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Sphere of the Supernatural
What is Supernatural?
There are many occurrences classified within the sphere of the supernatural. A supernatural phenomenon is an event not usually occurring within typical human experience and not explainable by standard scientific means. Supernatural experiences often generate more questions than answers and often associated with paranormal events and the occult.
Ghosts are a good example. We all wonder what happens when we die. Can departed souls communicate with the living? Most think of ghosts as disembodied human entities but there are many types of spirit beings falling into this classification such as evil spirits or demons.
However, there are other forms of what people term supernatural as well. Reincarnation, telepathy, telekinesis, clairvoyance and astrology are just a few. These are subjects beyond nature. Thus, the term supernatural applies.
In the past, before scientific methods were applied, practically everything was thought to have a supernatural cause. For instance thunder, lightning and natural disasters were believed to be caused by angry gods.
Controversy has surrounded the subject since time immemorial. One reason is there is no universal agreement about what the definition of “natural” is. Some religiously inclined claim God, miracles and angels are supernatural. Some also believe natural laws are an extension of Gods’ divine will, thereby also supernatural.
Far from being just a matter of blind faith supernatural events do occur. Studies have been conducted, when possible. For instance, studies done on astrology…none of which were very supportive.
The Dark Ages
It’s true technology has brought us a long way since the “dark ages.” Still, some people believe supernatural events occur, while others don’t. Ironically, two people viewing the same evidence may come to different conclusions. Firmly held beliefs may cause one to automatically filter out some possible explanations.
The question becomes what criteria should be used, if there is any. It’s been said modern science can’t examine supernatural events because they are not scientifically testable. It’s impossible to gather evidence. On the other hand, studying a natural event produces evidence to determine whether results are accurate.
For example, a baseball and a much heavier object would seem to some to fall at different speeds…with the heavier object experiencing a larger acceleration. This scenario can be scientifically tested by dropping both from an established height. The result is both fall at the same rate of speed.
The Bible is full of supernatural events not understood or explainable by limited human intellect. Science attempts to address what can be perceived with the five natural senses, but lacking any other reliable form of measurement, tries to disprove supernatural phenomenon off hand.
The paradox is how can one deny the supernatural and simultaneously say they believe in God? For believers, the scriptures prove God is supernatural, angels exist and miracles occur. If believers deny the supernatural, they deny the existence of God.
Adherents to supernatural beliefs hold supernatural occurrences exist as does the natural world. Opponents argue there are rational explanations for what is perceived as supernatural.
In most societies, religious miracles are typically viewed as supernatural just as are spells and curses. By that definition, anything that exists naturally is not supernatural.
The term "supernatural" is often limited to describing anything appearing to exceed the bounds of possibility. By the same token, legendary beings such as vampires, werewolves and leprechauns are not typically considered supernatural.
Those who consider only natural scientific explanations to be the only valid rationale would more than likely support the Big Bang and evolution theories. However, by its own definition, science is incapable of testing these things since there are no corresponding physical effects to examine. Proponents of the supernatural argue many supernatural claims may be testable at some future date, but current methods haven’t advanced sufficiently enough.
Is there anything observable to distinguish something as supernatural? Perhaps a phenomenon displays intelligence not achievable through natural means. Say, metal and glass materialize into a watch in front of you. Wouldn’t this suggest an intelligent entity? Intelligent design proponents claim many things existing in nature couldn’t have originated through evolution and required an intelligent designer.
Others believe all events have only natural causes and supernatural attributes have simply been attributed to them. Opponents of the supernatural point out some things, once thought to be supernatural, can be explained by scientific theories today.
According to this view, the "supernatural" is therefore just a term to describe things modern science doesn’t yet understand. The lack of a rational explanation doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist. There are many things having no explanation, usually because there is insufficient information.