very natural elements. The elements that are supernatural would not really concern us, as they would occur outside of the universe. (Again if we broaden the idea of universe anymore then God becomes totally natural). In this respect there are no christian writings or beliefs that I'm aware of that are in regards to his supernatural elements. (Ie those residing completely outside of the universe).

    Does that make more sense?
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    So for clarity we are working with the first idea, yes?
    Not necessarily. If being detectable presents a problem, then we should stow that for a bit and see if it becomes important later. So, that means that - right now - a thing doesn't have to be un-observable in order to be supernatural.

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    In that case, God would be the only supernatural being, but he would also have very natural elements. The elements that are supernatural would not really concern us, as they would occur outside of the universe. (Again if we broaden the idea of universe anymore then God becomes totally natural). In this respect there are no christian writings or beliefs that I'm aware of that are in regards to his supernatural elements. (Ie those residing completely outside of the universe).

    Does that make more sense?
    Not really. I still don't know what it means for a thing to be "supernatural". Given what you said here, I take "supernatural" to mean "has some natural elements" and "does supernatural stuff that doesn't concern us". So I'm not sure what you mean when you say a thing is "supernatural".

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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    Not necessarily. If being detectable presents a problem, then we should stow that for a bit and see if it becomes important later. So, that means that - right now - a thing doesn't have to be un-observable in order to be supernatural.
    O.K. I was confused as to who's definition we are using.

    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    Not really. I still don't know what it means for a thing to be "supernatural". Given what you said here, I take "supernatural" to mean "has some natural elements" and "does supernatural stuff that doesn't concern us". So I'm not sure what you mean when you say a thing is "supernatural".
    For me, the divide would be anything created on the 7 days of creation, are "natural" things. Stuff that wasn't created at that time would be "supernatural" in nature.
    Those two class of things still interact, but at the very least under different laws than those governing the natural things.
    So angels are supernatural, interact with the natural world, but are not subject to say, gravity.

    That would fit a little bit into the idea of the nature of things. We may know something has a supernatural origin, when the natural thing is not acting according to it's nature. (Like cancer suddenly dissappering), or an animal talking, or physical eyes seeing into the spirit world (such as an angel or ghost).
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    For me, the divide would be anything created on the 7 days of creation, are "natural" things. Stuff that wasn't created at that time would be "supernatural" in nature.
    Ok, that works for now.

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    That would fit a little bit into the idea of the nature of things. We may know something has a supernatural origin, when the natural thing is not acting according to it's nature. (Like cancer suddenly dissappering), or an animal talking...
    I think "not acting according to its nature" isn't entirely useful, here. I mean, all we have in the natural world with regards to animal behaviors are tendencies. All animals tend to behave in certain ways, but when they deviate from that, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's behaving in an "unnatural" way. Example: many people say homosexuals behave in an "unnatural way" or that their behavior goes "against nature". But in fact homosexuality is quite common in nature, so it is not "unnatural" or "against nature". It might not be the prominent behavior in nature, but it's not unnatural.

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    ...or physical eyes seeing into the spirit world (such as an angel or ghost).
    Ok, this is where it gets fuzzy. Let's take the last example.

    Suppose that you met an angel who could see into the spirit world. Suppose you witnessed this happening. How could we know that what you saw was 1) an angel from the supernatural part of the world and 2) that the angel was looking into that world?

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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by Dio
    Ok, so this is why it's important to define what we're talking about here. This is also where I (personally; not speaking for anyone else) would not consider ghosts to be supernatural. Theoretically, if we can see them, then we can detect them.
    I think you and MT already resolved this back and forth and I’m coming to the party late. If so, just reply with “handled” and ignore everything below the line until the next line.



    This seems a little like begging the question if I understand you correctly. We are saying something is not supernatural if we can detect it, and then using that definition to argue that we can’t detect supernatural things.

    Clearly Zeus is a supernatural being. He is a god. But people could see, and sleep with, Zeus in the legends. We wouldn’t by that right call him part of Nature which he created (I know Chronos creates nature, but lets set aside the exact nature of Greek theology).




    Ghosts are they dictionary example unfortunately. However, I think we should set aside the dictionary definition as it isn’t very helpful. It also puts my position into a “gaps” argument, which is not only problematic, but doesn’t cover the full range of ideas we are seeking to convey. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/supernatural

    Please let me know if there are any objections on that point.

