1. Joined
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    14 Aug '13 17:12
    Would be interested to hear ideas on this topic. If we unpack the statement "God is a supernatural being", what do you think that statement means? What is the propositional content of this statement? I'm interested to hear ideas on how persons construe or intend the term 'supernatural'. The literature I have seen is, frankly, a bit confusing to me on this topic.
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    14 Aug '13 17:57
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    Would be interested to hear ideas on this topic. If we unpack the statement "God is a supernatural being", what do you think that statement means? What is the propositional content of this statement? I'm interested to hear ideas on how persons construe or intend the term 'supernatural'. The literature I have seen is, frankly, a bit confusing to me on this topic.
    'supernatural' means 'I don't follow your rules, so I can make it up as I go along'. It is a deliberately incoherent term designed specifically to give license to the speaker for belief in something that does not conform to the actual experience of the listener.
    The speaker says something extraordinary happened. The listener says: "but thats impossible, everyone knows that can't happen!". The speaker simply says "Ah, but it was a supernatural event". You can no longer question the speakers sanity.
    The word magic is very similar, although oddly enough, many people nowadays would say they don't believe magic is possible, but denying the existence of the supernatural is much less common.

    I say it is incoherent because you will find that proponents of the supernatural claim that there are patterns/rules that the supernatural follows, whilst at the same time, science cannot in any way study it. Essentially, when science tries to study it, the rules disappear, or magically confound science. See how I used the word 'magically' there? It looks very innocent, and at first you probably thought you understood that sentence. But if you think about it for a bit, what did I mean? If you can figure out what I meant, you will have some understanding of how 'supernatural' works.
  3. Joined
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    14 Aug '13 20:31
    Sorry for this long post but some interesting things here to read about God:


    Personal qualities revealed in creation.

    Certain facets of Jehovah’s personality are revealed by his creative works even prior to his creation of man. (Ro 1:20) The very act of creation reveals his love. This is because Jehovah is self-contained, lacking nothing. Hence, although he created hundreds of millions of spirit sons, not one could add anything to his knowledge or contribute some desirable quality of emotion or personality that He did not already possess in superior degree.—Da 7:9, 10; Heb 12:22; Isa 40:13, 14; Ro 11:33, 34.

    This, of course, does not mean that Jehovah does not find pleasure in his creatures. Since man was made “in God’s image” (Ge 1:27), it follows that the joy a human father finds in his child, particularly one who shows filial love and acts with wisdom, reflects the joy that Jehovah finds in his intelligent creatures who love and wisely serve Him. (Pr 27:11; Mt 3:17; 12:18) This pleasure comes, not from any material or physical gain, but from seeing his creatures willingly hold to his righteous standards and show unselfishness and generosity. (1Ch 29:14-17; Ps 50:7-15; 147:10, 11; Heb 13:16) Contrariwise, those who take a wrong course and show contempt for Jehovah’s love, who bring reproach on his name and cruel suffering to others, cause Jehovah to ‘feel hurt at his heart.’—Ge 6:5-8; Ps 78:36-41; Heb 10:38.

    Jehovah also finds pleasure in the exercise of his powers, whether in creation or otherwise, his works always having a real purpose and a good motive. (Ps 135:3-6; Isa 46:10, 11; 55:10, 11) As the Generous Giver of “every good gift and every perfect present,” he takes delight in rewarding his faithful sons and daughters with blessings. (Jas 1:5, 17; Ps 35:27; 84:11, 12; 149:4) Yet, though he is a God of warmth and feeling, his happiness is clearly not dependent upon his creatures, nor does he sacrifice righteous principles for sentimentality.

    Jehovah also showed love in granting his first-created spirit Son the privilege of sharing with him in all further works of creation, both spirit and material, generously causing this fact to be made known with resultant honor to his Son. (Ge 1:26; Col 1:15-17) He thus did not weakly fear the possibility of competition but, rather, displayed complete confidence in his own rightful Sovereignty (Ex 15:11) as well as in his Son’s loyalty and devotion. He allows his spirit sons relative freedom in the discharge of their duties, on occasion even permitting them to offer their views on how they might carry out particular assignments.—1Ki 22:19-22.

