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Supernatural

Supernatural

Overview
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature. With neoplatonic
Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

 and medieval scholastic
Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

 origins, the metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 considerations can be difficult to approach as an exercise in philosophy or theology because any dependencies on its antithesis, the natural
Naturalism (philosophy)
Naturalism commonly refers to the philosophical viewpoint that the natural universe and its natural laws and forces operate in the universe, and that nothing exists beyond the natural universe or, if it does, it does not affect the natural universe that we know...

, will ultimately have to be inverted or rejected. In popular culture and fiction, the supernatural is whimsically associated with the paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 and the occult
Occult
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus , referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g...

, this differs from traditional concepts in some religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

s, such as Catholicism, where divine miracle
Miracle
A miracle often denotes an event attributed to divine intervention. Alternatively, it may be an event attributed to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that a god may work with the laws...

s are considered supernatural.


In Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

, while the meaning of the term and its antithesis vary, the “Supernatural Order” is the gratuitous production, by God, of the ensemble of miracles for the elevation of man to a state of grace
State of Grace
State of Grace is an American comedy-drama series that ran for two seasons on the Fox Network's Fox Family channel during 2001 and 2002.-Plot:...

, including the hypostatic union
Hypostatic union
Hypostatic union is a technical term in Christian theology employed in mainstream Christology to describe the union of Christ's humanity and divinity in one hypostasis.The First Council of Ephesus recognised this doctrine and affirmed its importance, stating that the...

 (Incarnation), the beatific vision
Beatific vision
The beatific vision - in Christian theology is the ultimate direct self communication of God to the individual person, when she or he reaches, as a member of redeemed humanity in the communion of saints, perfect salvation in its entirety, i.e. heaven...

, and the ministry of angels.
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Encyclopedia
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature. With neoplatonic
Neoplatonism
Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

 and medieval scholastic
Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

 origins, the metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 considerations can be difficult to approach as an exercise in philosophy or theology because any dependencies on its antithesis, the natural
Naturalism (philosophy)
Naturalism commonly refers to the philosophical viewpoint that the natural universe and its natural laws and forces operate in the universe, and that nothing exists beyond the natural universe or, if it does, it does not affect the natural universe that we know...

, will ultimately have to be inverted or rejected. In popular culture and fiction, the supernatural is whimsically associated with the paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 and the occult
Occult
The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus , referring to "knowledge of the hidden". In the medical sense it is used to refer to a structure or process that is hidden, e.g...

, this differs from traditional concepts in some religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

s, such as Catholicism, where divine miracle
Miracle
A miracle often denotes an event attributed to divine intervention. Alternatively, it may be an event attributed to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that a god may work with the laws...

s are considered supernatural.

In Catholicism



In Catholicism
Catholicism
Catholicism is a broad term for the body of the Catholic faith, its theologies and doctrines, its liturgical, ethical, spiritual, and behavioral characteristics, as well as a religious people as a whole....

, while the meaning of the term and its antithesis vary, the “Supernatural Order” is the gratuitous production, by God, of the ensemble of miracles for the elevation of man to a state of grace
State of Grace
State of Grace is an American comedy-drama series that ran for two seasons on the Fox Network's Fox Family channel during 2001 and 2002.-Plot:...

, including the hypostatic union
Hypostatic union
Hypostatic union is a technical term in Christian theology employed in mainstream Christology to describe the union of Christ's humanity and divinity in one hypostasis.The First Council of Ephesus recognised this doctrine and affirmed its importance, stating that the...

 (Incarnation), the beatific vision
Beatific vision
The beatific vision - in Christian theology is the ultimate direct self communication of God to the individual person, when she or he reaches, as a member of redeemed humanity in the communion of saints, perfect salvation in its entirety, i.e. heaven...

, and the ministry of angels. Divine operation, “spiritual facts” and “voluntary determinations” are consistently referred to as “supernatural” by those who specifically preclude the “extrinsic concurrence” of God or by those espousing a materialist
Materialism
In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance...

 or determinist
Determinism
Determinism is the general philosophical thesis that states that for everything that happens there are conditions such that, given them, nothing else could happen. There are many versions of this thesis. Each of them rests upon various alleged connections, and interdependencies of things and...

 worldview that excludes immaterial beings or free will
Free will
"To make my own decisions whether I am successful or not due to uncontrollable forces" -Troy MorrisonA pragmatic definition of free willFree will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long...

