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Supernaturalism

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Some people who have had spiritual experiences claim these experiences are irrefutable evidence of the existence of God or the supernatural. Others claim that while such experiences may be very meaningful, they are completely consistent with a scientific account of the mind.
Miracles are events attributed to divine intervention. From a scientific perspective, miracles have no place because they violate the laws of physics and are unreproducible via experiments. As such, scientists tend to attribute miracles to the fallibility of human interpretation of events.
Ghosts are believed to be spirits of the dead whose physical presence on earth continues long after their death. While a vast amount of anecdotal evidence supports the existence of ghosts, mainstream science rejects the belief. The skepticism is partly based on empirical grounds, since ghost sightings are notoriously unreproducible, but also stems from the intrinsic inconsistency of any theory that could explain such paranormal phenomena.
Psychic powers include telepathy, telekinesis, extra sensory perception, and mediumship. Such abilities are studied by parapsychologists, who seek to prove their existence using the scientific method. The mainstream scientific community regard parapsychology as a pseudoscience, asserting that parapsychological claims lack experimental rigor and are furthermore theoretically implausible.
Barack Obama
Kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt God's spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.
Andrew Sullivan
[My experience] represented for me a revelation of God's love and forgiveness, the improbable notion that the force behind all of this actually loved us, and even loved me. The calm I felt then; and the voice with no words I heard: this was truer than any proof I have ever conceded, any substance I have ever felt with my hands, any object I have seen with my eyes.
Sam Harris
There is nothing that prevents an atheist from experiencing love, ecstasy, rapture and awe; atheists can value these [spiritual] experiences and seek them regularly. What atheists don’t tend to do is make unjustified (and unjustifiable) claims about the nature of reality on the basis of such experiences. ... There is [no way to] be certain that Jesus ... was born of a virgin or rose from the dead. These are just not the sort of claims that spiritual experience can authenticate.
Scott Bidstrup
I've had a lot of interesting experiences in my life. Among these are experiences of God. I've had the experience of just knowing that Jesus is right beside me in times of great trials. I've heard that still, small voice advising me about matters spiritual. I've had dreams that were convincingly real... ...I should be a convert [but I'm not]. ... For years, I puzzled over the meaning of my experiences, and whether they were grounded in reality. I now believe that I have found the answer.
Deepak Chopra
Besides the various experiments in telepathy and 'remote viewing,' which are much more credible than skeptics will admit, there is a replicated study from the engineering department at Princeton in which ordinary people could will a computer to generate a certain pattern of numbers. They did this through thought alone, having no contact with the machine itself.
The Catholic Church
The apostles, the evangelists, and the whole primitive Church saw in each of those miracles the supreme power of Christ over nature and its laws.
Richard Shoup
Even if it were shown that all past laboratory Psi experiments were somehow flawed, the explanation would have to be highly interesting in itself, and would surely have a significant impact on science as well. Denial of the existence of Psi phenomena seems to be increasingly the refuge of those who are simply not willing to look at the evidence with an open (but still critical) mind.
Diane Hennacy Powell
There hasn't been a comprehensive and persuasive model to explain consciousness and psychic abilities, so I felt compelled to share the one that I had developed. My hope is that it will open the minds of scientists to psychic phenomena, as well as explain and validate psychic experiences for people who have them.
Charles Tart
Psi functioning is a complex psychological procedure. When we ask a naive percipient to use psi in the laboratory, this is not a simple request. I have argued that we, as parapsychologists, must examine and understand our own psychological functioning, as well as that of percipients. The nature of psi, creating connecting links that are not shielded by conventional physical barriers, implies that we are part of our experiments.

New Comments

0 Points       MTC       23 Feb 2013     Do miracles happen? Disagree
There is no good reason to believe that any miracles have happened, or will happen.

0 Points       MTC       23 Feb 2013     Do ghosts exist? Disagree
No good supporting evidence.

0 Points       MTC       23 Feb 2013     Are psychic powers real? Disagree
No, there is no reason to believe in psychic powers.

0 Points       pineconedegg       25 Mar 2011     Are spiritual experiences evidence of the supernatural? Disagree
A dream about dragons is not proof of dragons.

0 Points       kwhipke1       07 Mar 2011     Are spiritual experiences evidence of the supernatural? Disagree
For any spiritual experience someone claimed was caused by their deity of choice, I could claim that it was caused by aliens with superior technology and have no more evidence that that interpretation of the experience was correct than their interpretation. In fact, there are an infinite number of interpretations about what supernatural entity actually caused it (or if it even was supernatural), so the chance of any claim that one interpretation is right is basically 0. The only thing you can say with any certainty is "this experience happened".

0 Points       blacktrance       10 Feb 2011     Are spiritual experiences evidence of the supernatural? Disagree
Spiritual experiences are not evidence of anything.

0 Points       blacktrance       10 Feb 2011     Are psychic powers real? Disagree
No good evidence of it.

0 Points       blacktrance       10 Feb 2011     Do ghosts exist? Disagree
Absolutely no good evidence.

1 Point       blacktrance       10 Feb 2011     Do miracles happen? Disagree
Everything in the world operates under natural laws, and nothing more.

0 Points       Benja       09 May 2010     Do ghosts exist? Disagree
Or rather, no good evidence. There's a mountain of bad evidence. The reason people believe in ghosts is due to their inability to distinguish between good and bad evidence.

0 Points       the27th       09 May 2010     Do ghosts exist? Disagree
No evidence.

3 Points       the27th       09 May 2010     Are spiritual experiences evidence of the supernatural? Disagree
An internal sensation doesn't prove the truth of historical miraculous events. It can't. It can prove only your own capacity for reverence and awe, which does exist. I respect Andrew Sullivan, and I think his faith drives his most admirable qualities, but I suspect that his experience was of loving and forgiving himself.

New Editorial Comments

0 Points       Benja       08 Mar 2011     Are spiritual experiences evidence of the supernatural? Editorial Comment
Thanks. Good change.

1 Point       kwhipke1       07 Mar 2011     Are spiritual experiences evidence of the supernatural? Editorial Comment
Should read "are supernatural experiences evidence of the supernatural"


Supernaturalism Question Index

Are spiritual experiences evidence of the supernatural?
Are psychic powers real?
Do ghosts exist?
Do miracles happen?
Does water dowsing work? (a.k.a water divining)