General Question

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Why does God have to be considered as supernatural?

Asked by RealEyesRealizeRealLies (30930points) July 17th, 2009

Think about it. If God really does exist, then it’s perfectly natural for God to exist. If God really created the universe, then it’s perfectly natural for that to have happened.

Nothing supernatural about it at all.

Our technology would seem supernatural to humans of a hundred years ago… just a hundred years!

But we know better. I don’t think the supernatural even CAN exist… because if it really existed, then that would be perfectly natural.

Ghosts, angels, demons, demigods… If they really are, then they really are. If they really are, then it is naturally a part of nature.

Just because we don’t understand it shouldn’t make it spooky.

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55 Answers

Jayne's avatar

Precisely my position.

Resonantscythe's avatar

I think supernatural is more of just a term for the unusual and unexplained and less as something that goes beyond nature. But there could also be the argument That God would be the cause of nature not the other way around and therefore would be beyond it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Resonantscythe

Sure, understood. But… that argument is in itself the problem. How can the unnatural create the natural, because it would be natural for that to happen if it really happened that way.

We expand our perspective on what nature really is every day. The problem is not a limitation of nature. The problem is a limitation of mans perspective on what nature really is.

whatthefluther's avatar

Supernatural can only exist in fantasy.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@whatthefluther

And so it follows that the supernatural springs from the natural (and not the other way around).

Fantasy is perfectly natural. Fantasy about the supernatural is natural. So nature creates the supernatural.

Not arguing, just following the logical conclusion of your statement.

Resonantscythe's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

This reminds about when I read about the god paradox. (can god create a sandwich so big even he can’t eat it)

And how one idea states that this paradox is not the problem, but that our lack of understanding of the subject is.

tinyfaery's avatar

Semantics. Natural has many meanings.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@tinyfaery

Agreed. So let’s define it. I suggest (and live by)...

Natural: All that is genuinely possible.

Agreed?

tinyfaery's avatar

What’s genuine?

wildpotato's avatar

Good question. Actually, I have a concrete answer for you. The idea of God as absolute in self, identity, and power has bound ideas about God and the world into a structure of thought that places God in the position of creative yet uninvolved ruler. Westerners conceptualize God as having Caesar’s characteristics: “He” is patterned on powerful humans. The most perfect humans, who generated and epitomized the Western value that power ought to be total, were the rulers of the Roman, Egyptian, and Persian Empires. Classical theism drew out the metaphysical attributes of omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence from this association, and applied them to the idea of God. This is why we think of God and God’s creations as an analog of a monarch and his subjects (this can actually also be seen in the Chinese concept of Heaven; see the intro to Monkey: Journey to the West trans. and ed. Arthur Waley, and Hu Shih [Paperback – Jan 12, 1994]). In this view God is not dependent upon creatures as known, and creatures are wholly dependent upon God as knower. God is the perfect original being; humans are inferior copies. Furthermore, since perfection and God are equivalent propositions, their characteristics are the same. So perfection also became those things that to the Western mind are a Caesar’s greatest qualities: total power, total knowledge, and total goodness, forever. The impression that God’s being rests on these absolute characteristics is thus doubly reinforced. See J.L. Mackie, “Evil and Omnipotence” in Mind 64 (1995), p. 45.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@tinyfaery

Genuine: That which is based in reality.

tinyfaery's avatar

What is reality?

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

The problem with supernatural, is it is used to explain things that the natural world cannot. Or more precisely, it is used to describe things we humans cannot perceive as part of the natural world. Penguins, platypuses and pomegranates are natural, and cannot be seen as anything but; gods, demons, ghosts, angels and the like, behave in a way that is ‘beyond natural’ or ‘beyond normal’ i.e. the paranormal. The problem with the paranormal is there is no evidence for it, and therefore, it cannot be deciphered by the scientific process. If we throw the scientific process out the window, then anything is possible, and there is nothing to keep people from believing even weirder things than they do now. If we allow the supernatural into the scientific process, then we have nothing concrete to base our knowledge on, as the evidence for the supernatural is sketchy at best, and mostly resides in anecdotes and hearsay.

