poetry

Topics: Supernatural, Metaphysics, Scientific method Pages: 3 (797 words) Published: December 29, 2013
The Supernatural:

There is a trend in science and law to define the word "supernatural" as "the untestable," which is perhaps understandable for its practicality, but deeply flawed as both philosophy and social policy. Flawed as philosophy, because testability is not even a metaphysical distinction, but an epistemological one, and yet in the real world everyone uses the word “supernatural” to make metaphysical distinctions. And flawed as social policy, because the more that judges and scientists separate themselves from the people with deviant language, the less support they will find from that quarter, and the legal and scientific communities as we know them will crumble if they lose the support of the people. Science and the courts must serve man. And to do that, they must at least try to speak his language. And yet already a rising tide of hostility against both science and the courts is evident. Making it worse is not the solution.

As I argue in Sense and Goodness without God (pp. 29-35), philosophy is wasting its time if its definitions of words do not track what people really mean when they use them. And when we look at the real world, we find the supernatural is universally meant and understood to mean something metaphysically different from the natural. I could adduce many examples of the bad fit between real language and this ill-advised attempt at an "official" definition, but here are just two: The underlying mechanics of quantum phenomena might be physically beyond all observation and therefore untestable, but no one would then conclude that quantum mechanics is supernatural. Just because I can't look inside a box does not make its contents supernatural. Conversely, if I suddenly acquired the Force of the Jedi and could predict the future, control minds, move objects and defy the laws of physics, all merely by an act of will, ordinary people everywhere would call this a supernatural power, yet it would be entirely testable. Scientists could...
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