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What is the Supernatural?
Hey there guys! Bringing over a small tangent conversation from a thread created by BlueExorcist. The post is: what religion do you believe in? if any?

If you're interested in that question, just follow that hyperlink to it and let him know what religion is important to you.

However, an interesting question came up, during conversation: What is your definition of supernatural?

I figured it'd be smart to get a thread going to discuss that itself. Why? Because it is a big question, as to what the supernatural is; how it operates; what implications are there to its existence; etc.

Here are the posts, as they came up. This way we don't have to re-write things that have already been said:


I'd probably need to hear your definition of paranormal and supernatural to answer that correctly.

What I believe about the Bible is that it was correct as originally written, but over time might have drifted in meaning or been exaggerated.  Those copying scripture might also have deleted parts and added others, either accidentally or on purpose.

My thoughts on the supernatural is that I know a lot of people that I believe when they tell me they saw "something" but I don't necessarily believe it was the spirit of a deceased person appearing on Earth.  Or that whatever someone saw in the sky is a spaceship piloted by beings from another star system.  I mostly believe stories that people relate of extremely remote coincidences as I've had a few of those happen myself.  But by the time you wade through all the stories of Bigfoot, UFO's, chupacabras, ghosts, and anything else you find a huge number of them come from frauds, liars, or people that are just delusional.  Hidden in there somewhere there might be one or two that actually happened.


I would define 'supernatural' as an incident that contravenes the Laws of Nature:  it literally means 'above Nature'.   I would define 'paranormal' as an incident that doesn't fit in with today's laws of Physics.   My view is that it is most unlikely that anything in the Universe contravenes the Laws of Nature.   If anyone or anything could drive a coach and horses through the Laws of Nature, surely the Universe would not still be ticking as an ordered system after billions of years - surely it would have crashed long ago?   However, physicists would readily admit, I'm sure, that they don't yet understand everything about how the Universe works.   So it could be in the future that further light will be thrown on the Laws of Nature, which would explain how paranormal phenomena work.


Since the goal of physics is to explain the laws of nature supernatural and paranormal might mean the same thing.

I only have physics as a hobby, but what you said is very true, physicists do not understand everything about how the Universe works, and I don't believe we have the capacity to understand how the Universe works. The very fact that light is both a wave and a particle flies in the face of our understanding, yet it is one of the most basic of laws of nature, and one we are only barely beginning to get a peek at understanding. But, as to the Universe contravening the laws of nature, it already does. We've stumbled on evidence that the laws of nature are not the same everywhere in the Universe, nor have they been the same in the past.

This has been a really interesting conversation so far. My 2 cents is this. I believe that DFB's thought that the supernatural and paranormal concepts equate to the same thing. Dron's right in that it literally means to be "above nature", but we have to remember that paranormal literally means "beyond normal". The laws of nature are such that they are the norm. If supernatural means above nature, and paranormal (seeing that the norm is nature) means beyond normal, then it can be phrased as "beyond nature". All of a sudden, they have an equated meaning.

However, Dron said it himself that he believed "it is most unlikely that anything in the universe contravenes the Laws of Nature." This is super important, because -- regardless of where you think supernatural/paranormal occurrences are sourced -- events happen within this universe, which means that these events cannot contravene the Laws of Nature. So, I don't know if your original statement of "incident that contravenes the laws of nature" is accurate, because everything that happens seems to happen within the constraints of our laws. Whether it's things moving on their own, or whispers happening in your ear, everything still occurs within the universe and cannot contravene those laws.

My opinion is that the "supernatural" part of the supernatural -- when something mundane occurs, with a fantastical source of occurrence -- is more of a "super-perspective/para-perspective". Everything is being weighed from the perspective of our selves. This wasn't a human/animal/physical being that did it, therefore it must be supernatural. Yet, everything that occurred happened within the constraints of our universal laws. So, it wasn't really outside of the norm, it was just outside of what we perceive to be the norm (which is our species' perspective)

Anyways, what do you guys think?

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