. Barring disingenuous intent, there is no objection to this manner of speaking.
Divine revelation of the supernatural order is considered to be a matter of fact, contingent upon proper evidence of such, (miracle, prophecy etc.). “The revelation and its evidences are called extrinsic and auxiliary supernatural, the elevation itself retaining the name of intrinsic or, according to some, theological supernatural.” The supernatural order was analyzed primarily by scholastic
Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

 and post-Tridentine theologians. Theories denying or belittling the supernatural order, are historically classified into three groups:
  1. present de facto condition (Pelagianism
    Pelagianism
    Pelagianism is a theological theory named after Pelagius , although he denied, at least at some point in his life, many of the doctrines associated with his name. It is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without...

    , Beghards
    Beghards
    Beghards and Beguines were Roman Catholic lay religious communities active in the 13th and 14th centuries, living in a loose semi-monastic community but without formal vows...

    , Stoic
    STOIC
    STOIC was a variant of Forth.It started out at the MIT and Harvard Biomedical Engineering Centre in Boston, and was written in the mid 1970s by Jonathan Sachs...

     influence),
  2. the original status of man (Reformers such as Baius
    Baius
    Baius may refer to*Michel Baius, Catholic theologian*Băiuş, a village in the Leova district, Moldova*Baios , Odysseus' helmsman, buried in a bay near Naples that was named after him Baiae....

    , Protestant and the Jansenist School),
  3. possibility and evidence (Rationalist School, from Socinus
    Socinus
    Sozzini may refer to:* Fausto Paolo Sozzini * Lelio Sozzini...

     to the present Modernists).

Contrasting views


One complicating factor is that there is no universal agreement about what the definition of “natural” is, and what the limits of naturalism
Metaphysical naturalism
Metaphysical naturalism, also called ontological naturalism and philosophical naturalism, or just naturalism, is a philosophical worldview and belief system that holds that there is nothing but natural elements, principles, and relations of the kind studied by the natural sciences, i.e., those...

 might be. Concepts in the supernatural domain are closely related to concepts in religious
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 spirituality
Spirituality
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

 and occultism or spiritualism
Spiritualism
Spiritualism is a belief system or religion, postulating the belief that spirits of the dead residing in the spirit world have both the ability and the inclination to communicate with the living...

. Additionally, by definition anything that exists naturally is not supernatural.

The term "supernatural" is often used interchangeably with paranormal
Paranormal
Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

 or preternatural
Preternatural
The preternatural or praeternatural is that which appears outside or beyond the natural. In contrast to the supernatural, preternatural phenomena are presumed to have rational explanations that are, as of yet, unknown....

 — the latter typically limited to an adjective for describing abilities which appear to exceed the bounds of possibility (see the nature of God in Western theology
The nature of God in Western theology
The nature of God in monotheistic religions is a broad topic in Western philosophy of religion and theology, with a very old and distinguished history; it was one of the central topics in medieval philosophy....

, anthropology of religion
Anthropology of religion
The anthropology of religion involves the study of religious institutions in relation to other social institutions, and the comparison of religious beliefs and practices across cultures.-History:...

, and Biblical cosmology
Biblical cosmology
The various authors of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament provide glimpses of their views regarding cosmology.According to the Genesis creation narrative, the cosmos created by Elohim has three levels, with the habitable world in the centre, an underworld below and the heavens above...

).

Many supporters of supernatural explanations believe that past, present, and future complexities and mysteries of the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

 cannot be explained solely by naturalistic means and argue that it is reasonable to assume that a non-natural entity or entities resolve the unexplained. Proponents of supernaturalism say that their belief system is more flexible, which allows more diversity in terms of intuition and epistemology.

Views on the "supernatural" include that it is:
  • indistinct from nature. From this perspective, some events occur according to the laws of nature, and others occur according to a separate set of principles external to known nature. For example, in Scholasticism, it was believed that God was capable of performing any miracle so long as it didn't lead to a logical contradiction
    Contradiction
    In classical logic, a contradiction consists of a logical incompatibility between two or more propositions. It occurs when the propositions, taken together, yield two conclusions which form the logical, usually opposite inversions of each other...

