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?

1,433 thoughts on “The Science of the Supernatural

  1. J-Mac:
    I have made my views clear more than enough times…

    Really? All I’ve seen is “lol…lol…lol…[insert poorly-understood-misquote]…lol” What’s been clear to me is that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    J-Mac:
    People like Alan and you and others questioned them as unscientific.

    I question them as nonsense.

    J-Mac:
    I quote experimental scientists and world authorities, it’s not good enough…

    That’s because you have to understand the context of those quotes, and what the quoted sentences actually mean. It’s not enough if all you do is project your prejudices into those words. You have to make sure they mean what your prejudices indicate or not. More often than not, your prejudices are plainly wrong about what those scientists meant to say. You’re often missing the background behind those sentences, which makes your quoting meaningless at best, and evidence that you have no idea what these scientists were talking about. I explained to you the background behind Venter’s position, yet you didn’t read it, and I bet you would not have understood it anyway. Sorry, but your comments and OPs indicate that you lack a lot of background necessary for understanding, and that you’re amazingly unaware of these deficiencies.

    J-Mac:
    The only understanding you accept is yours, which is Darwinism…

    Knowledge of the context and background for scientists’ claims is not Darwinism, it’s called reading for comprehension, reasoning, ensuring, reasoning even more, checking scientific literature, etc. It’s about making sure that you understand the discussion, rather than allowing our prejudices to impose a meaning that’s not there.

    J-Mac:
    Who are you to question world’s most accomplished scientists?

    Before asking this question you should understand that, more often than not, we’re not questioning those “most accomplished scientists,” we’re questioning your understanding of what those “most accomplished scientists” are saying.

    J-Mac:
    Who’s Alan?

    Some guy who, unlike you, goes beyond mere quotations and projections to actually try and understand what scientists talk about, or how scientific understanding develops. hint: not by misquoting and giving prejudiced interpretations without checking the context.

    J-Mac:
    Why would continue to deceive yourself and others? Based on what? Ideology?
    Who gives a damn what and why you choose to believe something?!

    Back at you J-mac. Back at you. What makes you the ultimate authority as to what those scientists mean? Why should I believe your interpretation when I can look at the work produced by those scientists and thus have a proper context of what they mean when they question the simple-tree-models? When I understand the context and reasons for talking about multiple ancestors? When I do understand that they’re talking about deep ancestral relationships, and that their points do not apply to humans and chimps? When I understand why that’s so? Why should I ignore the data and knowledge and go for your misinterpretations?

    J-Mac:
    TSZ is supposed to be a science blog and not a feel-good-daycare for disillusioned Darwinosaurs…

    I haven’t seen any “Darwinosaur” here. I’ve seen lots of “creationistsaurs” though. So, should the blog instead be a feel-good-daycare for angry-fantasy-prone-too-full-of-themselves-self-unaware creationists like your comments make you appear to be J-Mac?

  2. J-Mac: The only understanding you accept is yours,

    That much is true. My understanding is the only one that counts. If I have to depend on someone else’s understanding, that means that I do not understand myself. And, yes, there is plenty that I do not understand. I try to avoid pontificating on what I do not understand myself.

    … , which is Darwinism…

    I am not a Darwinist.

    Who are you to question world’s most accomplished scientists? Who’s Alan?

    What you see as people questioning accomplished scientists, is really people questioning the bizarre J-Mac interpretation of accomplished scientists.

  3. phoodoo:
    What’s the cause of gravity?

    As of the latest reports I’ve read, it seems to be the space-time deformations induced by mass.

    phoodoo:
    What’s the cause of radioactive material?

    As of the latest reports I’ve read, it seems to be the instability of nuclei due to them having too many particles inside, like too many protons and neutrons.

    phoodoo:
    What’s the cause of material to a materialist?

    I don’t know if this belongs to materialists alone. I’d think this belongs to the whole of humanity, being an understanding brought about by a bunch of scientists, rather than a few-holding-to-some-particular-philosophy. Anyway, last time I checked, it was the result of energy “condensation” during the first few instances of the fast-expansion events in the Big Bang (or so). Lots of energy, randomly-thus-unevenly distributed made for higher-density of energy here and there, which, as the whole thing cooled down, allowed for the formation of electrons and protons, and thus hydrogen, and a bit of helium. Then fusion in stars, etc. For more information, and better details, check some books around the theme. They’re quite interesting to read.

