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← Refuting supernatural

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by Jos Gibbons

Steve's in-principle point is important because it's only if science couldn't understand something that naturalism is wrong, and it's only because such claims are made that supernaturalism is a load of nonsense. But I think a better way of tackling the issue is like this:

A: Do you believe in the supernatural? B: That term's vague. Let's discuss specific examples to see which, if any, we both believe in. A: Well, what about X? B: No; there's no evidence for X.

You literally don't even need to hesitate there, because the one thing all "supernatural" claims have in common (although this isn't exclusive to them) is that no evidence supports them, so you therefore shouldn't believe in them. This suggests a related approach:

A: Do you believe in the supernatural? B: That term's vague; but, since to believe in the supernatural I'd have to believe in some specific supernatural thing, let's see if you can name a single example of one for which evidence exists. All other beliefs are unwarranted. I won't ask you to prove it counts as supernatural, or to give a definition thereof; but I'm sure whatever example you'd have in mind will be unevidenced.

If they have a decent comeback to that, call a press conference; if not, it'll hopefully shut them up. (We should probably work on my wording though; it's pretty long-winded.)

My point is "supernatural" is a word which, like "faith", stunts thinking about what beliefs are being defended.

Thu, 12 Jul 2012 15:52:27 UTC | #948974