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So what does "supernatural" actually mean?

Discussion in 'Physical & Life Sciences' started by Mountainmike, Oct 22, 2018.

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  1. Mountainmike

    Mountainmike Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Is it just subjective?

    A definition I just just stole from the web.
    "(of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature."

    Which must be the opposite of: natural
    For which another stolen definition is
    "existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by humankind."
    Which apparently means anything human is not natural so supernatural?.
    Dont think anyone would agree with that.

    So does it relate the behaviour or whether a cause can be modelled?

    Telepathy is beyond reasonable doubt statistically, (not that Dawkins will ever let it in to his limited view of the world) but even though it is not understood, so does that make it "supernatural"? Dawkins would say so as part of a determination to debunk it!

    Does it relate to the model? Which can only ever be incomplete

    The only things that ever get to go in the scientific model (ie laws) by definition are things that repeat or can be repeated, or for which there is an axiomatic model. So is a one off by definition superanatural?
    So was the big bang by definition supernatural?

    Or is it because (from the top definition) the laws dont work.
    Laws break down at a black hole..so is that supernatural?

    A lot of quantum events break laws, in fact hawking agrees with me...when he defines "model dependent reality" as some phennomena have multiple models that can never be reconciled.
    One happens to give the right answer, the other a wrong one.
    So are quantum events supernatural (eg spooky action at a distance)

    Or does anything that violates the assumption of the deterministic causal evolution of the universe supernatural. In which case all quantum actions do!

    Like "extraordinary" "supernatural" even "magic" is seemingly just subjective.

    To me, if the evidence says it happened beyond reasonable doubt, it happened beyond reasonable doubt,. It is ergo natural, (ie nature portrayed the behaviour) whether or not you like what happened you can no longer call it supernatural!

    It seems to me...
    Whether people call it supernatural largely depends on whether you believe it true, whether or not the evidence says it.

    It also seems to me...
    Science must treat the evidence the same whether or not people "Like" the conclusion!
    But it doesnt.
    Some kind of evidence are not alllowed into research programs or journals - the gatekeepers of the establishment are very protective as what they allow in...

    Which is the point at which they say "supernatural" meaning not in the "nature they like!

    Discuss
     
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  2. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Member

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    Anything a human being can not do without the help of a power whether a good or bad force not of this world or realm.
     
  3. Tom Farebrother

    Tom Farebrother Optimistic sceptic Supporter

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    I think there’s an assumption some people make that anything that ‘is’ will ultimately fit into a naturalistic, materialist explanation, and that anything that can’t currently be shown to fit and existing model or framework should be disregarded. If that is true, from a scientific perspective it’s an assumption that doesn’t take into account the shifting nature of scientific paradigms.
     
  4. Mountainmike

    Mountainmike Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The term is more generally used than that.

    For example - the idea of "ghost" isn't necessarily a presumption of an external power, just a divorce of a soul from a body, that can then have a separate existence. But all would call that supernatural.
    And that is the problem. If that happens it is part of what constitutes the fabric of the the world so in reality is either natural if it exists, or non existent. In neither case is it supernatural.

    It seems to me... the word is most commonly used subjectively used by non believers of a phenomenon to describe their disbelief in it!
     
  5. tyke

    tyke Member

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    I happen to have seen what most people would consider to be a "ghost". I certainly don't think it supernatural although I have at this time, no explanation for what I saw. I'm sure that it was a purely physical phenomenon that has nothing to do with separate "souls" etc. Someday we may have an explanation for things like that but supernatural, for me, doesn't cut it.
     
  6. Mountainmike

    Mountainmike Well-Known Member Supporter

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    So did I once, it was bizarre.
    I took a shortcut once down a Yorkshire road past the site of an old castle , the scene of one of the most bloodthirsty encounters between Roundheads and cavaliers.

    The lane however was densely hedged, no gaps for hundreds of yards. I rounded a bend and there were two guys in period military uniforms with pikes walking together. ( my immediate thought was reenactment)

    I yelped as I had to swerve to avoid them, and after an obscenity " @@@ that was close" . I stopped less than a fifty yards later , looked in the mirror, intending to return to have words, and stop to regain composure,
    Nothing there, they were gone.

    Puzzled I turned the car round in an entrance and went back down the lane. Round the bend , back a quarter of a mile at least.

    There were no people at all. No gaps in the hedge.

    Nowhere for them to have gone or be, In the time it took me they can't have gone more than tens of yards, there was No reenactment taking place, nor anywhere anyone could have parked.

    There was only me. I was seriously shaken.
     
  7. tyke

    tyke Member

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    My experience was with my daughter in the early hours, driving back home (in Yorkshire) when I brought the car to a sudden halt as I saw a figure in black clothes which appeared to be from centuries ago crossing the road. I couldn't make out any facial features - it was only a few metres away - and it didn't seem to be aware that we were there at all. Having crossed the road it made its way into the field opposite and then disappeared - the road was brightly lit by street lights. I said to my daughter "Did you see what I saw - that black figure?" She said yes and was obviously shaken.

