Welcome guest, is this your first visit? Create Account now to join.
  • Login:

Welcome to the Online Debate Network.

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ by clicking the link above. You may have to register before you can post: click the register link above to proceed.

Page 1 of 11 1 2 3 4 5 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 218

Thread: Supernatural?

  1. #1
    Super Moderator

    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    East Lansing, MI
    Posts
    10,084
    Post Thanks / Like

    Supernatural?

    In religious debates and the like, the word "supernatural" is often used. But I'm not sure that all parties are going by the same criteria for when something qualifies as "supernatural" or what it means to be "supernatural" so I'm forwarding how I define it in terms of the common debate here. I think a very pertinent qualifier for "supernatural" is "that which is not accounted for by current scientific understanding" (that's not necessarily a complete definition but I very much hold that that is a pertinent part of the definition and likewise the focus here).

    But of course as time goes on we learn more and more so some of what's currently not accounted for by current scientific understanding could be accounted for in the future.

    So let's say that hypothetically that what we consider as ghosts actually exist - there ARE disembodied consciousness that sometime reside in particular locations. And let's also say hypothetically that in twenty years science will confirm that this actually exists and the existence of ghosts becomes an accepted scientific reality.

    So in that scenario, it seems clear that ghosts would no longer be considered "supernatural". And likewise because ghosts currently fit the definition of "supernatural" does not mean that they don't actually exist (since what is unaccounted for now might be discovered later). That's not to say that one can't successfully argue that ghosts don't exist but I hold that one can't successfully argue that they don't exist just because they fit the definition of "supernatural".

    Anyway, I'm posting this in part to forward how I define supernatural in terms of the debate. While one can certainly argue that a certain supernatural something does not exist, it is not an accepted premise, going by the definition of "supernatural" I'm using here, that it doesn't exist just because it's qualifies as supernatural.

    And btw, if you (whoever you are) are using a different definition of "supernatural" in your arguments, feel free to argue for that definition.

  2. Likes Squatch347, MindTrap028 liked this post
  3. #2
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    2,107
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Supernatural is defined as "(of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature."

    So by definition, it is anything that science has yet been able to explain or disprove. I agree with your point that when something is explained by science, it is no longer considered supernatural - it's where the term of God in the Gaps came from.

    Religious folk tend to couch their beliefs in very poorly defined terms - ghosts, demons, angels, soul, etc. They're all considered supernatural to keep them out of the reach of science - indeed, modern theists even claim that their god cannot even be explained by science since he is outside of the natural realm. So it's not really a matter of classification at the root of an atheist's dispute, it's the fact that theists use the term to hand wave away their obligations to explain anything. It's commonly known as the '...because God' argument; theists say 'God works in mysterious ways'.



  4. #3
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Location, Location
    Posts
    9,578
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    When you say "that which is not accounted for by current scientific understanding", what , specifically, can fall into the category of "that"? Does "that" refer to an actual real-world event, such as spontaneous human combustion? Can "that" be merely an account of a thing, such as the belief of a remembered event of spontaneous human combustion? It might be useful to distinguish between the two, since people can have all sorts of thoughts/beliefs that occupy real estate in their brains, none of which correspond to any actual past/present/future real-world event.

  5. #4
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    676
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    In religious debates and the like, the word "supernatural" is often used. But I'm not sure that all parties are going by the same criteria for when something qualifies as "supernatural" or what it means to be "supernatural" so I'm forwarding how I define it in terms of the common debate here.
    Agreed, too often people do talk past each other just because of a different definition for a given word.

    In a general physics conversation, this definition isn't too bad.

    In a religious context, this is not what I think of at all though (not saying I am correct here, just how I see the meaning behind the word)!!
    In this case I think of it more like this example:

    "God suspends the laws of the universe, in a very specific time/place to achieve a particular result."


    God made the laws of our universe, only God can do things that would violate these laws. Since God does these things with a "thought", is immaterial, and not a part of this universe, I don't see science explaining a supernatural event ever.