  4. J-Mac: I noticed that the word “entanglement” is not used once in the entire book…
    Don’t you think it’s odd?

    No. Eddington wrote the book as a record of a series of lectures aimed at a lay audience which he gave in 1927. This was at the beginning of research into quantum mechanics.

    Here is an explanation of where the term originated.

    Schrödinger coined the term ‘entanglement’ to describe this peculiar connection between quantum systems (Schrödinger, 1935; p. 555):

    So I’m not surprised that it doesn’t show up. Also the book is not just about quantum mechanics but about the scientific world view in general at that time.

  5. If everything has a cause of it’s existence (big if), then either there must be an infinite regression of causes, or some things must be able to cause themselves to exist.

    It is at least logically possible that there are some things that do not have any causes.

  6. BruceS: 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.

    That seems right and I don’t even think you needed to introduce such recent and high-tech examples: after all, even using a simple light microscope to measure the size of a cell relies on background assumptions about the laws of optics. And one can indeed call into question the theories that underpin our measurements — and try and confirm them through yet other measurements.

    (One might think that only God could measure everything all at once.)

    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

    This comment far exceeds my limited grasp of mathematics, though I find it fascinating. The reason why I introduced extensive and intensive magnitudes was due to my own rather simplistic grasp of science (biology and geology) and of philosophy of science. So I happily defer to your expertise here. But if you’ll allow a naive question: fields of tensors and fields of operators are still what’s being measured, yes?

    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?”.

    Ehh . . . I have pretty grave reservations about Hume and about Lewis’s attempt to salvage Hume . . . I admire Hume in many respects but I think that he’s at his best when he recognizes that the Cartesian revolution cannot possibly succeed in silencing Skepticism.

    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 (e.g. the dynamics of the laws, not magnitudes at spacetime points).

    You’re quite right that my commitment to process ontology implies a commitment to thinking about the content of scientific theories as involving dynamical laws — though to be sure, I think of my commitment to process ontology as following from how I think about what scientific theories are showing us. But all I’d intended to do in invoking magnitudes at spacetime points (or intervals) was to talk about how we measure, which is crucial to how we confirm scientific theories.

    The question is, after all, this: how can we be sure that we’re modifying our models to fit the data and not modifying our data to fit our models? There’s got to be empirically tractable difference between model and data for this to make any sense, right? That means that while our data cannot be entirely free of all assumptions, they’ve got to be sufficiently free of the theory being tested, otherwise the very idea of testing a theory is nonsense.

    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.

    A lot here depends on what “our best physics” really means, because theoretical physics and experimental physics went their separate ways about twenty or so years ago.

    Suppose — just suppose — the world’s best theoretical physicists came together and said, “we have a theory that unifies general relativity and quantum field theory, but it implies that there are exactly 52 universes, and ours is number 8.” Would that move the needle for me? Maybe it would, sure, since both QFT and GR are themselves empirically confirmed theories.

    But it wouldn’t get me all the way to endorsement. Here’s my worry: I have an intuition here (and it’s just an intuition!) that there’s always going to be more than one way of unifying two different mathematical domains, but there’s only one way that reality is. So just because theoretical physicists have hit upon one way to unify two separate mathematical domains (GR and QFT), that doesn’t mean that they’ve hit upon the only correct or unique solution. To know whether their solution is correct, it’s got to be tested in some kind of experimental situation. And I really cannot see how the multiverse hypothesis can be experimentally tested, because I don’t see how we can take measurements that aren’t limited to what goes on within our own universe.

    The same point holds for the Creator hypothesis, of course.

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

    It may well be, though I haven’t looked at Peaceful Science and don’t intend to — not that I have anything against it, but that my time is limited as it is.

    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!

    I don’t think that’s cynical at all — I think you’re right that the TSZ mandate is based on a rather simplistic empiricism, and that doesn’t take into account how worldviews shape epistemic standards. And I think that the failures of empiricism are of a piece with the failures of John Stuart Mill-style liberalism (“let’s just take a deep breath, sit down, and have a nice friendly conversation”) that guided the initial vision of TSZ.

    However, Liddle wasn’t wrong in her conviction that “arguing in good faith” is necessary for contrastive metaphysics to be mutually illuminating,

  8. Rumraket:
    If everything has a cause of it’s existence (big if), then either there must be an infinite regression of causes, or some things must be able to cause themselves to exist.

