Supernatural: definition

Theology, Religious Studies, religion, god, faith and other topics of a spiritual nature.

Moderators: Marshall, owleye


Supernatural: definition

Postby Lincoln on April 28th, 2010, 9:41 am 

I'm not sure where this should go, but it started in a religious context, so I'll start here.

I was arguing with Sisyphus about the use of the word "supernatural" as part of the definition of religion. This was something along the lines of "Religion requires a belief in the supernatural."

It seems to me that there are an awful lot of questions begged in this statement and implicit definition. Let me point to three common things that one might consider to be supernatural: god, ESP and ghosts.

If one of these things (let's just pick ESP for no good reason) doesn't exist, then one could call it supernatural as in "doesn't exist in our universe." On the other hand, it's possible that ESP does exist (I don't think it likely by the way) and if it does, then supernatural isn't all that super...it just means something natural that we can't yet explain. In this context "supernatural" might mean "real, but unexplained."

Then there is the other possibility that god, ESP, and ghosts could be manifestations from some other dimension that somehow occasional phases into ours. Thus these objects do not generally exist in our universe, but have occasional connections. If that's the case, then there is some bigger metaphysical principle (and I don't mean that in the bad philosophy sense, but as a "physics that transcends our physics" sense) that can explain the interconnections.

In short, it seems to me that supernatural either means "doesn't exist at all" or "exists but is not yet explained." Either way, it's not "other worldly" or something.

Essentially, it doesn't sound like the word supernatural can be cavalierly used in this context, at least without definition. And then the definition seems to define the debate.

So, does anyone have any thoughts on the usage of the word "supernatural" when discussing topics like the ones I mentioned, which may or may not exist?
User avatar
Lincoln
Resident Expert
 
Posts: 10906
Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Location: Deep in a lab...
Likes received:32


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Sisyphus on April 28th, 2010, 10:06 am 

I only used the standard definitions, which is also what Forest Dump provided. If something, for whatever reason, does not fit the definition of a word, then that word shouldn't be used to describe it.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/supernatural

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/supernatural

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/supernatural

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religion

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/religion
User avatar
Sisyphus
Resident Member
 
Posts: 4220
Joined: 23 Aug 2007
Likes received:3
Blog: View Blog (60)


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Lincoln on April 28th, 2010, 10:12 am 

Yeah, I know you did. You did it in good faith too. But it's inadequate for the debate.

Take URL #1:

1. Of or relating to existence outside the natural world.
2. Attributed to a power that seems to violate or go beyond natural forces.
3. Of or relating to a deity.
4. Of or relating to the immediate exercise of divine power; miraculous.
5. Of or relating to the miraculous.


1. What constitutes the natural world? If there are other dimensions, science will eventually grow to encompass them.

2. "Seems to." Not very rigorous.

3. Circular when talking about the existence of god

4. Ditto

5. Antibiotics and modern surgery would have seemed miraculous to the guys on the Civil War battlefield who knew that if they were gut shot...even minorly...that they were dead.

All of this underscores the fact that the defintion of supernatural depens on ignorance more than anything else.

Just because it's in a dictionary doesn't make the definition adequate for a debate probing the very essence of the definition itself....

P.S. I'm not picking on you. But I seriously think that you don't have an interesting debate until you can come up with a definition that allows for knowledge to change. Otherwise, all you're debating is whether faith and hasty conclusions are irrational (and they are.) But that's different than specifically singling out religion. That's why I made the first response I did in your logic thread.
User avatar
Lincoln
Resident Expert
 
Posts: 10906
Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Location: Deep in a lab...
Likes received:32


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Marshall on April 28th, 2010, 11:25 am 

What does natural mean?
User avatar
Marshall
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 6912
Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Likes received:158


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Lincoln on April 28th, 2010, 11:28 am 

Fair question. I would say anything is natural if it exists in our universe and follows causality laws (liberally defined to include things like quantum mechanics.)

Of course, by our universe, this is limiting. We could expand it to include the multiverse if such a thing exists. Indeed this is precisely the goal of modern sceince.