I think the problem perhaps lies in the fact for humans to describe gods in a way that puts them above, or beyond human understanding, for otherwise, what’s the point of their existence? The ancient Greeks were notorious for making gods that could do many magical things, including shapeshifting, if you read the tales of Zeus and such. If gods are as fallible and imperfect as humans, why bother to worship them? Most religions speak of gods as capable of things humans cannot do, like live forever, free from pain and disease, able to perform great feats of strength and actually change the world in ways that are impossible to us puny humans.

I believe it was Arthur C. Clarke that said ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.’ So maybe gods exist as sufficiently advanced beings from a different part of the galaxy. But without proof, gods and highly advanced aliens pretending to be gods to us primitive humans are mere conjecture.

tinyfaery's avatar

According to whom?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@wildpotato

That is concrete. Thanks.

tinyfaery's avatar

Yes, words are limiting. If there were a god, it would not be limited by language and human expression.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra

Mostly agreed. Yet this question does not set out to prove or justify or falsify deity. Nor does it question the scientific method.

This question pursues the notion of whether or not the term supernatural should ever be considered. If something is a certain way, no matter how outlandish it may seem, then it must be perfectly natural for it to be that certain way.

Resonantscythe's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies As in “if it isn’t impossible, it is simply highly improbable” ?

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies of course, I was trying to follow that line of thinking, and got sidetracked. It has intrigued me enough to pose my own question about a natural god being allowed to exist in the same time frame as modern humans and I was just waiting to see what everyone else says here before I go to post it.

whatthefluther's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies….Yes, natural creates the supernatural but it exists only in the mind and not reality and that’s why it is fantasy. As you say, if something exists, it is natural.
sorry, I was away & did not read the other responses yet, of which there are many, but wanted to respond to your note….and, I’m afraid I must part again for a bit, but will return to see what transpired on your question, which is not unlike @Ivan’s question re. is there a definitive yes/no answer to gods existence. see ya….wtf

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@tinyfaery

It would seem as such. But @Resonantscythe suggests the paradox that the very same God you speak of COULD be limited by “language and human expression” if it so chose to be.

If it IS a God, then it CAN do anything. If THAT is so, then it would be perfectly natural.

wildpotato's avatar

@tinyfaery In my favorite conception of God, God is shaped by and actually dependent on what humans and other entities do. In process philosophy, God would not be God if the limit of absolutivity (and so a lack of relatedness to humans and their doings) applied. I should have added in my above response: God does not, as RealEyes put it, have to be “considered as supernatural” in the ways that I outlined. This is a conception of God that is responsible for turning many people off to thinking about God, and modern people cannot accept it if they want to take the idea of God seriously.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Resonantscythe

Whatever it is, however it is, impossible, improbable, implausible, or undeniable fact… Whatever it is, if it is, it is natural.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra

I like that term… “natural god”.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@whatthefluther

If the mind exists, then it is part of reality. If fantasy exists in a mind that exists in reality, the fantasy is part of reality… thus perfectly natural.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@wildpotato

It’s time for everyone to wake up.

fireside's avatar

I agree with the premise of God being natural.

“Supernatural” is basically just “that which we don’t currently understand”

Bluefreedom's avatar

God can be considered what anyone wants to consider him/her/it as. Many people have different ideas about God or what they refer to as a supreme being. Everyone is entitled to their own views and whatever a person believes doesn’t make them wrong, it just makes their perceptions different from others perceptions.

I have never personally considered God supernatural or natural or anything in-between for that matter. If there is a God, that’s great. If there isn’t, life will go on. One thing remains constant though and that is, whenever the subject of God comes up, it sure engenders a lot of discussion and that in itself is entertaining.

LostInParadise's avatar

If God is natural then, like all other natural objects, God would be affected by things. God would have some sort of physical memory and would therefore be changing from one moment to the next. But then how could God be perfect if He is constantly changing? If God is natural then how can God be infinite? And if God is finite then there are necessarily limits to what God can do. And this opens up the possibility of God not doing what is absolutely best, and that would make God fallible. Is that what you really want?

