How should we define the supernatural?



These discussions do seem to break down into meaningless semantics, which is unfortunate.

(Ashwin S) #142

It’s not meaningless semantics… having clear meaning to words is how people communicate… and even think.
Give it a shot… I am sincerely interested in knowing how you define “material”. This is the first time I have heard someone claim that thoughts, ideas etc are material.


You are purposefully obscuring meaning and refusing to discuss the topic. Asking for definitions of words you yourself have been using is just a red herring meant to direct the topic away from inconvenient problems with your own argument.

You claimed that thoughts were immaterial. If you don’t have evidence for that claim, then that’s fine. However, I think you can see the problem in demanding evidence from everyone else why refusing to give evidence for your own claims.

(Ashwin S) #144

No it’s not. I wouldn’t classify thoughts as material because of the way I understand the word material. The same would apply to almost anyone here.
It’s perfectly reasonable to ask you how you define “material”.


Then why aren’t you discussing the way you understand the word material?

Do you think a computer program is immaterial? For example, you can put a certain program on a computer, and then that computer can control a 3D printer and create a design.

(Ashwin S) #146

A computer programme is still a computer programme when written down (or conceived of) and not inputed into the computer. So yes, it’s immaterial.

How a programme effects the world is a good anlogy for how human thoughts can translate into material effects.


What about the program that has been inputted? Is that immaterial? Is the program on the hard disk immaterial?

(Ashwin S) #148

Let me just define material as I understand it. It’s something physical with which objects (substances with mass) can interact.

There are parts to the inputted program which is immaterial. Essentially, the logic or the information.

Now your turn.


Would this also apply to all matter? Is physical information and the logic of how the universe operates also immaterial?

(Ashwin S) #150

Yes, I would apply this to everything.
If there are logical/informational parts, themselves it’s not material.(I understand information as the product of a mind, not the one in information theory).
Logic doesn’t have properties like location, mass, velocity etc which matter does.


How would you apply this to the human brain?

From where I sit, the brain is a direct result of embryonic development along with environmental stimulus. It looks like a computer to me. If you are saying that thoughts and the brain are equivalent to all other matter in the universe, then I would probably agree.

(Ashwin S) #152

Didn’t understand the last sentence.


All matter has logical/informational parts. A computer program is just a certain arrangement of matter and charges, and you describe it as immaterial. Therefore, it would seem to me that the brain is no different from all other matter. What you are describing as the immaterial portion of thought is the same as the immaterial features of all matter.

(Ashwin S) #154

No, I described the logic involved in a computer programme as immaterial. Logic doesn’t have a location or mass. It’s not an arrangement of matter.

The information in a hard disk can be transferred to a book or a pen drive… and it would essentially be the same.


How is that different from the logic that all matter follows? Also, if I changed the arrangement of charges on a hard disk, wouldn’t that change the program?

(Ashwin S) #156

But I could write down the logic of the programme in a piece of paper and it would still exist even if the arrangement of matter is totally different from that of the hard disk.

What I am writing to you is conveyed with a particular arrangement of matter in your phone. I could write the same stuff in a piece of paper and the information would be the same even though the arrangement of matter in a piece of paper is totally different.


Could I use that piece of paper to run the 3D printer? No. If I put that piece of paper in someone’s head, would it function as a brain? No.

It seems to me that the actual physical characteristics of both the computer program and the brain are what matters. We can change the computer program by physical manipulation, and we can change thoughts, emotions, and function of the brain through physical and chemical alterations. The brain itself is produced by the genome during embryonic development, and is further modified by environmental stimulus.

I can’t help but conclude that thoughts are as physical and material as all other matter in the universe. Where have I gone wrong?

(Ashwin S) #158

Would the computer work without a programme.
It seems to me that both are required.

You are basically claiming that thoughts and ideas don’t really exist…
If what you say is true, the same idea is different in a different brain. And the meaning attributed to ideas are illusions… the only reality is electrical charges.
This is a ridiculous level of reductionism.


The brain wouldn’t work without proper embryonic development guided by the genome and further stimulus from the environment.

I am saying just the opposite. I am saying that thoughts exist as specific arrangements of matter in the brain just as programs are specific arrangements of charges on a hard disk.

What makes it ridiculous?

(Ashwin S) #160

If what you say is true…Thoughts don’t exist.
Only specific arrangement of matter in specific media such as individual brains, computers, pieces of paper etc exist. For ideas/thoughts etc to exist or be conveyed by arrangements of matter, they have to exist as more than just that particular arrangement of matter.

That’s why I called your idea ridiculously reductionist.