"Does not the word SUPERNATURAL really mean FICTIONAL?"

Theists argue that in contrast to our natural world, gods are supernatural and part of some supernatural world. The distinction is very convenient for believers; yet the word ‘supernatural’ exists only because it was conceived by them.

The truth is that the notion of “the supernatural” is itself a wholly human invention, no less than Bertrand Russell’s orbiting teapot is a human invention---and whose 'orbiting-teapot level' of reality in our wondrous natural Universe is exactly zero.

We know that the 'natural' is actuality, reality, rationality. We find it everywhere we look.

By contrast, the 'supernatural' is not at all what the dictionaries define it as. Probably all dictionaries were written by religious believers.

Definitions from the Oxford English Dictionary exemplify:
Supernatural as adjective. "That is above nature; transcending the powers or the ordinary course of nature."
Supernatural as noun: "That which is supernatural." . . . etc.

Such definitions presuppose that there is a ‘supernatural’, and therefore what is not natural is supernatural---whereas I equate the word ‘supernatural’ with ‘fictional’ because the ‘supernatural’ is no more than an idea, a hypothesis, an unnecessary concept.

In short, the 'supernatural' is nothing but religious-fictional nonsense.

‘Supernatural’ means fictional, and we should say so to theists when put to the argument.

Consequently, instead of allowing them to assert that everything is either natural or supernatural, we should correct them by saying that everything is either natural or fictional.

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One simple answer is 'no' to your topic question. Most see the word 'supernatural' as representing some sort of 'human-like' (funny about that) intelligence and consciousness that exists outside of our world of time and space. Most (Abrahamic) religious people believe such a thing exists and can love & be loved (ghosts have mixed acceptance), while naturalists (and, presumably, most atheists) do not. Actually the whole idea of a clear natural/supernatural separation seems a relatively modern Western concept. People of the past and other cultures saw or see everything as natural. The true differentiation is probably what is discernible by empirically-based methods and what is not and hence your attitude to that.


All people (theists and non-theists) have to be careful about being too arrogant and dogmatic about fact, fiction, and truth in this area. We, as atheists, love science as the discerner of truth. However, today many scientific advances involve areas we cannot even perceive and can only be explained through specialised mathematics. We, as laypeople, take that truth on trust (or is that faith?). There are many interesting philosophical arguments on the realism or non-realism of science. Also we need to recognise that science, like any human activity, has fashionable and unfashionable ideas, and always be prepared for today's 'dark matter' becoming tomorrow's 'cold fusion'.


For me that's the difference with religious attitudes. Practicing religionists may argue over interpretations of faith but they rarely (if ever) question the very existence God's actual existence. Any form of contrary evidence seems irrelevant. They like to question the flexibility of Dawkins et al while being very dogmatic about the existence of God themselves, but that's a whole different argument... Alex


P.S. An alternate simple answer might be 'yes' in that 'supernatural' is a contrived concept. As I said before, it is better to stick with what exists and how do we know. And so the argument goes on...

If something thought to be supernatural existed, it wouldn't be supernatural, it would be natural.
But don't those who believe in the supernatural see natural and supernatural as different types of existences. each discernable by different methods? We. as atheists. simply reject one of those. Alex
Yes, we reject the supernatural because it is invalid and cannot exist. If something can be demonstrated to exist in this realm, it must be natural. Those who 'see' natural and supernatural as two types of valid existences are simply wrong. One is real, the other fantasy. Just because someone believes something doesn't make it so. Truth is defined by how something relates to reality, not dreams or make-believe and not how it jives with other invalid metaphors one has in their supposed knowledge base. It would be impossible to explain to me how one can discern the supernatural. Once something is discernible, it has been demonstrated to have identity here, in the real world. You cannot do that with things that do not exist, like the supernatural.
I agree with your sentiments though question the certainties at the limits of our knowledge. What is included in natural, that obviously exists? For example how about imperceptibles like dark matter or the quantum world? Do they exist or are they are best explanations so far?
What about "free-will"? Most people think they have it. In fact we jail people on that assumption. but I can't see it or measure it and many have argued over its existence for many years.

good to argue over these ideas Alex

I agree, I love to argue over these things. I've argued against freewill for many hours in recent years. Quite a bit in the last few days actually. I just posted a couple blogs about it. Check them out. I'd love to hear your take. Also, I think you'll find some of my answers to your other questions as well in the comment section as well as elsewhere in my blog.


In short, choice is causal and dependent on basically everything. There is no magical unmoved mover in the brain. Freedom and control are relative terms describing a relationship between entities, not absolute qualities of anything. It is impossible to have total control or freedom. Choice is better understood as dependent, not free. In no way do I believe this absolves someone of guilt. We are biological machines and if one biological machine violates the individual rights of another, they should be held accountable, for protection and moral and political freedom, not for moral punishment.

In short, if we try to see the tiniest aspect of a border between chunks of matter, or we try to pinpoint the position and momentum of a very small vast moving object or we try to see the collapse of a particle-wave function, we are limited by our perception. That's really all, imo, that we can say about quantum physics. One cannot properly extrapolate seemingly random events to the rest of the metaphysical realm. Just because we cannot visualize every detail in the causal link, does not invalidate borders or causality. Which brings me to dark matter. Something tells me that we will fairly soon be able to describe it and reduce it perceptual evidence, but we can logically infer its existence now. Maybe we cannot describe it fully, but our understanding will get better and more appropriate. We have limits to our knowledge, many of which are being overcome, but we certainly can gain knowledge, however, there is only one way----> The hierarchical and contextual noncontradictory integration of perceptual evidence.


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