    I doubt that we were talking about “causes for existence,” more about “causes” for something to happen. As in the cause/effect model. This is why I start by clarifying that cause/effect is but a model for describing how things work, and that the model is not the same as the modelled stuff.

    Understanding that these are but frameworks for understanding makes this regression bullshit go away. At some point, the framework is no longer useful. At some point we have to carefully check what we mean, ensure that we’re not assuming that “causes” are actual “agents” performing some activity so that something outside of them happens. After all, phenomena can start with internal stuff, and if we consider what we’ve studied within the universe, and described in terms of cause/effect, we’ll see that it’s all internal to the universe, thus all “causes/effects” we know about are instances of the universe rearranging itself out of the way energy flows and matter/energy interact. The universe doesn’t “cause itself.” It transforms itself because of the way things work. The cause/effect model has served apologists as a confusion/equivocation tool, instead of as a way to describe and make sense of phenomena (when appropriate).

    Rumraket:
    It is at least logically possible that there are some things that do not have any causes.

    It all depends on whether talking in those terms is no longer useful. Making sure that there’s no equivocations between concepts and referents is the first course of action. Thou shan’t take your conceptual frameworks too far.

  9. Kantian Naturalist: That seems right and I don’t even think you needed to introduce such recent and high-tech examples:

    You are right that my post was bloated by extraneous math.

    To cut to the chase: I understand you as arguing theories are confirmed by measuring magnitudes at points at spacetime.

    But I don’t think that is quite right. Any magnitudes measured are always interpreted in light of the models under consideration. Many theories can result in the same magnitudes; I think it is better to say scientists compare the interpretations of the magnitudes under different models, not the magnitudes only, and then use Inference to Best Explanation to select one of the models.

    For example, the magnitudes involved in the describing the orbit of Mercury were not under dispute; it is their interpretation under GR versus Newtonian theory that led to GR being accepted as the best model.

    So given that role for interpretation, models, and IBE, it may very well turn out that measurements of magnitudes at spacetime leads to science choosing a model requiring multiverses as the best explanation.

    Of course, we are far from that conclusion now!

  10. BruceS: But I don’t think that is quite right. Any magnitudes measured are always interpreted in light of the models under consideration. Many theories can result in the same magnitudes; I think it is better to say scientists compare the interpretations of the magnitudes under different models, not the magnitudes only, and then use Inference to Best Explanation to select one of the models.

    I like that way of putting it. I think it’s worth emphasizing that it’s not just inference to the best explanation that guides theory choice but also epistemic values such as simplicity, predictive power, fruitfulness, etc. There’s a vast literature on the role of values in science.

  11. Alan Fox: However, I am pretty sure Walto is not Sicilian, so at least you are not going for the Exacta.

    He never takes me seriously. *sob*

    Right and right.

    But don’t be sad, it’s just as well. I often take FMM seriously, but he keeps letting me down. 🙁

    E.g., in his last little discourse on luck he suggests that since finding a hundred dollar bill on the street is just good luck and not supernatural, any charm that could bring it on demand must also be natural. Tsk.

    The God stuff in that post is largely OK, but he wants God to be supernatural while ensuring that nothing else is, and doesn’t realize that he’s bringing that result about by redefining terms. It’s true that “lucky charms” don’t work. But that’s because they really aren’t supernatural. To work they’d need to be, and they aren’t so they don’t. They actually can’t work, because it would be a violation of physical laws if they did. They might “bring good luck” in the ways that I mentioned, but there’s nothing actually lucky, magical, or supernatural about those ways. So when one says “See, they really were lucky!” one is changing the meaning of the term.

    Your post was right to distinguish dream acts from dream contents/objects.

  12. walto: But don’t be sad, it’s just as well. I often take FMM seriously, but he keeps letting me down

    Could they appear worth taking seriously only because they have absorbed some internally-consistent worldview and are able to parrot its standard arguments?

  13. walto: in his last little discourse on luck he suggests that since finding a hundred dollar bill on the street is just good luck and not supernatural, any charm that could bring it on demand must also be natural. Tsk.

    No actually I suggested that if a physical object has a physical effect then there is no reason to assume the supernatural even if we don’t understand the physics behind it

    walto: The God stuff in that post is largely OK, but he wants God to be supernatural while ensuring that nothing else is

    Actually I think anything that can’t be reduced to physics is supernatural that includes things like mathematics and human beings but not necessarily rabbit’s foots.

    walto: doesn’t realize that he’s bringing that result about by redefining terms.

