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Old 7th July 2007, 09:04 PM   #1
Beleth
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Is the supernatural unobservable by definition?

Supernatural:
1 : of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil
2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature b : attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit)

The first part, up to the especially, makes me wonder: can the words "natural" and "observable" be synonymous? If we can observe something, does that make it by definition natural, and therefore (since observing something provides evidence for it) is the phrase "evidence of the supernatural" completely oxymoronic?

If not, how can we know when we have evidence of the supernatural?

Say you wake up one morning and everything is different. You have senses you didn't have before, for instance; your environment is completely unfamiliar in every detail; and you come to realize in a matter of hours that your survival is totally dependent on a substance you never before knew existed. Would this qualify as being a supernatural occurrence, or would the mere fact that you are experiencing these things qualify them as natural?

I see this as a huge dilemma.
If "observable" and "natural" are not synonymous, then how can theism be ruled out as a viable philosophy?
If they are synonymous, then isn't the Million Dollar Challenge, as so many critics of it have pointed out, unwinnable by definition?
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Old 7th July 2007, 09:15 PM   #2
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Isn't we the most important word in all this?

What only one person can get at is quite useless as evidence.
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Old 7th July 2007, 09:20 PM   #3
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Observable:

1. Worthy of notice and attention. Needing to be followed or respected.

2. Some physical property of a system that can be observed.

3. discernible: capable of being seen or noticed; "a discernible change in attitude"; "a clearly evident erasure in the manuscript"; "an observable change in behavior"

4.In physics, particularly in quantum physics a system observable is a property of the system state that can be determined by some sequence of physical operations. These operations might involve submitting the system to various electromagnetic fields and eventually reading a value off some gauge. In systems governed by classical mechanics any experimentally observable value can be shown to be given by a real-valued function on the set of all possible system states.

Natural:
1. existing in or produced by nature; not artificial or imitation; "a natural pearl"; "natural gas"; "natural silk"; "natural blonde hair"; "a natural sweetener"; "natural fertilizers"
2. existing in or in conformity with nature or the observable world; neither supernatural nor magical; "a perfectly natural explanation"
3. functioning or occurring in a normal way; lacking abnormalities or deficiencies; "it's the natural thing to happen"; "natural immunity"; "a grandparent's natural affection for a grandchild"
4. A substance that is derived from mineral, plant, or animal matter and does not undergo a synthetic process as defined in section 6502(21) of the Act (7 USC 6502(21)). For the purposes of this part, nonsynthetic is used as a synonym for natural as the term is used in the Act.

Umm, I'm going to have to say that 'observable' and 'natural' are NOT synonymous.

Synonymous:
1.(of words) meaning the same or nearly the same
2. Synonyms (in ancient Greek syn 'συν' = plus and onoma 'όνομα' = name) are different words with similar or identical meanings. Antonyms are words with opposite or nearly opposite meanings. (Synonym and antonym are antonyms.)

If we start giving our own meaning to words rather than the agreed upon definitions, it's impossible to have any type of converstation since we really wouldn't be speaking the same language.
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Old 7th July 2007, 09:51 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Beleth View Post
If we can observe something, does that make it by definition natural
(...)
how can we know when we have evidence of the supernatural?
(...)
I see this as a huge dilemma.
In a hypothetical case of witnessing supernatural powers at work, what we would "observe" would only be the physical reality that our senses and scientific devices are able to observe.

The existence of the unobservable force would be proven by such facts as:
a) new material being created into the world
a1) objects moving or changing direction without any known force affecting them
a2) instantaneous recovery from untreatable major health problems, such as Down Syndrome etc.

Those who want to make big money by fooling people, try to imitate some or all of these, hoping that the audience will believe that they have witnessed supernatural powers at work on the dimly-lit stage.
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Old 7th July 2007, 10:27 PM   #5
Beleth
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Originally Posted by vexed View Post
Observable:

4.In physics, particularly in quantum physics a system observable is a property of the system state that can be determined by some sequence of physical operations. These operations might involve submitting the system to various electromagnetic fields and eventually reading a value off some gauge. In systems governed by classical mechanics any experimentally observable value can be shown to be given by a real-valued function on the set of all possible system states.