    The best bet I think we have at a cogent definition is to consider it in the terms of naturalism. Supernatural would be something that exists (as opposed to an abstract object) outside the bounds of nature. That doesn’t necessarily mean it exists outside the bounds of law, just the bounds of our, universe inherent, physical laws.

    So I would argue that a good definition for the supernatural is something that a) exists (or could be said to exist) and b) does exist (or would exist) outside the bounds of the universe.

    I’m less than thrilled with the wording of (b) and am open to productive edits to it.

    This definition would put ghosts as unknowns currently (they could be said to exist) and they could well exist outside of our universe with forays into it, which would allow them to be supernatural. Or, they could well exist and exist within the confines of some hereforeto unknown principle of physical law.

    God however, could not, since the definition of God includes being separate from His creation, he could only be a supernatural being.

    Those are my first thoughts, Dio, MT, where did I make a mistake?
    Last edited by Squatch347; February 2nd, 2015 at 09:57 AM.
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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by EYE
    What would be supernatural about that if their biology is like other humans but some of their senses are wired differently? I knew a girl in high school who claimed she could see auras. Her mother told me once she was born that way and could see things that other people could not see since she was able to talk and walk. It became evident to her group of friends that she could indeed see things that they could not see and she knew things she wasn't geared to know. So if we assume she could see things that other people did not see and if she was indeed born with this ability, why would it be considered supernatural?
    Well, to be clear I'm not offering a written in stone test. Just a Guideline.
    That guideline is heavily dependent on our knowledge of what the nature of something is completely.

    So all I can say is that it sounds to me to be outside of their nature(even if it does take the form of different wiring).
    For example, the parting of the Red Sea is no less "supernatural" just because it was wind through a canyon sustained over several days.. that was the physical force used to cause it.

    So to directly answer the question, as long as it's cause is initiated by something not in "nature" (as described before) then it would be supernatural.

    I hope that clears my position up.

    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    I think "not acting according to its nature" isn't entirely useful, here. I mean, all we have in the natural world with regards to animal behaviors are tendencies. All animals tend to behave in certain ways, but when they deviate from that, it doesn't necessarily mean that it's behaving in an "unnatural" way. Example: many people say homosexuals behave in an "unnatural way" or that their behavior goes "against nature". But in fact homosexuality is quite common in nature, so it is not "unnatural" or "against nature". It might not be the prominent behavior in nature, but it's not unnatural.
    I will put this under the category of a challenge our ability to know. ... actually both of your points seem to fall into this category.
    This is my initial thoughts on the specific example..

    So there are two err 3 issues here.
    1) Is homosexuality a part of the things nature.
    2) If not, was it's cause one not from nature(something created in the 7days)
    3) If it is caused from the supernatural, and is so common how can we distinguish from it's actual nature?
    -Basically applied, lets assume that homosexuality is not in our nature, but it's cause is something like heavy metal poisoning causing brain damage(no actual support for that). Then even though it isn't our nature, it's still not supernatural.
    - Or lets assume that it isn't in our nature, and the cause is a demonic attack, or "God turning us over to a debased mind. Then no matter how common it is, it's still supernatural but as you say.. it occurs at a rate that would make it appear to be in our nature.

    So basically, I concede the difficulty of the question and don't readily have an answer to clarify it. (In defense of my ignorance I offer that this is all new to me
    I can only reply (as below) that not all things are so nuanced IMO.


    ---
    Back to your direct point about nature itself and it's usefulness as a term. I think however you picked a very nuanced example when a more striking example can be made to support the case.
    For example, do Ducks Quack.. or Bark? Which one is in it's nature to do? Certainly speaking English to you would be outside of it's nature.. yes?

    O.k. back around to the limitation of knowledge. Basically, some things are going to be easier for us to grasp as outside of a things nature. This however is a reflection of our own personal limitations.


    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    Ok, this is where it gets fuzzy. Let's take the last example.

    Suppose that you met an angel who could see into the spirit world. Suppose you witnessed this happening. How could we know that what you saw was 1) an angel from the supernatural part of the world and 2) that the angel was looking into that world?
    I'm a bit confused. Your talking about me seeing an angel, but I don't understand the idea of me seeing them seeing the spirit world.

    I'll try and just ignore and clarify if I swing and miss badly.

    -Swing #1

    Well, if the spirit world is no different than the physical world, then there would be no distinction to notice. Such as if the angel has wings, that may tip me off, but if they have a suit and tie then I couldn't distinguish them from Bob at the office.

    I would say my entire concept rests on the idea that the spirit world looks different and is distinguishable.

