The Science of the Supernatural

If Darwinism fails then supernatural causes are back on the table and should be included in science.

I do not think there can be a science of the supernatural.

I do not think that if Darwinism fails that supernatural causes will become acceptable.

If the hope of ID is that supernatural causes will be allowed back into science if they can only just get rid of Darwinism, ID is doomed.

The tools and methods of ID cannot differentiate a supernatural cause from a natural cause anyways.

Thoughts?

347 Replies to “The Science of the Supernatural”

  1. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain: Simply provide a more compelling explanation yourself then.

    Not random.

  2. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Not random.

    If that’s what you call compelling, then I wish you good luck with that.

    No wonder you are anonymous.

  3. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    If ID proponents want to appeal to the supernatural, I say they are best to stick with cosmological fine tuning as necessary for our life-permitting universe. This fine tuning, among other things, constrains fitness landscapes to those needed for biological evolution.

    There is a scientifically and philosophically well-respected populatization by two cosmologists which was recently published. They did a podcast about it for this that prefer that medium.

    Book:
    https://www.amazon.com/Fortunate-Universe-Finely-Tuned-Cosmos/dp/1107156610/

    Podcast
    https://newbooksnetwork.com/geraint-f-lewis-and-luke-a-barnes-a-fortunate-universe-life-in-a-finely-tuned-cosmos-cambridge-up-2016/

    They see fine tuning as a real phenomenon of physics/cosmology which needs an explanation. They believe four are worth considering and do not think we are able to justify taking any as best right now:

    1. A future science will explain fine tuning (they rank this lowest). No supernaturalism.
    2. Multiverses explain fine tuning. No supernaturalism.
    3. A supernatural designer explains fine funing.
    4. The simulation hypothesis, with a non-supernatural designer, explains fine tuning.

    So, FWIW, these two cosmologists see 3 as an explanation they cannot reject on scientific grounds. Of course, philosophy is a different issue (ETA and the book covers those issues as well).

    ETA: The podcast has a bonus: not one, but two different explanations of what Boltzmann brains are and why our best science predicts you are one (or I am one and you are a figment of my imagination). The second explanation of BB’s on the podcast is the better one, so wait for it.

  4. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS: If ID proponents want to appeal to the supernatural, I say they are best to stick with cosmological fine tuning as necessary for our life-permitting universe.

    What’s wrong with sticking with, if random is no longer viable, then….?

    Seems hard for your side to beat that one.

  5. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    On the subject of dreaming which has been brought up in this discussion, here is a talk by Steiner where he mentions dreaming and much else besides

    Freedom – Immortality – Social Life, given in Basel, 24 November 1917.

    This talk would have been transcribed in German, and its subsequent translation into English IMO is not ideal, but I have given my take on it below.

    The present scientific worldview does not penetrate to the depths of reality. One sided biased thinking in science is fairly harmless but if this is carried over into the moral-social life then it can become injurious and lead to disaster. We have seen this when, for example, the concept of the survival of the fittest is taken to extremes.

    Steiner argues that sleeping and dreaming are not just activities which can be observed to occur in time progression. They are happening constantly within us. We sleep in our will and dream in our feeling life. We do not realise that we are dreaming constantly because the process is drowned out by our waking day consciousness in the same way that the light of the sun obscures the light of the stars. We are constantly in a dream state in certain respects.

    The present scientific worldview did not arise out of a previous child-like ignorance as is the general view. It grew out of an instinctive knowledge of nature which had no need to experience itself as separate. Ancient cultures were not ignorant, they had no need of our modern science. And looking to the future this scientific worldview with its sceptical attitude is necessary in order to achieve a level of freedom but it is something that we need to pass through and get beyond.

    Steiner:
    The scientific materialism has the big merit, because it divests nature of any mental to lead the human being to a high level of self-reflection.

    We cannot grasp history of the social-political life using the methods of natural science. Schiller was doing this when in his inaugural speech as a prelude to his history lessons he said, ““The community of European states seems to have changed into a big family. Their members may be hostile to each other, but do no longer tear each other to pieces, I hope.”
    We now know that his hopes were dashed.

    Steiner:
    Spiritual science does not take the view that one has to deal with either/or everywhere, but that concepts show one-sidedness as a rule. I have often enough used the comparison: if the spiritual researcher advances to concepts, so that he regards them as images of the real from different sides like four photographs of a tree from four sides, one can describe the world from a pantheistic, theistic, monotheistic, or polytheistic viewpoint.

