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Author Topic:   Do we have evidence against the supernatural?
Modulous
Member (Idle past 184 days)
Posts: 7789
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


Message 31 of 106 (248450)
10-03-2005 8:30 AM
Reply to: Message 23 by Ben!
10-02-2005 5:23 PM


Getting to grips
I asked if there's any evidence AGAINST the existence of a supernatural creature.

If I'm reading you right you want to see if there is any physical evidence of the lack of existence of an entity which can hypothetically have no interaction with the physical world?

What kind of evidence would something that doesn't exist and doesn't interact with the physical world leave?

If something doesn't exist but is hypothesized to exist and interact in the natural world we can try and look for evidence of that interaction. Let us say a new force is disovered: The Wedge Antilles force. This rare force causes Yavin particle/anti-particle pairs to spring into existence and destroy stars. A very real star destroyer, that which causes death to stars. Indeed the Wedge Antilles force can be responsible for the creation Yavin systems which has a star which is one of these star destroyers, nicknamed a death star.

This specifics of the force mean it can be viewed acting near large gravitational bodies through a yellowed piece of specially polymeraized material. We make the material, we look through it at jupiter/the sun and do not see the force. The force, not being with us, is not detected and so there is evidence that something that doesn't exist, doesn't exist.

We can do this because it is proposed to interact with the natural world.

However, an entity that does not interact in the natural world neither leaves evidence for its existence nor is there an absense of evidence that should be there.

Of course, a supernatural entity that does interact with the physical world from time to time, may leave evidence of its passing. No concrete evidence of such an entity has yet been found. As such there is evidence that no such entity exists, but it can never be conclusive.


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Omnivorous
Member (Idle past 1047 days)
Posts: 3808
From: Adirondackia
Joined: 07-21-2005


Message 32 of 106 (248525)
10-03-2005 12:34 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Ben!
10-02-2005 12:10 PM


Easy one
Ben writes:

Do we have any evidence against the supernatural?

No.


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Nuggin
Member (Idle past 572 days)
Posts: 2965
From: Los Angeles, CA USA
Joined: 08-09-2005


Message 33 of 106 (248539)
10-03-2005 1:14 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Ben!
10-02-2005 12:10 PM


I'm not sure this topic makes any sense
I've read through some of the posts and it seems to be spiraling in a hundred different directions at once.

Perhaps I am wrong here, but as I understand it, you are asking basically -

"Is there any evidence for things that are supernatural in nature?"

But if that's what you're asking, it's a self destructive question.

If we had evidence for something supernatural, that evidence would have to be natural (ie we see it, we touch it, we measure it). If we have natural evidence for something, then the thing that we have evidence for is itself natural. So the presence of evidence would disqualify something as being supernatural.

We can have belief in something which is supernatural. We can have theories about something which is supernatural. We can have faith in it, or ideas about it, or reasoning behind it, etc. But these things are not evidence.

The opposite question - "Do we have evidence against something supernatural?" Has the same flaw, plus another one.

You are asking us to prove the negative. That's nearly impossible. For example, "do we have evidence against Bigfoot?" What would evidence against bigfoot be? We'd have to clearcut the entire pacific northwest and go inch by inch checking under rocks to prove that it wasn't there.

This message has been edited by Nuggin, 10-03-2005 01:17 PM


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Phat
Member
Posts: 12179
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 34 of 106 (248563)
10-03-2005 2:07 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by Chiroptera
10-02-2005 1:58 PM


Chiroptera writes:

Since one cannot disprove fairies, elves, or the Invisible Pink Unicorn, at what point do you accept that absence of evidence is evidence of absence?

Its not at what point do I? Its at what point need I?
Nuggin writes:

You are asking us to prove the negative. That's nearly impossible. For example, "do we have evidence against Bigfoot?" What would evidence against bigfoot be? We'd have to clearcut the entire pacific northwest and go inch by inch checking under rocks to prove that it wasn't there.

We need not clearcut the northwest...just allow those who have seen Bigfoot to tell us about him. Do we have to know the entire Universe in order to prove God?