Natural:
2. existing in or in conformity with nature or the observable world; neither supernatural nor magical; "a perfectly natural explanation"

Umm, I'm going to have to say that 'observable' and 'natural' are NOT synonymous.

Could you describe how those two definitions are functionally different?
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Old 8th July 2007, 01:23 AM   #6
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IMO The supernatural, by definition cannot exist. If it exists then it's natural...
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Old 8th July 2007, 03:44 AM   #7
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I take supernatural most often to refer to disembodied consciousness: either gods, ghosts, or souls. They are "superior" to nature in that they are eternally alive, not subject to the same entropic decay natural organisms are. Such beings are not "unobservable" in principle, just in practice (they're awful shy).

Close but not the same is paranormal, which refers to cognition and communication "beyond" what we assume possible via our normal senses and reason.

dilemma 2nd horn of:
Since the $1 million dollar challenge is set up to test the paranormal, there is no conflict between it and what can be observed (given appropriate controls any paranormal ability can be tested for scientifically).

dilemma 1st horn of:
As an agnostic, I cannot completely discount theism; I don't believe in the supernatural because I see no evidence for it nor likelihood I ever will. But I'm not obliged to rule it out by definition... an atheist might be.
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Old 8th July 2007, 03:52 AM   #8
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Something has to be visible in order to be observable?

Stop, hey, what's that sound? Everybody look what's going down....
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Old 8th July 2007, 03:55 AM   #9
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This is just a semantic issue that is a hold over from a previous time when we did not have a way of (seemingly) accurately describe the reality we all experience.

By "definition" the OP is correct however how do we get the definition? Well we simply make it up. By definition I can define many things (at least in English) but that does not mean they do or have to exist. If you think about it the OP is really the ontological argument put forward by Anselm about a thousand years ago. And if you agree with that argument I really do have an invisible pink dragon in my garage!
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Old 8th July 2007, 05:53 AM   #10
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You Cannot Prove Anything Supernatural - EVER !

Originally Posted by Beleth View Post
... how can we know when we have evidence of the supernatural?

We can't prove that anything we observe is supernatural!

But we can prove it is natural, if in fact it is, merely by the fact that we detected it.

Nothing natural can prove anything supernatural. Ever. No exceptions.

Religious zealots take delight in this, claiming that since you cannot possibly prove they are wrong, therefore they are correct or justified in their beliefs. Pure gooey, stinky brain droppings all over the place! Ou, pardonner mon français, ***** de taureau!



Consider this very important question:

If we actually make a definite physical detection and recording of something, then on what grounds does it qualify as supernatural in character? What is supernatural about it?

In other words, what is it about what you recorded that identifies it as supernatural as opposed to a natural phenomenon? What is the distinction aside from it being mysterious?



Something supernatural, by definition, operates outside the laws of nature and thus, cannot be explained, defined or predicted in any natural terms. No natural laws at all apply or can make it predictable.

It is a logical fallacy to conclude that when science or prior experience fails to explain or disprove something, that it automatically qualifies as supernatural. Every superstition and probably every religion in the world, at least those that originated thousands of years ago, were founded upon that fallacy. Today, that fallacy is less justified than ever before.
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Old 8th July 2007, 06:12 AM   #11
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Old 8th July 2007, 06:27 AM   #12
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So your keys were never lost!



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Old 8th July 2007, 06:28 AM   #13
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As Darat said, this is a discussion of the definition of terms, pure and simple.

Until someone gives a specific definition of supernatural, there is no way to answer the OP question. For example, if we define supernatural to mean "having no natural existence and no interface to the natural world," then:

If the existence of a thing is indistinguishable from its nonexistence, we say that thing does not exist. ---Yahzi


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Old 8th July 2007, 06:48 AM   #14
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It goes beyond 'what is supernatural?' though, because even things agreed upon as 'natural' cannot be observed or detected. For example strings (from string theory) and multiverses come to mind.

So are they supernatural or natural?
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Old 8th July 2007, 06:53 AM   #15
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If the supernatural is something that affects the universe, but is not of the universe, yet behaves consistently, we should be able to define a larger universe that encompasses the supernatural within the natural. The only situation that this could not be done would be if the universe is not self-consistent.
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Old 8th July 2007, 06:55 AM   #16
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Well...depends on your definition, dunnit?

