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Why I Reject a Natural/Supernatural Distinction

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  • Why I Reject a Natural/Supernatural Distinction

    Are we buying into something we shouldn't accept? http://deeperwaters.wordpress.com/20...l-distinction/

  • #2
    Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
    Are we buying into something we shouldn't accept? http://deeperwaters.wordpress.com/20...l-distinction/
    Interesting to hear a Classical Theist purporting this view. Obviously, I've heard the non-cogency of the word "supernatural" decried by naturalists (myself, included), and I've heard this view similarly espoused by pantheists, panentheists, animists, and neopagans; however, I think you are the first person I've heard that espouses this view while still holding to the Christian view of God.

    I am curious as to what you mean by your closing paragraph, though. Supernaturalism would seem to be the diametric opposite of a materialist worldview. How does the adoption of a Supernaturalist view indicate that one is "well on the way to accepting a materialist worldview?"
    "[Mathematics] is the revealer of every genuine truth, for it knows every hidden secret, and bears the key to every subtlety of letters; whoever, then, has the effrontery to pursue physics while neglecting mathematics should know from the start he will never make his entry through the portals of wisdom."
    --Thomas Bradwardine, De Continuo (c. 1325)

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    • #3
      I don't believe in triangularity! Only in Dodecohedronality.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Sparko View Post
        I don't believe in triangularity! Only in Dodecohedronality.
        Heresy! Everyone knows that Classical Pythagoreanism states triangularity is necessary to dodecahedronality!
        "[Mathematics] is the revealer of every genuine truth, for it knows every hidden secret, and bears the key to every subtlety of letters; whoever, then, has the effrontery to pursue physics while neglecting mathematics should know from the start he will never make his entry through the portals of wisdom."
        --Thomas Bradwardine, De Continuo (c. 1325)

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
          Heresy! Everyone knows that Classical Pythagoreanism states triangularity is necessary to dodecahedronality!
          Say that five times fast. I dare you.
          I DENOUNCE DONALD J. TRUMP AND ALL HIS IMMORAL ACTS.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
            Interesting to hear a Classical Theist purporting this view. Obviously, I've heard the non-cogency of the word "supernatural" decried by naturalists (myself, included), and I've heard this view similarly espoused by pantheists, panentheists, animists, and neopagans; however, I think you are the first person I've heard that espouses this view while still holding to the Christian view of God.

            I am curious as to what you mean by your closing paragraph, though. Supernaturalism would seem to be the diametric opposite of a materialist worldview. How does the adoption of a Supernaturalist view indicate that one is "well on the way to accepting a materialist worldview?"
            It's more common than you realize. JPH around here has the same viewpoint. I know other Christians who do as well and Keener has a brief argument in favor of this position in "Miracles."

            My contention in the last paragraph is that this world is too often accepted as the given and if you can't prove anything beyond this world, then just stick with this one. It also means to stick with what only science can provide evidence of, which I think atheists should also consider faulty. I have no place for scientism.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
              It's more common than you realize. JPH around here has the same viewpoint. I know other Christians who do as well and Keener has a brief argument in favor of this position in "Miracles."

              My contention in the last paragraph is that this world is too often accepted as the given and if you can't prove anything beyond this world, then just stick with this one. It also means to stick with what only science can provide evidence of, which I think atheists should also consider faulty. I have no place for scientism.
              I would start an argument based on the definition of naturalism that the universe operates according to the Laws of Nature (e.g., gravitation). Naturalism does not explain such events as my holding a book in the air, thereby breaking the Law of Gravitation, however temporarily. Why should I not call my holding up the book a supernatural act? Why not accept the premise that we human beings can be as supernatural as God is?
              The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

              [T]he truth Im after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Truthseeker View Post
                I would start an argument based on the definition of naturalism that the universe operates according to the Laws of Nature (e.g., gravitation). Naturalism does not explain such events as my holding a book in the air, thereby breaking the Law of Gravitation, however temporarily. Why should I not call my holding up the book a supernatural act? Why not accept the premise that we human beings can be as supernatural as God is?
                ...holding a book in the air doesn't break the Law of Gravitation.