    Things must be viewed from a range of standpoints in order to avoid onesidedness. By combining different viewpoints a complete picture can be built up.

    Steiner:
    Really, it does not concern a few anthroposophic dreamers but human beings who should become able to put themselves powerfully into life. It does not concern the foundation of single colonies of a few people who want to have a good time or to be vegetarians somewhere in a mountain area and lark about there, but this is why it concerns understanding the signs of time knowing what is really historically inevitable in the developmental course of humanity.

    It is the correct procedure of natural science to examine things in ever finer detail, but this does not apply to the spiritual nor to the social-political life.

    Steiner tried to advance, not a science of the supernatural, but a science of the supersensible.

  6. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: What is the third possibility?As soon as you eliminate random,don’t you have to conclude a cause?

    No! Both random and non-random require a cause…unless we move to the subatomic level…The non-random require a directed/ntelligent cause…

  7. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: I saw “Into the Spiderverse” the other day.Pretty cool, and maybe right up J-Mac’s alley!

    The multiverse is just a ridiculous idea cloaked in science intended to run away from the fine tuning of the forces of the universe, like dark energy…It’s disgrace that popular media present it as if there was some evidence for it…The idea makes the great subjects for Hollywood entertainment… but many people think it could be real, including many scientists….
    Netflix has explored it in so many ways including the recent experiment of the interactive Black Mirror series…

  8. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: No! Both random and non-random require a cause…unless we move to the subatomic level…The non-random require a directed/ntelligent cause…

    That’s not how I view it. When I say random, I mean chaos. And I am not sure its appropriate to consider chaos as having a cause. To me chaos is sort of the lack of a cause.

    But non-random, definitely that requires direction, i.e. a director.

  9. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: That’s not how I view it.When I say random, I mean chaos.And I am not sure its appropriate to consider chaos as having a cause.To me chaos is sort of the lack of a cause.

    But non-random, definitely that requires direction, i.e. a director.

    Do you have any examples?

  10. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS: They see fine tuning as a real phenomenon of physics/cosmology which needs an explanation. They believe four are worth considering and do not think we are able to justify taking any as best right now:

    1. A future science will explain fine tuning (they rank this lowest). No supernaturalism.
    2. Multiverses explain fine tuning. No supernaturalism.
    3. A supernatural designer explains fine tuning.
    4. The simulation hypothesis, with a non-supernatural designer, explains fine tuning.

    So, FWIW, these two cosmologists see 3 as an explanation they cannot reject on scientific grounds. Of course, philosophy is a different issue (ETA and the book covers those issues as well).

    That seems right to me, though there could be philosophical reasons for rejecting (4) — depending on how one assesses the priors.

    I don’t see any scientific or philosophical reasons for deciding between (2) and (3).

    To my way of thinking, the interesting philosophical question is whether there could be an empirical method for deciding between (2) and (3).

    It seems to me that we could only decide between a multiverse and a Creator on scientific grounds if we were to abandon the assumption that measurements necessarily involve spatio-temporal intervals.

    This follows from the following three considerations:

    1. Scientific models are confirmed (or disconfirmed) through measurements of intensive and extensive magnitudes.
    2. Intensive and extensive magnitudes are assigned to determinate spatio-temporal locations.
    3. There are no spatio-temporal locations independent of the universe.

    Since (3) is, if you will, an “analytic”‘ truth, then it is only by abandoning (1) or (2) that we could have a scientific basis for answering the question about the origin of the universe, whether that turns out to be a multiverse, Creator, transdimensional simulators, etc.

    I consider our commitment to (1) to be constitutive of scientific practice and our commitment to (2) to be a deep phenomenological fact about the kind of beings that we are as finite & embodied knowers. (Maybe angels can make measurements that we cannot.)

    On this basis, I conclude that it is impossible for us to resolve the question “multiverse or Creator?” on scientific grounds.

    Then the question would be whether there is any legitimate basis for answering metaphysical questions other than science, and if so, what would it be.

    Here I’m going to take some of the most important ideas I’ve gleaned from Sellars’s reading of Kant and Hegel, together with Rorty’s understanding of that reading, and try to put it in a way that doesn’t depend on too much jargon.