    As the apostle Paul pointed out, Jehovah’s invisible qualities are also revealed in his material creation. (Ro 1:19, 20) His vast power is staggering to the imagination, huge galaxies of billions of stars being but ‘the work of his fingers’ (Ps 8:1, 3, 4; 19:1), and the richness of his wisdom displayed is such that, even after thousands of years of research and study, the understanding that men have of the physical creation is but “a whisper” compared with mighty thunder. (Job 26:14; Ps 92:5; Ec 3:11) Jehovah’s creative activity toward the planet Earth was marked by logical orderliness, following a definite program (Ge 1:2-31), making the earth—as astronauts in our 20th century have called it—a jewel in space.
    Insight V2
  4. Standard memberSwissGambit
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    16 Aug '13 18:142 edits
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    'supernatural' means 'I don't follow your rules, so I can make it up as I go along'. It is a deliberately incoherent term designed specifically to give license to the speaker for belief in something that does not conform to the actual experience of the listener.
    The speaker says something extraordinary happened. The listener says: "but thats impossible, e out what I meant, you will have some understanding of how 'supernatural' works.
    I share your frustration. I am not sure all conceptions of the 'supernatural' are incoherent, but it seems that people who believe in it make up the rules as they go along. Also, they don't seem to care if they become incoherent during a discussion of it. For example, I hear things like 'God is outside time' and all I can say is, 'I have no idea what that means and I think you don't either.'
  5. Joined
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    16 Aug '13 21:061 edit
    Originally posted by galveston75
    Sorry for this long post but some interesting things here to read about God:


    Personal qualities revealed in creation.

    Certain facets of Jehovah’s personality are revealed by his creative works even prior to his creation of man. (Ro 1:20) The very act of creation reveals his love. This is because Jehovah is self-contained, lacking nothing. Hence, ...[text shortened]... making the earth—as astronauts in our 20th century have called it—a jewel in space.
    Insight V2
    I'm not really sure how this addresses the subject of supernaturality. Are you saying that these "personal qualities" typify 'supernature'?
  6. Standard memberKellyJay
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    17 Aug '13 11:02
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    Would be interested to hear ideas on this topic. If we unpack the statement "God is a supernatural being", what do you think that statement means? What is the propositional content of this statement? I'm interested to hear ideas on how persons construe or intend the term 'supernatural'. The literature I have seen is, frankly, a bit confusing to me on this topic.
    I think it means that people have made up the rules of that is natrual and
    what goes beyond that could possibly be thought of as supernatural, since
    God would be greater or beyond the standard rules of what is natural.
    Kelly
  7. Joined
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    18 Aug '13 09:30
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    Would be interested to hear ideas on this topic. If we unpack the statement "God is a supernatural being", what do you think that statement means? What is the propositional content of this statement? I'm interested to hear ideas on how persons construe or intend the term 'supernatural'. The literature I have seen is, frankly, a bit confusing to me on this topic.
    John 4:24
    God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth.

    The term supernatural does not occur in scripture. So I think it a waste of time using it in relation to understanding who or what God is.

    My experience with the term supernatural generally is that it is used by those who profess to know something about things spiritual but really don't, and is used in relation to the unknown, such as ghosts and things that go bump in the night.

    If you're confused about what is supernatural you may want to stay up all night and listen to George Noory on his radio show Coast to Coast. A lot of supernatural stuff there.
  8. Hmmm . . .
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    18 Aug '13 13:543 edits
    Originally posted by josephw
    John 4:24
    [b]God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth.


    The term supernatural does not occur in scripture. So I think it a waste of time using it in relation to understanding who or what God is.

    My experience with the term supernatural generally is that it is used by those who profess to know somethin nd listen to George Noory on his radio show Coast to Coast. A lot of supernatural stuff there.[/b]
    You have a point, and I read in a Greek Orthodox theologian some time back that the concept of “supernature” wasn’t used in theological discourse until Aquinas.