                I'm really unsure what you are attempting to say, by this.
                "[Mathematics] is the revealer of every genuine truth, for it knows every hidden secret, and bears the key to every subtlety of letters; whoever, then, has the effrontery to pursue physics while neglecting mathematics should know from the start he will never make his entry through the portals of wisdom."
                --Thomas Bradwardine, De Continuo (c. 1325)

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                • #9
                  For purposes of discussion with non-theists the distinction is often necessary, although most I encounter, the honest ones anyway, usually understand that Christians view God and miracles as natural yet not always explained by known Laws of Nature.

                  In reality the burden of proof rests with whoever wants to prove God exists or doesn't exist, and neither can do that at this point. Christians always have the upper hand when debating non-theists who claim to operate by facts and science rather than faith, but proceed to state a conclusion of proof that God doesn't exist. When it is that the notion of actual proof doesn't really exist in science since new data can always arise rendering a theory false.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
                    Interesting to hear a Classical Theist purporting this view. Obviously, I've heard the non-cogency of the word "supernatural" decried by naturalists (myself, included), and I've heard this view similarly espoused by pantheists, panentheists, animists, and neopagans; however, I think you are the first person I've heard that espouses this view while still holding to the Christian view of God.
                    This was actually an extremely important theme in much of Roman Catholic theology of the 20th century. Notable authors discussing this included Henri Cardinal du Lubac, Marie-Dominique Chenu, Karl Rahner and several others. I haven't read any of this stuff in decades, but they were essentially trying to recover the real roots of patristic and medieval theology from later scholasticism.
                    βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον
                    ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

                    אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

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                    • #11
                      Phoenix,

                      Are you then saying that everything is just categorized as 'existence'? I envision this question as asking if something like the continued existence of a person's soul ( I use this without specific meaning -- but whatever would 'remain' after death) would then be categorized as the same essential aspect of 'existence' as the ground we walk on. As such we would not be talking about a spectrum of natural-vs-supernatural as a sliding scale.

                      How does the Creator-Creation distinction fit within your (implied) model? Does God fit into this 'existence' (i.e. if this is a reasonable term for you)?

                      (I thought JohnnyP's remark was interesting about the miracles as working within the natural laws -- beyond the laws that we know. Surely it would be difficult or impossible to say where God has acted within laws or if He has superseded them -- or where there is the transition. I have used the idea of a boulder on a hill which could roll at anytime; If God brought miracle forces on it, the scientist could only note that the rock rolled and where it originally sat. He could not tell that it was God's hand. )

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Boxing Pythagoras View Post
                        ...holding a book in the air doesn't break the Law of Gravitation.

                        I'm really unsure what you are attempting to say, by this.
                        You are correct, holding up the book does not break the gravitation law. The force exerted on the book to prevent its dropping to the ground is equal to the force that Earth exerts on the book (the gravity of the center of mass, to be more exact). What I meant that is, if perchance the book was free to drop to the ground, it would do so in accordance with the law. However, God or a human being can decide that he should hold the book up in the air against the constant gravitational force of Earth and do so successfully. Absent humans or intervention by God, the book will invariably drop to the ground if not already there.

                        We don't know the future; in other words, we don't know what God's plan for the universe is. Science to some extent can predict the evolution of the universe, but humans and God make the future NOT entirely predictable by virtue of their acts.

                        Why do I think every human being is not entirely predictable? Arguendo let us postulate that God is not involved in the evolution of the universe. Humans' acts nevertheless make it unpredictable to some extent, based on this argument: Every moment every human (call him or her H) has to choose whether to continue H's present course of action or change over to another course of action. For example, continue to type this post or take a break now. If you think about how you would choose what course of action to undertake the next moment, you can see that the act of choosing is never wholly predictable. It is not just that everyone's situation is always unique to himself or herself. It's as though the mind has a process that resemble flipping a coin to choose.