Given that I've never seen the need to invoke mystical phenomena, natural is everything. Either that, or it's fiction.

And this is at the basis of my point here....supernatural is either fiction or simply reflects ignorance. And that doesn't bode well for a debate on the existence of god.....
User avatar
Lincoln
Resident Expert
 
Posts: 10906
Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Location: Deep in a lab...
Likes received:32


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Fuqin on April 28th, 2010, 11:31 am 

‘superior to nature’ superior in the sense that its usage always (at lest for me) seems to imply a total and successful disregard for all things considered natural.
User avatar
Fuqin
Resident Member
 
Posts: 3001
Joined: 29 May 2005
Location: The land of OZ
Blog: View Blog (2)


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Marshall on April 28th, 2010, 11:44 am 

Lincoln wrote:... natural is everything. Either that, or it's fiction.

And this is at the basis of my point here....supernatural is either fiction or simply reflects ignorance. And that doesn't bode well for a debate on the existence of god.....


That's quite clear. I think we can adopt that as a basis for discussion.

Natural is everything (as you observe) however Tillich, a top theologian, allows for religion nevertheless. There is Existence. In and of itself it has no meaning and no purpose. It is nature, or what exists, we probably cannot know it. It contains both our knowledge and our ignorance.

And we choose to give it meaning and purpose. We have the courage to find or impute meaning to Existence. We are conscious that this is an act of choice---the meaning and purpose do not come from it.

OK, Tillich was probably the most influential 20th century theologian. When he got out of Hitler Germany in 1933 he came to Union Theological in NY, Niebuhr was like his apostle and the rest is history :-D.
Anyone who wants to discuss religion in a philosophy forum has got to acknowledge a viewpoint that says
THERE IS NO SUPERNATURAL AND RELIGION DOES NOT need TO HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT.

I regard that as a prerequisite for having tolerant rational discussion of religion, at this point in history. In the view of a significant bunch of philosophers of religion and such-like, one can be deeply religious and also completely skeptical of the non-natural.

Would you agree? I'd like to hear your reservations, since it dawns on me that you are smart as hell and might have some good ones.
User avatar
Marshall
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 6912
Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Likes received:158


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Lincoln on April 28th, 2010, 11:54 am 

I dunno about smart as hell...I'm not a teenager anymore.

You have asked this question before and my answer has not changed. I believe that the definition of religion mandates irrational thought. I do not believe that spirituality mandates irrational thought although, also in my opinion, that spirituality is a psychological state that is devoid of anything fundamental, except as an interesting study in brain physiology.

But I'm a notorious naturalist.

In the context of your post, I think I would use the word "spiritual" where you use the word "religious." (And I absolutely hate it when people get hung up with arguments of the form "you used the word XX, which I define to be YY, and therefore you must mean YY as well." Sometimes one must get beyond the limitations of single words and definition. BTW, I'm not claiming you do this, but so many arguments on this board go that way. It can be really quite infuriating.)

In any event, this particular question is not the one for this thread. I am explicitly focused on the question of "does supernatural actually 'mean' anything beyond fiction or ignorance?" It seems in either case, it does not serve well as a starting term for arguments on the truth or falseness of ESP, ghosts, gods, etc.
User avatar
Lincoln
Resident Expert
 
Posts: 10906
Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Location: Deep in a lab...
Likes received:32


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Marshall on April 28th, 2010, 12:06 pm 

Lincoln wrote:In any event, this particular question is not the one for this thread. I am explicitly focused on the question of "does supernatural actually 'mean' anything beyond fiction or ignorance?" It seems in either case, it does not serve well as a starting term for arguments on the truth or falseness of ESP, ghosts, gods, etc.



Cool.
User avatar
Marshall
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 6912
Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Likes received:158


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Sisyphus on April 28th, 2010, 12:44 pm 

Lincoln wrote:I am explicitly focused on the question of "does supernatural actually 'mean' anything beyond fiction or ignorance?"