    The central idea is this: every attempt to answer metaphysical questions independent of science involves a violation of the norms of reasoning by ascribing to oneself a cognitive privilege — a deep insight into the nature of the reality — that is incontestable. In doing so one denies that one’s interlocutors are equal members on a par with oneself of the space of reasons. One, as it were, exempts oneself from having to play the game of giving and asking for reasons. Metaphysics without science is a conversation-stopper. And when the state starts taking sides in metaphysical disputes, religious wars are pretty much inevitable.

    So, to wrap up this line of thought: one cannot decide between a multiverse and a Creator without either (1) abandoning constitutive commitments of scientific practice (if one is going to take this as a scientific question) or (2) abandoning constitutive commitments of treating other persons as rational beings (if one is going to take this as a metaphysical question that can be decided independent of science).

    None of this, by the by, impinges on whether one has the right to make a leap of faith one way or the other for oneself alone.

    treat others as rational beings in their own right

  11. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo:
    What’s wrong with sticking with, if random is no longer viable, then….?

    Seems hard for your side to beat that one.

    It’s tiresome to try and explain this to you so many fucking times: non-random doesn’t mean planned, let alone that some magical being is doing anything.

    There’s no need to “beat that one,” since it’s but a problem with your understanding.

    Furthermore, the very possibility to design depends on the existence of non-random processes. Thus, your version of reality puts the cart-before-the-horse. We would not be able to take advantage of anything without there being regularities available for us to put together into a design. Not even our intelligences would exist without the existence of regular phenomena.

  12. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: Do youhave any examples?

    Sand blown in a windstorm-random.
    Blatherings from Entropy-random.

    A child’s treehouse-nonrandom.
    An antelope-nonrandom.

  13. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist:

    1. Scientific models are confirmed (or disconfirmed) through measurements of intensive and extensive magnitudes.
    2. Intensive and extensive magnitudes are assigned to determinate spatio-temporal locations.

    I think any talk of what science measures will involve the theory underlying the measurement; for example, it’s difficult to see how the LIGO interferometer and the LHC Detectors can be said to be measuring magnitudes without involving theorectical and metaphysical assumptions.

    Scientifically, my limited understanding of the math of GR and QFT is that both involve fields of complicated mathematical entities: fields of tensors for GR and fields of operators for QFT. Simple magnitudes (scalars, mathematically) won’t cut it

    Metaphysically, one could be a Lewis-style Humean, I suppose, and absorb the complex math entities into the properties of spacetime points. But I think Humeans struggle to deal with QM entanglement; see eg Maudlin’s “Why Be A Humean?”.

    As an aside, I would have thought the process metaphysics you have supported in other posts would need a richer view of what science is essentially about (eg the dynamics of the laws, not magnitudes at spacetime points).

    3. There are no spatio-temporal locations independent of the universe.

    OK, but don’t you have to say “multiverse” instead of universe to avoid begging the question? Perhaps multi is exactly 1, perhaps not. To me, it depends not on direct observation, but rather on what our best physics commits us to.

  14. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist,

    The central idea is this: every attempt to answer metaphysical questions independent of science involves a violation of the norms of reasoning by ascribing to oneself a cognitive privilege — a deep insight into the nature of the reality — that is incontestable. In doing so one denies that one’s interlocutors are equal members on a par with oneself of the space of reasons. One, as it were, exempts oneself from having to play the game of giving and asking for reasons. Metaphysics without science is a conversation-stopper. And when the state starts taking sides in metaphysical disputes, religious wars are pretty much inevitable.

    I like this and see it as a philosophically sophisticated take on the mission of PS.

    It does not work for TSZ as presently envisioned, since TSZ’s mandate says one can park one’s priors, align on the facts, and then have no trouble aligning on worldviews. Or at least that is my cynical interpretation of it!

  15. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS:
    If ID proponents want to appeal to the supernatural, I say they are best to stick with cosmologicalfine tuning as necessary for our life-permitting universe.This fine tuning, among other things, constrains fitness landscapes to those needed for biological evolution.

    There is a scientifically and philosophically well-respected populatization by two cosmologists which was recently published.They did a podcast about it for this that prefer that medium.

    Book:
    https://www.amazon.com/Fortunate-Universe-Finely-Tuned-Cosmos/dp/1107156610/

    Podcast
    https://newbooksnetwork.com/geraint-f-lewis-and-luke-a-barnes-a-fortunate-universe-life-in-a-finely-tuned-cosmos-cambridge-up-2016/

    They see fine tuning as a real phenomenon of physics/cosmology which needs an explanation.They believe four are worth considering and do not think we are able to justify taking any as best right now:

    1.A future science will explain fine tuning (they rank this lowest).No supernaturalism.
    2.Multiverses explain fine tuning.No supernaturalism.
    3.A supernatural designer explains fine funing.
    4.The simulation hypothesis, with a non-supernatural designer, explains fine tuning.