                        Of course H can always use reason to prune actions that clearly are wrong or inferior, at least as H sees matters, but ultimately he has to use that process of mentally flipping a coin to choose a course of action. Every moment there will always be at least two courses of action to choose between. Reason alone cannot eliminate all but one course of action.

                        Were we to study H's life, we would not only need to know his situation as he perceives it, but we cannot ever be sure of always predicting what choices he will make.

                        Note that that explains why, as more than one observer of the financial markets have asserted, nobody has ever consistently called the exact tops or bottoms of the markets. People are too unpredictable in the final analysis.
                        The greater number of laws . . . , the more thieves . . . there will be. ---- Lao-Tzu

                        [T]he truth Im after and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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                        • #13
                          But then what is God made of? Where is He? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Seems to me that a category called supernatural is the only way to place God beyond questions like this that would require science to reject Him as an incoherent concept.
                          O Gladsome Light of the Holy Glory of the Immortal Father, Heavenly, Holy, Blessed Jesus Christ! Now that we have come to the setting of the sun and behold the light of evening, we praise God Father, Son and Holy Spirit. For meet it is at all times to worship Thee with voices of praise. O Son of God and Giver of Life, therefore all the world doth glorify Thee.

                          A neat video of dead languages!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mikewhitney View Post
                            Phoenix,

                            Are you then saying that everything is just categorized as 'existence'? I envision this question as asking if something like the continued existence of a person's soul ( I use this without specific meaning -- but whatever would 'remain' after death) would then be categorized as the same essential aspect of 'existence' as the ground we walk on. As such we would not be talking about a spectrum of natural-vs-supernatural as a sliding scale.

                            How does the Creator-Creation distinction fit within your (implied) model? Does God fit into this 'existence' (i.e. if this is a reasonable term for you)?

                            (I thought JohnnyP's remark was interesting about the miracles as working within the natural laws -- beyond the laws that we know. Surely it would be difficult or impossible to say where God has acted within laws or if He has superseded them -- or where there is the transition. I have used the idea of a boulder on a hill which could roll at anytime; If God brought miracle forces on it, the scientist could only note that the rock rolled and where it originally sat. He could not tell that it was God's hand. )
                            Well Mike, for one thing at the start, I'm not even sure I think natural laws exist. That wouldn't change how I do science if I were a scientist so when we talk about breaking laws, it doesn't make sense to me.

                            Now as for God, God is not in the category of existence. He is the only one whose nature is to exist. God possesses existence by nature. Everything else possesses it by gift. That gets you the creator/creature distinction.

                            Hope that helps!

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
                              Well Mike, for one thing at the start, I'm not even sure I think natural laws exist. That wouldn't change how I do science if I were a scientist so when we talk about breaking laws, it doesn't make sense to me.

                              Now as for God, God is not in the category of existence. He is the only one whose nature is to exist. God possesses existence by nature. Everything else possesses it by gift. That gets you the creator/creature distinction.

                              Hope that helps!
                              Ok. It seems then that your view on the theory of a natural/supernatural demarcation revolves around the focal point of thoughts regarding 'natural law.' So the problem of calling something a "natural law" is that we artificially divide existence (e.g. existence of things in the creational realm) based on the distinction between normal observational phenomena and unseen realities. I would then extrapolate that the artificial divide then merely has made 'science' comfortable to those who wish to exclude the unseen realities.

                              On a different issue of the idea of natural law...
                              If I follow you, at a surface level, we can say there are observable patterns but these are incorrectly called 'natural' in the colloquial sense. This colloquial sense would be that 'nature' has an independent existence which supersedes (e.g. like an absolute law) all other options (whereas 'nature' in its root came from the concept of being born, e.g. 'created'). The improper use of 'nature' is connected with the definition from m-w.com "a creative and controlling force in the universe," as if such force were in and of itself, thus independent of God.

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