    Further, if science could explain how God could perform the supernatural, it still couldn't be replicated in lab since it would still violate the laws of the universe (whether such laws are known to man or not...). And you still would not be able to make predictions about possible future super natural events based on said knowledge.

    Supernatural is unexplainable by science by definition to me, or it's meaning seems to diminish to little/nothing.

    Great idea for a topic

  6. #5
    Super Moderator

    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Louisiana
    Posts
    8,779
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    I would say that if you want to examine the word supernatural, we should look at some of the things it is attributed to.
    So I think the OP does well to examine Ghosts as an example. However I don't make the distinction that the OP makes, such to say that once science explains Ghosts fully and completly then it would no longer fall under the term "supernatural".

    So, some examples of super-natural.
    Raising of the dead, such as Lazerous and Christ.
    Walking on water
    As a point to push the limits, Any healing at all.

    So in what way are the first 2 outside of science? Suppose we could take have Christ walking on water in any number of "experimental" environments. In what way would science come up empty in accurately describing the event? If it is only because the event happened once, or that it is in the past and we don't have access to the forces that caused it. Then suddenly any past event is by definition "supernatural".
    Such as the beginning of the universe. That would by definition be super-natural.


    Now to push the envelope a bit, what about healing of any kind.
    While it may seem "natural" because it occurs on a regular basis, the event of healing is pretty much due to forces that science is not really able to effect very much. Things like the Placebo effect, while we may be able to predict a rate of it, would probably best fall under the category of "super natural". Spontaneous recovery from cancer and various other illnesses, who's causes are totally outside of sciences ability to explain a cause of. (Again, something that science can measure and predict, but which forces are outside of our access). I think also the fact that for all the hospitals and Dr's and "science" that is brought to bare on sickness and diseases, it is ultimately the body and some pretty squishy reasoning that people recover from any illness at all, while others die from the same thing.


    ---good topic--
    To serve man.

  7. #6
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    676
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by MindTrap028 View Post
    Suppose we could take have Christ walking on water in any number of "experimental" environments. In what way would science come up empty in accurately describing the event?
    How could science explain or quantify Jesus being able to suspend gravity by thought alone?

    However, if Jesus were available for testing on his ability to walk on water, at least we would know the phenomena exists.

  8. #7
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Location, Location
    Posts
    9,578
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Yeah, I don't see anything new or useful, here. One the one hand we've got a proposal that says the "supernatural" is effectively "things we observe - or things that people claim to have observed - but don't understand"; things that could eventually become "natural" if we discover the mechanisms behind it. And all the while another proposal that suggests that either 1) some things could still be "supernatural" in origin even if we DO understand them or 2) there's some things science could never explain, therefore supernatural (which is effectively the first definition minus the discovery). This has been said a million times over, and it goes nowhere.

    It's like people just really want there to be some MaGiCaL aspect of reality, no matter where science or other forms of investigation leads us.

  9. Likes Rodriguez liked this post
  10. #8
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    676
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    Yeah, I don't see anything new or useful, here. One the one hand we've got a proposal that says the "supernatural" is effectively "things we observe - or things that people claim to have observed - but don't understand"; things that could eventually become "natural" if we discover the mechanisms behind it. And all the while another proposal that suggests that either 1) some things could still be "supernatural" in origin even if we DO understand them or 2) there's some things science could never explain, therefore supernatural (which is effectively the first definition minus the discovery). This has been said a million times over, and it goes nowhere.

    It's like people just really want there to be some MaGiCaL aspect of reality, no matter where science or other forms of investigation leads us.
    Yeah, and I don't even see a point to this post other than to complain about others lack of "useful" information.

    Why is new information necessary before we can define the term supernatural?

    If you have a more accurate or otherwise better definition of supernatural please forward it.

    After all, the point of the thread was to get people on the same page with regards to the term, not spell out some new as yet undiscovered "truth".

  11. #9
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Location, Location
    Posts
    9,578
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Belthazor View Post
    Yeah, and I don't even see a point to this post other than to complain about others lack of "useful" information.

