Question About The Supernatural

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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28 February 2013 18:51
 

Supernatural or miraculous events are a weird idea. (duh) Something occurs outside the province of the laws that govern that which occurs. Or something like that.

If someone wants to correct for using the two terms interchangeably please do so. As far as I know they are the same concept.

What I’m wondering is if there is a particular historical precedent or even a period in which this idea can be said to have been invented.

The earliest religions, it seems to me, had no miracles. They simply had the events of their lives and the best explanations and stories they could come up with to make sense of them. There was no suspension of the natural order as such. Some events were more rare or more extraordinary than others but nothing was supernatural. (or natural for that matter) Everything just was as it was.

Invoking the supernatural doesn’t become necessary, again by my thinking, until something like a coherent naturalistic theory emerges. There needs to be a context by which one would compare a miracle to that-which-is-not-a-miracle. Even further, naturalistic ideas would seem to need enough traction that even religious people subscribe to them.

Even the bible seems to make distinctions. People in biblical times knew how sex worked. And what death meant. And what sorts of surfaces were safe to walk on. A guy who breaks these rules is an enigma. But I don’t know if they were miracles YET. At least in the contemporary sense.

Any help?

 
burt
 
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burt
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28 February 2013 22:39
 

Definition of a Miracle: “Any sequence of coincidences involving a human being.”  Idries Shah

 
EN
 
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EN
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28 February 2013 23:26
 

I don’t think the supernatural/natural dichotomy is helpful, and I avoid it in discussions about God, faith and religion.  If nature is everything that is real, then God fits in that definition, assuming he exists. I think the distinction began to separate God from his creation. That’s OK, because if God created the universe then he is separate from it in some manner, just as I am separate from the playhouse I made my grandson. But “supernatural” gives the impression that whatever God does does not conform to any rules or laws. Thus, it becomes “magic.” I prefer to emphasize the connection between God and his creation - the laws of nature come from the nature of God, so there is a connection between the two.  “In Him we live and move and have our being.” A miracle is just something that we don’t understand yet.

 
GAD
 
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GAD
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01 March 2013 01:04
 

Origin of SUPERNATURAL
Middle English, from Medieval Latin supernaturalis, from Latin super- + natura nature
First Known Use: 15th century

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

Watch the TV show on The CW, it’s one one the best shows going.

 
 
Saul
 
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Saul
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02 March 2013 11:32
 

The problem is that once the laws of nature began to be discovered philosophers and theologians were unable to reconcile it with their depiction of a monotheistic god. It was this problem that led to the retardation of the scientific endeavors of Islam in the 11th and 12th centuries. Philosophers decided that laws of nature ‘bound the hands of god’ and so popular opinion among the intellectuals and scholars swayed against scientific enterprise. This philosophy pervaded Europe for along time but luckily some were able to move past it and develop new scientific concepts. When the evidence for these ideas became overwhelming philosophers had to do a re-think of what a ‘god’ was and so they began to say that god was outside the laws of nature thus protecting it from our growing understanding of an ordered world. As this was going on many events believed to be true and historical came into conflict with our growing understanding of the natural world and so were put into the realm of miracle and supernatural meaning they were above and beyond natural explanation.

However within all this we must remember that though our understanding of nature was not particularly sophisticated (relative to our current understanding) there were still well known facts and laws by which the world seemed to operate and when those laws were violated they were cause for astonishment and could have been considered supernatural and miraculous because they were still suspensions of the natural order as we understood them.

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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02 March 2013 17:32
 
Ecurb Noselrub - 28 February 2013 10:26 PM

I don’t think the supernatural/natural dichotomy is helpful, and I avoid it in discussions about God, faith and religion.  If nature is everything that is real, then God fits in that definition, assuming he exists. I think the distinction began to separate God from his creation. That’s OK, because if God created the universe then he is separate from it in some manner, just as I am separate from the playhouse I made my grandson. But “supernatural” gives the impression that whatever God does does not conform to any rules or laws. Thus, it becomes “magic.” I prefer to emphasize the connection between God and his creation - the laws of nature come from the nature of God, so there is a connection between the two.  “In Him we live and move and have our being.” A miracle is just something that we don’t understand yet.

I sort of agree. As a naturalist I have no real comprehension of something that exists outside of nature.

None-the-less religious traditions maintain and often rely upon events and persons that transcend the natural order.

If Jesus Christ really did rise from the grave after three days and subsequently ascend into heaven this was an extraordinary event for which we have no natural explanation. And which, ostensibly, will always defy our ability to concoct one.

So as long as such stories have such a powerful purchase upon our culture I think we are stuck with this dichotomy. If we prefer not to use the word supernatural, ok then, But there is that which science explains or might explain. And that which lies beyond the province of science.