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The Confusion of the Natural and the Supernatural

Posted by on 11/11/2009

The confusion of the natural and the supernatural, promoted by religion, damages the ability to think logically. Religious people are good at ignoring the evidence for scientific explanations of the things they think are supernatural.

For example, ten people can have ten different explanations for an event such as a volcanic eruption.

  1. It is a result of natural forces, pushing hot magma to the surface through cracks and weaknesses in the earth’s crust.
  2. It is an expression of God’s anger.
  3. It is a result of Mercury’s opposition to Venus, causing a period of unfortunate natural events to occur, of which this was one.
  4. The volcano is itself a God, and it overflows at random times to show us that we must respect nature.
  5. It is sheer bad luck, and it’s happening just to keep me from getting that flight home, that I can’t afford to miss.
  6. It is a result of all the negative emotion in the world filling the earth with fear and hatred until it overflows.
  7. It is erupting because we failed to sacrifice a thousand virgins to the volcano.
  8. It is happening because the old hag at the end of the village has cursed us all.
  9. It is happening because it was destined to happen.
  10. I thought about this happening, and therefore I made it happen.
  11. Gaia  is trying to rid itself of this pestilence of humanity, which is eating into its surface, and taking out the oil, gold, coal, copper, tin, and water.

As with every event that occurs, the natural explanation – ‘a’ on the list above, is supported by the evidence, and no matter how convinced you are that any of the other explanations are the reason for the volcanic eruption, they are unnecessary, given that we can prove the physics of the natural explanation, which we can.

Of course, you can argue that the natural explanation is the way God works – through physical laws. However, a similar argument can be made for luck, or Gaia, or astronomy, or the old hag at the end of the village, or any of the others. This being the case, it invalidates the argument that God works through physical laws. That is really just a way of saying, that nature rules.

The other thing is of course that the natural explanation can be used to predict future eruptions. This can’t be done with any of the other explanations. Only someone indoctrinated into not thinking, into never considering nature as the primary force in this universe, into never critically analysing all the possibilities before deciding which one is right, could believe that such natural events have supernatural origins.

For some people who can’t think critically about their beliefs or about cause and effect,  the above arguments won’t work, because if you can’t think critically, you basically can’t think. And if you can think and won’t, that’s even worse.

Religion, by eliminating the need to think, and by preventing critical thinking, encourages intellectual blind spots, and that’s a bad thing about religion.