Remember: Dictionaries are descriptive, not proscriptive.
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Old 8th July 2007, 06:55 AM   #17
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I'll add to that: The pursuit of science is a meta-experiment to test the hypothesis that the universe is self-consistent. So far, so good; this is the best evidence we have that there is nothing at all that can be classed as supernatural.
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Old 8th July 2007, 08:57 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
If the supernatural is something that affects the universe, but is not of the universe, yet behaves consistently, we should be able to define a larger universe that encompasses the supernatural within the natural. The only situation that this could not be done would be if the universe is not self-consistent.
How can something affect the universe but not be of the universe? Wouldn't the definition of "universe" just automatically expand to encompass more things?

For instance, one of the theories I've heard to describe gravity from a string-theory standpoint (and I may be getting this wrong here) is that it's actually a force that's leaking into our universe from a nearby, but external, brane. Since gravity affects the universe and behaves consistently, if this external-brane theory is true doesn't that automatically make the external brane part of this universe and therefore make it entirely natural?
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Old 8th July 2007, 09:25 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
As Darat said, this is a discussion of the definition of terms, pure and simple.

Until someone gives a specific definition of supernatural, there is no way to answer the OP question. For example, if we define supernatural to mean "having no natural existence and no interface to the natural world," then:

If the existence of a thing is indistinguishable from its nonexistence, we say that thing does not exist. ---Yahzi
That quote from Yahzi always made me think that he equated the words "inobservable", "supernatural", and "nonexistent". Which is one way to define them, I suppose, but like I mentioned in the OP it makes the MDC meaningless.
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Old 8th July 2007, 09:30 AM   #20
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Natural explanations of the world assume that the world works according to simple laws. Whenever we encounter complex entities, like say animal brains, we find that they are merely very complex arrangements of simple components acting according to the laws of physics. And the formation of these complex arrangements of matter is in turn explained by the iterative application of simple laws (evolution). Naturalism states that everything is reducible to the (simple) laws of physics (or to some future, yet-to-be discovered laws of physics). There is no inherent complexity.

Now take ghosts, for example. If we could explain the ghost phenomenon by science then this would mean that it was ultimately be explicable in terms of the laws of physics. Armed with such an explanation we would consider ghosts to have been debunked. However, if we failed to do this and believed that no such explanation was ever going to be possible then we would have an example of a supernatural phenomenon. Ghosts would just be certain irreducibly complex phenomena that mainifested themselves in certain ways and at certain times. Perhaps we could come up with a theory of the psychology of ghosts which would enable us to learn how to better predict their behaviour or to appease or counter them. But this psychology would not be built up from the simple physical mechanisms that the psychology of humans rests on. It would just be an inherently complex feature of our physical world.

I don't think we can rule out the supernatural as being impossible (although there seems absolutely no evidence for it). But I am still a hard atheist, rather than an agnostic because theism goes further than supernaturalism. It doesn't merely posit the existence of animate beings whose behaviour cannot be reduced to any physics-based description. It says that one or more of these beings (God) has qualities such that they deserve to be worshipped. I think that this is nonsensical - there are no qualities that could make a being worthy of worship.
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Old 8th July 2007, 11:52 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by CFLarsen View Post
Something has to be visible in order to be observable?

Stop, hey, what's that sound? Everybody look what's going down....

I would welcome your productive participation in this thread, Claus.
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Old 8th July 2007, 12:14 PM   #22
Beleth
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Originally Posted by chriswl View Post
Natural explanations of the world assume that the world works according to simple laws. Whenever we encounter complex entities, like say animal brains, we find that they are merely very complex arrangements of simple components acting according to the laws of physics.
Well, I wouldn't use the subjective word "simple"; I'd use "discovered" or at least "discoverable". And we find out that they are natural by observing them.

Quote:
Now take ghosts, for example. If we could explain the ghost phenomenon by science then this would mean that it was ultimately be explicable in terms of the laws of physics. Armed with such an explanation we would consider ghosts to have been debunked.
Surely not "debunked". If we discovered actual ghosts, then they would be observable and explainable. Would they then become part of what we consider "natural", though?

