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← Untrue Reason -- re Naturalism

Al Denelsbeck's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by Al Denelsbeck

Comment 4 by Cartomancer

In order to define the supernatural out of existence one would first have to define it INTO existence. "Supernatural" is a meaningless term unless we have some notion that nature actually has ends, we know roughly where those ends are, and we have some means to tell which side of this putative divide a phenomenon resides on.

Bingo! A lot of people fall for the fallacy that, because we have words and concepts that have existed for a long time in our language, they had a useful, meaningful origin. But the very word "supernatural" implies a dichotomy that cannot be demonstrated and serves no purpose.

In fact, I suspect it originated long after most organized religions, as we discovered that space, as one example among hundreds, wasn't a roof ("vault") but actually empty space [it might well have been about this time that the word "space" started being used for this purpose, rather than the "heavens" or simply the "sky"]. In order to retain the idea of a realm where gods and angels sat, it could not be "up there" and had to be somewhere else.

I just looked it up, actually. According to Merriam Webster Online, the first known use of the word "supernatural" was in the 15th century. That might say a lot, really.

On a related note, there's another mistake from the OP, where he says:

I hold to Methodological Naturalism exactly because there is no way to show the absence of the Supernatural.

But there is no way to show the absence of anything. There are two choices: positive evidence, and bupkiss. With a lack of positive evidence, you are left only with absence, the null hypothesis.

People don't like definitive statements such as, "There is no god," but such statements are only invalid if we believe that they imply omniscience; "You can't say that for sure!"

Yet, the only way to demonstrate that it's wrong is to produce positive evidence to the contrary.

Wed, 21 Mar 2012 04:01:31 UTC | #929190