I guess that would depend on if there is actually such a thing as the supernatural. If it can't be proven that the 'supernatural' is only fiction or ignorance, then perhaps the definition still stands.

Throughout history, it's mostly true that what was once called 'supernatural' has since been identified as purely natural. Hindsight is 20/20 after all. However, there's still that realm of possibility existing within a vastly small amount of probability (probably) that something may still exist that fits the definition of the 'supernatural'. I think as long as there is a hypothetical concept of the 'supernatural' it has at least some meaning.
User avatar
Sisyphus
Resident Member
 
Posts: 4220
Joined: 23 Aug 2007
Likes received:3
Blog: View Blog (60)


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Lincoln on April 28th, 2010, 12:51 pm 

Perhaps.

Can you give me (even a hypothetical) example of something that is supernatural in the way you describe it? Something that exists, but isn't natural?

You have to recall that, as a physicist, and a particle guy at that, I live in a world of things that were once hypothetical or supposition that are now explained and subsumed within the natural world. I would find it difficult to imagine something that could not be subsumed into some future form of science.
User avatar
Lincoln
Resident Expert
 
Posts: 10906
Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Location: Deep in a lab...
Likes received:32


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Marshall on April 28th, 2010, 1:36 pm 

Sisyphus wrote: If it can't be proven that the 'supernatural' is only fiction or ignorance,...
...


Trace of a common fallacy here. No one is obliged to prove a negative, it is the default.
Modern attitude is something like: if there is no evidence for it, then it isn't interesting and after a while we just don't bother discussing it.

Bertrand Russell's teapot that orbits the sun somewhere between mars and jupiter. Can't prove there isn't one. But no empirical effect. It's part of having a good faith bonafide discussion that you don't keep bringing up Russell teapots and pink unicorns. Nobody has to disprove them.

===========

Likewise atheism is the default, unless someone offers some hard evidence of theos.

abaloneyism is the default, unless someone has hard evidence of baloney.
============

So why do people keep supposing that the word "supernatural" has any interesting meaning?

I think it is because of a widespread misconception about religion which loudly voiced by fundamentalist/authoritarian groups.

We, many of us I think, feel that religion is a serious part of us. I happen to be an atheist, from a factual and philosophical point of view, but I also seriously love and admire the universe. And I seriously ask for purpose and meaning in life. You could say I make an unbounded demand on behalf of life. If at all possible I want life to expand and become more abundant. Which it can only do by discovering and adapting to the laws of a meaningless and purposeless (but amazing and admirable) nature. Other people are religious in other ways, there are a million ways to be religious.

However the upshot is that religion is extremely basic and important to people.

But some authoritative old guys tell us that you cannot have religion without believing some kind of baloney. They constantly drum this lesson into our heads because getting people to believe dogma is an instrument of power. Once some old guy gets you to subscribe to a list of statements for which there is no evidence, you have signed away part of your ability to think, and a part of your reality is under someone else's control. Whoever can interpret the nonsense statements for you is in partial control of your reality.

We know we want religion. Some old guys use propaganda to deny us religion unless we accept some baloney (creed, irrational belief, etc). They have a power-motive to convince us we can't have religion without baloney. We become convinced that religion requires baloney.

So we eat the baloney.

This, I think, is why many people seem to cling to the idea of the non-natural. Would anyone care to disagree?
User avatar
Marshall
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 6912
Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Likes received:158


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Sisyphus on April 28th, 2010, 1:41 pm 

@Lincoln,

Hmm... I can't give a real example, obviously, but maybe a hypothetical example. Maybe a 'Super Sandwich' that can exist everywhere at once, and at every time at once. Maybe it can pass through solid matter and walk on water. Maybe it's faster than the speed of light too. It can communicate telepathically with people and animals. It can also divide by zero. Is that the sort of thing you mean? It might also be sufficient enough to merely claim a hypothetical thing as not being natural to be called 'supernatural', since there's no way to prove it as long as it remains hypothetical. It certainly makes things easier for the one claiming it.
User avatar
Sisyphus
Resident Member
 
Posts: 4220
Joined: 23 Aug 2007
Likes received:3
Blog: View Blog (60)


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Sisyphus on April 28th, 2010, 1:53 pm 

Marshall wrote:Trace of a common fallacy here. No one is obliged to prove a negative, it is the default.