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i think we just apply the word “supernatural” to anything we don’t understand.

plus, even though we use ‘supernatural’ assuming that something isn’t really natural, doesn’t the word, at its simplest, mean that the word it’s describing is actually just a very natural thing? i don’t know how the word came about, so i’m just musing over it is all.

lloydbird's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies With you all the way up to the point where you state “If fantasy exists in a mind that exists in reality, the fantasy is part of reality…thus perfectly natural.”. The fantasy is not “part of reality” just by virtue of it existing in a mind. The ‘fantasizing’ is part of ‘reality’ not the fantasy itself. Although fantasizing is perfectly natural and still remains within your original ambit.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@lloydbird

Yes I see how you get that. I used to as well. I have a different perspective currently.

Fantasy is a thought. Thoughts are real. Everything in the man made world can ultimately trace its genesis back to an original thought about it. That original thought is no less real than the physical manifestation of it. So… since the original thought is real, and the fantasy is thought, then the fantasy is real regardless if it has the potential for physicality or not.

The fantasy is a quantity of immaterial information. It has an immaterial essence that can be expressed into the physical world with code. It can be described with language. How can the unreal be described?

A fantasy thought about a new bridge is no less real than a fantasy thought about a unicorn. One has the potential for physicality, the other does not. I don’t base reality upon potential for physicality alone.

But this comes from the guy who considers all lies as part of the greater absolute truth. If I’m lying, then truthfully I have lied. If that lie is believed, then truthfully that lie is believed. If that lie exists, then truthfully that lie exists. It does not make the lie correct, but it is truly a lie nonetheless.

Whacked? More than likely. But I truthfully cannot get my mind to see it any other way.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@LostInParadise

I understand your premise and how you got there. However, a couple of presuppositions that I do take issue with include…

@LostinParadise said:
“all…natural objects…affected by things”.

We cannot suppose that. The word “affect” suggests changing the foundational nature of something. A force like gravity is not “affected”. Gravity affects things, causing an effect upon them. We commonly think that mass affects gravity, but I don’t agree with this. Mass may accumulate gravity, like a bucket accumulates water, but the raw essence of gravity and water have not changed at all. Gravity continues to act predictably in concert with our formulas about it. It remains as gravity. Likewise water remains un“affected” as H2O regardless if it is liquid, steam, or ice. Temperature can effect the physical form of H2O, but it cannot affect the structure of H2O.

If it affected the structure of H2O, then it would no longer be H2O.

@LostinParadise said:
“God would have… physical memory…and would therefore be changing”.

Must we base what is natural only on the physical? As well, a dvd movie disk has a physical memory, but never changes once it is written. Code does not have to change.

@LostInParadise said:
”...how could God be perfect if He is constantly changing?”

I change as a human from day to day, but I am still perfectly human. A flower changes by the hour, but it is still perfectly a flower. H2O can change from liquid to steam to ice. It is still perfectly H2O.

@LostInParadise said:
“If God is natural then how can God be infinite?”

I suggest that infinity is a constant, thus unchanging and perfectly natural. Concepts of time and space are concepts. They change upon the whim of human notion. They predefine for nothing upon their own essence. They must be utilized as tools.

@LostInParadise said:
”...if God is finite then there are necessarily limits to what God can do”

If God was finite, then it wouldn’t adhere to the nature of the commonly accepted notions of a God, thus it would not be one. But human notions do not guide the reality of the cosmos. So however a God is, if it is, then it is perfectly natural for God to be that way.

None of it has anything to do with what I “really want”.

LostInParadise's avatar

You bend the concept of natural when you speak of something natural as being infinite. Does this infinite being have components or is it just made of a single substance? if God is a single substance then I don’t see how He could act intelligently. If He is made of components then how long does it take a component to interact with another component infinitely far away? Furthermore, if God is natural then God is subject to physical laws. We should be able to perform experiments on God and produce repeatable results. If God stands outside of other physical objects and is not changed by them in measurable ways then God could not be natural, at least as I use the term. In saying this, I am not denying free will, but free will is an emergent property that comes from components that behave deterministically.

mattbrowne's avatar

I don’t believe in the supernatural inside our system (universe/multiverse). I have faith that our universe will remain orderly without supernatural phenomena violating the (divine) order. So if there really is a God (and I believe there is) then it’s perfectly okay to hypothesize that it’s “meta-natural” for God to exist. We can’t know for sure. We’re part of the system. Our natural system. We are not part of the meta-phenomenal ‘layer’ but rather a result of it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@LostInParadise

You are correct to say that I bend the concept of natural. That is the point of this question. Concepts change over time, and we are well to let them do so, guiding them to better suit our knowledge. Forces do not change. They cannot. Otherwise they would not be the same forces. H2O is H2O. Gravity is Gravity. They are not concepts. They are elements and forces.

