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Help Me Debunk Supernatural


directionless
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Here is my definition of supernatural. If this doesn't work for some reason, then help me refine it.

 

Apparently there is randomness at the quantum level. This randomness can probably trickle-up through systems that are sensitive to small changes. Examples of these systems might be: weather, mentally unstable brains, ... So in some cases there is meaningful randomness in our daily lives.

 

Probably many atheists would accept this idea about randomness. Now we add the idea that something supernatural can control this randomness.

 

For example:

- the idea of a soul outside our brains that somehow makes choices and should be rewarded or punished in the afterlife

- the idea of a god that can be influenced to provide good harvest when people make the proper offerings

- the idea that a person can get supernatural guidance by divination (looking at tea leaves or whatever)

 

Magic and ESP seem a little trickier to me. Many people describe magic as an ESP-like force that we don't fully understand yet. The problem with this view is that we should be able to confirm ESP experimentally, but I haven't read about anything that persuades me.

 

I think it is easier for supernatural to evade scientific experiments if there are supernatural actors with free will that prefer to hide themselves from the unworthy skeptics.

 

Maybe these are just random thoughts. Sometimes I worry about these things and. Maybe it is mental illness.

 

So I hoped that somebody might have some ideas to help me debunk these worries. smile.png

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I think the way you are approaching this is around the wrong way.  It is not for the skeptic to debunk a supernatural claim, it is for the person making the claim to provide sufficient evidence that supports their claim - or not.  The  burden of proof is on the person making the claim.

 

I wasn't able to get past your initial statement of "apparently there is randomness at the quantum level".  It's too vague and I don't understand what is meant (and it's not worth trying to explain it to me, since I have no idea what "quantum" means).  If you stick to statements that can be supported by evidence, and make sure you define your terms, then that provides a starting point for discussion.

 

I define "supernatural" as being outside the natural, demonstrable world.  It is therefore not possible to observe or measure it.  I therefore do not believe in it.

 

I hope others will be able to help you with this better than I can.

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I think it is easier for supernatural to evade scientific experiments if there are supernatural actors with free will that prefer to hide themselves from the unworthy skeptics.

 

That's exactly what the invisible leprechaun in my clothes closet likes to do.

 

Seriously, why assume there is something that is undetectable deliberately evading discovery? Here are some things we DO know exist: confirmation bias, hallucinations, profit motive, skewed perception and altered brain states.

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I think it is easier for supernatural to evade scientific experiments if there are supernatural actors with free will that prefer to hide themselves from the unworthy skeptics.

That's exactly what the invisible leprechaun in my clothes closet likes to do.

 

Seriously, why assume there is something that is undetectable deliberately evading discovery? Here are some things we DO know exist: confirmation bias, hallucinations, profit motive, skewed perception and altered brain states.

 

... and a lot of very vivid imaginations and wishful thinking...

 

 

That's not to say people are wrong or stupid for wishful thinking though.  People may have a desperate need for some things to be true, so they believe in it despite lack of evidence.  When I was depressed and nothing seemed to help, I wanted a healing god to be real, and so for me at that time it became real.  It's only from the vantage point of hindsight that I can see that for what it was.  I empathise with people still stuck with a degree of belief in the supernatural despite trying not to have it.  There may be reasons for it that aren't completely within their control at that time.

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O.k. thanks for those ideas, everybody smile.png

 

The idea that I should disbelieve this due to lack of evidence doesn't work for me. I see what you all are saying, but I'll give some extra context for my question.

 

So apparently I had a psychotic episode after vising an old friend several years ago. During that time I had strong suspicions that my friend was somehow a factor in causing my problems - either deliberately or because he was being mind-controlled by others. The suspicions changed over time. At first I suspected he was being magically controlled by a pink baseball cap somebody gave him. Then as I started going to church I suspected he was being controlled by demons. As I became more atheistic I suspected he was secretly malicious and had used drugs or hypnosis or even magic. That is how the memories seem, but of course I should accept that I was having psychosis.

 

So I agreed to entertain this friend for a weekend when he comes to visit this fall. I've found myself thinking about him trying to drug me or use magic on me, and it makes me very angry that I must spend the weekend entertaining him like I still trust him. I saw him once about six months after I had psychosis. I suspected he tried to drug me again and things became strange at times like he was creating weird coincidences steering events. At that time I hoped that God would keep me safe, but I have more skepticism now.

 

Probably that makes me sound very weird, but actually I am o.k. most of the time. I just dread entertaining this friend again, because it brings back all those weird memories.

 

Anyway, that is my motivation for asking the question. I thought if I can debunk supernatural then it might help with my suspicions. smile.png

 

Also, I have been thinking about going to a therapist, but last time I described these things to a therapist it caused an overreaction IMO. I hate the wishy-washy way that some psychiatrists speak positively about spirituality. Atheists should consider spirituality to be nonsense and help their patients to see that too. I would feel much better if I can be more skeptical and atheistic.

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Well, Directionless, we will still do our best to try and help you overcome this.  I'm not sure what I can offer other than using the evidence approach but I will have a think about it.  I think if you give this a few days, some others with more experience will come in and contribute.

 

One practical option regarding the weekend might be to cancel with some excuse, so he doesn't think you're being rude to him.  It sounds like having him around might trigger unpleasant feelings in you.  You are allowed to change your mind about him being there.  Your wellbeing is important.

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I think it is easier for supernatural to evade scientific experiments if there are supernatural actors with free will that prefer to hide themselves from the unworthy skeptics.

That's exactly what the invisible leprechaun in my clothes closet likes to do.