    So, FWIW, these two cosmologists see 3 as an explanation they cannot reject on scientific grounds.Of course, philosophy is a different issue (ETA and the book covers those issues as well).

    ETA:The podcast has a bonus:not one,but two different explanations of what Boltzmann brains are and why our best science predicts you are one (or I am one and you are a figment of my imagination).The second explanation of BB’s on the podcast is the better one, so wait for it.

    Thanks for the links

  16. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    Just to be clear on cosmological fine tuning and the OP.
    I suggested this as a way to get to the heart of the matter of supernatural and science. It avoids stalemated biology-based arguments about irreducible complexity, conservation of information, injection of information for special cases like the Cambrian explosion. (Stalemated because ID theorists think math determines science; consensus science holds the reverse).

    The four possibilities — multiverse, new physics, simulation designer, supernatural designer — don’t avoid the cosmological argument for a necessary, possibly supernatural, being. But that is a purely philosophical argument, independent of science. In particular, it’s about the philosophical status of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, the possibilities of realized infinities, etc.

    Non-supernatural responses which accept the need for necessity could appeal to an always-existing multiverse as that entity or to Tegmark’s multiverse IV, ie all mathematical structures are realized as universes.

  17. phoodoo
    Ignored
    says:

    newton,

    Our best science predicts we are Boltzmann brains…

    I probably will be skipping this podcast.

  18. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo:
    newton,

    Our best science predicts we are Boltzmann brains…

    I probably will be skipping this podcast.

    “ I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.”

  19. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: But I’ve no wish to persuade anyone else from thinking otherwise if it helps them get through the day.

    What an incredibly stunted view of faith.

  20. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS: There is a scientifically and philosophically well-respected populatization by two cosmologists which was recently published.

    It’s a good book.

  21. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: The non-random require a directed/ntelligent cause…

    A directed cause is teleological, and that is forbidden.

  22. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Sand blown in a windstorm-random.
    Blatherings from Entropy-random.

    A child’s treehouse-nonrandom.
    An antelope-nonrandom.

    Windstorm has a cause…

    Entropy’s blathering was already “built in” or predetermined at the big bang 14.7 billion years ago… so it can’t be stopped or changed…😂

  23. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: A directed cause is teleological, and that is forbidden.

    It is not particular helpful without any interest how the directing takes place.

  24. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: What an incredibly stunted view of faith.

    The other side of faith has nothing much appealing to Alan… unless it comes in the form of a Bimmer M7 series…
    I personally prefer M4 Cab… It’s much more agile…Much more 😋

  25. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Sand blown in a windstorm-random.

    And yet,exactly how the Great Sand Dunes came to be . A combination of random and non-random.

  26. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: A directed cause is teleological, and that is forbidden.

    What about the effect before cause on subatomic level?

    Is that scientific or teleological?

  27. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: The other side of faith has nothing much appealing to Alan… unless it comes in the form of a Bimmer M7 series…

    The faith is that of the lender.

    I personally prefer M4 Cab… It’s much more agile…Much more

    Nice car, except for the price of upkeep.

  28. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: What about the effect before cause on subatomic level?

    So you have the design before the designer?

  29. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    newton: So you have the design before the designer?

    I wouldn’t want to deceive you…
    If there is no such thing as time (s) on the subatomic level, or they don’t matter, could you really distinguish cause and effect; what came first?

    If you don’t want to believe in the Designer, for one reason or another, just say so, and stop wasting others time… even if such a thing as time is just an illusion…however persistent…

  30. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: the Designer

    “The designer”? You mean the abrahamic god, amirite?

  31. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: If there is no such thing as time (s) on the subatomic level, or they don’t matter,

    you don’t usually refer to time as “they”.

  32. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain: “The designer”? You mean the abrahamic god, amirite?

    Is there another one ever referred to as “being” The First Cause or “being” before the time?

  33. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain: you don’t usually refer to time as “they”.

    You don’t believe in Einstein’s theory of special relativity or simply don’t understand the concept of time?
    Would you like me teach you the fundamentals?