Quote:
I don't think we can rule out the supernatural as being impossible (although there seems absolutely no evidence for it).
There's stuff we don't know now. Is it okay to call it "supernatural" even if there's a possibility that it will be observable/explainable in the future?
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Old 9th July 2007, 07:04 AM   #23
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"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic to the natives." - Arthur C. Clark

I submit there is no such thing as supernatural, even in theory. Anything operates according to some set of rules, and as such, that is the "physics" of that thing. When a "god" does something, it's gotta happen by some mechanism. God's "brain" has to operate via some mechanism.
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Old 9th July 2007, 07:14 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Beleth View Post
How can something affect the universe but not be of the universe? Wouldn't the definition of "universe" just automatically expand to encompass more things?
Yes, exactly. That's the fundamental problem with the supernatural: it's a dualistic system. Unless the universe itself is fundamentally inconsistent, the supernatural is merely an aspect of the natural.
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Old 9th July 2007, 07:27 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
Yes, exactly. That's the fundamental problem with the supernatural: it's a dualistic system. Unless the universe itself is fundamentally inconsistent, the supernatural is merely an aspect of the natural.
Could we say that it is "dualistic" for a reason? A reason that is practical in nature, and serves the purposes of the believers? It allows them, after all, to avoid any sort of need for justifying their beliefs: "it is outside the universe, so it follows whatever rules it needs to!"

That neatly dodges the question of why no one can ever demonstrate any of the stupidity they believe in.
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Old 9th July 2007, 07:34 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
By "definition" the OP is correct however how do we get the definition? Well we simply make it up. By definition I can define many things (at least in English) but that does not mean they do or have to exist. If you think about it the OP is really the ontological argument put forward by Anselm about a thousand years ago. And if you agree with that argument I really do have an invisible pink dragon in my garage!
So, then, how does it get resolved?

Is "supernatural" a word, like sphenisc's use of the word "lost", that only temporarily applies to things we haven't figured out yet? In other words, it's an adjective describing the state of information about a thing, rather than describing the thing itself, such as the words "tall" or "noisy" do? If so, how can we rule out the possibility of... well, of anything? Just because no one's observed the invisible pink dragon in your garage yet, doesn't mean no one ever will...
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Old 9th July 2007, 07:35 AM   #27
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JoeEllison - Yep. They've just redefined the nature of evidence, so that objectively observable fact has less relevance than their current whimsy. They're doubly dishonest, though, because if they actually believed and acted on this nonsense, most of them would be dead in short order.
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Old 9th July 2007, 08:41 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Beleth View Post
I would welcome your productive participation in this thread, Claus.
Does CFL have also a productive side in his personality?

Wow.

I would be surprised to learn that more than 0% of his JREF forum posts of all time are "productive". He spends most of his time simply tearing down stuff, without building anything in its place.
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Old 9th July 2007, 08:49 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by JJM 777 View Post
Does CFL have also a productive side in his personality?

I would welcome your productive participation in this thread too, JJM.
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Old 9th July 2007, 08:51 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
Could we say that it is "dualistic" for a reason? A reason that is practical in nature, and serves the purposes of the believers? It allows them, after all, to avoid any sort of need for justifying their beliefs: "it is outside the universe, so it follows whatever rules it needs to!"
Can a cause be supernatural even if its effect is observable?
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Old 9th July 2007, 09:20 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
Yes, exactly. That's the fundamental problem with the supernatural: it's a dualistic system. Unless the universe itself is fundamentally inconsistent, the supernatural is merely an aspect of the natural.

That's a point of view, but it's hardly the only one -- and by assigning that particular meaning to the word "natural" you've more or less assumed what you are trying to prove. If, for example, you consider "natural" to mean "all that exists," and God exists, then God is not supernatural, but natural.

Which is ludicrous, since God is the type-case of the "supernatural." Ergo, your definition of "natural" is flawed.

Or to put it another way, the statement "the supernatural is merely an aspect of the natural" is, by definition, false. Therefore, the statement "Unless the universe itself is fundamentally inconsistent, the supernatural is merely an aspect of the natural" is equivalent to the statement "the universe itself is fundamentally inconsistent."

