Supernatural | Wikipedia audio article

Supernatural | Wikipedia audio article


The concept of the supernatural encompasses
anything that is inexplicable by scientific understanding of the laws of nature but nevertheless
argued by believers to exist. Examples include immaterial beings such as
angels, gods and spirits, and claimed human abilities like magic, telekinesis and extrasensory
perception. Historically, supernatural entities have been
invoked to explain phenomena as diverse as lightning, seasons and the human senses. Naturalists maintain that nothing beyond the
physical world exists and hence maintain skeptical attitudes towards supernatural concepts.The
supernatural is featured in paranormal, occult and religious contexts, but can also feature
as an explanation in more secular contexts.==Etymology==
Occurring as both an adjective and a noun, descendants of the modern English compound
supernatural enters the language from two sources: via Middle French (supernaturel)
and directly from the Middle French’s term’s ancestor, post-Classical Latin (supernaturalis). Post-classical Latin supernaturalis first
occurs in the 6th century, composed of the Latin prefix super- and nātūrālis (see
nature). The earliest known appearance of the word
in the English language occurs in a Middle English translation of Catherine of Siena’s
Dialogue (orcherd of Syon, around 1425; Þei haue not þanne þe supernaturel lyȝt ne
þe liȝt of kunnynge, bycause þei vndirstoden it not).The semantic value of the term has
shifted over the history of its use. Originally the term referred exclusively to
Christian understandings of the world. For example, as an adjective, the term can
mean ‘belonging to a realm or system that transcends nature, as that of divine, magical,
or ghostly beings; attributed to or thought to reveal some force beyond scientific understanding
or the laws of nature; occult, paranormal’ or ‘more than what is natural or ordinary;
unnaturally or extraordinarily great; abnormal, extraordinary’. Obsolete uses include ‘of, relating to, or
dealing with metaphysics’. As a noun, the term can mean ‘a supernatural
being’, with a particularly strong history of employment in relation to entities from
the mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.==Epistemology and metaphysics==The
metaphysical considerations of the existence of the supernatural can be difficult to approach
as an exercise in philosophy or theology because any dependencies on its antithesis, the natural,
will ultimately have to be inverted or rejected. One complicating factor is that there is disagreement
about the definition of “natural” and the limits of naturalism. Concepts in the supernatural domain are closely
related to concepts in religious spirituality and occultism or spiritualism. For sometimes we use the word nature for that
Author of nature whom the schoolmen, harshly enough, call natura naturans, as when it is
said that nature hath made man partly corporeal and partly immaterial. Sometimes we mean by the nature of a thing
the essence, or that which the schoolmen scruple not to call the quiddity of a thing, namely,
the attribute or attributes on whose score it is what it is, whether the thing be corporeal
or not, as when we attempt to define the nature of an angle, or of a triangle, or of a fluid
body, as such. Sometimes we take nature for an internal principle
of motion, as when we say that a stone let fall in the air is by nature carried towards
the centre of the earth, and, on the contrary, that fire or flame does naturally move upwards
toward firmament. Sometimes we understand by nature the established
course of things, as when we say that nature makes the night succeed the day, nature hath
made respiration necessary to the life of men. Sometimes we take nature for an aggregate
of powers belonging to a body, especially a living one, as when physicians say that
nature is strong or weak or spent, or that in such or such diseases nature left to herself
will do the cure. Sometimes we take nature for the universe,
or system of the corporeal works of God, as when it is said of a phoenix, or a chimera,
that there is no such thing in nature, i.e. in the world. And sometimes too, and that most commonly,
we would express by nature a semi-deity or other strange kind of being, such as this
discourse examines the notion of.And besides these more absolute acceptions, if I may so
call them, of the word nature, it has divers others (more relative), as nature is wont
to be set or in opposition or contradistinction to other things, as when we say of a stone
when it falls downwards that it does it by a natural motion, but that if it be thrown
upwards its motion that way is violent. So chemists distinguish vitriol into natural
and fictitious, or made by art, i.e. by the intervention of human power or skill; so it
is said that water, kept suspended in a sucking pump, is not in its natural place, as that
is which is stagnant in the well. We say also that wicked men are still in the
state of nature, but the regenerate in a state of grace; that cures wrought by medicines
are natural operations; but the miraculous ones wrought by Christ and his apostles were
supernatural. The term “supernatural” is often used interchangeably
with paranormal or preternatural — the latter typically limited to an adjective for describing
abilities which appear to exceed what is possible within the boundaries of the laws of physics. Epistemologically, the relationship between
the supernatural and the natural is indistinct in terms of natural phenomena that, ex hypothesi,
violate the laws of nature, in so far as such laws are realistically accountable. Parapsychologists use the term psi to refer
to an assumed unitary force underlying the phenomena they study. Psi is defined in the Journal of Parapsychology
as “personal factors or processes in nature which transcend accepted laws” (1948: 311)
and “which are non-physical in nature” (1962:310), and it is used to cover both extrasensory
perception (ESP), an “awareness of or response to an external event or influence not apprehended
by sensory means” (1962:309) or inferred from sensory knowledge, and psychokinesis (PK),