  34. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    [Alan Fox]: But I’ve no wish to persuade anyone else from thinking otherwise if it helps them get through the day.

    Mung: What an incredibly stunted view of faith.

    Puzzled by this. but, as I remarked, I don’t possess the need. Probably not worth you trying to explain. You enjoy your faith and I’ll continue to enjoy my life without religious belief. I bear you no ill will and hope we can just live and let live.

  35. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: Would you like me teach you the fundamentals?

    Me! Teach me the fundamentals, yeah! BTW links won’t do. Has to be in your own words.

  36. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    newton: Nice car, except for the price of upkeep.

    Very nice car. Did get to drive an M3 once at Donnington Park race track at a BMW promotional event many years ago. It’s the Gran Turismo concept that sways me to the M8. Something about travelling vast distances effortlessly by road appeals. Not many places left to enjoy the experience, though.

  37. BruceS
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS:
    Scientifically, my limited understanding of the math of GR and QFT is that both involve fields of complicated mathematical entities:

    Today’s Ethan Siegel is about particles emerging from quantum fields, when they get excited.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2019/01/13/ask-ethan-how-do-quantum-fields-create-particles/#761aea6b330a

  38. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: Me! Teach me the fundamentals, yeah! BTW links won’t do. Has to be in your own words.

    Lol
    Sure…. but no spoonfeeding…

    If you are standing still and I’m driving towards you at 300 km per hour according to Einstein’s theory of relativity what happens to your time and my time?

    A: the time is ticking at the same rate for both of us
    B: the time is ticking for both of us at different rates when motion is taken into account
    C: there are different times for those who are moving and those who are standing still

    A link to the video relativity for dummies available upon request….lol

  39. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    BruceS: Today’s Ethan Siegel is about particles emerging from quantum fields, when they get excited.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2019/01/13/ask-ethan-how-do-quantum-fields-create-particles/#761aea6b330a

    Can you present this link in your own words, please?
    The new trend at TSZ…
    Sorry but it’s not my idea…
    Thanks

  40. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    newton: So you have the design before the designer?

    Sure. Sort of like before an eye can be evolved there must be an eye to evolve to. If you want to climb a mountain, you need a mountain.

  41. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: You enjoy your faith and I’ll continue to enjoy my life without religious belief.

    My faith leads me to live my life beyond just getting through the day. It has, for example, led me to go to foreign countries and interact with people who I would have otherwise given no thought to. If your life consists of just getting through the day I pity you.

  42. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung, Foreign countries, I’ve seen a few, too few to mention. I’m pleased to hear you’ve travelled. Hope it broadened your horizons.

  43. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac, I reject A and C Next!

  44. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: Sure. Sort of like before an eye can be evolved there must be an eye to evolve to. If you want to climb a mountain, you need a mountain.

    You good you!

  45. DNA_Jock
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac,

    I, too, would like you to teach me the fundamentals, especially the bit about “there is no such thing as time (s) on the subatomic level” arising from Special Relativity. Please explain in your own words. And you can skip the lame Socratic questioning — we can take space contraction, time dilation, and clock error as givens. I am asking you to explain in your own words how Special Relativity means that there is no such thing as time on the subatomic level.
    Please.

  46. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox:
    ,I reject A and C Next!

    Nuh…TIME has run out…unless you would like one more TIME?
    That would be 2 TIMES…

  47. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    DNA_Jock: I, too, would like you to teach me the fundamentals, especially the bit about “there is no such thing as time (s) on the subatomic level” arising from Special Relativity.

    Who said that? Einstein or me?

  48. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: Is there another one ever referred to as “being” The First Cause or “being” before the time?

    It is necessary for the cosmological argument that there is at least one uncaused cause. It does not specify a particular version.

    I expect most religions have a version that fits the bill.

  49. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: Would you like me teach you the fundamentals?

    Learning to write properly would be a start.

  50. DNA_Jock
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: Who said that? Einstein or me?

    Well:

    J-Mac:If there is no such thing as time (s) on the subatomic level, or they don’t matter, could you really distinguish cause and effect; what came first?

    OMagain: you don’t usually refer to time as “they”.

    J-Mac: You don’t believe in Einstein’s theory of special relativity or simply don’t understand the concept of time?
    Would you like me teach you the fundamentals?

    So that would be you.
    Einstein did refer to the difference between past, present and future as a stubbornly persistent illusion, I believe. Not the same thing at all…

    Do explain…

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