Supernatural

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The supernatural (Medieval Latin: supernātūrālis: supra "above" + naturalis "nature", first used: 1520–30 AD) is that which is not subject to the laws of physics or, more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature. The supernatural is a feature of the philosophical traditions of Neoplatonism and Scholasticism, and most religions and occultism include concepts of it.

This article is about the philosophical concept; for other uses, see Supernatural (disambiguation).
See also:
Paranormal

Quotes[edit]

  • Those people who leap from personal bafflement at a natural phenomenon straight to a hasty invocation of the supernatural are no better than the fools who see a conjuror bending a spoon and leap to the conclusion that it is ‘paranormal’.
  • The most important of all ideas about the natural universe—that the world around us was something we could understand, rather than a magical place where events could have supernatural causes.
  • If we were to accept the supernatural or extranatural proposals of anti-evolutionists, it would provide little useful information to help us understand the history and diversity of life, and it would put an end to all research into the matter.
    • Antonio Lazcano in Petto and Godfrey eds., Scientists Confront Creationism, p. 193
  • This vulgar misrepresentation—often deliberate—of A Brief History of Time reflects a very sad, profoundly disturbing aspect of American society: Science illiteracy is so ubiquitous, and religious dogma so firmly ingrained, that legions cannot read a well-written science book without hallucinating the supernatural on every page.
  • “Man’s responsibility increases as that of the gods decreases” (quoting André Gide). Every step taken by science claims territory once occupied by the supernatural.
    • Robert Park, Voodoo Science, p. 31
  • The eventual development of a clear concept of the supernatural in Christian theology was promoted both by dialogues with heretics and by the influence of Neoplatonic philosophy.
  • Saint Thomas's important contribution to the emergence of a technical theology of the supernatural represents a special development of the concept of surpassing effects. Saint Thomas and others of the Scholastics have left us as one of their legacies a dichotomy between the natural and the supernatural that is theologically rooted in the distinction between the Order of Nature and the Order of Grace.
  • Scientific explanations are often complicated and require training and effort to work through. Superstition and belief in fate and the supernatural provide a simpler path through life’s complex maze.
  • Catholic theologians sometimes call supernatural the miraculous way in which certain effects, in themselves natural, are produced, or certain endowments (like man's immunity from death, suffering, passion, and ignorance) that bring the lower class up to the higher though always within the limits of the created, but they are careful in qualifying the former as accidentally supernatural (supernaturale per accidens) and the latter as relatively supernatural (prœternaturale).  For a concept of the substantially and absolutely supernatural, they start from a comprehensive view of the natural order taken, in its amplest acceptation, for the aggregate of all created entities and powers, including the highest natural endowments of which the rational creature is capable, and even such Divine operations as are demanded by the effective carrying out of the cosmic order.  The supernatural order is then more than a miraculous way of producing natural effects, or a notion of relative superiority within the created world, or the necessary concurrence of God in the universe; it is an effect or series of effects substantially and absolutely above all nature and, as such, calls for an exceptional intervention and gratuitous bestowal of God and rises in a manner to the Divine order, the only one that transcends the whole created world... It is obvious also that this uplifting of the rational creature to the supernatural order cannot be by way of absorption of the created into the Divine or of fusion of both into a sort of monistic identity, but only by way of union or participation, the two terms remaining perfectly distinct.
  • Thought, as a subtle juggler, makes us deem
    Things supernatural, which have cause
    Common as sickness.

See also[edit]