    Why is new information necessary before we can define the term supernatural?

    If you have a more accurate or otherwise better definition of supernatural please forward it.
    Well, I never said I have a better definition. I said there's nothing new or useful here; it's the same old noise. That's because 1) we've been playing this game about the meaning of "supernatural" since 2003, and I've yet to see anything even remotely resembling a useful definition and 2) as an example, there's a thread on this about three years ahead of you there, hoss. Click here

    P.S. In the course of this thread, let's just see if Mican budges at all from his proposed definition. Maybe this post will be regarded as "supernatural" in predicting that it won't move one iota in a way that actually means anything.

  12. #10
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Posts
    676
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    Well, I never said I have a better definition. I said there's nothing new or useful here; it's the same old noise. That's because 1) we've been playing this game about the meaning of "supernatural" since 2003, and I've yet to see anything even remotely resembling a useful definition and 2) as an example, there's a thread on this about three years ahead of you there, hoss. Click here

    P.S. In the course of this thread, let's just see if Mican budges at all from his proposed definition. Maybe this post will be regarded as "supernatural" in predicting that it won't move one iota in a way that actually means anything.
    Ok, I'll play.

    From you from your link:
    "“Supernatural” typically means that it transcends nature; that is it separate and distinct from nature; that is unobservable from the natural world."

    How did you make the enormous leap from "transcends nature" clear over to "unobservable from the natural world"?????
    If a supernatural event was unobservable to the natural world there would not be an event to discuss would there? We wouldn't even know it happened. This makes no sense to me at all, maybe I just don't get your point yet. Help me out here please...

    You seem to be saying supernatural events could be happening all the time, but there is no way for us to know?

    A supernatural event (in this case) is God suspending natural law at a particular time/place, SPECIFICALLY for the humans directly involved (the rest of the universe being unaffected), and you are saying any human is incapable of noticing?

    Knowing Mican, I doubt he will move, however, If I may ask:
    What would it take for his positon to "actually mean something"? His position in this thread doesn't seem contentious??

    I have read your posts for years, and generally have an idea where you are going, but I am at a loss currently.
    PM me if you like, but I am quite curious what is on your mind on this subject

  13. #11
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Location, Location
    Posts
    9,578
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Belthazor View Post
    How did you make the enormous leap from "transcends nature" clear over to "unobservable from the natural world"?????
    ....
    What would it take for his positon to "actually mean something"? His position in this thread doesn't seem contentious??
    Well, first, it's not my leap. Notice that I said that "supernatural" is typically regarded in this way. It doesn't mean that I regard it in this way. The reason I said that is to address those who are skeptical of those who investigate "supernatural" claims; From the ghost-hunter who says to the scientist 'Hey man, like, the spiritual world is outside of your science, dude.' to the pious religious leaders who may say something like 'God is the intangible creator of the universe, and I don't have scientific evidence for this claim because it is a metaphysical claim, not a scientific one' (I don't know how much of this you've seen, but it happens quite a lot in these discussions).

    But my difficulty with the problem does stem from the observability issue. Tell me; how does one observe something IN THIS universe and conclude that it came from OUTSIDE this universe? Think about it now; resist the urge to answer for the sake of answering. The fact is that, as far as our ability to observe the universe is concerned, we don't know what the outside of our universe looks like. We have no idea what its contents or characteristics are, so we are not equipped to claim anything about it. So if the "supernatural" means something like "outside of or beyond the observable universe", I don't see how we overcome the observability problem.

    On the other hand, if "supernatural" means something like "not yet understood by science", then really any kind of mystery can fall into the realm of "supernatural", from "God" to "the reason Dionysus enjoys Star Trek". Additionally, if the "supernatural" is something that COULD be understood by science, but isn't understood YET, then what do we mean by "supernatural" except "something strange in the neighborhood that we don't yet understand"? This is why I asked: "When you say "that which is not accounted for by current scientific understanding", what , specifically, can fall into the category of "that"? Does "that" refer to an actual real-world event, such as spontaneous human combustion? Can "that" be merely an account of a thing, such as the belief of a remembered event of spontaneous human combustion?"