    -Swing #2

    Then of course it seems like you may be saying that the problem is not my personal experience, but demonstrating it to you. So, if I sit and have dinner with an angelic being, who tells me all the secrets of heaven (like where the yellow brick road goes, or the combination to the pearly gates), how can I evidence that to you (someone who did not experience it).

    To which if there is no lingering effect, then there is no evidence to offer. Maybe my behavior is an effect, but is so common that you can not distinguish from our nature.(IE in line with your first question).
    So I would say that a strange problem occurs. If the supernatural has too large and common of an effect (say homosexuality for continued example) then it becomes invisible. If the effect it too small (say a .5% decrease in heart problems for those that pray daily for health) then it becomes invisible.

    I don't readily have the answer... I suppose the key would be finding and example that falls into the sweet spot in the middle.
    Something that has an effect that can be observed by others, but is not so great so as to be clearly outside the nature of the the specific example.


    Now, simply as a form, if you agree the form is valid. Then the answer to the OP should be considered to be a "yes"?
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

  21. #18
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Ok, MT and Squatch, with your permission I'm going to try something a little different here just to see how it works with the dialog.

    In my replies, instead of fragmenting your posts in to little quote-bits and replying piece by piece, I'm going to try and summarize what I think you're saying and reply to that. I'll try to keep a real-time replay going, but it will appear as a single post un-separated by quote boxes. I think lots of times we get into the habit of parsing things a little too much, and before you know it we're focused on minutiae that ultimately isn't that important due to just replying to fragments. And what's worse, the plot gets lost in all the quote-box noise.

    Of course, I'm bound to miss something, so when I gloss over something that either of you feel is a particularly useful and/or important point, please do bring that to my attention and I'll do my best to speak to those items directly.

    I'll start with Squatch:



    Squatch,

    First, I don't know if you've made any mistakes. I'm an armchair philosopher, so I'm just thinking here and participating in a dialog. Also, I agree with you about begging the question and the gaps problem. Speaking with MT, I've provisionally stowed the claim for now. That is, I'm not convinced that "If it is Supernatural, it cannot be detected" is a hard and fast rule at this point. I do think that - if it is NOT that way, it raises questions - but for now let's not go with my initial assumption that this MUST be the case. Fair enough?

    Having said that, I'd like to examine your definition to see how that goes.

    A supernatural 'thing' is something that:

    1. exists (or could be said to exist) and
    2. does exist (or would exist) outside the bounds of the universe

    Two things stand out to me here:

    1. could be said to exist and
    2. outside the bounds of the universe

    When we say "could be said to exist", is it fair to say that the reason it could be said to exist is that the thing doesn't violate any known logical/physical laws? I ask in order to avoid absurdities e.g. 'Could God be a square circle', etc. If we say that a thing can be said to exist, it seems to me that our reasons must be based on what we know i.e. our experience with the world in which we live.

    When we say "outside the bounds of this universe", what does that mean? In other words, if we assume that the universe and everything in it is a 'place', does this mean that the supernatural being resides outside the 'place' that is the universe? Or does it mean that it exists and operates outside the logical/physical laws that govern this place? If it's the former, I think it agrees very well with the opening post. If it's the latter, I think it would be at odds with 'could be said to exist'.

    So I think examining the reasons we have to say a thing can exist would be a handy exercise, and I think understanding boundaries would be good as well.



    MT,

    I think take your meaning of "unnatural" in some useful sense. For example, if my cat suddenly bumped me out of my chair and finished typing my reply for me - and along the way the cat informed me that God sent him via MT (using your real name which I of course know) as a messenger - that would certainly stand out to me as quite an unusual event; We'll call it "X". That said, I think that this is where you and I might have differing views on the cause of such a thing.

    Now, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I want to speculate on how we might respond to such a thing - respectively - and talk about some important differences and important similarities.

    If you to witness "X", you might be inclined to say that it was indeed a supernatural event. I suspect you might view it as being able to have been manifest ONLY by God. (again, not trying to put words in your mouth)

    If I were to witness "X", I would indeed be amazed, but I don't know that I would be as persuaded as you might (hypothetically) be, mostly because - as far as I know - an animal doing such a thing doesn't violate any known physical or logical laws of which I'm aware. And because it doesn't commit any such violation, I can't say that its origin MUST be supernatural. Indeed, it could very well be the product of some advanced intelligence that lives and operates well within the bounds of this universe, performing some experiment on humans in the same way humans perform experiments on, say, earthworms. So there's nothing contained in the event that says it must be of supernatural origin.

