Is "supernatural" a useful word?
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15-08-2016, 07:39 PM
Is "supernatural" a useful word?
Merriam Webster Wrote: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)

If something exists, does that not also make it natural? I guess people who would claim to "believe in the supernatural" are saying that their definition of what's real, a.k.a. "the natural", extends into a territory which also happens violate our current understanding of natural laws, and that violation is what defines a concept as "supernatural."

In order for a concept to be considered supernatural, does it even have to "violate" natural laws, or is it sufficient enough to say "It's so improbable that I have no reason to assume it's natural"? What about Russel's Teapot? Should that fall under the definition? Should non-deterministic free will be considered supernatural?

Quote:2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature
Would that mean that for a brief period of time, "supernatural" was once an accurate way of describing things like quantum entanglement, or does something have to violate a well-established theory that specifically refers to the concept in question, before it should be deemed supernatural?

What do you guys think? Are these dictionary definitions too specific? Not specific enough? Or is your application of the term "supernatural" just kind of an "I'll know it when I see it" sort of thing.

If we came from dust, then why is there still dust?
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16-08-2016, 01:34 AM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
Quote:2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature


Well, by the first definition, it is a term useful for describing the silly beliefs some people insist on retaining despite that pesky discipline we call "science".

The second, 2A, seems perfect for describing illusions, particularly something like a magician's tricks. departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature

Beyond that...the word could probably be retired and only theists and movie announcers would notice. Big Grin
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16-08-2016, 02:45 AM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
I think that "super" is a sale's pitch for superstition-based claims... too much of a superlative.

God-claims are beneath us. They are subnatural substitious sublatives.

Dodgy

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16-08-2016, 05:24 AM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
(15-08-2016 07:39 PM)cactus Wrote:  
Merriam Webster Wrote: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)

If something exists, does that not also make it natural? I guess people who would claim to "believe in the supernatural" are saying that their definition of what's real, a.k.a. "the natural", extends into a territory which also happens violate our current understanding of natural laws, and that violation is what defines a concept as "supernatural."

In order for a concept to be considered supernatural, does it even have to "violate" natural laws, or is it sufficient enough to say "It's so improbable that I have no reason to assume it's natural"? What about Russel's Teapot? Should that fall under the definition? Should non-deterministic free will be considered supernatural?

Quote:2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature
Would that mean that for a brief period of time, "supernatural" was once an accurate way of describing things like quantum entanglement, or does something have to violate a well-established theory that specifically refers to the concept in question, before it should be deemed supernatural?

What do you guys think? Are these dictionary definitions too specific? Not specific enough? Or is your application of the term "supernatural" just kind of an "I'll know it when I see it" sort of thing.

I view it as a way of dodging evidence, to say something is supernatural means you have no reliable, scientific evidence.

You might have poor understanding of a natural phenomenon and supernatural will be a term used until you understand a phenomenon.

So supernatural is a term many people apply to something with little to no evidence or something we have little to no knowledge of.

It is a placeholder for little to no evidence and little to no knowledge.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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16-08-2016, 06:52 AM (This post was last modified: 16-08-2016 07:08 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
"Woo" is a better word.

Reminds me of the old joke about 2 Jewish ladies ... (in Jewish lady accent) ...
1. "Oh, my dear, you look fantastic"
2. "Thank you, but I've been feeling under the weather".
1. "Oh, you you should go see my doctor, she's fantastic".
2. "Oh, maybe I should if she's that good. And you Esther, what have you been up to ?"
1. "I've been going to charm (2 syllable word) school"
2. "What ?! You, going to charm school, what you learn there ?"
1. "I learned to say "fantastic" instead of "horseshit".

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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16-08-2016, 10:36 AM
Thumbs Down RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
(15-08-2016 07:39 PM)cactus Wrote:  
Merriam Webster Wrote: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)

If something exists, does that not also make it natural? I guess people who would claim to "believe in the supernatural" are saying that their definition of what's real, a.k.a. "the natural", extends into a territory which also happens violate our current understanding of natural laws, and that violation is what defines a concept as "supernatural."

In order for a concept to be considered supernatural, does it even have to "violate" natural laws, or is it sufficient enough to say "It's so improbable that I have no reason to assume it's natural"? What about Russel's Teapot? Should that fall under the definition? Should non-deterministic free will be considered supernatural?

Quote:2 a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature
Would that mean that for a brief period of time, "supernatural" was once an accurate way of describing things like quantum entanglement, or does something have to violate a well-established theory that specifically refers to the concept in question, before it should be deemed supernatural?

What do you guys think? Are these dictionary definitions too specific? Not specific enough? Or is your application of the term "supernatural" just kind of an "I'll know it when I see it" sort of thing.

Once gravity was understood under Newtonian physics. There were a few problems with that understanding, with one of the most obvious being that Mercury's orbit didn't quite obey Newtonian concepts of gravity.

Then along came Einstein and general relativity, and suddenly our notions of gravity got redefined. Newtonian gravity was still a very good approximation, but relativity was more accurate. It explained a host of phenomena that Newtonian gravity didn't, including Mercury's strange orbit.

Okay, got that? Now some questions.

Prior to Einstein reshaping modern physics, would people have described Mercury's weird orbit as supernatural? Under any or all or just some of the definitions of "supernatural?"

Would describing its orbit as supernatural have been correct?

Did whether it counted as supernatural change after Einstein and relativity came along?

....

...

..

.

Pondering these questions, I'm pretty sure a lot of it hinges on the exact, arbitrary details of how one envisions the concept of supernaturalness (if that's even a word). But on another level, it doesn't matter that much, because however we define it, we'll run into one of two problems.

Either the supernatural could easily be just some natural phenomenon we don't adequately understand, thus robbing it of any mystical surety of gods or magic or whatever and simply means "we don't understand this yet", which isn't really the POINT of having a concept of "supernatural"...

... or the supernatural is distinct from natural phenomena that we don't yet understand, in which case we can never tell the difference.

Either way, the concept lacks any practical utility. Either we can't use it for the thing it would be useful for, or we can't identify it where it might exist.

"If I ignore the alternatives, the only option is God; I ignore them; therefore God." -- The Syllogism of Fail
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16-08-2016, 10:39 AM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
But as an additional note, it WAS a useful idea at one point.

Specifically, it was useful as a way to actually do science while keeping the god-botherers largely off the scientists' backs.

"If I ignore the alternatives, the only option is God; I ignore them; therefore God." -- The Syllogism of Fail
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16-08-2016, 01:15 PM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
No. Neither is "natural".
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16-08-2016, 01:33 PM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?
I see nothing useful in this word, it's just something that believers say when one ask one question too many about their Bigfoot or whatever else they believe in.

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The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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16-08-2016, 01:50 PM
RE: Is "supernatural" a useful word?


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