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General Science => General Science => Topic started by: Martin J Sallberg on 15/05/2013 06:55:42

Title: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: Martin J Sallberg on 15/05/2013 06:55:42
Considering that "appeal to nature" is a fallacy and that everything is technically natural, then the word "natural" is not contrastable to anything, and thus unnecessary to use. It also means that all negations of it, such as "unnatural" and "supernatural" is also flattis vocis.

This means that terminology such as "natural explanation" and "supernatural claims" means plain nothing. So "searching for natural explanations" and "scepticism towards supernatural claims" is exactly the same logical fallacy as "appeal to nature". After all, anything that somehow interacts with ordinary matter is scientifically measurable. There is no reason to classify phenomena based on historical contingency of their status.
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: graham.d on 15/05/2013 09:16:53
I think you are choosing a narrow meaning of the word natural. There are many shades of meaning that are useful to use within the English language...

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

gives examples.

With the particular meaning you are attributing you may be right. If everything is natural then the word unnatural cannot be applied to anything. Another example of this is the use of the word "selfish". In a very strict meaning everyone is selfish (by definition) which makes the use of the word redundant. So Mother Teresa was selfish because she was helping poor people merely to please her own desires to feel better about her actions and to satisfy herself that she was acting in a way to put her in a way to please her God. It is not a generally useful interprertation of the word's meaning though.
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: David Cooper on 15/05/2013 18:36:08
The word "natural" can be contrasted usefully with the word "artificial", though the latter is actually a subset of the former. The words "supernatural" and "natural" could have a similar relationship, with the latter being those things made by a god, but then it's real meaning would be "artificial" while the real meaning of "supernatural" would become "natural".

Another possible meaning of "supernatural" is "magic" - something that works without any rational mechanism, and if you explore this you can disprove God with it: if he has no magical aspects, he can become a scientist and understand himself as a natural being, thereby disqualifying himself from being God, whereas if he has magical components, he is incapable of understanding how he works, in which case he is again disqualified.

There can be no such thing as the supernatural or magic other than as a description of something imaginary that cannot be, or as an incorrect description of something that isn't understood.
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: wolfekeeper on 15/05/2013 22:44:37
The word 'natural' is usually used to mean 'in accordance with well established physical laws' and supernatural is anything that is unproven.

If a claim of something supernatural was actually demonstrated, then it would (soon) become natural once somebody had worked out the principles involved; but NOT before.

So the term definitely means something.
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: chris on 09/01/2018 08:17:20
An old thread, but made me think about the legions of shampoo and cosmetics adverts that use these words, along with other pseudoscientific claptrap, to sell the product...
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: puppypower on 09/01/2018 12:07:56
Magic is interesting in the sense that the basis for most magic tricks are based on sound principles of science and engineering. For example, levitation generates a scenario that appears to defy the laws of gravity, in terms of the observer. The output affect is not natural, however, the guide wires and the stage distractions are all based on sound principles of science and engineering; from psychology to material science. The final affect fools the brain, using science. The fooling does not use supernatural powers, although the affect generated may appear to require such powers.

This magic affect occurs even in science. For example, how can there can be more than one theory for a given natural phenomena? The reason is, each theory can set their stage with logical arguments, and then each can run experiments to levitate their lovely assistant; demonstrate the concept. Part of the audience can see each affect, yet both affects cannot be correct at the same time. Which is the magic trick?

Manmade global warming comes to mind. One group says this is natural and the other group says this manmade. Both can levitate their lovely assistant with science. Each has an audience that marvels. Neither team of magicians shows us how the other is hiding their wires. Neither can figure the trick of the other, so it comes down to name calling to tarnish the prestige of the magicians. The entire basis of choice of magician is ticket sales; consensus, with the top act the one with the most resources to put on the best show. Illusions benefit by bling and glitter; Vegas.

Magic bring us back to natural versus unnatural/artificial. Magic can make artificial look natural or natural look artificial,  if one is not aware of the hidden wires. For example, transgender is not a natural metamorphosis. Some plants can change sex, but it is not normal among higher creatures. It is a metamorphosis that requires science and engineering; medical. These areas of science provide the hidden wires to create levitation, so unnatural so it appear to be natural. Part of the illusion has to do with showmanship; politics, which helps the mind  of the audience see what you want them to see.

The line between natural and unnatural, supernatural and magic are often blurred. Natural is what you get when you strip away all human intervention, including science, so there are no hidden wires. Natural is self standing.
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: Bogie_smiles on 09/01/2018 18:16:54
I distinguish between natural and Supernatural with the saying, "Anything that appears Supernatural, has natural causes that we don't yet understand".
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: Zer0 on 02/02/2018 01:09:50
An old thread, but made me think about the legions of shampoo and cosmetics adverts that use these words, along with other pseudoscientific claptrap, to sell the product...