 

Seriously, why assume there is something that is undetectable deliberately evading discovery? Here are some things we DO know exist: confirmation bias, hallucinations, profit motive, skewed perception and altered brain states.

 

... and a lot of very vivid imaginations and wishful thinking...

 

 

That's not to say people are wrong or stupid for wishful thinking though.  People may have a desperate need for some things to be true, so they believe in it despite lack of evidence.  When I was depressed and nothing seemed to help, I wanted a healing god to be real, and so for me at that time it became real.  It's only from the vantage point of hindsight that I can see that for what it was.  I empathise with people still stuck with a degree of belief in the supernatural despite trying not to have it.  There may be reasons for it that aren't completely within their control at that time.

 

Maybe I misunderstood the term "supernatural actors" in the original OP by directionless. I took it to mean 'people' who are 'acting' (faking) and misleading others. I should've read everything more closely. And I don't mean to imply anyone is "stupid" for having a vivid imagination or wishing for something to be real. I hope I didn't seem to imply that.

 

I don't think you implied that, I was just being extra careful about it.  All good.

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Check out this page... a $100,000,000 prize to ANYONE who can prove the supernatural. James Randi has been offering a prize for proof since 1964...no one has taken the prize yet.

 

www.skeptic.com/Randi.html

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Check out this page... a $100,000,000 prize to ANYONE who can prove the supernatural. James Randi has been offering a prize for proof since 1964...no one has taken the prize yet.

 

www.skeptic.com/Randi.html

It's $1,000,000, and it has been claimed: 

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The natural world is super enough on its own so far as I'm concerned.  I don't really feel the need to look for anything beyond it.

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Check out this page... a $100,000,000 prize to ANYONE who can prove the supernatural. James Randi has been offering a prize for proof since 1964...no one has taken the prize yet.

www.skeptic.com/Randi.html

 

It's $1,000,000, and it has been claimed: 

Oops type-o sorry...and WTF, someone claimed it?? Looks like i'm turning back to Cod...as if.

I'm sure a little logic & research will cure that!

 

Thx TF

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Check out this page... a $100,000,000 prize to ANYONE who can prove the supernatural. James Randi has been offering a prize for proof since 1964...no one has taken the prize yet.

www.skeptic.com/Randi.html

It's $1,000,000, and it has been claimed: 

Oops type-o sorry...and WTF, someone claimed it?? Looks like i'm turning back to Cod...as if.

I'm sure a little logic & research will cure that!

 

Thx TF

 

He didn't want to take the money, but Randi insisted.  I'm not sure what happened after that though, since the foundation seems to still claim that nobody has been able to claim it.

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Sorry for the rabbit trail.  I don't consider Seth's technology supernatural, but it passed the challenge.

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According to wikipedia, Seth Raphael's "claim" was an April Fool's prank.

 

Note the date: April 1st, 2008. Hope that helps.

Darn, you beat me to it.  Was just typing up a post when you posted.

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Note the date: April 1st, 2008. Hope that helps.

lulz...  April fool's!!!

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directionless; you suggest in your OP about a supernatural power controlling randomness. I'm assuming hypothetically speaking. The truth though is if there was a supernatural power controlling life as we know it, or the universe as we think we know it so far, there would be no randomness. At all.

 

The fact that there is randomness means nothing is controlling it.

 

That's my thought to it, anyway.

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Randomness can't be controlled.If it could, it wouldn't be random.

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directionless; you suggest in your OP about a supernatural power controlling randomness. I'm assuming hypothetically speaking. The truth though is if there was a supernatural power controlling life as we know it, or the universe as we think we know it so far, there would be no randomness. At all.

 

The fact that there is randomness means nothing is controlling it.

 

That's my thought to it, anyway.

Thanks. That is sort of what I believe at times - that fate is guiding everything. It is probably partly due to being raised as a Christian. It's hard for me to accept things as "random" - especially if it feels like a synchronicity. Sometimes I think this reality is just a dream and the synchronicities are trying to help us remember ourselves before we fell asleep.

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especially if it feels like a synchronicity

 

That's how our brains work. We seek patterns and context for everything. We will find it whether it's there or not.

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Randomness can't be controlled.If it could, it wouldn't be random.

If the thing controlling randomness is not measurable or observable then the controlled events would appear random.

 

What I haven't worked-out is the communication between supernatural and natural. If the supernatural is measuring and observing the natural, then this gives the natural a degree of influence on the supernatural. That influence might tend to make the behavior of supernatural beings somewhat predictable so that we could detect their presence scientifically.

 

I haven't thought it through completely.

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Randomness can't be controlled.If it could, it wouldn't be random.

If the thing controlling randomness is not measurable or observable then the controlled events would appear random.

 

What I haven't worked-out is the communication between supernatural and natural. If the supernatural is measuring and observing the natural, then this gives the natural a degree of influence on the supernatural. That influence might tend to make the behavior of supernatural beings somewhat predictable so that we could detect their presence scientifically.

 

I haven't thought it through completely.

 

Your problem is that you assume the supernatural exists. Having no evidence, you try to create some where there is none. Quantum mechanics calculates a finite range of probability for any event--it can't be unobservededly changed. You're really reaching here.

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especially if it feels like a synchronicity

That's how our brains work. We seek patterns and context for everything. We will find it whether it's there or not.

 

That is true. I read a book "Hallucinations" by Oliver Sacks. The author argued that hallucinations arise when sensory inputs become absent or simply random. So elderly people begin hallucinating as their eyesight goes. The brain tries to find patterns where there is nothing.

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