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What Is Supernatural?

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Posted by John Morgan Powell on April 5, 2001 22:24:32 UTC

> However, it seems that the definition of
> supernatural that satisfies the atheists
> posting on this forum is anything that science
> cannot or will not investigate. That definition
> is so circular that there is no room for
> argument.

This doesn't sound good for atheism, but you may have a point. I welcome careful scientific experiments of the claims of the supernatural, but I don't think limited public money that could be spent on more traditional scientific questions should be diverted to pay for paranormal research. Let the wealthy believers in the paranormal fund these things.

I would like to think that the Skeptical Inquirer is on the right track. Although they are clearly biased against what is seen as nonscientific, they seem to make an honest effort to do the experiments. This is better, I think, than the attitude of most scientists and science educators who generally ignore claims of astrology, the paranormal, etc.

I think there are a lot of questions considered religious or supernatural that can be studied by
science. Consider prayer. I think studies of the effectiveness of prayer are doable, and have been done. More could be done, but please don't divert money from my kind of stellar research to fund another prayer study. Let someone else fund it.

When religious people phrase their beliefs to make them difficult for science to investigate, I wonder what their motivation is. It seems like they want to maintain their beliefs in spite of the growing void of confirming evidence.

Remote sensing is a fine thing to investigate scientifically. Do it. What do you find? Does other research allow it "all to fit together" in a coherent view of the universe? One or two possibly flawed studies are not enough to completely overturn the naturalism of science.

Tachyons are hypothetical particles, but I don't generally think of them as supernatural. By supernatural I'm thinking of God, angels, demons, souls, spirits, paranormal, reencarnation, and such things. Things that a lot of unscientifically-minded people believe in, based on terrible evidence and which, if true at the levels claimed, would cause the downfall of the entire scientific foundation.

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