    Not at all, the super in supernatural simply means above and/or beyond. It does not mean spooky or silly or nonexistent.

    walto: They actually can’t work, because it would be a violation of physical laws if they did.

    I have no idea what this is supposed to mean nothing including God can violate the laws of nature. But lots of people are “lucky” (ie have better fortune than is to be expected).

    walto: They might “bring good luck” in the ways that I mentioned, but there’s nothing actually lucky, magical, or supernatural about those ways.

    Supernatural does not equal magical and luck simply means

    Quote:
    success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one’s own actions.
    end quote:

    nothing supernatural in that definition

    peace

  14. BruceS: Could they appear worth taking seriously only because they have absorbed some internally-consistent worldview and are able to parrot its standard arguments?

    Don’t the only arguments worth taking seriously have to come from an internally-consistent worldview?

    peace

  15. fifthmonarchyman:
    Don’t the only arguments worth taking seriously have to come from an internally-consistent worldview?

    No. Otherwise if you gave us a very good, self-consistent, argument, we’d have to ignore it because of the absurdity of your “worldview.” That would make the ignoring an ad hominem of sorts. Arguments should be judged on their own merits, not on the person presenting them.

  16. BruceS: Could they appear worth taking seriously only because they have absorbed some internally-consistent worldview and are able to parrot its standard arguments?

    Yes, that’s it, no doubt.

  17. fifthmonarchyman: Supernatural does not equal magical and luck simply means

    Let us agree that “supernatural” is to mean inexplicable by the best physics–now or at any time in the future. And let us also agree that a “lucky charm” does not mean something that brings good fortune by some physical properties that we don’t happen to understand, but by some supernatural process (where “supernatural” means just what I’ve stipulated above).

    Those, I believe, are the standard ways to take those concepts. Given those, please tell us what you think about the charmhood of rabbits feet and the powers of God.

  18. fifthmonarchyman: Don’t the only arguments worth taking seriously have to come from an internally-consistent worldview?

    I think it’s a point in their favor, certainly, but I’m not sure either that all or that only such arguments ought to be taken seriously. Not all, because some are puerile. Not only, because an argument from an inconsistent world view might be ingenious or daring or original in spite of that defect (which might be way, way down).

  19. Rumraket: It is at least logically possible that there are some things that do not have any causes.

    They would be supernatural though, right?

  20. Mung: They would be supernatural though, right?

    That depends on how you define the supernatural. If something without a cause is by definition supernatural, then sure.

  21. Entropy: Otherwise if you gave us a very good, self-consistent, argument, we’d have to ignore it because of the absurdity of your “worldview.”

    Absurdity is not remotely the same thing as inconsistency. I hope you understand that.

    peace

  22. walto: Let us agree that “supernatural” is to mean inexplicable by the best physics–now or at any time in the future.

    If instead of “inexplicable by physics” we said “not reducible to physics” it would be better. It’s not that physics can’t explain the supernatural. It’s a gross category error to even attempt to explain the supernatural with physics .

    walto: And let us also agree that a “lucky charm” does not mean something that brings good fortune by some physical properties that we don’t happen to understand, but by some supernatural process

    Again that is exactly the point at issue. There is absolutely no reason to assume that a rabbit’s foot is anything but a physical object. Before we agree that the rabbit’s foot works by a supernatural process you need to demonstrate that it is supernatural.

    You haven’t come close to doing that.

    walto: Those, I believe, are the standard ways to take those concepts.

    I would disagree. You are assuming with out warrant your anti-supernatural presuppositions are normative.

    You are equating supernatural with incorrect or nonexistent or perhaps to be charitable magical.

    I really have no desire in convincing you here. Life is too short

    I would just hope you would realize that your understanding is not the default and that the difference in our various understandings is the reason we will continue to talk past each other when it comes to this topic.

    peace

  23. walto: an argument from an inconsistent world view might be ingenious or daring or original in spite of that defect (which might be way, way down).

    I would argue that any true argument borrows from a consistent worldview. Whether the argue-er realizes it or not.

    It’s that failure to realize or acknowledge the source of true arguments that makes for most of the inconsistency we see in worldviews. 😉

    peace

  24. walto: Right and right.

