Sunday, April 21, 2013

On the supernatural

Supernatural : 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 

The definition above is taken from the online Merriam-Webster dictionary. It is quite self explanatory and simple enough, but I felt it would be needed for the specific purpose of this post. One of the advantages that the world of the supernatural has over naturalism is that it is beyond the reach of the natural world and therefore unexplainable by natural means. 

Naturalism : a theory denying that an event or object has a supernatural significance; specifically : the doctrine that scientific laws are adequate to account for all phenomena 

Naturalism on the other hand would be the opposite position of the supernatural. It implies that all phenomena can be explained by natural scientific laws. Naturalism does not except any claims on faith or unverifiable beliefs such as the existence of gods, demons, angels, or even a supernatural realm of existence beyond our ability to detect them. 

The idea or belief in the Christian God or any god for that matter, falls under the realm of the supernatural and is therefore outside the reach of science.To make matters worse it is because of this that God cannot be objectively nor empirically verified.

Empirical : capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment 
Objective : expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations 

It is because of this very reason that I don't put much stock in philosophical arguments about the biblical God, his attributes, or his origins. Jews, Muslims, and Christians all derive their ideas of what god is based on their respective so called holy texts. Judaism is the source and the two latter religions based their writings off of the first. I have always contended that man derives his ideas about gods by positing god in place of those phenomena which in their times were not yet understood naturally. 

The fact that these texts self promote by claiming within the texts themselves that they are either god breathed or in some way inspired makes these claims in my eyes even more suspicious. 

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29
 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16

"Revelation is necessarily limited to the first communication-- after that it is only an account of something which that person says was a revelation made to him; and though he may find himself obliged to believe it, it can not be incumbent on me to believe it in the same manner; for it was not a revelation made to ME, and I have only his word for it that it was made to him." Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason.

This is one fact that any logical and reasonable person will be obligated to accept regardless off their personal feelings on the matter. The Torah, Bible, or Koran are all based on revelation and it is because of this very fact that they cannot be verified. To us as Paine has stated it is no longer a revelation but hearsay. As a rational person you are not obligated to believe in someones claims of holy revelations or contact with deities etc. In our case matters are even more complicated by the fact that the various sources (persons/authors) of the myths are long gone and so their integrity about what they claimed to have seen or experienced cannot be put to the test.

Aside from the mention of some actual historical places mentioned in the scriptures and that are in fact verifiable by archeology it is still impossible to verify the miraculous claims of the events that supposedly took place in those locales. Claims like the Red Sea or the Sea of Reeds parting so that the Hebrews can cross it as if on dry land, or the collapse of the so called walls of Jericho which by the way archeology has not found any traces of these walls. They have found Jericho but the evidence does not support the claim that the city was surrounded by an impenetrable wall.

Miraculous claims themselves fall under the realm of the supernatural and therefore cannot be conclusively verified by history. The fact that they are so far back in the past and that they are not a natural, repeatable and quantifiable events makes it impossible to recover them and check them for authenticity. The supernatural realm is the most convenient place for gods to exist for the simple fact that we cannot detect it and are thus left with only one choice; and that is to accept those claims by faith alone.


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