“the direct influence exerted on a physical system by a subject without any known intermediate
energy or instrumentation” (1945:305). Many supporters of supernatural explanations
believe that past, present, and future complexities and mysteries of the universe cannot be explained
solely by naturalistic means and argue that it is reasonable to assume that a non-natural
entity or entities resolve the unexplained. Views on the “supernatural” vary, for example
it may be seen as: indistinct from nature. From this perspective, some events occur according
to the laws of nature, and others occur according to a separate set of principles external to
known nature. For example, in Scholasticism, it was believed
that God was capable of performing any miracle so long as it didn’t lead to a logical contradiction. Some religions posit immanent deities, however,
and do not have a tradition analogous to the supernatural; some believe that everything
anyone experiences occurs by the will (occasionalism), in the mind (neoplatonism), or as a part (nondualism)
of a more fundamental divine reality (platonism). incorrect human attribution. In this view all events have natural and only
natural causes. They believe that human beings ascribe supernatural
attributes to purely natural events, such as lightning, rainbows, floods, and the origin
of life.==History of the concept==
Dialogues from Neoplatonic philosophy in the third century AD contributed the development
of the concept the supernatural via Christian theology in later centuries. The term nature had existed since antiquity
with Latin authors like Augustine using the word and its cognates at least 600 times in
City of God. In the medieval period, “nature” had ten different
meanings and “natural” had eleven different meanings. Peter Lombard, a medieval scholastic in the
12th century, asked about causes that are beyond nature, in that how there could be
causes that were God’s alone. He used the term praeter naturam in his writings. In the scholastic period, Thomas Aquinas classified
miracles into three categories: “above nature”, “beyond nature”, and “against nature”. In doing so, he sharpened the distinction
between nature and miracles more than the early Church Fathers had done. As a result, he had created a dichotomy of
sorts of the natural and supernatural. Though the phrase supra naturam was used since
the 4th century AD, it was in the 1200s that Thomas Aquinas used the term “supernaturalis”,
however, this term had to wait until the end of the medieval period for it become more
popularly used. The discussions on “nature” from the scholastic
period were diverse and unsettled with some postulating that even miracles are natural
and that natural magic was a natural part of the world.==Religion=====
Deity===A deity ( (listen) or (listen)) is a supernatural
being considered divine or sacred. The Oxford Dictionary of English defines deity
as “a god or goddess (in a polytheistic religion)”, or anything revered as divine. C. Scott Littleton defines a deity as “a being
with powers greater than those of ordinary humans, but who interacts with humans, positively
or negatively, in ways that carry humans to new levels of consciousness, beyond the grounded
preoccupations of ordinary life.” A male deity is a god, while a female deity
is a goddess. Religions can be categorized by how many deities
they worship. Monotheistic religions accept only one deity
(predominantly referred to as God), polytheistic religions accept multiple deities. Henotheistic religions accept one supreme
deity without denying other deities, considering them as equivalent aspects of the same divine
principle; and nontheistic religions deny any supreme eternal creator deity but accept
a pantheon of deities which live, die, and are reborn just like any other being.Various
cultures have conceptualized a deity differently than a monotheistic God. A deity need not be omnipotent, omnipresent,
omniscient, omnibenevolent or eternal, The monotheistic God, however, does have these
attributes. Monotheistic religions typically refer to
God in masculine terms, while other religions refer to their deities in a variety of ways
– masculine, feminine, androgynous and gender neutral.Historically, many ancient cultures
– such as Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Greek, Ancient Roman, Nordic and Asian culture – personified
natural phenomena, variously as either their conscious causes or simply their effects,
respectively. Some Avestan and Vedic deities were viewed
as ethical concepts. In Indian religions, deities have been envisioned
as manifesting within the temple of every living being’s body, as sensory organs and
mind. Deities have also been envisioned as a form
of existence (Saṃsāra) after rebirth, for human beings who gain merit through an ethical
life, where they become guardian deities and live blissfully in heaven, but are also subject
to death when their merit runs out.===Angel===An angel is generally a supernatural being
found in various religions and mythologies. In Abrahamic religions and Zoroastrianism,
angels are often depicted as benevolent celestial beings who act as intermediaries between God
or Heaven and Earth. Other roles of angels include protecting and
guiding human beings, and carrying out God’s tasks. Within Abrahamic religions, angels are often
organized into hierarchies, although such rankings may vary between sects in each religion,
and are given specific names or titles, such as Gabriel or “Destroying angel”. The term “angel” has also been expanded to
various notions of spirits or figures found in other religious traditions. The theological study of angels is known as
“angelology”. In fine art, angels are usually depicted as
having the shape of human beings of extraordinary beauty; they are often identified using the
symbols of bird wings, halos, and light.===Prophecy===Prophecy involves a process in which one or
more messages are allegedly communicated by a god to a prophet. Such messages typically involve inspiration,
interpretation, or revelation of divine will concerning the prophet’s social world and
events to come (compare divine knowledge). Prophecy is not limited to any one culture. It is a common property to all known ancient