    . As a pedagogical exercise, a physics university instructor might ask what the aftermath would be, as nature returns to normal, following a hypothetical miraculous intervention by God, similar to a modern thought experiment
    Thought experiment
    A thought experiment or Gedankenexperiment considers some hypothesis, theory, or principle for the purpose of thinking through its consequences...

    . Some religions posit immanent deities, however, and do not have a tradition analogous to the supernatural; some believe that everything anyone experiences occurs by the will (occasionalism
    Occasionalism
    Occasionalism is a philosophical theory about causation which says that created substances cannot be efficient causes of events. Instead, all events are taken to be caused directly by God...

    ), in the mind (neoplatonism
    Neoplatonism
    Neoplatonism , is the modern term for a school of religious and mystical philosophy that took shape in the 3rd century AD, based on the teachings of Plato and earlier Platonists, with its earliest contributor believed to be Plotinus, and his teacher Ammonius Saccas...

    ), or as a part (nondualism
    Nondualism
    Nondualism is a term used to denote affinity, or unity, rather than duality or separateness or multiplicity. In reference to the universe it may be used to denote the idea that things appear distinct while not being separate. The term "nondual" can refer to a belief, condition, theory, practice,...

    ) of a more fundamental divine reality (platonism
    Platonism
    Platonism is the philosophy of Plato or the name of other philosophical systems considered closely derived from it. In a narrower sense the term might indicate the doctrine of Platonic realism...

    ).

  • incorrectly attributed to nature. Others believe that all events have natural and only natural causes. They believe that human beings ascribe supernatural attributes to purely natural events, such as lightning
    Lightning
    Lightning is an atmospheric electrostatic discharge accompanied by thunder, which typically occurs during thunderstorms, and sometimes during volcanic eruptions or dust storms...

    , rainbow
    Rainbow
    A rainbow is an optical and meteorological phenomenon that causes a spectrum of light to appear in the sky when the Sun shines on to droplets of moisture in the Earth's atmosphere. It takes the form of a multicoloured arc...

    s, flood
    Flood
    A flood is an overflow of an expanse of water that submerges land. The EU Floods directive defines a flood as a temporary covering by water of land not normally covered by water...

    s, and the origin of life.

See also


  • Ex nihilo
    Ex nihilo
    Ex nihilo is a Latin phrase meaning "out of nothing". It often appears in conjunction with the concept of creation, as in creatio ex nihilo, meaning "creation out of nothing"—chiefly in philosophical or theological contexts, but also occurs in other fields.In theology, the common phrase creatio ex...

    , (Latin
    Latin
    Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

    , "out of nothing"), refers to a doctrine of creation that claims the world, by divine fiat, emerged from a state of absolute nothingness.
  • Magical thinking
    Magical thinking
    Magical thinking is causal reasoning that looks for correlation between acts or utterances and certain events. In religion, folk religion, and superstition, the correlation posited is between religious ritual, such as prayer, sacrifice, or the observance of a taboo, and an expected benefit or...

  • Miracle
    Miracle
    A miracle often denotes an event attributed to divine intervention. Alternatively, it may be an event attributed to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that a god may work with the laws...

  • Paranormal
    Paranormal
    Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure...

  • Preternatural
    Preternatural
    The preternatural or praeternatural is that which appears outside or beyond the natural. In contrast to the supernatural, preternatural phenomena are presumed to have rational explanations that are, as of yet, unknown....


Further reading

  • Wonders of the Invisible World
    Wonders of the Invisible World
    Wonders of the Invisible World was a book published in 1693 by Cotton Mather, defending Mather's role in the witchhunt conducted in Salem, Massachusetts, and espousing the belief that witchcraft was an evil magical power...

    , Cotton Mather, Boston, 1693
  • More Wonders of the Invisible World, Robert Calef
    Robert Calef
    Robert Calef was a Boston, Massachusetts Baptist cloth merchant who came to America before 1688. He is best known as the author of More Wonders of the Invisible World, a treatise that he published in 1700 against the state clergy, particularly Rev. Cotton Mather, for its role in the Salem witch...

    , 1700
  • The Supernatural Side of Maine, C. J. Stevens
    C. J. Stevens
    Clysle Julius Stevens is a writer. He has published over 30 books , been published in hundreds of magazines, and the United States Library of Congress contains a special collection of his works.In 1998, the Portland Press Herald described him as "versatile and...

    , 2002

External links