Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Supernatural is Special Pleading

Topic

Any claim of a supernatural cause for a phenomenon is special pleading, because out of everything we've ever thoroughly investigated, 100% of them have been natural causes.

History of Investigation

From the beginning of humanity's efforts to understand the world around us, we have been investigating phenomenon that we come across.

Some of those phenomenon we thought were normal natural things, and some we assigned to supernatural causes. Humanity has thought that all sorts of things come from the supernatural, whether it's supernatural forces to gods. We thought lightning came from Zeus, for instance. We thought that wind, rain, plantlife, the sun, the stars, the moon, planets, disease, earthquakes, and even love, all came from one supernatural source or another.

Over the past few thousand years, we've been looking into these phenomenon. Of those that we've sufficiently investigated in a objective and demonstrable way, we've discovered a trend in the natural versus supernatural.

TypeNumber of times phenomenon fell into cateogry type
Natural100%
Supernatural0%

This is unambiguous. In the entirety of our investigation into reality, 100% of those things we were able to investigate turned out to be natural.

The rest, such as ghosts, telepathy, etc, have yet to even be demonstrated they exist at all, let alone have a natural or supernatural cause.

Definitions of Natural versus Supernatural

Part of the problem here could be that the definitions of natural and supernatural generate this problem.

By some definitions, if it's possible to investigate, then it's real, and is therefore natural. "Supernatural" would almost be like a parallel universe that we have no access.

So, by that line of thought, if we were to demonstrate that a god exists, would it then be natural?

Supernatural in regards to proving God

Proving God is the point of all this discussion about supernatural explanations for phenomenon. That's the goal. I've literally had an argument of God presented to me once:

"Supernatural things exist, like evil. Since evil exists, then good must exist. If good exists, there must be a God."

Establishing that the supernatural exists becomes a stepping stone towards proving their god beliefs. That is what will be addressed in terms of the special pleading aspect of this discussion.

Special Pleading

Special pleading is when one makes an exception when the overwhelming trend is opposed to it.

When an apologist claims that there's an observed phenomenon, and it must have a supernatural cause, it's special pleading. It's special pleading because it's saying:

"Look, I know that the other million things we said were supernatural turned out to be perfectly natural, but this time it will be different. This time it really is supernatural."

It's an absurd position to take. For any given new phenomenon we observe, and based on precedent probability, it's so unlikely it's a supernatural cause, it's essentially not worth even considering as a viable explanation.