Natural or Supernatural
Posted: 10 May 2008 07:18 AM   [ Ignore ]
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This is my first posting here after listening to the Tom Clarke interview on Naturalism and Supernaturalism.
He made the point that his Naturalism followed science and therefore was evidence based.
At the start D.J. asked if Tom was not being arrogant and how could he be certain the supernatural doesn’t exist - a charge Clarke denied.
In some ways I agree with Tom - that there can be no two camps, everything must be covered by science or it’s not science if science is seen as a way of explaining the universe around us.
But I would argue that the ‘supernatural’ is only labelled that because science cannot come to terms with it.
In many ways people like Tom create the supernatural because he argues that anything science cannot get to grips with therefore cannot exist. Therefore it must not be natural but super natural.
At one time I am sure humans would have seen, say, lightning as ‘supernatural’ because electricity was not understood.
Similarly meteorites falling from the sky would have been labelled supernatural and a thousand other examples of phenomena or happenings which were observed but not able to be explained by science.
I would argue that similarly much of the paranormal or stuff that’s called supernatural are natural events or phenomena that science has not yet understood.
By definition of time and understanding, Tom would surely agree that at this point in history there is bound to be a wealth of naturalness which still cannot be fathomed by science, because surely over the next hundred, thousand or ten thousand years science will still be making momentous discoveries. As always it has ever been.
So when DJ the questioner bracketed God along with the afterlife as aspects Tom’s philosophy was hoping to replace - maybe they should be left open.
It’s probably a kind of humanist blashphemy to mention it on this board, but scientific research is ongoing on whether consciousness resides within the brain and not outside - aka Near Death Experiences and mediumistic research by Professor Gary Schwartz.
Quantum physicists are theorising about parallel universes - so what if one of those universes was found by future science to be the world of the dead? Would that make it supernatural? No of course not. Everything has got to be natural.
What I’d like to ask Tom is that if he was given proof or convincing evidence for instance that ghosts do exist - would he accept that this wasn’t so much supernatural as natural he hadn’t fully previously had evidence for?
The God issue is a much larger question but cannot you humanists at least leave a little room for future discoveries to include at least some of the areas currently labelled paranormal or supernatural? I seem to recall that Sam Harris in his book The End of Faith is well open to concepts of mind which are pretty close to psychic research.
So in summary I’m agreeing there is no supernatural but that events we now see as super-normal or paranormal or super natural will one day be encompassed by science and seen as totally natural.

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