This message has been edited by Phat, 10-03-2005 12:09 PM


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1.61803
Member
Posts: 2818
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004


Message 35 of 106 (248603)
10-03-2005 3:57 PM


what is supernatural?
By making a statement that " (xyz) *insert your supernatural entity preference here** does not exist". One is committing a fallacy of presumption. "Big foot does not exist."
Since every square meter of the forest on the North American continent has not and can not be simutaneously explored there is a possibility, although remote, such a animal exist.

I would like to agree with Nuggin in that the universe and all it contains is natural. But there exist within nature phenomenon that confounds physics and explaination. Does something that can not be explained through scientific methodology define it as supernatural? Are we again reduced to defining our terms and sparing with semantics? In other words, does the existance of something that is beyond the physical laws of nature make it supernatural?

Here is my short list of supernatural phenomenon that defys mathmatics and the natural laws of our cosmos.
1. Energy
2. The mind
3. Black holes / singularities
4. abiogenisis
5. randomness / uncertainty principal
6.quantum entanglement
7. gravity
8. Mersenne primes / irrational numbers

As humans continue inquiry and discovery maybe we can someday cross the "super" out of supernatural. :)


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Nuggin
Member (Idle past 572 days)
Posts: 2965
From: Los Angeles, CA USA
Joined: 08-09-2005


Message 36 of 106 (248750)
10-04-2005 12:03 AM
Reply to: Message 34 by Phat
10-03-2005 2:07 PM


You misread me
We need not clearcut the northwest...just allow those who have seen Bigfoot to tell us about him. Do we have to know the entire Universe in order to prove God?

I assume you misread me. This is what you would do the prove bigfoot / God / whatever.

I'm pointing out that it's nearly impossible to DISprove Bigfoot / God / whatever.

You can argue that it is unlikely, that it's illogical, that's there's no evidence for, but in order to disprove something we don't know exists, you'ld have to go to extreme lengths.

Do we have evidence against the supernatural? No.
Do we have evidence FOR the supernatural? No.


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Nuggin
Member (Idle past 572 days)
Posts: 2965
From: Los Angeles, CA USA
Joined: 08-09-2005


Message 37 of 106 (248751)
10-04-2005 12:10 AM
Reply to: Message 35 by 1.61803
10-03-2005 3:57 PM


Re: what is supernatural?
does the existance of something that is beyond the physical laws of nature make it supernatural?

Only if it remains beyond the physical laws.

For example - Telepathy, the ability to read someone's mind.

Currently, we'd classify telepathy as supernatural. However, let's say that we could prove that it happens. We have a test subject that can be shown to demonstrate this skill. We study this person, and discover "ESP rays" emitting from an unmapped part of the brain. We find others with similiar rays, train them and they too develop telepathy.

Telepathy has not changed, but our understanding of it has. Telepathy ceases to be supernatural and becomes natural.

Just as lightning was once caused only by God's wrath and now is caused by storms, so too will many of the "supernatural" things around us become natural with better understanding.

Now, there exists a subcatagory of supernatural things which will never become natural. These would be the supernatural things which don't really exist - "Pink Unicorns".


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 1537 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 38 of 106 (248803)
10-04-2005 8:13 AM
Reply to: Message 37 by Nuggin
10-04-2005 12:10 AM


Re: what is supernatural?
The concept that there are things that are above or outside of nature, no matter what you call it, was originally a religious based concept.
quote:
Just as lightning was once caused only by God's wrath and now is caused by storms, so too will many of the "supernatural" things around us become natural with better understanding.
So in these cases supernatural is really just a more creative word for unknown.

quote:
Now, there exists a subcatagory of supernatural things which will never become natural. These would be the supernatural things which don't really exist - "Pink Unicorns".
To me this is called imagination or fiction. Since imagination is a part of us and we are part of nature, is imagination really outside or above nature?

Gravity functions whether we generate a name, theory or law concerning it.

So anything that exists, whether we know about it or not, is part of the natural and functions whether we know about it or name it.

Therefore, IMO, nothing is outside of nature or its function, unless it doesn't trully exist outside of our imagination.