    But don’t be sad, it’s just as well. I often take FMM seriously, but he keeps letting me down. 🙁

    E.g., in his last little discourse on luck he suggests that since finding a hundred dollar bill on the street is just good luck and not supernatural, any charm that could bring it on demand must also be natural. Tsk.

    Did he? Seems a mad idea to me.

    The God stuff in that post is largely OK, but he wants God to be supernatural while ensuring that nothing else is, and doesn’t realize that he’s bringing that result about by redefining terms. It’s true that “lucky charms” don’t work. But that’s because they really aren’t supernatural. To work they’d need to be, and they aren’t so they don’t. They actually can’t work, because it would be a violation of physical laws if they did. They might “bring good luck” in the ways that I mentioned, but there’s nothing actually lucky, magical, or supernatural about those ways. So when one says “See, they really were lucky!” one is changing the meaning of the term

    It’s human nature to hope for good luck.

    Your post was right to distinguish dream acts from dream contents/objects.

    Thanks. It’s a fundamental distinction, the one between fact and fantasy.

  25. fifthmonarchyman: It’s not that physics can’t explain the supernatural. It’s a gross category error to even attempt to explain the supernatural with physics .

    I’m not good with hypothetical scenarios. What kind of “supernatural” event is inexplicable by physics? I ask because I divide the universe that’s real from any imaginary thing, event or process that is undetectable by humans (directly or indirectly with all the tools of science at their disposal) using their best endeavours. It follows that there is nothing I know of that qualifies as supernatural. It’s an empty set as far as I can see. I’m reminded of Carl Sagan’s story “The Dragon in my Garage”.

  26. fifthmonarchyman:
    Absurdity is not remotely the same thing as inconsistency. I hope you understand that.

    Focus, fmm, focus. The point is that rejecting an argument based on the worldview of the person presenting it would be an ad hominem of sorts. Arguments should be considered on their merits, not on those of the person presenting them.

    No need to discuss this any further though. It’s too simple to deserve any further consideration. If you don’t get it, fine by me.

  27. Entropy: Focus, fmm, focus. The point is that rejecting an argument based on the worldview of the person presenting it would be an ad hominem of sorts.

    Apparently it’s you who needs to focus. We are not talking about accepting or rejecting an argument but taking an argument seriously.

    You can’t take an argument seriously if it comes from flawed premises. Inconsistency is a fatal flaw at the very base of an argument.

    Entropy: not on those of the person presenting them.

    I totally agree, we are not talking about inconsistent persons but inconsistent worldviews.

    All people are inconsistent to varying degrees. If you rejected an argument just because it came from an inconsistent person you would reject them all.

    Entropy: No need to discuss this any further though.

    I agree, my position is pretty self evident. If you reject it you reject logic itself.

    Since you can’t consistently do that I assume you are not thinking it through.

    peace

  28. Alan Fox: What kind of “supernatural” event is inexplicable by physics?

    You quoted me but your question is better presented to Walto. I have no idea what it means to even say that a supernatural event is inexplicable by physics.

    Alan Fox: I ask because I divide the universe that’s real from any imaginary thing, event or process that is using their best endeavours.

    Of course you know that how you choose to divide the universe has no bearing at all on what is or is not real.

    Alan Fox: It follows that there is nothing I know of that qualifies as supernatural.

    This is a great example of an argument that flows from an inconsistent worldview. How about you see if you can identify the glaring inconsistency.

    hint:

    The truth of your stated premise that what is real is detectable by humans (directly or indirectly with all the tools of science at their disposal) is not detectable by humans (directly or indirectly with all the tools of science at their disposal) and therefore your conclusion is false on it’s face.

    peace

  29. fifthmonarchyman: I have no idea what it means to even say that a supernatural event is inexplicable by physics.

    The supernatural is ill defined and this tends to bog these discussions down. I think we all agree that God is a supernatural agent. If we go with your definition of the supernatural as those phenomena and forces that are not reducible to physics then, by your own admission, all ideas and abstract concepts (mathematics) would also be supernatural. To me, these concepts do not qualify as supernatural phenomena, and it seems awkward to include God into this set. Don’t you feel your definition is lacking because of this?