    So, for a proposed definition to actually mean something, if would have to include something useful, or provide some insight or clarity that actually furthers the conversation. So far, all I've seen is the same old problems.

  14. #12
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    2,107
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    @dio:

    Thereís a contradiction in what youíre saying though (or rather what theists and such are saying). If S is outside of scientific experience then how can they simultaneously claim to have physically experienced it? If it can be experienced then surely that is a manifestation in the real world that can be measured.

  15. #13
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Location, Location
    Posts
    9,578
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    @dio:

    There’s a contradiction in what you’re saying though (or rather what theists and such are saying). If S is outside of scientific experience then how can they simultaneously claim to have physically experienced it? If it can be experienced then surely that is a manifestation in the real world that can be measured.
    Well, that's exactly one of the points I'm making. Yes, it IS a contradiction. THAT'S THE HEART OF THE PROBLEM.

  16. #14
    Banned Indefinitely

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Posts
    9,345
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Supernatural. n. 1 Any phenomenon, being, or concept whose unsupported qualities necessarily contradict existing proven claims
    2. nonsense some theist is trying to trick/bully rational people into believing
    3. A mediocre and oddly long running tv show for nerds
    4. a convenient term to hide that it's most likely something someone just made up

  17. Likes Sigfried liked this post
  18. #15
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    2,107
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dionysus View Post
    Well, that's exactly one of the points I'm making. Yes, it IS a contradiction. THAT'S THE HEART OF THE PROBLEM.
    Where are the theists and agnostics when you need them :-)?

  19. #16
    Super Moderator

    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    East Lansing, MI
    Posts
    10,084
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    @dio:

    There’s a contradiction in what you’re saying though (or rather what theists and such are saying). If S is outside of scientific experience then how can they simultaneously claim to have physically experienced it? If it can be experienced then surely that is a manifestation in the real world that can be measured.
    Sure. But what if it can be measured but we currently don't have the tools to actually do it?

    Infrared light exist and therefore can be measured but for much of human history, humanity lacked the ability to actually measure it.

    And theoretically it could be the same for ghosts. Maybe one day in the future science will develop the means to detect them (if they exist).

    ---------- Post added at 01:26 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:25 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    Where are the theists and agnostics when you need them :-)?
    TO THE RESCUE!!!! CAPTAIN AGNOSTIC IS HERE!!!

    Note - I have never revealed my actual beliefs in these debates but I almost always argue as an agnostic on these threads.

  20. #17
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    2,107
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    Sure. But what if it can be measured but we currently don't have the tools to actually do it?

    Infrared light exist and therefore can be measured but for much of human history, humanity lacked the ability to actually measure it.

    And theoretically it could be the same for ghosts. Maybe one day in the future science will develop the means to detect them (if they exist).
    Well since the claims being made of people seeing things or hearing things then it is easily measured.


    There are also claims of communication between humans and deities: prayer is often used to prove a deity exist and several religions use prayer instead of medicine. Thereís the priests that use poisonous snakes in their routines.

    So there are plenty of scenarios where something can be measured.




    ---------- Post added at 01:26 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:25 PM ----------



    TO THE RESCUE!!!! CAPTAIN AGNOSTIC IS HERE!!!

    Note - I have never revealed my actual beliefs in these debates but I almost always argue as an agnostic on these threads.
    We should do that one day. Iíve never understood the agnostic stance.

  21. #18
    Super Moderator

    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    East Lansing, MI
    Posts
    10,084
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    Well since the claims being made of people seeing things or hearing things then it is easily measured.

    There are also claims of communication between humans and deities: prayer is often used to prove a deity exist and several religions use prayer instead of medicine. There’s the priests that use poisonous snakes in their routines.

    So there are plenty of scenarios where something can be measured.
    You seem to be addressing claims of something rather than the something itself. I don't put much stock in unsupported religious claims so I think we are in agreement that we don't have to accept any such claims.

