"God is natural!"

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"God is natural!"

Postby sepia » Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:06 pm

When I see apologists arguing against naturalism, I could hardly doupt, that anyone of then would claim, that theism makes no supernatural claims. But when describing god as something supernatural, I was twice accused to make a strawman argument. One argument was, that I have given no definition of supernatural and that god isn't defined as supernatural.

Of course the term supernatural seems not to be completely defined to me and it doesn't often appear in definitions for god given by apologists.

Now I wonder, what should I do:

1) replacing "supernatural" by "metaphysical" or some other words. I think calling god metaphysical shows the same weakness of the god-concept, as calling god supernatural: Both is beyond all physical principles and both is speculative.

2) insisting that god must be supernatural. I have an argument, but don't know if it is valide: God has created all physics and god is not physical. Since physics is the most basic level of nature god must be supernatural. Possible objection: Physics is yet the most basic natural level we know. Maybe there is a more fundamental level.
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Re: "God is natural!"

Postby dobbie » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:48 pm

Sepia wrote:
One argument was, that I have given no definition of supernatural and that god isn't defined as supernatural.

All I can say is that I notice that these days there's a tendency for apologists to distance themselves from what their belief system is.

Things such as Bill O'Reilly says Christianity isn't a religion--it's a philosophy.

And God isn't supernatural.

Such theists have a semantics issue going on.
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Re: "God is natural!"

Postby lucas11 » Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:41 am

I couldn't define supernatural either when reading your post, but would probably be happy with the wikipedia definition of "that which is not subject to the laws of nature". Or potentially supernatual effects could be those where we can replicate the circumstances but not the events.

Examples include:
1) Consciousness can't exist without a physical brain (law of nature) therefore immaterial beings such as gods, demons and ghosts are supernatural.
2) Healing via prayer is supernatural as science can not replicate this feat or even show that prayer has a significant effect on illness.
3) It also covers walking on water, levitating, understanding animals etc.

At the moment I can't think of anything that I would regard as supernatural that is not covered by the wikipedia definition.
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Re: "God is natural!"

Postby sepia » Wed Dec 19, 2012 6:41 pm

Your Definition contains, what I've already written, but there is one thing which bothers me: Natural Laws can be wrong (for example Newton's Laws don't work in quantum mechanics). Hence something, which would be once supernatural could become natural, when our understanding of nature increases. This means, that supernaturality is not an intrinsic part of an object. But maybe this is the best definition we have.
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Re: "God is natural!"

Postby lucas11 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 3:58 am

Natural laws can indeed be wrong or incomplete, but I did not mean that anything which can't be fully explained by current theories would be classed as supernatural. I suspect most scientific theories are not completely true, but are the best explanation we've got and a close enough approximation to the truth that they can still allow us to improve technology, create new materials etc.

Part of what I was trying to illustrate with the walking on water example was that this event would be a one off defiance of natural laws. We know that people can't walk on water so if it happened, it could be evidence in favour of supernatural things existing or happening. If one or more people could walk on water repeatedly and scientists studied it, they could either find new natural laws that explain how this happens or decide that it completely defies natural law and declare it supernatural.

You may be right in saying that "supernatural" is not an intrinsic part of an object, but when we talk and debate about topics, we must use our current understanding of those topics. I would say that gods are supernatural because (for example) they have consciousness without a physical brain which goes against natural laws. To then ask "what if this natural law is incorrect" is irrelevant unless there is some evidence or reasoning to support that view.
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Re: "God is natural!"

Postby sepia » Thu Dec 20, 2012 2:11 pm

I have an idea:

1) Suggesting an explanation which is consistent with all the natural laws is reductionistic and naturalistic.

2) Suggesting an explanation which is inconsistent with some or all natural laws and claiming that therefor the laws have to be wrong is suggesting that nature is different from our current modell. But it is still naturalistic.

3) Suggesting an explanation which is inconsistent with some of all natural laws and still insist, that the laws are true is suggesting a supernatural entity.

So I would suggest that the treatment of the hypothesis of an entity makes the entity natural or supernatural. Supernatural entities don't just breach wrong natural laws. They can even breach true natural laws. Thus supernaturality is to nature, like illogicality is to logic.
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Re: "God is natural!"

Postby lucas11 » Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:14 am

I really like that idea. It's definitely better than what I came up with and I can't think of any exceptions where it doesn't work.
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Re: "God is natural!"

Postby TomSmith » Wed Jan 09, 2013 11:47 am

Hi everyone,
Happy 2013 =)

Hmmm, if god is natural, then I wonder why a theist would argue against naturalism?

As far as you having to give a definition for supernatural, I'd say that you do not for the following reason.
Naturalism (including religious naturalism) already comes with some working definition for both the natural and the supernatural.

Supernatural being that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or that which exists beyond nature.
Natural meaning existing in or caused by nature, and nature meaning the phenomena of the physical world.

If the theist asserts that god is not supernatural but argues against naturalism, then I am forced to conclude that the theist must have a different definition of natural and supernatural than those used in the explanation of what naturalism is.

It must therefore fall on the theist to provide those definitions to you.

I'd welcome your thoughts and criticisms, I'm new to the forum and keen to learn new things.
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Re: "God is natural!"

Postby sepia » Thu Jan 10, 2013 9:40 pm

TomSmith wrote:Hmmm, if god is natural, then I wonder why a theist would argue against naturalism?

That is right. But it would only matter if the theists claiming god to be natural are the same theists, who argue against naturalism. But even in this case the contradiction doesn't show that god can't be natural. It would just show, that those theists don't understand their own belief.
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Re: "God is natural!"

Postby TomSmith » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:50 am

sepia wrote:But even in this case the contradiction doesn't show that god can't be natural.


I agree.
What it does show is that the word 'natural' is being used to mean something different to what we understand it to mean and so it falls on the theist in this case to provide the definition.

I'd even go so far as to say that a theist who asserts that their god is natural and accepts naturalism (using natural to mean existing in or caused by nature) is undercutting any "creator god" argument they may want to put forward.
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Re: "God is natural!"

Postby sepia » Fri Jan 11, 2013 11:25 am

TomSmith wrote:I'd even go so far as to say that a theist who asserts that their god is natural and accepts naturalism (using natural to mean existing in or caused by nature) is undercutting any "creator god" argument they may want to put forward.

Why this?
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Re: "God is natural!"

Postby TomSmith » Fri Jan 11, 2013 12:38 pm

sepia wrote:Why this?


Well if the theist asserts that their god is natural using natural to mean, existing in or caused by nature (with nature meaning the phenomena of the physical world) it has two implications.

1. The natural god, if it was caused by nature, could not have preceded nature and so could not have been the cause of nature.

2.If the theist accepts naturalism and proposes a natural god (using the above definition of natural), cannot bypass point 1 by saying god has always existed as that invokes either some alternate definition of natural, or the supernatural (which is already rejected by the acceptance of naturalism).
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