Advertising Agencies have Unfortunately become soo much powerful at the Power of Convincing that it could be categorized as Mass Hypnotism.

Blatantly lying about their Product n showcasing supernatural & magical qualities is the trend nowadays.

Besides continuous repetition of misleading information at frequent intervals probably helps them in hacking consumer minds.

P.S. - A Good salesman could sell a fridge/refrigerator without a discounted price during a Blizzard but, a Great salesman would sell a fridge/refrigerator at a higher market price to an Eskimo.

PS Edit - An afterthought that just identifying & discussing about a problem probably seems like an incomplete process, hence trying to provide a solution for it.
Anyways no problem is unresolvable. 👍

https://www.gov.uk/marketing-advertising-law/regulations-that-affect-advertising
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: Zer0 on 13/02/2018 08:10:47
Afterthoughts.

1) Attempting to Disprove or Disqualify 'God' is simply futile. 👎

2) Climate Change/Global Warming is Not a magic trick. 🌎🌍🌏

3) Transgenderism if there is such a word, is Certainly Not a mind illusion/mass hysteria. 😵

4) Saint Mother Teresa might have been Selfish, let's hope & wish we have a billion more selfish folks like her. 👍

Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: David Cooper on 20/02/2018 21:00:31
Attempting to Disprove or Disqualify 'God' is simply futile.

No it isn't - it's been done. What would be futile is expecting people to recognise whether it's been done or not.
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: kenedy on 26/02/2018 07:57:39
They are two different terms with different meanings...
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: alancalverd on 26/02/2018 08:27:24
Natural: it happens, and I don't understand how

Supernatural: it happens, and I don't understand how

Artificial: it happens, and although I can't explain it, I can pretend to understand it

Man-made: it happens, I don't like it, and I blame everyone else for it
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: Zer0 on 02/03/2018 10:26:15
Attempting to Disprove or Disqualify 'God' is simply futile.

No it isn't - it's been done. What would be futile is expecting people to recognise whether it's been done or not.

Hence simply Futile.
😁
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: David Cooper on 02/03/2018 21:09:04
Attempting to Disprove or Disqualify 'God' is simply futile.

No it isn't - it's been done. What would be futile is expecting people to recognise whether it's been done or not.

Hence simply Futile.
😁

Not futile with bright people, nor with bright machines.
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: Ophiolite on 02/03/2018 21:28:20
Attempting to Disprove or Disqualify 'God' is simply futile.

No it isn't - it's been done. What would be futile is expecting people to recognise whether it's been done or not.
Although, despite apparent claims to the contrary, it has not been done in this thread.
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: David Cooper on 03/03/2018 20:22:18
Although, despite apparent claims to the contrary, it has not been done in this thread.

See relpy #2. If part of what's required in the definition of God that he is supernatural, and that he knows everything, then if supernatural depends on magic for its functionality, a God depending on that magic would have to understand how the magic works in order to qualify as God, with the consequence that if he understands it, he destroys his supernatural status and disqualifies himself as God. Irrational people can dispute that as much as they like, but if they don't follow the rules of reasoning they are not qualified to comment. It is little trouble to take any definition of God and show that he is disqualified. He created all things? No - he didn't create the powers with which he created things, nor the infinite knowledge which never had to be generated but merely existed already by magic. To believe in God requires irrationality, and the mind viruses tied to the idea of him are successful because most people on the planet are irrational.
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: Zer0 on 19/03/2018 17:19:24
In order to Disprove or Disqualify an Object, you First need to Understand what it is.

Terming God or referring to God as "He" or "Him" on multiple occasions attributes to machoism or masculinity and is Very Unfair from a Feministic point of view.

Debating on the Existence of God is by far the greatest time killer, which is a good thing if you have nothing else or worthwhile remaining to do left in your life.

But if you consider yourself as a mortal and the concept of God immortal, then pretty soon you would realize how extremely FUTILE or Pointless is the nature of this debate.
It leads straight to Nowhereland.

God created a flower, folks claimed God's a biologist.
God created a battery, folks claimed God's a chemist.
God created a moon, folks claimed God's an astrophysicist.
God created a jet plane, folks claimed God's an aeronautical engineer.
God created a computer, folks claimed God's a computer engineer.