This concept of natural is meant to challenge commonly held misconceptions. Rather than bend God to fit nature, we should at least consider bending nature to fit God instead. As I said before, I don’t consider nature to be only that which exhibits physical properties. IF the immaterial realm does exist, then it is perfectly natural for it to exist. Nothing supernatural at all, just because we don’t understand its properties, measurable or not by physical means. If it is, then it is, quite naturally.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@mattbrowne

What is the difference between concepts of meta-natural and supernatural?

lloydbird's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies

Thank you for your considered and stimulating response.
To borrow one of your sentences for a moment – ” I understand your premise and how you got there. However, a couple of presuppositions that I do take issue with include…”

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies said;
“That original thought is no less real that the physical manifestation of it.”
This is more than a bit difficult to accept. The physical manifestation of the thought is obviously and basically ‘more’ real than just the immaterial thought that preceded it.
It is the “original thought’ plus added physicality, which would make the thought alone, less real. One exists in the realm of thought alone, the other exists in the realm of thought And the realm of reality.
This being so, your inference that ”...since the original thought is real, and the fantasy is a thought, then the fantasy is real regardless if it has the potential for physicality or not.”, is brought somewhat into question. The fantasy is real but only in the sense that it exists in the mind, and can only do so within that limitation. In the realm of paradoxical thought, similar to the “True lies” that you later refer to.

Perhaps an exploration of the difference between ‘Realistic Fantasy’ and ‘Unrealistic Fantasy’ might be of help.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies said:
“But this comes from a guy that considers all lies as part of the greater absolute truth.”
No,no,no and (with respect) NO! The most essential and important thing about
‘Absolute Truth’ is that it does not and indeed cannot contain any “lies” or ‘Untruths’ within itself. Impossible. The presence of an iota of ‘Falsehood’ would render ‘Absolute Truth’ less than ‘Absolute’.
Yes ,one can “truthfully lie”, and lies can be “truthfully believed”, but lies cannot be any part of “Absolute Truth’. It is only the existence of ‘Absolute Truth’ that creates the possibility for any lies to exist at all.

Finally, what of my fantasy of a structurally realizable bridge made out of Unicorn horns?
(-:

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@lloydbird

Before the invention of the electroencephalogram, any notion about the existence of brainwaves would have been considered as fantasy. In fact, are not fantasy and hypothesis practically the same things… mere thoughts about what if?

Genetics is rapidly moving towards customized genome technology. Let’s fantasize that a rhinoceros horn is genetically implanted into a horse DNA. My fantasy is a current reality only in my mind. Some would require supernatural intervention to realize the physicality of such an event. If (when) genetics is capable of producing such a combination, my fantasy will be real in my mind, and in the physical realm with no supernatural intervention needed. When those unicorns die out, we can make a bridge with their horns.

We quickly learn that the fantasy never really existed in the first place. We quickly accept that it was just a thought, a hypothesis, and not really a fantasy at all. The way it happened in reality may be different than how we previously supposed it could happen, but that doesn’t change the fact that it could indeed happen. Science deals with these issues all the time, supposing, fantasizing, hypothesizing and thinking about how something could happen, finding that it does happen, but in a different manner than previously considered.

The fantasy, the original thought, it is very real. Should we depend upon physical manifestation to determine their realness? Not at all, because the physicality is dependent upon the fantasy in the first place. Physicality cannot therefore be used as the guage for what is real and what is unreal.

The Civil Rights movement may actually prove that MLK was fantasizing about equality, but without that movement, his fantasy was still very genuine. I propose, that if we told him that his fantasy was unreal (and he accepted that) then the Civil Rights movement would never have taken place in physical reality. What a powerful tool for thought police to wield at their discretion. To quell a power struggle on the basis of claiming some thoughts as fantastical (as they see fit) so as to wave away any notions of manifesting them into physical action.

