How should we define the supernatural?


(Ashwin S) #81

I asked you to define “naturalism”.
Is it the belief that there are “natural” explanations for everything in the universe?

I.e everything can be reduced to objective, measurable effects?

(T J Runyon) #82

I was a little vague in my definition but I meant created things that are physical or material. I don’t think ghosts or angels would fall into that category


You are assuming a natural cause and assuming there are no supernatural causes, aren’t you?

They are measurable. Techniques such as fMRI can map brain function. We can also measure changes in neurotransmitters.

(Neil Rickert) #84

Are thoughts supernatural?

(Ashwin S) #85

I have already told this before. The entire distinction between natural and supernatural is faulty…
What if i say that Ultimately, rain is caused by God.


I would be curious about the evidence that led you to that conclusion.

(Ashwin S) #87

Now you are putting the cart before the horse.


I don’t think we are. One of the concepts that seems to separate the natural from the supernatural is evidence. Naturalism proceeds from evidence while the supernatural proceeds from faith.

(Ashwin S) #89

You are yet to define naturalism…

So the wonder experienced when seeing a work of art is a matter of faith?


Already did.

“I would define “natural” as anything which has an objective and measurable effect on the universe around us.”

The wonder experienced when seeing a work of art is not supernatural.

(Ashwin S) #91

Naturalism… not natural… different things I hope.

No objective measurement for it. It’s a totally subjective experience. So as per your definition, it’s not natural…
If it’s not super natural either… what is it?


Same thing.

There are. They include fMRI and other imaging techniques.

(Daniel Ang) #93

Yes, but do fMRI experiments prove that thought is reducible to brain activity?

(Ashwin S) #94

What’s the “ism” for ?
There is a difference between “social” and “socialism”… an “ism” changes a lot in a word.

Is this a consensus scientific find … or just an opinion.
I am sceptical of this claim.


Prove in an absolute sense? No. Nothing can be proven to such a degree. Does it evidence the conclusion that thought is a product of brain activity, along with mountains of other evidence in the field of neurobiology? Yes.


Naturalism is the use of objective and empirical observations to learn about nature.

Google is your friend:

(Daniel Ang) #97

I think the experiments are equally compatible with the conclusion that thought gives rise (i.e. produces) to brain activity that we can measure. Now you can certainly say it gives evidence of the reverse - that brain activity gives rise to thought. But this seems more of a product of prior philosophical commitments rather than empirical evidence.


Let’s go back to my original definition of natural:

“I would define “natural” as anything which has an objective and measurable effect on the universe around us.”

Changes in brain activity would be an objective and measurable effect which makes thought a natural part of the universe according to the definition I am using.

(Ashwin S) #99

people can usually do this from facial expressions too… do I assume facial expressions cause the emotions?

(S. Joshua Swamidass) #100

@T_aquaticus, just to be clear…are your saying if we could demonstrate miracles taking place caused by the Christian God, then God would be part of Nature?