    A related question; I have seen “natural” defined as those phenomena and forces that occur with such regularity as to appear to us to be lawlike (supernatural being its antonym). If God cannot supersede (his own) natural laws, can he still be said to be supernatural in that sense? Doesn’t his being supernatural involve intervening in the matters of us mere mortals by miracles and such?

  30. Corneel: To me, these concepts do not qualify as supernatural phenomena, and it seems awkward to include God into this set.

    It does not seem awkward at all to include God in that set It seems perfectly natural to me. We are describing things that are not reducible to physics and that is exactly what God and the things you mention are. I would say the reason things like concepts don’t qualify to you as supernatural is because you mistakenly equate supernatural with imaginary or nonexistent or if we are being charitable undetectable.

    Besides seeming awkward is a terrible reason to change a definition. Reality can seem strange at times especially to someone with limited subjective knowledge.

    Corneel: I have seen “natural” defined as those phenomena and forces that occur with such regularity as to appear to us to be lawlike (supernatural being its antonym).

    That is a crazy definition, nature often seems random and arbitrary to us. Again that is because we have a limited subjective perspective.

    Corneel: If God cannot supersede (his own) natural laws, can he still be said to be supernatural in that sense?

    Nature itself is supernatural in that sense. When your definition leads to such blatant and obvious contradictions it’s a good bet that it’s wrong.

    peace

  31. fifthmonarchyman: Of course you know that how you choose to divide the universe has no bearing at all on what is or is not real.

    Of course. I still claim I can sort the real from the imaginary. In particular, I’d like to be challenged with examples. Say, something claimed to be real that can’t be detected by any means whatsoever and something imaginary (supernatural, if you like) that does show up somehow in detectors.

  32. fifthmonarchyman: The truth of your stated premise that what is real is detectable by humans (directly or indirectly with all the tools of science at their disposal) is not detectable by humans (directly or indirectly with all the tools of science at their disposal) and therefore your conclusion is false on it’s face.

    Can it be falsified, though, by producing a counterexample.

  33. Alan Fox: I still claim I can sort the real from the imaginary.

    You can’t do that if you don’t have a consistent criteria to do so. And you don’t as has just been demonstrated

    Alan Fox: I’d like to be challenged with examples.

    We can’t move on to examples until you fix your goofy criteria.

    Alan Fox: Say, something claimed to be real that can’t be detected by any means whatsoever

    LOL,

    How about we start with the truth of your premise. It can’t be detected by any means whatsoever so by your own criteria it’s imaginary yet your whole enterprise depends on it being real.

    Take you time read that last bit over and over slowly if you don’t understand it.

    😉

    Peace

  34. Alan Fox: Can it be falsified, though, by producing a counterexample.

    No it can’t be falsified by producing a counterexample. It’s nonsense!!! The equivalent of gibberish

    It’s blatantly and obviously false on it’s very face as has been just demonstrated.

    peace

  35. fifthmonarchyman: Besides seeming awkward is a terrible reason to change a definition. Reality can seem strange at times especially to someone with limited subjective knowledge.

    Sure, but it’s a bonus if your definition overlaps with what people perceive the term to be describing. I doubt that many people think that humans or mathematics qualify as supernatural. As long as your explicit about this stuff, it’s fine with me though.

    fifthmonarchyman: That is a crazy definition, nature often seems random and arbitrary to us. Again that is because we have a limited subjective perspective.

    Are you talking about stochasticity? Or contingency? Do you perceive these to be damning to my definition? How so?

    fifthmonarchyman: Nature itself is supernatural in that sense. When your definition leads to such blatant and obvious contradictions it’s a good bet that it’s wrong.

    Well, anything that doesn’t meet the definition is not part of nature obviously, so there are no contradictions. It’s just that you don’t like to include “random and arbitrary” things to become part of the supernatural (in your interpretation), whereas humans and mathematics are fine apparently. I thought my definition came reasonably close to walto’s “inexplicable by physics, now or at any time in the future” BTW.

    Anyway, I am not trying to foist any definition upon you, but just trying to find out what you mean when by “supernatural”. Especially since God cannot violate the laws of nature according to you, which seems a bit odd for a supernatural being.

  36. Repetition isn’t a convincing argument . Are you claiming “truth” as an undetectable but nonetheless real thing?

  37. Alan Fox: Are you claiming “truth” as an undetectable but nonetheless real thing?

    No I’m claiming that your argument is self-defeating to the point of ridiculousness. As just a second of self reflection will reveal.

    come on man think

    Peace

  38. Truth does not exist in reality. Of course statements can be described as true (often when they aren’t) but truth doesn’t exist as an independent entity. Try answering “what is truth”.