As well, the term “Absolute” covers all. Even the lies that are absolute lies are indeed lies by the standards of absolute truth which determines they are truthfully absolute lies.

whatthefluther's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies….I find no errors in your logic and accept that everything within the realm of thought is reality. So there is nothing unnatural or supernatural and thus the word “natural ” and its meaning are meaningless since it has no distinction. The human mind and its rationalizations and conceptions keep getting in the way of everything and I am guilty of too much thought and not enough listening. That is all superficial and nothing but mind chatter and it is about time that I become a silent observer, listening without fear in the reality of clarity beyond mental conceptions. See you there…...wtf

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@whatthefluther

That speaks volumes about who you are as a person. What a refreshing rarity to find the sincere humble attitude. Your thoughtful comments give me hope for revival of sage and shaman. The gift is mine.

Thank you for demonstrating that open minds are still possible. Highly satisfactory.

mattbrowne's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – The term supernatural refers to properties or events in our universe violating its (divine) order. As an example the story of Harry Potter set on Earth is full of supernatural events. Meta-natural refers to the meta-phenomenon of existence itself i.e. beyond our universe (multiverse). It’s an abstract concept and beyond our scope of observation. Supernatural events (if they existed which I don’t think) would be within our scope of observation.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@mattbrowne

Interesting. I’m having trouble accepting the meta-verse concept, feeling that there IS something to it, just not quite the way it’s being proposed. A very propelling concept nonetheless…

Thanks

mattbrowne's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – The metaverse/multiverse concept is hypothetical. What I’m talking about would go even beyond that. If the multiverse exists and we could eventually confirm it scientifically, the ‘meta-phenomenon’ of existence itself (the existence of a multiverse) cannot be explained.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@mattbrowne

Sorry I don’t follow. Not disagreeing, I just don’t get it.

When time permits, please explain. It sounded like you said that if we can prove the multiverse existed, then that would prove that it did not exist. What am I missing?

Is there a designation between multi and meta… verses that I’m not digesting?

mattbrowne's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – Well, metaverse is sometimes used as an alternative term for multiverse, see

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiverse

But the term ‘meta’ is also a prefix used in English to indicate a concept which is an abstraction from another concept, used to complete or add to the latter.

In epistemology, the prefix meta- is used to mean about (its own category). For example, metadata are data about data (who has produced them, when, what format the data are in and so on). See

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta

So when I’m talking about a meta-phenomenon I’m using it as an abstraction layer and not a potentially physically real multiverse. Existence as such can be seen as a meta-phenomenon. Why does anything exist at all? Why is not just nothingness. Does this help?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@mattbrowne

Yes. We can have a lot of fun poking around in abstraction layers.

So it seems that the multi-verse hypothesis should truly be considered as a hypothetical layer of the meta-verse notion. Meta-versal concepts can include all possible explanations for natural phenomenon that were once thought of as supernatural.

Is this correct?

mattbrowne's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – Physical reality could be one universe or several universes existing at the same time. There are different hypothetical concepts for this physical reality, like the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics, baby universes inside black holes or bubble universes, see

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiverse

Whatever is real I believe that natural processes govern all this and there’s nothing supernatural about it.

Only then do I jump one abstraction layer up: the existence of all this mentioned above and we can ask the question is there an intelligent origin of all this? Is there something beyond physical reality? Responsible for physical reality?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@mattbrowne

Yes I have the same intrigues. But a clue I’ve found springs from what is known and presented through respected science.

It seems that creation happens in two formats. One from cause/reaction properties of chaotic energy and matter alone. The other type of creation comes from thought/action properties of a mind, reforming physical reality to suit intent.

Both require a physical source of material to work with from the beginning. Unless of course, one of them is capable of creating physical substance out of something else that we are unaware of as humans.

nebule's avatar

oh bloody hell, my head hurts this afternoon

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@lynneblundell

Fucking monks! No no… just tease really… really…

nebule's avatar

just stop it RealeyesRealizeRealLies you know I fancy you,... and that’s just naughtiness xx

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