    (That said, I'm certainly not married to the cat example. Any example of something unusual that's physically possible - however unlikely it may be - is fine to work with.)

    If any of my speculation above is correct, one thing that stands out to me is that, although we would differ profoundly on WHAT the intelligence IS, we would AGREE that the cause MUST at least be intelligent. I think that's very interesting.

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  23. #19
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    I'd like to add something that's been floating around in my head about experience, and I say "experience", I don't mean individual experience per se; I mean collective experience (take the world's general knowledge of, say, medicine as an example of collective experience). Of course individual experience is absolutely necessary to collective experience, but when I say "experience" in this thread, unless I say otherwise, please assume that I mean collective experience and/or collective knowledge.

    When it comes to our experience with a thing, what we can claim to know about that this is proportional to our experience with it. So, if we have quite a lot of experience with a given thing (and this is true at the individual level), we tend to have quite a lot of knowledge about it. And the inverse is true as well, up to and including having NO experience with a thing. That is, if we have NO experience with a thing, then we have NO knowledge of it. And if we have no knowledge of it, we can't rightly say that "it" exists. At best, we can only say that something exists. But without any experience on which to base our knowledge of the thing, we cannot rightly define any of its characteristics. We can speculate on what those characteristics might be but, as we see with the Dark Energy example, those characteristics are based on things with which we DO have experience. And if we're dealing with a thing that doesn't necessarily conform to known physical/logical laws, we're completely in the dark because we don't have any experience with things that do not conform to known physical/logical laws (including quantum particles that exhibit very strange and non-intuitive - but still well understood - behaviors).

  24. #20
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    Re: Can Deductive Reasoning of Effects Alone Prove the Existence of a Supernatural Be

    Quote Originally Posted by DIO
    MT,

    I think take your meaning of "unnatural" in some useful sense. For example, if my cat suddenly bumped me out of my chair and finished typing my reply for me - and along the way the cat informed me that God sent him via MT (using your real name which I of course know) as a messenger - that would certainly stand out to me as quite an unusual event; We'll call it "X". That said, I think that this is where you and I might have differing views on the cause of such a thing.

    Now, I don't want to put words in your mouth, but I want to speculate on how we might respond to such a thing - respectively - and talk about some important differences and important similarities.

    If you to witness "X", you might be inclined to say that it was indeed a supernatural event. I suspect you might view it as being able to have been manifest ONLY by God. (again, not trying to put words in your mouth)

    If I were to witness "X", I would indeed be amazed, but I don't know that I would be as persuaded as you might (hypothetically) be, mostly because - as far as I know - an animal doing such a thing doesn't violate any known physical or logical laws of which I'm aware. And because it doesn't commit any such violation, I can't say that its origin MUST be supernatural. Indeed, it could very well be the product of some advanced intelligence that lives and operates well within the bounds of this universe, performing some experiment on humans in the same way humans perform experiments on, say, earthworms. So there's nothing contained in the event that says it must be of supernatural origin.

    (That said, I'm certainly not married to the cat example. Any example of something unusual that's physically possible - however unlikely it may be - is fine to work with.)

    If any of my speculation above is correct, one thing that stands out to me is that, although we would differ profoundly on WHAT the intelligence IS, we would AGREE that the cause MUST at least be intelligent. I think that's very interesting.
    I can't really argue with any of it, and see no substantial mistake.

    Basically you are saying that we agree the source must be intelligent, and that the event is outside of the known nature of the thing(cat). But your stopping short because the evidence is not itself conclusive enough to say it was supernatural. I agree, as put there must be another piece of evidence or knowledge that we can bring, so i will offer that now.
    We should not expect it to be a natural alien, because even if we concede that aliens exist somewhere in the universe (even at a fairly decent rate) we should not expect them to be aware of our prescience.

    In order to rationally object to that point one must accept a few things IMO.
    That aliens started life on earth, thus making an intelligent maker the best and most reasonable explanation for life on earth. Barring that, Aliens are not very reasonable but a supernatural being would be (by ruling out the natural possibilities).

    I do concede that there are other conceivable explanations other than the supernatural. However IMO we are not moving beyond the question of "can we form a valid argument for the supernatural" to "how strong of am valid argument can we form".
    I apologize to anyone waiting on a response from me. I am experiencing a time warp, suddenly their are not enough hours in a day. As soon as I find a replacement part to my flux capacitor regulator, time should resume it's normal flow.

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