    However, it’s not the word per se, I think—it’s what it is used to indicate. Someone might not use the word “supernatural”, but claim that God is “above or beyond nature”, or “unexplainable by natural law or phenomena” (these two from Webter’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary); or “transcendent” to the natural order, or “wholly other” (both of which occur in the theological literature); or “outside, or beyond, time and space” (a claim that has occurred often enough on here). I have suggested, for example, that “wholly other” (as used by Karl Barth and other theologians), indicates inconceivability.

    I think that those are the kind of things that “supernatural” generally stands in for, in theological talk. However, it could also refer nature “of a superlative degree” (also from Webster’s)—in this case, “God is a supernatural being” could indicate that God is a being of the natural order, but to a superlative degree; perhaps the ultimate nature, from which the rest of nature derives (e.g., the” ground of being”, as in Paul Tillich); and this might be akin to St. Gregory of Nyssa’s understanding, especially if his diastema (space or gap) is epistemological rather than ontological.

    Similarly, the word “spirit”. Below is the entire list of definitions from the Merriam-Webster online dictionary (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spirit). 1. Is essentially how the ancient Stoics used the word (associating it, in their physics of the time, with either the element of fire, or air and fire combined). 2. Seems to be the way that most Christians would intend the phrase “God is [a] spirit”—and we’re back to “supernatural” again—

    1: an animating or vital principle held to give life to physical organisms
    2: a supernatural being or essence: as
    a capitalized : HOLY SPIRIT
    b : SOUL 2a
    c : an often malevolent being that is bodiless but can become visible; specifically : GHOST 2
    d : a malevolent being that enters and possesses a human being
    3: temper or disposition of mind or outlook especially when vigorous or animated <in high spirits>
    4: the immaterial intelligent or sentient part of a person
    5a : the activating or essential principle influencing a person<acted in a spirit of helpfulness>
    b : an inclination, impulse, or tendency of a specified kind :MOOD
    6a : a special attitude or frame of mind <the money-makingspirit was for a time driven back — J. A. Froude>
    b : the feeling, quality, or disposition characterizing something <undertaken in a spirit of fun>
    7: a lively or brisk quality in a person or a person's actions
    8: a person having a character or disposition of a specified nature
    9: a mental disposition characterized by firmness or assertiveness <denied the charge with spirit>
    10a : DISTILLATE 1: as (1) : the liquid containing ethanol and water that is distilled from an alcoholic liquid or mash —often used in plural (2) : any of various volatile liquids obtained by distillation or cracking (as of petroleum, shale, or wood) —often used in plural
    b : a usually volatile organic solvent (as an alcohol, ester, or hydrocarbon)
    11a : prevailing tone or tendency <spirit of the age>
    b : general intent or real meaning <spirit of the law>
    12: an alcoholic solution of a volatile substance <spirit of camphor>
    13: enthusiastic loyalty <school spirit>
    14 capitalized Christian Science : GOD

    So the question becomes, when it is said that "God is [a] spirit", what does that mean? What qualities or attributes does it indicate for God that would differentiate God from other beings?
  9. Hmmm . . .
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    18 Aug '13 17:291 edit
    Originally posted by galveston75
    Sorry for this long post but some interesting things here to read about God:


    Personal qualities revealed in creation.

    Certain facets of Jehovah’s personality are revealed by his creative works even prior to his creation of man. (Ro 1:20) The very act of creation reveals his love. This is because Jehovah is self-contained, lacking nothing. Hence, ...[text shortened]... making the earth—as astronauts in our 20th century have called it—a jewel in space.
    Insight V2
    What I find interesting about this is that none of it really requires a leap to the “supernatural category”—or any of the other concepts that I mentioned, such as “above, or beyond (or not of) nature” and the natural order. The definition “of a superlative degree” would fit—that is, God has attributes (and virtues) that we recognize in nature (and human nature), but to a superlative degree. One might say that God has these attributes to such a superlative degree that, although we do comprehend the meaning of the terms, even as applied to God, it is beyond our limited comprehension to understand the exceptional fullness of their manifestation in God.

    I would say, for example, that “God is loving” means that God acts lovingly, in ways that we can understand. And to say that “God is love” (in the nominative of identity in the Greek) means that that is constitutive of God’s essence, in such a way that no other attribute (or action) can be taken to limit, or stand in opposition to, that, as God’s essential nature; if one says that God is “righteous”, for example, one has to take God’s righteousness as the reflection of that essence (love), and not as anything constraining that essence. [One might, of course, discount the 1st Letter of John as not being decisive.]

    Whether or not the God described in the Bible actually exhibits such attributes and qualities (as we understand them generally) “to a superlative degree”, is another question—and one that has been argued on here often enough. And I don’t intend to get into exegetical questions here. But I also do not want to discount something that LJ reminded me of in another thread: that there are different kinds of God-talk (and different literary forms) in the biblical literature—some language, for example, might be metaphorical, rather than propositional or straightforwardly descriptive; and some might be what is called “elicitive”.
  10. Standard memberRJHinds
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    19 Aug '13 02:48
    Originally posted by vistesd
    You have a point, and I read in a Greek Orthodox theologian some time back that the concept of “supernature” wasn’t used in theological discourse until Aquinas.

    However, it’s not the word per se, I think—it’s what it is used to indicate. Someone might not use the word “supernatural”, but claim that God is “above or beyond nature”, or “unexplainab ...[text shortened]... lities or attributes does it indicate for God that would differentiate God from other beings?
    I believe that "spirit" is the immaterial and invisible substance that God is made of. That is, God is not made of physical particles like electrons, protons, and neutrons. I think "light" is as close as we can get physically to understanding the "spirit" substance.

    The Instructor
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    19 Aug '13 05:46
    Originally posted by RJHinds
    I believe that "spirit" is the immaterial and invisible substance that God is made of. That is, God is not made of physical particles like electrons, protons, and neutrons. I think "light" is as close as we can get physically to understanding the "spirit" substance.

    The Instructor
    Except that light, is no less physical particles than electrons and protons. The proton is made of three quarks, but the electron is no more and no less a particle than the photon.
  12. Joined
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    19 Aug '13 10:54
    Originally posted by vistesd
    You have a point, and I read in a Greek Orthodox theologian some time back that the concept of “supernature” wasn’t used in theological discourse until Aquinas.

    However, it’s not the word per se, I think—it’s what it is used to indicate. Someone might not use the word “supernatural”, but claim that God is “above or beyond nature”, or “unexplainab ...[text shortened]... lities or attributes does it indicate for God that would differentiate God from other beings?
    You know old friend, I realize I come across as narrow and shallow, when it seems that all I do is find strictness of perspective.

    I understand the things you said in your post. We were all exposed to those ideas from our youth. I grew weary of it all decades ago when I realized that all the words, as you said above, failed to fully express what I wanted to know.

    All I want to know is the truth. God is Spirit. The Spirit is undefinable as far as I know, but that doesn't mean the Spirit isn't tangible or real.

    The Spirit of God is the all-in-all. Like the words from the scripture, "with God all things are possible". Infinite, eternal and beyond comprehension.

    It's the "unsearchable riches of Christ".
  13. Joined
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    19 Aug '13 10:55
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    Except that light, is no less physical particles than electrons and protons. The proton is made of three quarks, but the electron is no more and no less a particle than the photon.
    God is the part you can't define with words that holds it all together.
  14. Hmmm . . .
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    19 Aug '13 21:37
    Originally posted by josephw
    You know old friend, I realize I come across as narrow and shallow, when it seems that all I do is find strictness of perspective.

    I understand the things you said in your post. We were all exposed to those ideas from our youth. I grew weary of it all decades ago when I realized that all the words, as you said above, failed to fully express what I wanted ...[text shortened]... Infinite, eternal and beyond comprehension.

    It's the "unsearchable riches of Christ".
    The Spirit is undefinable as far as I know, but that doesn't mean the Spirit isn't tangible or real.

    Understood—certainly undefinables can be real. It’s just that nothing more can be said about them.
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    20 Aug '13 05:28
    Originally posted by josephw
    God is the part you can't define with words that holds it all together.
    I think you just did define it with words. If you did not, then you wasted your time speaking as you said nothing of substance.
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