"The average man does not know what to do with this life, yet wants another one which lasts forever." --Anatole France
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Nuggin
Member (Idle past 572 days)
Posts: 2965
From: Los Angeles, CA USA
Joined: 08-09-2005


Message 39 of 106 (248824)
10-04-2005 10:46 AM
Reply to: Message 38 by purpledawn
10-04-2005 8:13 AM


Re: what is supernatural?
To me this is called imagination or fiction. Since imagination is a part of us and we are part of nature, is imagination really outside or above nature?

This is a good question. I would say that the "belief in pink unicorns" is natural, but that pink unicorns themselves are supernatural, or extranatural, or unnatural.

The secondary question here - would "pink unicorns" be supernatural if no one had imagined them? Makes my brain hurt


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 1537 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 40 of 106 (248829)
10-04-2005 11:13 AM
Reply to: Message 39 by Nuggin
10-04-2005 10:46 AM


Re: what is supernatural?
quote:
but that pink unicorns themselves are supernatural, or extranatural, or unnatural.
If the pink unicorns exist they are already part of nature, just not a part we know or understand. That doesn't make them outside of nature.

IMO, unnatural just means it goes against what we humans have deemed as natural.

quote:
would "pink unicorns" be supernatural if no one had imagined them?
If they are pure imagination, then they don't exist in our minds if no one imagines them. If they exist outside of imagination, then they are already a part of nature, IMO.

quote:
Makes my brain hurt
Agreed :)


"The average man does not know what to do with this life, yet wants another one which lasts forever." --Anatole France
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robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 41 of 106 (248836)
10-04-2005 11:44 AM


the natural system
We can ask whether there is anything that does not lie in principle within the naturalistic system. We must say "in principle" because we can't be expected to explain in detail some phenomenon that we are not very familiar with, but only need to suggest how in general it can be explained naturally (e.g., black holes can in general be explained naturally, I think).

If there was anything that we knew existed that could not be explained in general to be within the naturalistic system, then naturalism would be false.

I have the idea that naturalism is dependent on materialism. If everything is material, then it falls into the naturalistic system. Something that is not material would be "supernatural."

edit: typo

This message has been edited by robinrohan, 10-04-2005 10:45 AM


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nwr
Member
Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 42 of 106 (248839)
10-04-2005 12:13 PM
Reply to: Message 41 by robinrohan
10-04-2005 11:44 AM


Re: the natural system
robinrohan writes:

If there was anything that we knew existed that could not be explained in general to be within the naturalistic system, then naturalism would be false.


Or perhaps we would simply modify what we mean by "natural" to include this new thing.
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robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 43 of 106 (248851)
10-04-2005 1:19 PM
Reply to: Message 42 by nwr
10-04-2005 12:13 PM


Re: the natural system
Or perhaps we would simply modify what we mean by "natural" to include this new thing

This thing would need to be plausibily explained as producible by nature.

Suppose there was this spiritual being walking about. It would not fit into the system of nature.


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nwr
Member
Posts: 5585
From: Geneva, Illinois
Joined: 08-08-2005


Message 44 of 106 (248859)
10-04-2005 1:40 PM
Reply to: Message 43 by robinrohan
10-04-2005 1:19 PM


Re: the natural system
This thing would need to be plausibily explained as producible by nature.

Why would that be required?

Quasars and pulsars were accepted as part of nature before any plausible explanations were given. I seem to recall that pulsars were originally called LGM (little green men) because they were unexplained.

Suppose there was this spiritual being walking about. It would not fit into the system of nature.

I don't see why it would not fit into nature.

If there were merely assertions of such a being, with no actual physical evidence, in that case it would not fit into nature.


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robinrohan
Inactive Member


Message 45 of 106 (248873)
10-04-2005 2:23 PM
Reply to: Message 44 by nwr
10-04-2005 1:40 PM


Re: the natural system
I don't see why it would not fit into nature.

It sounds like you're saying that everything is natural by definition.

But suppose there was a god and this god made nature. Now we've got something that is supernatural. And if we've got that, we could have more, like little gods that God made out of supernatural stuff.

I would suggest that if something's spiritual it's not natural.

spiritual=not physical


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