    When we arrived home we both independently wrote down our experience and compared them. They were almost identical.
     
  8. Mountainmike

    Mountainmike Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Fascinating! Seems very similar.

     
  9. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Member

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    Supernatural or metaphysical phenomenon comes from two places. The light and the dark. And sometimes the dark pretends to be the light. So best to not pay much attention or value in what man can not do. Best to attend to what man CAN do. Spread the Good News.
     
  10. dgiharris

    dgiharris Newbie

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    feels like most people ascribe the term "supernatural" for anything that science can't explain-- i would probably fall into this camp.

    a couple of thousand years ago eclipses were considered supernatural, now we know it is just the moon passing in front of the sun...

    Maybe we should define "supernatural" as occurrences that break the statistical norms of this universe??? I dunno...

    ultimately, i just default to "things science can't explain" as supernatural but I also believe that "eventually" science will be able to explain all supernatural occurrences which would then render the term supernatural moot :p
     
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  11. tas8831

    tas8831 Well-Known Member

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    Examples please.
     
  12. jayem

    jayem Naturalist

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    FWIW, here's my 2¢:

    It's easiest to describe the supernatural by first considering its opposite: that which is natural. I define natural as anything that is purely a function of matter/energy and the known fundamental forces of nature, i.e., gravity, the electromagnetic force, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force. So supernatural, is anything that's claimed to be beyond, or independent of, or is not a function of matter/energy and the 4 fundamental forces. Another way to put it might be that the supernatural is not part of nature, and does not follow the laws of nature. Although, to those who believe, supernatural entities can somehow interact with the natural realm, and affect events therein. Which to me is completely illogical and contrary to reason.
     
  13. juvenissun

    juvenissun ... and God saw that it was good.

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    It includes nature, but not opposes natural.
     
  14. DogmaHunter

    DogmaHunter Code Monkey

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    Do you have an example of any physical demonstrably real thing or phenomena, which doesn't "fit" into physical reality?
     
  15. Tom Farebrother

    Tom Farebrother Optimistic sceptic Supporter

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    Read your question again ;)
     
  16. DogmaHunter

    DogmaHunter Code Monkey

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    So you did understand the absurdity, that's good.

    In other words, these "things" you speak of, but curiously (well, not really...) didn't mention, are things that aren't demonstrable at all. So they only seem to exist in your imagination?

    I'm just saying, if you are goint to say such things, you better have specific examples in mind that actually correspond to what you are describing. But you don't have such examples, have you?

    So what it comes down to, seems to be no more or less then an attempted cheap shot at worldviews that do not include the god you happen to believe in.

    It's a swing and miss though, unless you can actually come up with some evidence/examples to support your accusation.
     
  17. Tom Farebrother

    Tom Farebrother Optimistic sceptic Supporter

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    I’ll try and sum up what I think about it. An example of something that doesn’t fit into a materialist worldview would be miracles, so we could start with that. I’m a bit pressed for time right now but I’ll post later.
     
  18. Tom Farebrother

    Tom Farebrother Optimistic sceptic Supporter

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    I honestly can’t think of a way to sum this up in one post, so it’ll have to be a series of posts.

    Firstly, it seems to be fairly widely accepted in neuroscience and psychology that one way in which the human brain functions is to make stories from data, stories in the sense of internal, partially or occasionally conscious but largely subconscious, narratives that together form a way of looking at the world. A lot of different and deep rooted impulses feed into this - the need for safety and security, the need for a framework within which to function as an individual and in society, and so on. The conscious element of the sum of these narratives might be described as a person’s worldview. Is that something you would broadly agree with?
     
  19. DogmaHunter

    DogmaHunter Code Monkey

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    See, this is what I mean.
    How do you plan on demonstrating that "miracles" actually occur?
    What is a "miracle" even?

    You say that it has no place in a materialist view. That's true. Neither is there a place in such a view for any other thing that can't be shown to being real. Like golden unicorns or leprechauns.

    This is my point.... the "objection" that you expressed, really only becomes relevant once you can point to an actually occuring phenomena or thing, which doesn't "fit" into a materialist worldview.

    But that's not what you do... Instead, you are pointing to things of which it can't be shown if it is actually real, or just only exists in your imagination.

    Why would anyone have to "accomodate" for things in their worldview, which can't even be differentiated from non-existing things??

    First, establish that the thing is actually real. Then we can discuss if it fits in any particular worldview or not. Otherwise, what's the point? What are we even discussing then?
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018
  20. DogmaHunter

    DogmaHunter Code Monkey

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    I don't necessarily would agree with the wording...
    So let's just stick to something more abstract: your worldview, your beliefs, your way of looking at things,... is determined by your life experiences, memories, thought patterns, etc, which are somehow stored in your brain. Your overall "brain state" if you will.

    I'ld agree with that. The brain is what you do your thinking with and your thinking is heavily influenced by your experiences, prior knowledge, beliefs, etc. Sure.

    Looking forward to seeing where you are going with this...
     
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