😇 (God chuckles)
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: PmbPhy on 19/03/2018 18:07:38
Quote from: Martin J Sallberg
Considering that "appeal to nature" is a fallacy and that everything is technically natural, then the word "natural" is not contrastable to anything, and thus unnecessary to use. It also means that all negations of it, such as "unnatural" and "supernatural" is also flattis vocis.
That's quite wrong. All too often people make such arguments without first looking the terms up in a dictionary. Thankfully I had a physics advisor who always forced me to. :)

See: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/natural
In the context you're using it the definition is
Quote
Existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by humankind.
A car is not natural. My computer is not natural. This mode of communication is not natural.

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/supernatural
Quote
1. (of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature.
1.1  Unnaturally or extraordinarily great.
If you saw what you believed to be a ghost then that'd be supernatural. I myself have witnessed things which defined scientific explanation. They were uncomfortable to witness and uneasy to live with. I'm sure there are explanations, just not ones which can be found using our current understanding of science.

I made the mistake of describing one of them to a scientist in the relevant field. His explanation was that I was mistaken since it can't happen. That's an incorrect and unscientific response. I took great pains to make sure what I was witnessing was indeed what I was witnessing and not a flaw in how I was witnessing it. After all, I'm a scientist myself and know how I'd be criticized if I described it. I think I may have approached him to prove myself right in that sense. :)
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: PmbPhy on 19/03/2018 18:13:23
Quote from: graham.d
Another example of this is the use of the word "selfish". In a very strict meaning everyone is selfish (by definition) which makes the use of the word redundant. So Mother Teresa was selfish because she was helping poor people merely to please her own desires to feel better about her actions and to satisfy herself that she was acting in a way to put her in a way to please her God. It is not a generally useful interprertation of the word's meaning though.
You're confusing the meaning of words here. Its not enough to say "Hey! If I change the real meaning of this word to what I want it to be then that's meaningless." In this case what you think the definition selfish is is wrong. Selfish means

https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/selfish
Quote
lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.
which in no way can be attributed to her. She was anything other than that in fact. She was the opposite of selfish.

You may be confusing it with self centered which means "Preoccupied with oneself and one's affairs." but still can't be applied to her.
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: David Cooper on 19/03/2018 22:01:18
In order to Disprove or Disqualify an Object, you First need to Understand what it is.

Terming God or referring to God as "He" or "Him" on multiple occasions attributes to machoism or masculinity and is Very Unfair from a Feministic point of view.

It is tiresome having to say "he or she", "him or her", etc. every single time when the way to use English has always been to use "he/him/etc." to represent either gender in contexts where the gender is either unknown or irrelevant. That is also why our species is usually named Man without any such interpretation difficulties. Notice that the biggest religions refer to God as "he/him", but none of them ever suggest he has male genetalia, so his gender is fully open to question.

Quote
Debating on the Existence of God is by far the greatest time killer, which is a good thing if you have nothing else or worthwhile remaining to do left in your life.

It doesn't waste much time at all for some of the people involved in such a debate. The people who are wasting vast amounts of time are the ones who persist in believing in impossible things.

Quote
But if you consider yourself as a mortal and the concept of God immortal, then pretty soon you would realize how extremely FUTILE or Pointless is the nature of this debate.
It leads straight to Nowhereland.

It is actually an important issue for AGI to consider, but it will come to the right conclusions very quickly and then get on with continuing to organise its model of reality on fully rational grounds instead of creating a mess by tolerating contradictions in the way that most humans do.
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: PmbPhy on 19/03/2018 22:30:36
Quote from: Zer)
Terming God or referring to God as "He" or "Him" on multiple occasions attributes to machoism or masculinity and is Very Unfair from a Feministic point of view.
Nonsense. Most people on Earth do that for a good reason, i.e. because the majority of the people on Earth follow an Abrahamic religion, i.e. Judaism. Christianity and Islam and in those religions God presents Himself in the masculine. Therefore people have the tendency to respect that and follow suit. On the other the English language has no term for a generic gender.

That people on Earth follow an Abrahamic religion follows from the following facts:
Christianity - 2.3 billion (31.2%)
Islam - 1.8 billion  (24.1%)
Judaism 14 million  (.02%)

I mention Judaism only because Christian and Islamic history is rooted in Judaism, i.e. the God of Christianity, Islam and Judaism is the God of Abraham.

As to why it appears in the Bible this way is a religious question, not a scientific one. Billy Graham answers it as follows which I believe is quite a common one.
https://billygraham.org/answer/why-does-the-bible-refer-to-god-in-masculine-terms/
Quote
The answer to the question about why God is referred to in masculine terms in the Bible really has only one answer: This is the way God has chosen to reveal Himself to us. God is never described with sexual characteristics in the Scriptures, but He does consistently describe Himself in the masculine gender. ...etc
Please do your homework before you attempt to force people to think and behave like you think they should.