True, but I'm only talking about a concept here. Perhaps the definition of 'supernatural' is describing a fallacy?

Marshall wrote:But some authoritative old guys tell us that you cannot have religion without believing some kind of baloney.

Are you sure that our definitions of words are created by some "old guys"? Or perhaps, maybe the general population creates these definitions and someone bothers to write them down in a book called a dictionary?
User avatar
Sisyphus
Resident Member
 
Posts: 4220
Joined: 23 Aug 2007
Likes received:3
Blog: View Blog (60)


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Lincoln on April 28th, 2010, 2:59 pm 

Sisyphus...

Well something that can exist everywhere at once is called the universe. It isn't localized. Ditto time.

Some things can pass through solid matter. Insects walk on water.

I'm looking for an example...even a hypothetical example...of something that (a) exists (or could exist in your hypothetical example) and (b) is somehow not part of nature.

If there is no such example, than supernatural is either non-existent or just stuff we don't understand yet.
User avatar
Lincoln
Resident Expert
 
Posts: 10906
Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Location: Deep in a lab...
Likes received:32


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Marshall on April 28th, 2010, 3:24 pm 

Sisyphus wrote:Are you sure that our definitions of words are created by some "old guys"? Or perhaps, maybe the general population creates these definitions and someone bothers to write them down in a book called a dictionary?


I don't think you got my point. I wasn't talking about dictionary definitions. I was talking about the tendency of religious hierarchs to require creeds, to identify belonging with acceptance of dogma. To be confirmed you have to memorize and recite certain factoids, or you can't wear the nice dress or suit.
It has to do with how a discussion is "framed" by tendencious words, rules, power relations etc.

Dictionary definitions are largely circular/vacuous and do not determine reality. Human behavior is what matters, including language behavior.

Sisyphus you seemed convinced that dictionary definitions matter, are decisive.
What's your perspective on 20th century philosophy?

I think it's commonly accepted that the most influential philosopher was Wittgenstein. He basically torpedoed dictionary definition in a book called Philosophical Investigations.
In that book he took the example of the word "game" and asked what is a game, how do you "define" game?

The upshot was there was no unique set of characteristics which exactly corresponded to the activities people called games.

You could not formulate a dictionary definition. You had to actually see how people used the word.

And in some cases with some words, the usage is in flux. It is dynamic. Language is alive and changes.
Words are probably a little like evolving species. I don't know, never thought about it.

So you can't nail anything down just by being able to find in some free dictionary that religion is characterized by some supernatural factor. That's not real world investigation. Just dictionary stuff.

Dictionary alone does not cut it in philosophy at the academic level (at least not when I went to college and everybody was reading Wittgenstein).

Have you any evidence to the contrary? Have things changed? Is Ludwig out the window?
User avatar
Marshall
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 6912
Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Likes received:158


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Marshall on April 28th, 2010, 3:43 pm 

I can see with my own eyes that religion (in the real world) does not need to have to do with "supernatural".

Dictionaries are at best descriptive of usage and always a bit out of date.

If dictionaries do not include some sense of religion, some usage of the word, that doesn't involve "supernatural", then they have not caught up with reality.

I can see with my own eyes churches, people in churches doing stuff we call religion, where you can take part as an atheist, because belief in supernatural is not the issue. It is about something else.
For example people call what the Unitarian church does a religion.
and it self-designates that way, and takes part in our rather excellent Theology Union as one of the component seminaries.

People who say that's not a religion are out of touch with the real world. Denial.
It's up front that a Unitarian doesn't have to believe baloney. The meaning is the use (Wittgenstein) and the word religion is applied to a creedless church, so religion does not require creed.