  39. Corneel: Are you talking about stochasticity? Or contingency? Do you perceive these to be damning to my definition? How so?

    I’m talking about the apparent randomness we observe in nature. And yes if nature can be apparently random then it’s a problem for your definition.

    Corneel: I thought my definition came reasonably close to walto’s “inexplicable by physics, now or at any time in the future” BTW.

    I think your definitions are similar and similarly flawed

    peace

  40. fifthmonarchyman: No I’m claiming that your argument is self-defeating to the point of ridiculousness. As just a second of self reflection will reveal.

    Error is another imaginary concept. “Error exists” is a nonsense phrase that is, according to some, self-evident.

  41. fifthmonarchyman: I’m talking about the apparent randomness we observe in nature. And yes if nature can be apparently random then it’s a problem for your definition.

    But randomness in nature is accommodated by your definition? Are “random and arbitrary” processes reducible to physics?

  42. But is randomness a real concept divorced from a process described as random. I have no problem understanding a random process is real. But what is randomness? It can only be a property of some particle, field, process etc.

  43. fifthmonarchyman: I would argue that any true argument borrows from a consistent worldview. Whether the argue-er realizes it or not.

    If you mean by “true” sound. Of course, but that’s irrelevant to my post. The idea that only sound arguments are interesting or worthy of attention is silly.

  44. fifthmonarchyman: walto: Let us agree that “supernatural” is to mean inexplicable by the best physics–now or at any time in the future.

    FMM: If instead of “inexplicable by physics” we said “not reducible to physics” it would be better. It’s not that physics can’t explain the supernatural. It’s a gross category error to even attempt to explain the supernatural with physics .

    I have no problem with that.

    walto: And let us also agree that a “lucky charm” does not mean something that brings good fortune by some physical properties that we don’t happen to understand, but by some supernatural process

    FMM: Again that is exactly the point at issue. There is absolutely no reason to assume that a rabbit’s foot is anything but a physical object.

    I don’t assume that it is anything but a physical object. That’s why it isn’t actually a lucky charm. It’s just a piece of crap someone WISHES were a lucky charm.

    FMM: Before we agree that the rabbit’s foot works by a supernatural process you need to demonstrate that it is supernatural.

    You haven’t come close to doing that.

    Of course I haven’t. No one could, because they AREN’T ACTUALLY SUPERNATURAL. THEY DON’T WORK.

    walto: Those, I believe, are the standard ways to take those concepts.

    FMM: I would disagree. You are assuming with out warrant your anti-supernatural presuppositions are normative.

    You are equating supernatural with incorrect or nonexistent or perhaps to be charitable magical.

    No no no. I’ve not taken any anti-supernatural position at all. I’m sticking with your reducible to physics understanding of supernatural and have taken no position on whether there are or aren’t any such things in this thread. What’s causing trouble seems to me to be the fact that by “rabbit’s foot” you mean “something that somehow actually “brings good luck” while I mean by it “foot of a rabbit that’s been preserved and put on a key chain.”

    I claim only that if such an item were to “bring good luck” in some manner that is inexplicable by (or not reducible to) physics it would be supernatural. And that’s just what we’ve agreed those words mean, no? So I frankly don’t know what you’re arguing about here. As I’ve often said, a lot of people at TSZ just like to argue and will do it sometimes out of habit, even when people are agreeing with them.

  45. walto: I claim only that if such an item were to “bring good luck” in some manner that is inexplicable by physics it would be supernatural. And that’s just what we’ve agreed those words mean, no?

    Seems right to me.

  46. Corneel: Anyway, I am not trying to foist any definition upon you, but just trying to find out what you mean when by “supernatural”. Especially since God cannot violate the laws of nature according to you, which seems a bit odd for a supernatural being.

    I take it that on his view God isn’t contrary to the laws of nature but “above them.” It’s like a meta-language–it can’t actually contradict anything in an object language.

  47. walto: I take it that on his view God isn’t contrary to the laws of nature but “above them.” It’s like a meta-language–it can’t actually contradict anything in an object language.

    Yes, super-natural = above natural. But he also claimed that humans and mathematics were supernatural, and that doesn’t quite fit the picture, no?

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