The question, then, is where to draw the line between the natural and the supernatural, and there are a lof of suggestions about where to draw that line, many of them later discredited. However, I don't see any actual evidence opposing the idea that everything that existed prior to the creation of the universe (see Genesis 1:1) is "supernatural," while "the heavens and the earth" are natural -- a very traditional Christian belief. Another (different) traditional Christian belief is that the Eternal is supernatural, the transient natural. Others have suggested that Mind is the ultimate supernatural, and therefore there is lots of observations of the supernatural about us.

Basically, if you want to define "natural" in such a way as to make the universe inconsistent by definition, that's your perogative. If you want to define "bird" as "anything that flies," thereby including bats, bees, and Boeings, thats's also your perogative. But you'll not get a lot of traction in trying to convince others of the usefulness and accuracy of your definition.
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Old 9th July 2007, 10:08 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by drkitten View Post
That's a point of view, but it's hardly the only one -- and by assigning that particular meaning to the word "natural" you've more or less assumed what you are trying to prove. If, for example, you consider "natural" to mean "all that exists," and God exists, then God is not supernatural, but natural.
No. Existence is necessary but not sufficient; the other requirement for something to be natural is that it follows consistent rules. (It's not necessary that we know those rules; just that there are such rules.)

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Which is ludicrous, since God is the type-case of the "supernatural." Ergo, your definition of "natural" is flawed.
Except that you made up that definition of "natural", not me.

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Or to put it another way, the statement "the supernatural is merely an aspect of the natural" is, by definition, false. Therefore, the statement "Unless the universe itself is fundamentally inconsistent, the supernatural is merely an aspect of the natural" is equivalent to the statement "the universe itself is fundamentally inconsistent."
Not really.

We have to be careful with the use of the term supernatural, because it can have a well-defined meaning or a poorly-defined one. Using the poorly-defined, common, definition, either what is assumed to be "supernatural" is just misunderstood or misidentified natural events, or the universe is fundamentally inconsistent. If we specifically define the supernatural as being that which does not follow consistent laws, then what you said follows.

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The question, then, is where to draw the line between the natural and the supernatural, and there are a lof of suggestions about where to draw that line, many of them later discredited. However, I don't see any actual evidence opposing the idea that everything that existed prior to the creation of the universe (see Genesis 1:1) is "supernatural," while "the heavens and the earth" are natural -- a very traditional Christian belief.
And an utterly useless one, of course. It's essentially last-Tuesdayism.

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Another (different) traditional Christian belief is that the Eternal is supernatural, the transient natural. Others have suggested that Mind is the ultimate supernatural, and therefore there is lots of observations of the supernatural about us.
Dualism - either an assertion of an inconsistent universe, or an inconsistent assertion.

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Basically, if you want to define "natural" in such a way as to make the universe inconsistent by definition, that's your perogative.
I don't, and didn't.
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Old 9th July 2007, 10:09 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Beleth View Post
Can a cause be supernatural even if its effect is observable?
Not in a self-consistent universe.

In an inconsistent one? Sure. Whatever makes you happy.
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Old 9th July 2007, 10:11 AM   #34
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So you're saying that what we cannot observe = un-natural?
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Old 9th July 2007, 10:49 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
Not in a self-consistent universe.

In an inconsistent one? Sure. Whatever makes you happy.
My happiness has no bearing on whether the universe is consistent or not, of course. I'm sorry something got you into a sour mood; I was really enjoying your posts up until the last two.

Anyway, back on topic.
It sounds like you are saying that there is a third choice besides "theism cannot be ruled out" and "'evidence of the supernatural' is an oxymoron", and that is "the universe is inconsistent". But I'd say that that is really a close relative, possibly a superset, of the "theism cannot be ruled out" choice.
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Old 9th July 2007, 10:55 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by T'ai Chi View Post
So you're saying that what we cannot observe = un-natural?
No, since there are things which are wholly natural but cannot be observed (yet). A mundane rock in a cave on a planet orbiting a star in this galaxy, for instance.

"Observable" and "unobservable" are mutually exclusive but "observable" is merely a subset of "natural".

Hmmm... I have just given myself food for thought.
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Old 9th July 2007, 11:07 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Beleth View Post
My happiness has no bearing on whether the universe is consistent or not, of course. I'm sorry something got you into a sour mood; I was really enjoying your posts up until the last two.
Sorry, that last post wasn't supposed to be sour or snarky or anything, just a direct answer. (The response to drkitten was a bit snarky, I admit, but he strawmanned me, though perhaps inadvertently.)