So yes, i think that the people who enforce creeds with a non-natural content are not dictionary makers, they are primarily people with a certain interest in maintaining established authority. "Old guys" for lack of a better term, excercising control over those who have signed on to their creed.
User avatar
Marshall
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 6912
Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Likes received:158


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Lincoln on April 28th, 2010, 4:00 pm 

Well Marshall,

First, just because there are a handful of people who claim to be religious and don't insist on a creed doesn't negate the fact that the vast, vast, majority of people who claim to be religious do adhere to some sort of creed. This is one of those cases where the exception doesn't prove the rule.

Further, as we've said before, I would claim that just because a UU person says that UU is a religion doesn't make it so. I would be willing to agree that a UU person can be religious. But since another person in that church might think something entirely differently (and also consider themselves religious) doesn't make the church itself religious. It makes it an organize that accepts multiple religions.

In the end, this turns on the definition of the word "religious." And, as we have seen, people can use words in imprecise ways and it would not be very difficult for a person to mix the correct usage of the word religious between themselves and the building they go to whenever they do.

The UU church would accept an atheist, a wiccan, a christian, a moslem, and a buddhist. None of them agree on any particulars. The UU church accepts them all and embraces them all. But, given that they disagree on the details, it is impossible to point to the "UU religion."
User avatar
Lincoln
Resident Expert
 
Posts: 10906
Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Location: Deep in a lab...
Likes received:32


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Marshall on April 28th, 2010, 4:06 pm 

You have some good points, Lincoln. But I want to get back to the main topic (which I kind of diverged from.)

The aim of your thread is to define "supernatural". Find the meaning, if any. The meaning is the use.
So we have to look at how and where the word "supernatural" is used.

I can only think of cases where the word "supernatural" is used in discussing religious creeds and works of fiction. Maybe, in fact, works of fiction is the broader category and includes religious creeds.

Can anyone think of some use of the word outside of dogma and fictional literature? What's a sample sentence using the word that falls outside that area of discussion?
User avatar
Marshall
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 6912
Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Likes received:158


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Lincoln on April 28th, 2010, 4:15 pm 

Well some people claim that ESP & ghosts are examples of the supernatural. They would also claim that they are real. Of course, the word "paranormal" is (in this context) synonymous with "supernatural" here.
User avatar
Lincoln
Resident Expert
 
Posts: 10906
Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Location: Deep in a lab...
Likes received:32


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Sisyphus on April 28th, 2010, 5:17 pm 

@Lincoln,

I probably can't come up with a sufficient example then.

Marshall wrote:Have you any evidence to the contrary? Have things changed? Is Ludwig out the window?

I'm not sure. I haven't taken any Philosophy classes yet. I have taken English classes, though. I can't imagine my English professors wanting me to use a word outside the dictionary definition, except as something like a metaphor.
User avatar
Sisyphus
Resident Member
 
Posts: 4220
Joined: 23 Aug 2007
Likes received:3
Blog: View Blog (60)


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Lincoln on April 28th, 2010, 5:38 pm 

The problem is, as Marshall states, words serve as place holders for ideas. If you're looking for rough communication, they're just fine. However for careful and nuanced discussion, often a word won't do. Sometimes it will require a paragraph or a book to explain a concept.

In the context of our earlier discussion, you (or someone) advanced the word "supernatural" as pertaining to religion. And we know that supernatural means "not of this world" or something similar. But, when looked at more closely, you could ask why is it not of this world. Does it exist in this world, but is undiscovered? Does it not exist at all? Does it exist in some other world/dimension/whatever that is either inaccessible to us in principle or for a long time?

In my three examples, there is an implicit definition and assumption that will shape the god/religion discussion.

Taking a simple and imprecise usage of the word, one could imagine god, angels, demons, whatever exist in some sort of parallel dimension and pop occasionally into ours to do something and then leave. In this case, god exists. However it would look magical in many ways. (Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.) However, is it necessarily true that this dimensional phasing would be forever forbidden to mankind? After all, if gods, angels and demons can bamph back and forth, that proves there is a conduit in principle. We don't know of any principles that are truly one way. So it seems probable that mankind would one day be able to master its own interdimensional shift. Then our scientists would start working out the laws of causality in that dimension and further the laws that transcend both dimensions. In this case, the supernatural would gradually become natural.

