The common fallacy of “Supernatural”
By Tom Brown
The concept of the “supernatural” is part of everyday speech and written communication and it is then assumed that there is a definite meaning which everybody is clear about. The idea is hardly ever contested it is taken as common sense and as self-evident.
People might argue or agree, and debate about whether it exists or not, the nature of it and the interpretation- of an instance as for example good or evil, and so on.
It is understood to be event (-s) which cannot occur and that are prohibited by the accepted laws of science and of “nature”.
But what does “supernatural” mean?
I maintain emphatically that there is no such thing as either “Supernatural” or as “Not supernatural”, neither in science nor in logic.
I reason as follows: Suppose I dropped my coke bottle after buying it on my tab at the café. If now, I dropped it and it fell to the floor and shattered and the guy says it’s Ok they’ll clean up I can take another one, this is seen as ordinary everyday occurrence and really nothing unusual. Whereas if that bottle bounced up and through the air into my hand we would both be very surprised indeed, and not only that we would be very upset because nobody would ever believe neither me nor the corner-shop guy we would have to keep it a secret between him and me.
What am I saying? If I say an alleged miracle did/ did not happen, it is supernatural, then honestly you are saying yourself that it is not supernatural.
Now the only reason really that no-one will believe us is “it cannot happen”. Why? “Because nobody has ever seen it happen”. The Cullinan diamond was a monster. It weighed 0.62 kg. There has not been discovered ever a diamond even half as big. It is one diamond out of millions and millions. Now. Is it supernatural?
Well there it is.
Did anybody see it happen? Does one have any clue what force, pressure and heat one would need to manufacture such a rock? It seems impossible beyond any reasonable doubt and beyond the wildest of dreams. Well it is not, there they are: Jewels of the Crown of England.
Nobody saw it. Nobody knows of anybody who saw it happen or anybody that knows anybody who saw it and there it is. No other evidence. They are there.
The point is subtle. If I want to label the Queen’s diamonds as real and happily acceptable, and a bouncing glass bottle as supernatural, no really, neither is, since something can only happen if it is indeed possible, not?
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As was claims made in the past regarding the Turin shroud for instance, now “disproved” by science by means of carbon dating.
Here we have a serious flaw in reasoning:
The “proof” that the cloth is aged about 1000 years comes from the material of the shroud itself and it is done by Carbon-14 isotope measurements.
The shroud is said thought to have happened in some unexplained event involving a powerful burst of nuclear radiation; but it has incontestably been proved that it cannot be aged 2000 years.
Funny to me!
The logic here is really badly flawed. The belief was that the material was the burial shroud of Christ, and that the image was of the resurrection, and further amongst more, that this shroud has miraculous “powers” of healing.
To me as a science graduate the latter (traditional) beliefs are the more realistic simply because there is no logical flaw. And also not hidden assumptions. For carbon dating, if you want to tell me look this happened in some powerful nuclear activity and I’ve carbon dated it thus. That nuclear event. It must have a direct influence on your carbon dating. To start off with you must have made the (common) prior (hidden) assumption that miracles are not possible. And where-as should I ascribe it to a miracle then I don’t have to bother about carbon dating at all, since it is a miracle really, and there it is.
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Should one then state that such and such happened and it is supernatural, then you have yourself already said that it did happen, so then it is in nature, and then how can it be beyond nature?
So that I feel that the divine laws of nature do not in themselves prohibit the most unusual and extraordinary occurrences, things that would immediately be accepted as beyond nature and beyond reason.