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Anyway, back on topic.
It sounds like you are saying that there is a third choice besides "theism cannot be ruled out" and "'evidence of the supernatural' is an oxymoron", and that is "the universe is inconsistent". But I'd say that that is really a close relative, possibly a superset, of the "theism cannot be ruled out" choice.
Yes, that's a good encapsulation of what I'm thinking.

If the universe is self-consistent, then there is only one class of... stuff. It's the natural. Anything that someone might think is supernatural is just a misunderstanding of some natural event or object or process.

If the universe follows a consistent set of rules (whatever they might be) then observing an effect (whatever that might be) is in itself an indirect observation of the cause. In this case, every cause, every effect, is natural.

To introduce the supernatural, you either have to have it inefficacious - in which case it would be unobservable by definition, but in which case I would assert that it does not exist - or violate the consistency of the laws of nature, in which case anything goes. Because otherwise it's just more stuff.
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Old 9th July 2007, 11:14 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Beleth View Post
Can a cause be supernatural even if its effect is observable?
Good question. The place to start, of course, would be in actually observing any effect... something that has so far failed to emerge.

But, assuming an effect is observed, and all known explanations have been ruled out, that leaves all "unknown explanations", which could be said to include, but is not limited to, the "supernatural". The problem in calling something "supernatural", is that it doesn't advance our knowledge in any way, and it practically equivalent to saying "I don't know".
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Old 9th July 2007, 04:52 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Beleth View Post
"Observable" and "unobservable" are mutually exclusive but "observable" is merely a subset of "natural".
Originally Posted by PixyMisa View Post
If the universe is self-consistent, then there is only one class of... stuff. It's the natural. Anything that someone might think is supernatural is just a misunderstanding of some natural event or object or process.

If the universe follows a consistent set of rules (whatever they might be) then observing an effect (whatever that might be) is in itself an indirect observation of the cause. In this case, every cause, every effect, is natural.
Ok, poking around for an exception: I'm thinking of effects whose causes for whatever reason we can't ever investigate. But, the effects suggest causes which follow universally consistent laws incompatible with our own.

For example, something like Flatland. When beings from some parallel "universe" intersect ours all we see are their shadows (effects). They appear to be completely unaware of us, so we can't interrogate them, nor is there any means of entering their dimension to observe it first hand (unlike Flatland). But we can observe the effects, the shadows, so we study them.

The shadows appear to be of living beings in every way like natural animals we know with one exception: they never age. They don't seem subject to any sort of natural process of growth and decay. Yet everything else about them seems consistent and familiar; we see them interact, and the same beings reappear over time, so they appear to have discrete identities and not be random apparitions. So we conclude the shadows are emanating from a "universe" where life is not subject to the same natural laws it is in ours.

We'd then have evidence of another universe with a consistent set of laws, yet be unable to extend the definition of our universe and its laws to include it, or the [extended] Universe wouldn't be self-consistent. Better to keep them separate, two universes each with consistent but incompatible laws. Since we call our universe and its laws "natural", it wouldn't be too far-fetched semantically to call this other universe and its "supernatural". And then we'd be observing too that which we had defined as supernatural.

Sorry for my long winding, long-winded example. And natch I'm only arguing it may be plausible, not probable.
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Old 9th July 2007, 09:48 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by JoeEllison View Post
Good question. The place to start, of course, would be in actually observing any effect... something that has so far failed to emerge.
Like I mentioned in post 18, the source of gravity has so far eluded us. It's so different from the other forces that people are hypothesizing that it comes from interference from outside the universe. They may be crackpots, of course, but there isn't a really solid, "natural", explanation yet.

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But, assuming an effect is observed, and all known explanations have been ruled out, that leaves all "unknown explanations", which could be said to include, but is not limited to, the "supernatural". The problem in calling something "supernatural", is that it doesn't advance our knowledge in any way, and it practically equivalent to saying "I don't know".
Ahh, but there I disagree with you. There is a difference between "I don't know (yet)" and "I know, but it's not natural." My question in the OP basically comes down to whether the latter is oxymoronic or not.
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