In any event, in this case, if a god existed (or ESP or ghosts,) it would be a natural phenomenon that was not yet discovered. In essence, supernatural would be defined as a natural phenomenon that is currently unknown to mankind. I think this is more-or-less what someone would mean in a religious context. And, assuming that this is the case, this more nuanced definition more clearly focuses the subsequent debate.

Your logic thread was really a way to state that assuming the supernatural was natural, but undiscovered, (as opposed to fiction) was dishonest. I'd just call it undisciplined and hasty. Or maybe revealing an inadequately-discerning person.

But, in any event, religion as a belief in the supernatural requires a careful definition of what it means to be supernatural. Otherwise people are using different definitions, with different assumptions, and they'll just talk past one another.

Academic discussion is very disciplined.
User avatar
Lincoln
Resident Expert
 
Posts: 10906
Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Location: Deep in a lab...
Likes received:32


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Paul Anthony on April 28th, 2010, 7:49 pm 

As I have said elsewhere (and too many times) I consider "supernatural" to be a place-holder for all the things not yet understood. Once we understand, we discover it to be natural.

And, it must be! If it can occur/exist within the confines of our world, it is by definition, "natural". Unnatural things are simply not possible in nature.

In religions, "supernatural" is used to explain the existence of things that cannot be understood. More importantly, by invoking the term we are asked to stop looking for explanations! The mystery implied by the term adds to the awe and fascination needed to give the religion a reason to exist. Once the mystery is lost, there is no attraction and no justification for "faith".

Religion is Man's fear of the unknown.
Science is Man, overcoming his fear.
User avatar
Paul Anthony
Resident Member
 
Posts: 4411
Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Location: Gilbert, AZ
Likes received:10


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Lincoln on April 28th, 2010, 8:57 pm 

Sounds like you'd agree with the "not yet known, but natural" or "fiction" dichotomy.
User avatar
Lincoln
Resident Expert
 
Posts: 10906
Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Location: Deep in a lab...
Likes received:32


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Marshall on April 28th, 2010, 9:12 pm 

Paul Anthony wrote:... and no justification for "faith".

Religion is Man's fear of the unknown.
Science is Man, overcoming his fear.


Nice two liner, Paul!

For my personal comfort I would say the same thing but change one word:

Superstition is Man's fear of the unknown.
Science is Man, overcoming his fear.

About "faith", personally I try never to use the word in a religion context. I prefer to keep it for describing
in good faith discussion and evaluation. For the scientific community to operate successfully different theories have to be tested and compared in good faith. At some point things have to be evaluated openly and fairly.
And fairness ultimately involves a subjective element. How much testing is reasonable before we throw this one out? The community has to be able to eventually reach consensus. So "in good faith" is a crucial aspect of science which is ultimately human. Authentic. Bonafide.

Applied to religious dogma I think "faith" is more a propaganda-term that bestows misplaced approval on obstinate superstition. It puts a good face on irrational belief (often inspired by fear.) Faith has the connation of loyalty, something we all feel good about. So I wouldn't call adherence to a religious creed a "faith".
I think there's a higher loyalty is to ethical principles, to reason, tolerance, independence of mind, honesty, rather than to superstition. But I don't know anyone who isn't somehow a mix
User avatar
Marshall
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 6912
Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Likes received:158


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Paul Anthony on April 28th, 2010, 9:52 pm 

Marshall wrote:
Paul Anthony wrote:
Religion is Man's fear of the unknown.
Science is Man, overcoming his fear.


Nice two liner, Paul!

For my personal comfort I would say the same thing but change one word:

Superstition is Man's fear of the unknown.
Science is Man, overcoming his fear.

About "faith", personally I try never to use the word in a religion context.


