Monday, December 14, 2009

Nature and Supernature

Original Posting

In the blog before last I wrote:

If God is supernatural, then he is by supernature outside of our grasp. Our minds are natural, our minds deal with natural phenomena, we are natural. If God is supernatural, he would be so utterly unlike anything we've encountered that it would be impossible to conceive of him. Science, reason, and logic all work with natural material, but why suppose that they can also work with supernatural material? Why suppose that the supernatural even operates according to logic? Why suppose that natural minds are equipped to deal with supernatural matters? Most importantly, why suppose that a supernatural entity would leave natural evidence of its existence?

I'm not sure how well I explained myself, but it occurred to me that I should write a blog about the concept of “supernatural.”

Supernatural is one of those words that don't really give a positive description of something (although it might look like it does), what it provides is a negative description. Saying X is supernatural is to say that X lacks the property of being natural. Because of this, we can only understand “supernatural” by understanding “natural.”

So, what is natural? It is the universe. It is our realm. Basically the totality of our existence. All the forces of the universe are natural forces.

What, then, is supernatural? Everything that isn't natural. Specifically, I suppose, it would have to be beyond our natural world to avoid being subnatural, but I'll leave that alone for now. What's important is that “supernatural” refers to anything that is not a part of our realm of existence.

This means that if ghosts actually exist as part of our realm, existing due to hitherto undiscovered forces, they are actually natural, not supernatural. If God does not exist outside of our realm, but is himself part of our universe, then he is not supernatural. Only things that exist apart from our universe are supernatural.

This, as I mentioned before, is a key aspect of my view of God. Anything supernatural we should approach with agnosticism*, because it would be impossible for natural creatures to discover evidence one way or the other about something outside of our realm. All things supernatural would instantly check in at 50%/50% on the probability scale from our natural perspective.

*Although, you could ask if it's even possible for supernatural things to exist. After all, “existence” is a natural property, wouldn't that make it impossible for a supernatural entity to exist or non-exist? Existence would just be the natural property most similar that we would use to try to understand it.

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