The supernatural is a bankrupt concept. I’m not going to argue that people can’t fly, throw energy balls, have a continuity of consciousness after death, or talk to ghosts. I’m arguing that if Mankind is capable of this – or indeed any species of life that exists in the Universe – it is natural, not supernatural.
At this juncture it would probably be wise of me to point out that I am not arguing the probability of anything listed above. I write this because I have noticed that many of my fellow atheists infer in arguments and discussion that a continuity of experience after death or ghosts has something to do with god, or at least the supernatural. Why even give this concession?
We have excellent reasons for believing that we can’t fly, or throw energy balls, and good reasons too not to accept with any scientific credibility claims that there are ghosts and a semblance of life after the death of the physical body. The latter is by far the trickier puzzle for scientists to tackle as a scientific certainty; given the nature of consciousness is still ultimately a mystery.
But this is not about whether or not consciousness is manifested by the brain, or whether it is filtered through it, this is about the fact that no matter what the answer is, it is ultimately within the purview of science. If a man could demonstrate, unimpeachably, that he could fly, then there are natural laws to be discovered that will explain how this is possible.
If Something Inexplicable Happens, We’ll Just Need More Science… Hell, There’s Already Dark Energy and Dark Matter, which they could just as easily call ‘have no idea expanding force’ and ‘have no idea gravitational force’.
We may not have the right model of the Universe as yet to explain it – there’s no certainty we ever would, but as sure as math can describe how light bends when travelling through heavy gravitational fields – gravitational lensing – there would lie the potential for maths too to articulate how this person could fly.
For the benefit of my atheist friends I will once again take the time to assert that I am not advocating that there are miracles, or that anyone is going to fly past your window. Rest assured I am simply strengthening the bedrock of our own arguments by clarifying that a god is not required for a ghost to appear, for there to be ‘life after death’, or for water to be turned into wine. If these things have been done, they would have operated within the spectrum of the physical laws that govern the Universe.
How Do I Know This?
I don’t, not really. I don’t really know much of anything for a certainty. In fact I make it my business to know as little as possible, and to learn as much as I can. I find that being certain of what I know tends to make it less probable that I will learn just how little I do know.
“The essence of knowledge is, having it, to apply it; not having it, to confess your ignorance.” – Confucius
“We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything.”- Thomas A. Edison
“The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.” – Albert Einstein
I’m rather certain I have digressed from my original point, but that’s fine. I used a few quotes worth reading and in doing so I have strengthened my argument, which I will now return to.
The Definition Of Supernatural
Adjective: (of a manifestation or event) attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature. – Oxforddictionarys.com
If I were to take the meaning of the word supernatural to simply mean beyond our current sphere of scientific understanding, I could be on board with the statement, but the claim is not so narrow. The implication is that it is beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature, and I submit it to you, wise readers, how could anything that is birthed into this realm that operates seamlessly and elegantly to the known natural laws, dance outside the jurisdiction of these laws of the space-time fabric it woven into.
I know, the implication is that a divine artificer is able to suspend the natural order of things every now and then. Let’s say that’s true, it still occurs within the natural order of things; it could be observed and measured by science, though the scarcity of occurrences would hamper scientific advancement along this front. This divine artificer does not stand outside of the Universe, beyond the laws of physics, to open a window into our Universe, dip his divine hand into the cookie jar and mix things up, without leaving behind evidence.
To summarize, whatever happens, no matter how miraculous you perceive it to be, no matter how unforeseen or out of the realm of preconception, it is still an observable phenomenon that operates within the dynamics of the natural laws governing our Universe. And if those laws can change, then whatever causes this too is natural. It’s all natural.
It’s like when you go to the grocery store and you buy something that says all natural, and you feel good about it, because you’re not polluting yourself with something unnatural. But dog shit, uranium, and arsenic are also natural, and you wouldn’t feel good about that.
Also, if you think a flying human is all that special, what about a super-massive black hole? Or a supernova, or screw it, a hypernova. How impressive does your flying miracle man look now? There’s plenty of stuff, like pulsars, and quasars, and gas giants, that are more interesting than a levitating human or a ghost. This Universe is far too expansive, awe inspiring and incredible for us to take cheap parlor tricks such as energy balls unleashed with the strength of atomic weapons upon impact from a being’s palms as evidence of the supernatural, or the simple continuity of consciousness once your physical brain has long since been eaten by maggots and worms.
Why It’s Important To Grasp This
The examples of what could be considered supernatural were to the extreme for some, and benign to others. But the reason it’s important to accept the simple premise that anything that can be observed can potentially be understood by science and explained by natural laws, is it opens up a far grander discussion. Atheists no longer need be shackled by the fear that if someone, or something does exhibit some seemingly awesome power – such as William Wallace with his fireballs from his eyes and bolts of lightening from his arse, that this will lead to the unveiling of the supernatural as a reality, and god as the explanation.
Even if the oceans freeze over tomorrow and pigs pass high overhead on feathered wings flapping on the frigid winds, that would constitute zero evidence of god or the devil, or even the supernatural. It just means we need to broaden our understanding of the Universe, and fast, because clearly we were missing more of the puzzle than we thought. Perhaps these flying pigs and blood-chilling temperatures were hiding in the dark matter. I don’t know. I’m not a scientist.
Now here’s William Wallace giving a speech.