Talk:Supernatural

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Made a substantial copy edit while preserving the tone of the original. (Assuming that we want to preserve the tone.) --Bobbing up and down 06:36, 10 September 2007 (CDT)

[edit] Examples don't fit definition

The article says:

Supernatural refers to phenomena that are "beyond" the natural world. It is a distinctly anti-materialist idea.

It often refers to... well, hmm. What could possibly not be natural? Perhaps ghosts, angels, gods, and Zombies. Probably Uri Geller, too.

Amusingly, these entities don't fit the definition immediately above. You define "supernatural" as being "beyond the natural world." But the religions describe angels as speaking with humans, and gods as either breeding with humans or causing miracles in the natural world -- all events within the natural world. And zombies? Zombies are just dead humans that have been raised to life (sort of). None of the examples are "beyond the natural world" in any meaningful sense of the phrase. How about a redefinition of "supernatural" that includes the examples? Ungtss 17:30, 1 November 2008 (EDT)

You're insane, right? ħumanUser talk:Human 01:10, 2 November 2008 (EST)
Um, you define supernatural as being "things beyond the natural world" and then list a bunch of things that (as described) interact with the natural world. If you want supernatural to mean "imaginary" that's one thing. But I don't think you want it to. What do you mean by "supernatural," and how come none of the listed items meet the definition of supernatural? Ungtss 05:45, 2 November 2008 (EST)

[edit] Richard Carrier's definition

Philosopher at work! Richard Carrier defines supernatural as:

Therefore, "supernaturalism" means that at least some mental things cannot be reduced to nonmental things.

The blog post goes into some detail supporting this idea. I read it and went "aha, that's it!" I found it on this LessWrong post.

Note it ties into one of the fundamental streams of New Age culture and alternative medicine: vitalism in everything.

Other commenters on the LW post note: "Mind as an irreducible simple is basic to all religions." I think this also nails it nicely.

Anyone disagree? So what would we do with this post? - David Gerard (talk) 14:27, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

This seems to me to fit in with the 'beyond nature' definition, or should that now be 'beyond nonmental'. Should we amend that section accordingly?
Furthermore Carrier splits the supernatural from the paranormal. This, along with the non absoluteness (ugly term) of his definition, removes a lot of the problems with our first section. I'm just not smart enough to do the re-write. Jack Hughes (talk) 15:28, 10 January 2011 (UTC)

David, I'm not sure I agree. Carrier's definition of "supernatural" is really a definition of non-materialism, i.e. dualism and idealism. Dualists claim that mind (or at least some aspects thereof) is not reducible to matter; idealists agree, and add that matter is wholly reducible to mind. Whereas to me, discussion of supernaturalism seems to assume a prescriptive idea of the laws of nature, as things that could possibly be violated. Whereas, a purely descriptive concept of the laws of nature leaves no room for a supernatural, since any supposed "violations" are just evidence that the laws were not what we thought they were, and hence not violations at all. Myself, I am an idealist, but I believe the laws of nature are purely descriptive, and hence (by definition) cannot be violated. So I am a supernaturalist in Carrier's sense, but I don't think I actually am one, and think his definition is mistaken. Zack Martin HolyMaratreanSigil.png 10:33, 2 June 2011 (UTC)


I find Richard Carrier's definition very worthy of inclusion. I tried to add it in, but two other people deleted it immediately. Perhaps my writing was bad? I can't tell because no clear reason was given. I'll try writing a better version, and maybe add it later, though I'll check back here first.--Brianpansky (talk) 01:38, 3 April 2014 (UTC)

I just added a much shorter version. The actual problem is that this article is really badly written. That first definition needs cleansing fire - David Gerard (talk) 09:35, 3 April 2014 (UTC)
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