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Evaluate the Supernatural

Posted Jan 19, '14 at 10:30pm

MageGrayWolf

MageGrayWolf

9,805 posts

Knight

In science we take on a position of methodological naturalism. This is a statement that we have no method of evaluating any supernatural claims. As such we disregard them from the evaluation process. If you are one who does believe in supernatural claims, can you think of any means by which we could evaluate the validity of any such claims?

This would also lead into the question that if we can't come up with a proper method of evaluating supernatural claims, how would it be a reasonable position to take that something occurred as a result of supernatural forces rather than naturalistic ones?

 

Posted Jan 19, '14 at 10:33pm

pangtongshu

pangtongshu

10,002 posts

I think this might be related, but I imagine some "experts" in the supernatural might point to their devices they use when searching for the supernatural.

Would it be in accordance with this thread to discuss these items?

 

Posted Jan 19, '14 at 11:05pm

MageGrayWolf

MageGrayWolf

9,805 posts

Knight

The point would be to discuss any method by which we could evaluate the supernatural.

Though with these devices they really aren't detecting the supernatural but rather physical reactions they then attribute to supernatural forces.

 

Posted Jan 19, '14 at 11:52pm

FishPreferred

FishPreferred

1,990 posts

If you are one who does believe in supernatural claims, can you think of any means by which we could evaluate the validity of any such claims?


Problem: Anything which can be scientifically evaluated and explained cannot be supernatural. Also, because "super" implies something greater, "supernatural" would mean greater than all of the natural world. If you're referring to claims about ghosts or legendary monsters, these should be classified as "preternatural".
 

Posted Jan 20, '14 at 12:11am

MattEmAngel

MattEmAngel

7,507 posts

Your entire premise is flawed, as FishPreferred pointed out. The supernatural is often invisible and scientifically impossible. They're based on faith and logic. You yourself said "we have no method of evaluating any supernatural claims." So why did you even ask "can you think of any means by which we could evaluate the validity of any such claims?"

Of course not. If we could scientifically evaluate supernatural existence and activity, it wouldn't be supernatural, would it?

This would also lead into the question that if we can't come up with a proper method of evaluating supernatural claims, how would it be a reasonable position to take that something occurred as a result of supernatural forces rather than naturalistic ones?


Because science can only measure natural circumstances. It is based on sight, followed by observation, hypothesis, trial, conclusion and eventually (if correct) law. The law of conservation of energy, the law of gravity, etc. Supernatural events break that system. Things that cannot happen by law do happen, in which case science must be disregarded as a means of proof.

You proved that by saying "Though with these devices they really aren't detecting the supernatural but rather physical reactions they then attribute to supernatural forces." Isn't that kind of self-explanatory? Physical reactions that cannot be proved with science are all the necessary proof. For something to be scientific, it must
1. Follow existing rules demonstrated through trial and error (i.e. scientific law)
2. Be possible to be re-created and observed.
3. Provide evidence of validity after repeated observation.

Can I safely make those three claims? Every science-related project I've participated in through 12 years of public school and four years of college have required those three basic principle. There are probably more but I have forgotten them.
 

Posted Jan 20, '14 at 6:32am

HahiHa

HahiHa

5,512 posts

Knight

Things that cannot happen by law do happen, in which case science must be disregarded as a means of proof.

I disagree with that. Things that cannot be explained by our current theories are likely to be explained by an extension or revision of such theories based on new data. This is following the idea that just because we cannot explain it, doesn't mean there's no rational explanation. Thanks to the great property of scientifical theories which is that they're not dogmas and are always modifiable by new observations. Disregarding science in such a case would be like giving up; and history has showed that science does come up with rational explanations eventually.

Physical reactions that cannot be proved with science are all the necessary proof.

See above. No explanation =/= support for any supernatural claims. Only those physical reactions that are expected to occur by a supernatural cause, that are shown to be positively correlating with the supernatural explanation, might be evidence.
 

Posted Jan 20, '14 at 7:47am

nichodemus

nichodemus

13,575 posts

Knight

I suppose one could start with an aspect that is less of a random occurrence, and track mediums and their activities? Surely by monitoring thousands of them properly, we could establish a foothold.

 

Posted Jan 20, '14 at 10:15am

FishPreferred

FishPreferred

1,990 posts

I suppose one could start with an aspect that is less of a random occurrence, and track mediums and their activities? Surely by monitoring thousands of them properly, we could establish a foothold.


In what way exactly?
Oh, and I'd still like to know what kind of preternatural things we're discussing here.
 

Posted Jan 20, '14 at 10:58am

09philj

09philj

2,410 posts

We don't need to evaluate the supernatural, as it's all in the mind anyway.

 

Posted Jan 20, '14 at 11:33am

MageGrayWolf

MageGrayWolf

9,805 posts

Knight

Problem: Anything which can be scientifically evaluated and explained cannot be supernatural.


Yes I noted this in the OP that science relies on methodological naturalism. The question is that if one believes that supernatural events occur can they think of a mean to evaluate them?

If you're referring to claims about ghosts or legendary monsters, these should be classified as "preternatural".


Not necessarily, ghosts for instance are often described as not being bound by the laws of physics, which would have them classified as supernatural.

You yourself said "we have no method of evaluating any supernatural claims." So why did you even ask "can you think of any means by which we could evaluate the validity of any such claims?"


That's just the reason why I asked. Also there have been those recently in other circles to berate science as being flawed for not being able to evaluate the supernatural. While this is true this leaves the question of how one would go about doing so.

We don't need to evaluate the supernatural, as it's all in the mind anyway.


Though that's not the claim. The claim is that the supernatural is real and that science can't evaluate it, which science can't. This would mean coming up with a means by which we can.
 
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