Thanks! While I agree that superstition fits nicely and encompasses more than just Religion, I think separating "faith" from religion would be difficult.

Webster’s defines religion as (1): the service and worship of God or the supernatural; (2): devotion to a religious faith; (3): an organized system of faith and worship.

So we can see that religion can mean faith in God. Or it can mean faith in Satan, or faith in anything "supernatural". And all organized religions, regardless of whom or what they worship, require their members to be devoted to a strictly organized way of worshiping. "Faith" in religion is something imposed upon the believer as a prerequisite for membership, whereas "faith" in science (or in friendships) is based upon a decision made by the individual for (hopefully) rational reasons. Unfortunately, many words hold multiple (and sometimes contradictory) meanings. Religion has a lock on the term, so maybe we should start a movement to interject a different term into the language to carry the meaning we want to convey. You start. I'll be right behind you. :)
User avatar
Paul Anthony
Resident Member
 
Posts: 4411
Joined: 10 Jul 2006
Location: Gilbert, AZ
Likes received:10


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Forest_Dump on April 29th, 2010, 6:09 am 

Pardon me but there seems to be something wrong with this picture. We have three avowed atheists and one deist (? sorry not sure where to put Paul here) trying to define faith, the supernatural and ultimately religion, in a religion thread, in a way that will best suit them. Wouldn't that be like three creationists and (a post modernist?) trying to define science and evolution in a way that best suits them? Just saying... it seems odd.
User avatar
Forest_Dump
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 8050
Joined: 31 Mar 2005
Location: Great Lakes Region
Likes received:10


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby kudayta on April 29th, 2010, 6:25 am 

Forest_Dump wrote:Pardon me but there seems to be something wrong with this picture. We have three avowed atheists and one deist (? sorry not sure where to put Paul here) trying to define faith, the supernatural and ultimately religion, in a religion thread, in a way that will best suit them. Wouldn't that be like three creationists and (a post modernist?) trying to define science and evolution in a way that best suits them? Just saying... it seems odd.


Well I don't think the thread is closed to religious people Forest. I guess once they care enough to join us, they will. I mean, unless you want to start preemptively banning religious people.
User avatar
kudayta
Active Member
 
Posts: 1093
Joined: 12 Nov 2005
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Likes received:1


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Victor on April 29th, 2010, 6:48 am 

How about faith that what one observes finitely, is infinite? We see people who are excellent servants of others, but God is better. We see really cool science, but God is cooler. We see a judge who is merciful yet just; God is more just. And so forth. God thus becomes our standard for all things. "Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect."

Science can approach infinity, but it can never get there. One must have faith in this kind of infinity. Well, that, or we imagine this point off in the distance that doesn't exist, but we still strive for it.
Victor
Banned User
 
Posts: 94
Joined: 28 Apr 2010


Re: Supernatural: definition

Postby Lincoln on April 29th, 2010, 7:14 am 

Forest...this isn't about faith. It's about what the word supernatural means. I'm perfectly happy using ESP or ghosts as much as any sort of god.

So you take a stab at it...you used the word in the other logic thread. What is supernatural? Do things move from being defined as supernatural to natural? Or once supernatural, always supernatural?

If there is something that is supernatural, really exists and can never be natural, I'd like to hear an example. Because I don't see any option other than fiction or ignorance. You're the one who gets all warm and fuzzy over things that are intrinsically and permanently not amenable to science...why don't you help us out here? Because, from my point of view, if there is a god of some kind or another, I see no reason why in principle that mankind will not one day acquire that level of power. (Well, unless the god gets a bit nervous and starts flinging lightnig bolts wllly-nilly.)

Understanding this point (if, indeed it holds up,) will be useful in shaping future debates using the word. Certainly if you ascribe to this position, it will definitely color how one debates and reveals hidden biases and assumptions.
User avatar
Lincoln
Resident Expert
 
Posts: 10906
Joined: 29 Dec 2005
Location: Deep in a lab...
Likes received:32


Next

Return to Religion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests