1. Hmmm . . .
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    Tentative Propositions—

    (1) There may be aspects of the natural universe that transcend our cognitive capability.

    —I see no reason to assume that we are the singular species for which that is not the case.

    (2) If that is, in fact, the case, it nevertheless neither (a) requires, nor (b) of itself, warrants the assumption of a supernatural [extranatural] category.

    —The fact that we have (as yet, or ever) no answers for all our existential questions does not validate making up conditions under which they might be answered, and then assuming that they have been answered.

    —A plausible answer/explanation that does not require such a categorical expansion is to be preferred (even if provisional, pending testing via reason and empiricism [see (4) below]) to any that require such expansion. (Occam’s Razor.)

    (3) The fact that one can make up questions that are (only) answerable under the assumption of a supernatural category, does not validate the questions themselves.

    —E.g., What are the necessary characteristics of a supernatural supreme being?

    —E.g., Under what conditions might invisible blue unicorns exist?

    —E.g., Why is there anything rather than nothing?

    —E.g., Why is there death?

    That is, such questions have no (relevant?) meaning without the a priori assumption of a supernatural category in which they can be meaningfully entertained.

    [Note: The last two examples may not require supernature, but do seem to me to require a metaphysical leap of a similar order. “Why” questions—unless they are in reality aimed at a descriptive explanation—seem notorious in this regard.]

    (4) A category that is not (potentially) defeasable via reason and empiricism can claim neither in support of its propositions.

    —This seems to me to be the case with most discourse that assumes a supernatural category.

    ____________________________________

    In sum, I see no epistemic justification for the assumption of a supernatural category. I may see rich aesthetic value in some presentations (no mean thing, to my mind, since that may be the major element in living out a eudaimonic life)—but no epistemic value.

    Quite frankly, I have come to the conclusion that supernatural systems of thought make up answers, as opposed to discovering answers. I have no per se problem with that; I think that part of the existential challenge we all face is to “make meaning” in our lives.

    ____________________________________

    Note: Making up a story or myth to illustrate what someone believes is true, some aspect perhaps of our existential dilemma, is not lying. Someone who believes in the supernatural, and supernatural explanations for otherwise unexplainable events, is not lying in telling what they believe about such events. It’s unfortunate that I should feel compelled to point that out, but some past discussions on here have led me to think it wise to get that out of the way up-front.
  2. SubscriberAThousandYoung
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    Yeah!😏
  3. Standard memberscekk
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    13 Sep '07 06:47
    I can see epistemic justification coming from these beliefs and spiritually in general. Throughout history we as a race of beings have learned many things from the mistakes made because of these beliefs. They have enriched our lives through art and music. They have been the basis of governments....

    The questions I have are "Why define them in such a way," and "What is it, in you, that draws you to spiritual forums for the sake of arguing them if they are so inconsequential?" I ask with all due respect. You used quite a few very large words and are, possibly, of far greater intelligence.
  4. Hmmm . . .
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    13 Sep '07 07:17
    Originally posted by scekk
    I can see epistemic justification coming from these beliefs and spiritually in general. Throughout history we as a race of beings have learned many things from the mistakes made because of these beliefs. They have enriched our lives through art and music. They have been the basis of governments....

    The questions I have are "Why define them in such a way, ...[text shortened]... pect. You used quite a few very large words and are, possibly, of far greater intelligence.
    I can see epistemic justification coming from these beliefs and spiritually in general. Throughout history we as a race of beings have learned many things from the mistakes made because of these beliefs.

    You seem to be saying that we can learn from mistaken beliefs, by discovering our errors. Am I reading you right?

    If I am, then I would say that such beliefs seemed to have epistemic justification at the time, but no longer do. I am in no way being critical of our forbears.

    They have enriched our lives through art and music.

    No argument at all: why I mentioned aesthetic richness.

    They have been the basis of governments....

    Sometimes for good, sometimes for ill.

    "Why define them in such a way"?

    What I am doing is suggesting certain epistemological propositions about assuming the existence of the supernatural: the supernatural category.

    "What is it, in you, that draws you to spiritual forums for the sake of arguing them if they are so inconsequential?"

    I have been on the spiritual forums for some years, and have only recently come to these conclusions re the supernatural. Am willing to entertain counter-arguments and corrections.

    I still find aesthetic enrichment in myth, story, poetry from various religious traditions. As I noted in my first proposition, I do think there are aspects of the natural order that transcend our cognitive abilities—what I might call the realm of existential mystery. Myth, story, poetry, etc. can point to the ineffable; it can be elicitive language. I do not find any of it inconsequential; I do think that the assumption of a supernatural category is epistemologically unwarranted.

