Tract #49: Does the Supernatural Exist?
Tract #49, Does the Supernatural Exist?, is ready for you to download and review. Download it, see page #3 for printing instructions, and let me know your comments! Thanks!
Does the Supernatural Exist?
Is it possible that supernatural things exist? Such things would, by definition, be beyond the reach of science, so it is difficult to see how you could prove that nothing supernatural is (in some sense) “out there.”
Regarding the supernatural, some people argue this way: Imagine a ball. You can see the ball in your mind, spin it, bounce it. The ball exists. But the ball is not a physical thing. You can’t point to its location. Even the most talented surgeon could not find it within your mind. The ball exists but is not part of the physical world, therefore things outside the physical world exist, therefore at least some supernatural things exist.
But is the ball really not a physical thing? Is it really a ball at all, or just a brain activity representing a ball? Is it any more real than an airplane in a computer simulation?
Let’s say that we grant that the ball exists. Aside from your being able to manipulate it inside your mind, it is unable to interact with anything in the physical world. You can’t show it to someone. Your mom won’t mind if you play with it in the house.
When people talk about the supernatural, they aren’t talking about things with these kinds of limit. They are talking about things that can have real-world impact. The imaginary ball does not help their case.
Imagine that a supernatural thing — a poltergeist, for example — exists. How would we know it? We have no sense that can detect the supernatural. All we can do is wait for the supernatural thing to interact with our world in a way that we can detect, and once it does that, it’s acting in the natural world and is subject to testing by science. At that point, we wouldn’t be investigating the supernatural, we’d be investigating the paranormal — something in the natural world that we do not yet have a scientific explanation for.
Could a paranormal thing have a supernatural explanation? Perhaps, but there’s no way we can know because the supernatural is beyond our ability to investigate. We can either choose to investigate the paranormal in the hopes of finding a natural explanation, or speculate on supernatural causes, knowing that they can never be proven.