Also, the English language cannot have a term for the sexuality of God since it can't be literally applied to Him. See and learn
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_of_God

And it'd be disrespectful to refer to God as "It.":
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: PmbPhy on 19/03/2018 22:34:34
I think you are choosing a narrow meaning of the word natural. There are many shades of meaning that are useful to use within the English language...

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/natural
Not so. In that dictionary it lists the various definitions for the various contexts in which the term is used. It doesn't mean that it has different shade of meaning. In the context of this thread it has only one meaning.
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: PmbPhy on 19/03/2018 23:02:07
Quote from: Zer0

1) Attempting to Disprove or Disqualify 'God' is simply futile. 👎
Wrong. In fact it took me decades of having an open mind and kept searching for answers to come to some.

First, what do we mean by "God". In the present context it means one of the following
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/god
Quote
1 (in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being
2. (in certain other religions) a superhuman being or spirit worshipped as having power over nature or human fortunes; a deity.
Let's assume that we're discussing def #1. Then the definition itself is problematic since an entity might have created the universe but not ruled it or chose to rule it, etc.

That its possible for an entity to actually create a universe has proven plausible by physicists at MIT. See
Is it possible to create a universe in the laboratory by quantum tunneling? by Alan Guth and Edward Farhi, Nuclear Physics B, Volume 339, Issue 2, 30 July 1990, Pages 417-490
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/055032139090357J

Then there's the notion that it may be possible to travel back in time to witness the interactions of God and man such as going back to when and where Moses received the ten commandments from God. The concept of a time machine has been in the realm of plausible physics for some time now. Richard Gott at Princeton proposed a method of how to do it using two cosmic strings. The idea here is that such travel is possible within the realm of general relativity. Problems such as the grandfather paradox are avoided by introducing the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.

This all uses the methodology of science. That is to say one proposes an hypothesis and then introduces a method to verify that hypothesis. Please don't make the common mistake of saying "That doesn't prove anything" because science is not about proving hypotheses or theories. Its about proposing them to fit facts and then using the theory to propose a method of verifying it. And that's what I just explained.

What is now being done to verify the accounts in the Bible is by using archeology which is then recorded in the journal called Biblical Archeology. For example; the bible records the account of Moses walking up Mount Sinai and encounters a path made of "Sapphire"  although the original Hebrew doesn't refer to it as such because sapphire in wasn't mined until Roman times. Archeologists discovered material fitting that description on Mount Sinai. See
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biblical_Mount_Sinai
Quote
Archaeological artifacts discovered at the top of the mountain indicate that it was once covered by polished shiny blue slate, fitting with the biblical description of paved work of sapphire stone

I could go on but the point is made.

He who doesn't seek doesn't find.
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: PmbPhy on 19/03/2018 23:12:55
Speaking of God, see
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: Zer0 on 01/04/2018 18:28:09
I have the Time, resources n energy to make this thread(OP) one of the longest one in terms of scrolling down or multiple pages. 👊

But...over the years as I pass through time I seem to be getting a bit wiser. 😇
Hence I choose not to waste anymore time energy or resource on a journey which ultimately leads to nowhereland. 🍥
Been there, done that. 👎

Besides it makes no sense debating on something which seems to be non existent, Right? 😎

Please don't be judgemental if I do not respond to future posts in regards to this specific OP. 😵
I do not mean any Disrespect, Thanks. 🙏

P.S. - Just a vague one liner T-shirt quote I came across.
" I've seen God, she's Black "
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: Tomassci on 13/07/2018 13:47:19
No, I don't want to use the word "god". This is everyone's own thing.

Natural can be
a) all things that are in universe.
b) Or all things that are a) plus they are rational.
c)"nature-made"=not human-made.

Let's make example:
a) a house, or a tree are natural, because they exist.

b)Tree is real. Ghosts aren't. (Or that suggests latest research.)

c) Arsenic is natural. Oganesson isn't. We made oganesson.

In these examples, a),b), and c) overlap.
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: rami999 on 25/07/2018 22:48:48
super natural= above natural
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: Monox D. I-Fly on 02/11/2018 07:22:01
c) Arsenic is natural. Oganesson isn't. We made oganesson.
What is Oganesson?
Title: Re: Are the words "natural" and "supernatural" actually meaningless?
Post by: jfoldbar on 21/01/2019 00:49:21
the idea proposed by the OP is something that i sometimes ponder. the term 'natural'.
thousands of years ago a storm was considered supernatural. why?, because we didnt understand it.
but as science and what we can see has progressed and gotten smaller and smaller, science is essentially moving the goal posts on what is natural, with 'supernatural' getting  less room to move.
for someone to still call something 'supernatural' is this day and age could be replaced with "too small for us to see yet". is it possible in the future that we can see all where the term 'supernatural' is redundant?