The natural and the supernatural

For my next thread started simply because I have thoughts I feel compelled to share, why is there a separate and special categorization for thoughts about stuff that is imaginary, and why are those thoughts specifically protected?

First of all, what is the supernatural? It’s like the idea of separate universes. Where is this other universe, and what makes it separate from our existence? If we exist, and that other universe exists, we share the same existence.

I understand the concept of perhaps there were other “known universe”-like collections of matter or energy or whatever that formed elsewhere, separately from ours. So? That just means there’s stuff outside of the places that we know about. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. So when people talk about other universes I get a bit skeptical. Whatever you call existence, there is only one of those. Everything else is in the category of *not *being part of existence. Being very far away or on the other side of a fold in space or something doesn’t make much of a difference to me, does it exist? If so, it is part of existence. And there is no “our” existence, there’s still just the one (is it true or not?) existence.

And everything contained within that existence is part of the natural world, so to speak. Thinking beyond a planet as a “world” but speaking of our universal existence as our world, everything that is, and is real, is part of natural existence.

There’s no angels or devils out there that are supernatural. If they exist, they would therefore be natural beings. They would not be magical beings. Whatever qualities they have would fit inside the natural laws. If an angel shoots fire at you out of its ass, that’s not magic. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. It is supposed to be that way. Similarly, if there’s a deity out there conjuring things into and out of existence, this being is part of this existence as well, and a very natural part of it. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here (apparently). So that wouldn’t be magical or otherworldly either. It would be a feature of our natural universe and our natural existence. What we think of as divine power would be very much a part of the universal laws. Someone just happens to have a lot more control over it than we do.

There’s no magic. If something looks like magic, it’s a feature, not a bug. If there were people who could predict the future with perfect precision, they wouldn’t be supernatural or magical. They would then be a normal, if rare, naturally occurring feature of this universe.

And if you believe in any of this supposedly supernatural stuff, you think it’s real. Not imaginary. So you believe the natural world conforms to those set of values, and that what you imagine about the supernatural is how the universe is.

All I can really say is that you understand reality one way, involving a larger number of unknown, untested variables, and I understand reality a different way, involving only the variables that present themselves as likely possibilities, or variables that are know-able.

Put that way, it is a minor distinction. We disagree what variables are in play in the great unfinished equation that describes our universe. Big whoop.

Here’s where it becomes a big deal:

When you have laws that promote the idea of religious freedom or religious protection, saying it is perfectly okay for *your *variables to trump mine in every example where we disagree.

You may say, well, I object to the idea of gays being able to marry, because I believe this and this and that, and you can’t force me to accept the legality of other people doing things because I understand reality with these extra variables in it.

Okay, but what about protections or freedoms for people who don’t include those variables?

Why is your equation inherently better than mine?

Occam’s razor alone should point toward my equation being more likely to be the case, simply because it invokes fewer breaches with the normal and understood laws of the natural world, and requires fewer imaginative leaps and gaps to explain things.

But I’m not even saying my equation is better, I’m saying, even if we don’t take a value judgment on the reliability of either worldview, shouldn’t the starting point be that they are equally valid until proven otherwise?

Okay, so why does your equation which says the universe is like this, except with a lot more Y and Z, take precedence and get preferential treatment over my equation which has less Y and Z in it?

Why must a religious idea inherently be more respected than a non-religious one?

I’ll go one step further.

Religious and supernatural ideas are not all in agreement. If you must defer to a supernatural idea, which one do you side with?

The one that says there definitely is a devil, or the one that says the devil is not literal, or that there are many devils, or no devils?

If you have four different versions of the supernatural equation and they are in conflict, which do you choose as being the appropriate one to base your laws around?

Suppose I reframe my argument as a religious one.

Suppose I am a religiously fervent believer in the supernatural world.

My supernatural world always was, or created itself, and followed its own supernatural laws, and I believe we are finite beings.

And, I believe somewhere in the universe is a hidden treasure chest containing mysterious words that loudly proclaim that gay persons and straight persons are equal in value, and neither has the right to deny the other freedoms.

Now, my naturalist argument is a religious one.

Why does *your *religious argument need legal protection, but mine does not?

If my natural world is inferior to your supernatural one, then how about my supernatural one.

Suppose I just took my natural argument and called it all supernatural and magic and divine and faith-based, but it was the same argument.

Now are my thoughts valid enough to be legally protected?

Now, can my thoughts be of equal value to yours?

Now, can the argument be something besides “I had a thought, and it is better than yours because mine invokes divine things!”

Can we agree that my thoughts aren’t less valid than yours? And that your thoughts need no special protections whatsoever?

That the only protection you need is the freedom to have those thoughts and speak them out loud?

That your thoughts are not the law by default because a wizard said so?

Magic and Angels and similar phenomena would be supernatural. If I lift a rock with me mind instead of my muscles it is supernatural.

Nah. If you could lift a rock with your mind, that would mean the power to do so existed within the natural world, making it a natural force, rather than a supernatural force. Which is why groups such as the Theosophical Society and the Golden Dawn didn’t speak about “supernatural” powers, but about “supernormal” powers. They were trying to discover new “natural forces,” just like the scientists of their day were busy discovering electromagnetism, radioactivity and the like.

If you lift a rock with magnetism that is a natural power. If you lift a rock with your MIND that is a supernatural power.

But whatever power your mind used to lift the rock would have to exist in the natural world - and so be a natural force - for the trick to work in the first place.

Your mistake is that you are using logic. The very term supernatural by definition defies logic. It specifically says a feat achieved without natural processes.

Using logic is seldom a mistake, I think. :wink:

Anyway, the term is hardly ever used by the two groups that matter, namely a) religious folk, and b) the scholars who study them. “Supernormal,” “meta-empirical,” etc., etc. - there’s a whole bunch of good, proper terms, far better than the clunky-ass “supernatural.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard the term supernormal… I hear psychic and supernatural used all the time though.

You’ll find it - and lots of good thinking around the whole “supernatural” vs. “supernormal” thing and all that - in Alex Owen’s The Place of Enchantment: British Occultism and the Culture of the Modern, published by University of Chicago Press. Good stuff.

I thought of the perfect way to describe this:

If a member of the X-Men lifts a rock (with their mind) it is a natural process. If Doctor Strange lifts a rock with a spell, it is supernatural.

Sorry, you lost me.

Magic is by definition a power that is not physical, not normal, not of natural process. That is what I mean by supernatural and what the term means in general I think. Your point about things that appear supernatural but are just manipulates from physical means, a case like that would be a mutant with a brain that was evolved specifically to interact with nature in a new way, a new ability, with physical components that describe it’s functioning.

No. Very much no, especially to the bolded part. You seem to be entirely unaware of the concept of “natural magic” - a huge deal in Renaissance thought, and, hell, Western thought in general.

The problem is we are arguing (debating) about things that are entirely imaginary. What’s to say my interpretation is wrong???

The definitions of words are not, at all, imaginary. “Words have meanings” and all that.

Words have connotation, by connotation (to be clear) I mean a word can be used in layman terminology, the way it is most often used, and that will be different from it’s formal, academic, dictionary meaning. I wish I could think of an example to strengthen my case but I am drawing a blank. I think most people when they say supernatural mean non-physical form of magical or psychic powers.

Missed the edit window

“Decimate” is a word that has an everyday connotation and a dictionary definition that are different uses of the same word.

So then what’s the difference between “supernatural process” and “natural process whose mechanism we have not yet figured out?” And how do you distinguish between the two?