How should we define the supernatural?


(Jon Garvey) #121

The way I view it, that’s called “science,” once one abandons the metaphysical materialism.

(Jon Garvey) #122

Silly word, “natural”, isn’t it?

(Jon Garvey) #123

Even that’s a pretty arbitary thing: people believe in an occult force called “gravity” and call it natural, but call an occult action by an angel “supernatural.” Dark matter has no very obvious physical properties but is still considered “natural” (but what if it’s angels have dark mass?).

I still feel the terms linked to “natural” are metaphysically loaded, and don’t really have any clear meaning.

(Matthew Dickau) #124

New solution to the dark matter problem: dark matter is simply the mass of God’s heavenly host, unceasingly singing his praises among the stars :smiley:

(Neil Rickert) #125

We make good prediction, using what we know about gravity. We are unable to do that with angels.

(Ashwin S) #126

Sure. However, you will need faith to believe the “material cause” is the only cause or a perfect explanation.

A design can exist in one’s thoughts alone without being materialised.
Are you arguing “thoughts” are also material?

(George) #127


Maybe your very sentence is a key to the riddle:

Natural isn’t metaphysical.

Virtually anything that is metaphysical is supernatural.

Is it easier to define “metaphysical”? Or is it just another looping circle?

(Jon Garvey) #128

Unless, of course, angels are responsible for gravity, which there seems no reliable way of refuting.

(Jon Garvey) #129

George, I don’t think you have sussed the meaning of “metaphysical.” “Nature” itself is clearly a metaphysical concept to understand the entire mass of phenomena the universe throws at us.

Metaphysics: “the branch of philosophy that deals with the first principles of things, including abstract concepts such as being, knowing, identity, time, and space.”

(Neil Rickert) #130

Our predictions based on gravity are independent of whether angels are responsible for gravity. Echoing Laplace, I have no need for that hypothesis. Others can believe it or not as they choose. I’ll go with Occam.

(Jon Garvey) #131

Agree - but the good William’s razor applies to any theory of causes beyond the actual relationships. In other words, “angels” is no more or less a hypothetical cause than “nature,” or “matter.”

(Neil Rickert) #132

Agreed. And that’s why I avoid materialism and naturalism – they don’t do anything for me, as far as I can tell.


But it doesn’t require faith when we have evidence of a material cause. Otherwise, “I don’t know” is the proper stance.

You need to show that the thought itself is not material.

(Ashwin S) #134

Note the word “only” in what I wrote.

Why? Are you claiming that thoughts ideas etc are material?
Then we need to start with a definition of material which all of us can agree on.


You are claiming that thoughts are immaterial. Therefore, it is up to you to demonstrate that claim.

(Ashwin S) #136

Are you holding to a position that everything is “material” unless proven otherwise?

That’s a philosophical position.


I am taking no position. You claimed that thoughts are immaterial. You did take a position. So where is the evidence for that claim?

(Ashwin S) #138

By definition.


Then I define thoughts as being material. Problem solved.

(Ashwin S) #140

Yes… if you can define what you mean by “material”… words do need to mean something.