    Although I don’t stay within the bounds of any system, if you think of me a Zennist or Taoist—essentially a non-dualist—you’ll likely get it pretty close. Call it a “naturalized” spirituality, perhaps; whether or not that’s contradictory depends on how broadly one understands “spirituality.”
  5. Standard memberscekk
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    13 Sep '07 08:112 edits
    We learn from mistakes made because of beliefs. Whether these mistake were mistakes or not. I believe man needs to feel connected to something greater than. This connection drives us to do things. Some are great some are not. This drive is what makes belief systems a good thing. They also spark debate on a philosophical level. Which in turn sparks scientific discovery. I agree with the majority of what you said. I just feel that it has value in it's ability to trigger theory and thought in other realms of knowledge.
  6. Hmmm . . .
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    13 Sep '07 08:49
    Originally posted by scekk
    We learn from mistakes made because of beliefs. Whether these mistake were mistakes or not. I believe man needs to feel connected to something greater than. This connection drives us to do things. Some are great some are not. This drive is what makes belief systems a good thing. They also spark debate on a philosophical level. Which in turn sparks scien ...[text shortened]... l that it has value in it's ability to trigger theory and thought in other realms of knowledge.
    I believe man needs to feel connected to something greater than.

    I feel awesomely connected to the universe, in which and of which I am. And the mysteries of existence. To paraphrase a Zen saying, I’m simply no longer adding legs to the river...

    I just feel that it has value in it's ability to trigger theory and thought in other realms of knowledge.

    I need to think about that one. It has been claimed, for example, that the Jewish concept of linear (rather than cyclical) time, based on their understanding of the divine destiny of the people Israel, contributed to the development of history as a subject of study.

    I will also add that I think moderns have in large measure lost the ability to read mythology properly—which is how pre-scientific people told stories to express their understandings of how the world worked, and their place in it. I think they knew more what they were about, in the process, than they are sometimes given credit for. (Of course, the ancient Greeks were doing natural philosophy quite early, and non-supernatural Taoism goes back to around 500 BCE. The Upanishads—which while sometimes using religious-mythical symbolism and language, propound a non-theistic, monistic philosophy (even a “mystical” one)—go back to the 8th century BCE; the One Brahman, like the Tao, is not a supernatural being, or even a supernatural category, but is the grounding force of nature.)

    Look, as I sit here, I have a large reproduction of Rublev’s Trinity hanging on the wall, under which is a wood carving of the Buddha. I listen to (among other things) Hasidic niggun, Sufi quwalli, Byzantine chant (the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom) and Ravi Shankar. I also meditate. Such things connect me with—or elicit—the conscious but pre-conceptual existential experience of being. When I use the word “aesthetic” (at least until I find a better word), I mean more than pleasing art, etc.

    I simply treat the mystery, the ineffable, as natural—not supernatural.

    Good comments, though.
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    13 Sep '07 09:25
    Originally posted by scekk
    This drive is what makes belief systems a good thing.
    I used to have a fairly positive view of the possible benefits to religion. However having just read "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins, I am inclined to agree with him that the bad far outweighs the good and that most people who defend religion as 'a good thing' are not doing so for logical reasons but just some vague notion that it is true, probably based on culturally accepted norms not on any form of reasoning.
    Even if studying the ideas that religions promote can be enlightening, it does not in any way justify encouraging people to delude themselves and worse to intentionally delude their children, and actively discourage learning in areas that they consider a threat to their beliefs.
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    13 Sep '07 10:22
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [b]Tentative Propositions—

    (1) There may be aspects of the natural universe that transcend our cognitive capability.

    —I see no reason to assume that we are the singular species for which that is not the case.

    (2) If that is, in fact, the case, it nevertheless neither (a) requires, nor (b) of itself, warrants the assumption of a supernatural [e ...[text shortened]... some past discussions on here have led me to think it wise to get that out of the way up-front.[/b]
    Very nicely posed, i make mine all your words.
    All of you, read this again. It's true.
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    13 Sep '07 11:511 edit
    Originally posted by vistesd
    Note: Making up a story or myth to illustrate what someone believes is true, some aspect perhaps of our existential dilemma, is not lying. Someone who believes in the supernatural, and supernatural explanations for otherwise unexplainable events, is not lying in telling what they believe about such events. It’s unfortunate that I should feel compelled to po ...[text shortened]... some past discussions on here have led me to think it wise to get that out of the way up-front.[/b]
    Conversly, not making up a story and/or thinking that such myths actually are based more in reality than in the mind of the observer does not detract from there meaning in terms of how they relate to the lives of the people that tell the story nor does it detract how they may relate to our own lives.
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    13 Sep '07 11:591 edit
    Originally posted by vistesd
    [b]Tentative Propositions—

    (1) There may be aspects of the natural universe that transcend our cognitive capability.

    —I see no reason to assume that we are the singular species for which that is not the case.

    (2) If that is, in fact, the case, it nevertheless neither (a) requires, nor (b) of itself, warrants the assumption of a supernatural [e ...[text shortened]... some past discussions on here have led me to think it wise to get that out of the way up-front.[/b]
    By in large to have a discussion about any topic one must have point of reference. For example, if I talk about a football game one must a point of reference in which to relate to the discussion. The problem with supernatural discussions is that such concepts are abstact and materially not substantive thus many points of reference are to a greater extent lacking or more difficult in this regard. In effect, one MUST have a point of reference or prior assumptions about a topic at hand for a meaningful discussion to take place. For example, to talk about football I must have some prior assumption as to what a football is and what it is used for and the gaols and rules of the game etc etc. Usually there is a consensus in regards to points of reference within the material world such as what a football is, however, this does not mean that such a consensus is right or wrong it simply means that such concepts go uncontested. Conversly, this is not so easily done when discussing spiritual issues. Such concepts are continually contested, thus, to have a meaningful discussion at times is rather difficult if not impossible!!
  11. Hmmm . . .
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    13 Sep '07 15:22
    Originally posted by whodey
    By in large to have a discussion about any topic one must have point of reference. For example, if I talk about a football game one must a point of reference in which to relate to the discussion. The problem with supernatural discussions is that such concepts are abstact and materially not substantive thus many points of reference are to a greater extent la ...[text shortened]... ontested, thus, to have a meaningful discussion at times is rather difficult if not impossible!!
    Short, short night, and am on my first cup of coffee... Must be that...

    I think we are agreeing... !!! 🙂

    Not about the supernatural category, per se, of course, but the problems of discourse. If we cannot agree upon the axioms that are standards of truth for a system of discourse, or definitions of terms, that is where the ability to talk meaningfully ends—or at least it does not go beyond the bounds of, for example, arguing about the reasonableness of those axioms and definitions (which is, of course, valid).

    One might, of course, accept certain axioms “just for the sake of argument”—e.g., to move on to questions of whether or not a particular view is internally consistent, etc. One might also accept them provisionally in order to simply learn more about the system that is built upon them—if one is a student of comparative philosophy or religion, say. However, if one thinks that the axioms are unreasonable, he is not going to find the system ultimately reasonable either, even if it is internally consistent.

    It’s not, I think, limited to spiritual questions—but, at least, philosophical ones generally.

    Such concepts are continually contested, thus, to have a meaningful discussion at times is rather difficult if not impossible!!

    Beyond a certain point (e.g., about the reaonablenss of such concepts themselves) it is. It has to be; one simply has to accept that. The likes of bbarr and Dr.Scribbles tried to pound that into my head a long time ago. Recent good discussions with, in particular, telerion and Epiphenehas (and twhitehead) finally drove the point home to me.
    ______________________________

    I accept your point above about the converse, of course.
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    13 Sep '07 16:45
    I guess my general feeling is that the term "supernatural" is an oxymoron. If something exists, it does so within the framework of the natural universe, even if we don't currently understand what that is. There is no "super" natural. God, even if he exists and has limitless power, is as such a central component of the natural universe, and not a supernatural being at all.
  13. Hmmm . . .
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    13 Sep '07 17:172 edits
    Originally posted by darthmix
    I guess my general feeling is that the term "supernatural" is an oxymoron. If something exists, it does so within the framework of the natural universe, even if we don't currently understand what that is. There is no "super" natural. God, even if he exists and has limitless power, is as such a central component of the natural universe, and not a supernatural being at all.
    Yes, a kind of “naturalized theology.” Still metaphysically speculative perhaps (which may be a redundancy), but overcomes the need to assume a whole supernatural category with its attending baggage.*

    Technically, “limitless” power becomes somewhat relativized, I think. And that may be one reason why I think most theists would reject your position. (Makes me think of process philosophy/theology, however.)

    *Again, I have no problem with such speculation per se, as long as it is acknowledged as such. Done a lot of it myself, and likely will do more as part of my own life's aesthetic.

    EDIT: Your approach would simply eliminate the need for the first stated axiom in my "Theological Axioms" thread.
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    13 Sep '07 17:431 edit
    Well, understand that what I said wasn't really dependant on God's power actually being limitless. I just cited the most extreme interpretation of omnipotence in order to illustrate my actual point, which is that if we define the universe as everything that is, then anything which exists - even if it does so in another dimension, on a different plane, in some unkown aspect of space-time, whatever - is still part of that, because those different planes are themselves part of the natural universe. They may be parts of which we have no knowledge or understanding, but that doesn't make them supernatural.

    It's really a semantic quibble, though, and I understand that. Nothing can truly be supernatural; It can only seem to be, relative to our limited understanding of the universe.
  15. Hmmm . . .
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    13 Sep '07 18:101 edit
    Originally posted by darthmix
    Well, understand that what I said wasn't really dependant on God's power actually being limitless. I just cited the most extreme interpretation of omnipotence in order to illustrate my actual point, which is that if we define the universe as everything that is, then anything which exists - even if it does so in another dimension, on a different plane, in so supernatural; It can only seem to be, relative to our limited understanding of the universe.
    I agree.

    EDIT: The "semantic quibble" is why I try to say, at least once, that by "supernatural" I mean "extra-natural."
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