    But I don't think this really addresses the argument I just made. Again, things can exist even if we don't have the means to measure them. I'm not arguing that ghosts really exist but our current inability to measure them does not prove that they don't exist.



    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    We should do that one day. I’ve never understood the agnostic stance.
    I may start a thread on that soon. But in a nutshell.

    Consider the question "Does X exist?" If one does not see convincing evidence that X exists nor sees convincing evidence that X does not exist, then their position will be "I don't know if X exists or not".

    And if X is "God", then that's agnosticism.

    Considering I've never seen any convincing evidence for or against God (to the best of my knowledge, every debate I've had with both theists and atheists have ended before anyone was able to prove either side), I think agnosticism is the most tenable position on this forum.

  22. #19
    Registered User

    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    2,107
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by mican333 View Post
    You seem to be addressing claims of something rather than the something itself. I don't put much stock in unsupported religious claims so I think we are in agreement that we don't have to accept any such claims.

    But I don't think this really addresses the argument I just made. Again, things can exist even if we don't have the means to measure them. I'm not arguing that ghosts really exist but our current inability to measure them does not prove that they don't exist.
    But that something is only claimed to exist because made the claims they experienced it in the first place. No one ever suggested out of the blue that ghost exist and we should start looking for them.

    It also boils down to what a ghost is and itís usually something that used to be a living human that has died and somehow has been seen or manifested physically. And if it can be seen or heard then we should should be able to record that happening. Thatís what the show ghost hunters is about. So I dispute that we cannot measure ghosts.

    If you have another definition of ghost then thatís fine but this is what is normally the taken as a description of ghosts and the effects it has on the natural world.

    I may start a thread on that soon. But in a nutshell.

    Consider the question "Does X exist?" If one does not see convincing evidence that X exists nor sees convincing evidence that X does not exist, then their position will be "I don't know if X exists or not".

    And if X is "God", then that's agnosticism.

    Considering I've never seen any convincing evidence for or against God (to the best of my knowledge, every debate I've had with both theists and atheists have ended before anyone was able to prove either side), I think agnosticism is the most tenable position on this forum.
    You just have to get a theist to explain what god is and we will get to some kind of supernatural explanation. Then they have to explain what supernatural even means and we will end up here in this thread!

  23. #20
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Location, Location
    Posts
    9,578
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Supernatural?

    Quote Originally Posted by SharmaK View Post
    But that something is only claimed to exist because made the claims they experienced it in the first place. No one ever suggested out of the blue that ghost exist and we should start looking for them.

    It also boils down to what a ghost is and it’s usually something that used to be a living human that has died and somehow has been seen or manifested physically. And if it can be seen or heard then we should should be able to record that happening. That’s what the show ghost hunters is about. So I dispute that we cannot measure ghosts.

    If you have another definition of ghost then that’s fine but this is what is normally the taken as a description of ghosts and the effects it has on the natural world.


    You just have to get a theist to explain what god is and we will get to some kind of supernatural explanation. Then they have to explain what supernatural even means and we will end up here in this thread!
    And there's the problem in a nutshell.

 

 
Page 1 of 11 1 2 3 4 5 ... LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Bias Against the Supernatural
    By Kong in forum Religion
    Replies: 83
    Last Post: August 26th, 2011, 12:32 AM
  2. Supernatural Forum?
    By Oh snap in forum Site Feedback
    Replies: 22
    Last Post: August 8th, 2008, 07:13 PM
  3. Definition of the supernatural
    By chadn737 in forum Philosophical Debates
    Replies: 32
    Last Post: December 1st, 2007, 05:02 PM
  4. Do you believe in the supernatural?
    By Xanadu Moo in forum ODN Polls
    Replies: 28
    Last Post: March 23rd, 2006, 10:06 AM
  5. Why believe in the Supernatural?
    By Withnail in forum Science and Technology
    Replies: 47
    Last Post: May 5th, 2004, 09:59 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •