Comments on the Supernatural

By Oskar

After around twenty failed attempts to write articles for this blog, I have decided to compile a series of my better paragraphs that can be understood alone, but I feel lend strength to one and other. Most of them are comments on the debate over the existance of the supernatural that has been continually re-raised by Reuben. While I am on that topic, I should mention that I think we should change our sub-heading, as little actual thinking seems to be going on on either side of said debate. This, I feel is a hypocritical situation, given that most of our contributions come from Reuben, supposed champion against political rhetoric. I also feel it is a bit condescending, I personally do not feel qualified to teach anyone as a superior and am equally open to and expectant of, learning from my discussions with those critical of my thoughts.

Essentially what has been repeatedly said during our discussions is that some of us think we know what we currently can’t know , while others think we don’t know what we currently can’t know (thought I’d better express it in clear English). I put myself in the latter category because I make an initial assumption that, while it is impossible to confirm something (with the possible exclusion of some mathematics [I’m up for debate on this]), we should include the most probable scenario, based on our observations of the world, as part of our working model. While this assumption is unfounded, it removes the need to assume a host of other things, so I’m going to stick with it.

Simply claiming that there are things we don’t know is a perfectly valid, even a constructive, thing to do. Claiming, on the other hand, that YOU know what others don’t, should only be done when you have some kind of evidence that makes the probability of your thoughts outweigh the probability of existing thoughts. This is not always a clear cut case, but the most dramatic shifts in our thinking are often accompanied by clear cut changes in evidence.

Claiming that things exist “beyond the material world”, is something that is difficult to substantiate with evidence (keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming article I am writing about how this might even be a paradoxical claim). The person who has come closest to the mark in doing this is, in my opinion, Plato. With this in mind I would like to suggest that any attempts to make this claim could be substantiated by speculative philosophy (still, no philosopher has really gone beyond Plato, in this respect, in the past 2400 years, so good luck with that).

I believe both sides of this argument have made repeated reference to some kind of Darwinian evolution as evidence. I feel this is quite out of place, as that is not a debate on how present biodiversity has occurred, but on the existance or lack of, of the supernatural. This is a common mistake in debates on the existence of a god, because it is often used as evidence against a literal interpretation of the bible, but it is quite removed from the supernatural debate (evolution would not be disproved if the animals being selected for and against had souls or experienced reincarnation, or if they coexisted with any number of supernatural beings). This is accepted by most theists as well and groups such as the Vatican and the church of England have made it clear that they are no longer in conflict with evolutionists.

At one stage during the heated debate in the previous post, Sanders said “we have never seen an ape change into a human”. Indeed this is true in both its literal meaning, and the meaning I believe it is clear he was intending it to have. Like all things in science, we cannot actually prove that Darwinian evolution occurs. There is certainly a very high probability of this being the way biodiversity has occurred, given current evidence, but we have no confirmation that new evidence will not arise. Like our judicial system, we must base what we accept as our reality on evidence we have available to us that proves something ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.

I feel that another point that has repeatedly been causing confusion in these discussions is the idea that logic and evidence will always agree. I believe (and history has shown) that this is not always the case. If I was to base an argument on my own assumptions, I would say that logic is, at least in part. based on our observations (in everyday situations). If we come across a non-everyday situation, the evidence we encounter may not follow our logic. Quantum undeterminism springs to mind as an example. On the other hand, logically applied reason can extend beyond our current evidence based theories and provide answers to questions yet to be evidentially confirmed, or even tried. A successful example of this is the other pillar of modern physics, Einstein’s relativity. A less successful example of applied logic is Xeno’s paradox (I know the paradox is actually based on flawed logic, but I have included it anyway because we do make wrong assumptions in our logical reasoning sometimes).

It should be noted that in the above paragraph I have used the word logic to mean something probably closer to common sense than some definitions of logic.

So there you have it.  A collection of my thoughts on the supernatural and our debate about it. Please debate, disregard, disprove, reinforce and force me to modify them as you like.



5 Responses to Comments on the Supernatural

  1. Brian says:

    “The person who has come closest to the mark in doing this is, in my opinion, Plato.”

    Except, of course, that Plato didn’t actually exist and was simply constructed to fill the void of deity by logisticians.

  2. nlthinking says:

    Pure Platonism doesn’t suggest, or even allow for a diety that effects the material world, it does, however, allows for the presence of non material existances (in the form of ideas).

    Of course there is some debate of his actual existance, as with any historical figure, but we do have some original writing credited to him and given the way he was refferenced by people like Aristotle, it seems likey that he did exist.

  3. Reuben says:

    On a semantic level, I think it’s acceptable to say that ‘science’ proves something, bearing in mind the lack of absolutism inherent in science. The problem herein is attempting to quell distractions from the main argument that would arise from this semantic short-cut.

    I also think it’s an important point you’ve raised regarding the conflation of logic and evidence. I place a higher regard on evidence than logic – because it adds substance and is more ‘real’ than abstract logic.

    Finally, disregard my Facebook note; it was written before I came here.

  4. Oskar says:

    “I place a higher regard on evidence than logic – because it adds substance and is more ‘real’ than abstract logic.”

    I am interested in why you make this claim. I agree with you, but I wonder why you personally agree with it.
    How can you say that what we sense is more real if our senses can be fooled. Logic is an internally consistent system, which is shared by all humans.

  5. Brian says:

    “Logic is an internally consistent system, which is shared by all humans.”

    You’ve obviously never met Robbert.

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