societies around the world, some more than others. Many systems and rules about prophecy have
been proposed over several millennia.===Revelation===In religion and theology, revelation is the
revealing or disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a
deity or other supernatural entity or entities. Some religions have religious texts which
they view as divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired. For instance, Orthodox Jews, Christians and
Muslims believe that the Torah was received from Yahweh on biblical Mount Sinai. Most Christians believe that both the Old
Testament and the New Testament were inspired by God. Muslims believe the Quran was revealed by
God to Muhammad word by word through the angel Gabriel (Jibril). In Hinduism, some Vedas are considered apauruṣeya,
“not human compositions”, and are supposed to have been directly revealed, and thus are
called śruti, “what is heard”. The 15,000 handwritten pages produced by the
mystic Maria Valtorta were represented as direct dictations from Jesus, while she attributed
The Book of Azariah to her guardian angel. Aleister Crowley stated that The Book of the
Law had been revealed to him through a higher being that called itself Aiwass. A revelation communicated by a supernatural
entity reported as being present during the event is called a vision. Direct conversations between the recipient
and the supernatural entity, or physical marks such as stigmata, have been reported. In rare cases, such as that of Saint Juan
Diego, physical artifacts accompany the revelation. The Roman Catholic concept of interior locution
includes just an inner voice heard by the recipient. In the Abrahamic religions, the term is used
to refer to the process by which God reveals knowledge of himself, his will, and his divine
providence to the world of human beings. In secondary usage, revelation refers to the
resulting human knowledge about God, prophecy, and other divine things. Revelation from a supernatural source plays
a less important role in some other religious traditions such as Buddhism, Confucianism
and Taoism.===Reincarnation===Reincarnation is the philosophical or religious
concept that an aspect of a living being starts a new life in a different physical body or
form after each biological death. It is also called rebirth or transmigration,
and is a part of the Saṃsāra doctrine of cyclic existence. It is a central tenet of all major Indian
religions, namely Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. The idea of reincarnation is found in many
ancient cultures, and a belief in rebirth/metempsychosis was held by Greek historic figures, such as
Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato. It is also a common belief of various ancient
and modern religions such as Spiritism, Theosophy, and Eckankar, and as an esoteric belief in
many streams of Orthodox Judaism. It is found as well in many tribal societies
around the world, in places such as Australia, East Asia, Siberia, and South America.Although
the majority of denominations within Christianity and Islam do not believe that individuals
reincarnate, particular groups within these religions do refer to reincarnation; these
groups include the mainstream historical and contemporary followers of Cathars, Alawites,
the Druze, and the Rosicrucians. The historical relations between these sects
and the beliefs about reincarnation that were characteristic of Neoplatonism, Orphism, Hermeticism,
Manicheanism, and Gnosticism of the Roman era as well as the Indian religions have been
the subject of recent scholarly research. Unity Church and its founder Charles Fillmore
teaches reincarnation. In recent decades, many Europeans and North
Americans have developed an interest in reincarnation, and many contemporary works mention it.===Karma===
Karma (; Sanskrit: कर्म, translit. karma, IPA: [ˈkɐɽmɐ] (listen); Pali: kamma)
means action, work or deed; it also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect
where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual
(effect). Good intent and good deeds contribute to good
karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and
future suffering.With origins in ancient India’s Vedic civilization, the philosophy of karma
is closely associated with the idea of rebirth in many schools of Indian religions (particularly
Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism) as well as Taoism. In these schools, karma in the present affects
one’s future in the current life, as well as the nature and quality of future lives
– one’s saṃsāra.===Christian theology===In Catholic theology, the supernatural order
is, according to New Advent, defined as “the ensemble of effects exceeding the powers of
the created universe and gratuitously produced by God for the purpose of raising the rational
creature above its native sphere to a God-like life and destiny.” The Modern Catholic Dictionary defines it
as “the sum total of heavenly destiny and all the divinely established means of reaching
that destiny, which surpass the mere powers and capacities of human nature.”===Process theology===Process theology is a school of thought influenced
by the metaphysical process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) and further
developed by Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000). It is not possible, in process metaphysics,
to conceive divine activity as a “supernatural” intervention into the “natural” order of events. Process theists usually regard the distinction
between the supernatural and the natural as a by-product of the doctrine of creation ex
nihilo. In process thought, there is no such thing
as a realm of the natural in contrast to that which is supernatural. On the other hand, if “the natural” is defined
more neutrally as “what is in the nature of things,” then process metaphysics characterizes
the natural as the creative activity of actual entities. In Whitehead’s words, “It lies in the nature
of things that the many enter into complex unity” (Whitehead 1978, 21). It is tempting to emphasize process theism’s
denial of the supernatural and thereby highlight that the processed God cannot do in comparison
what the traditional God could do (that is, to bring something from nothing). In fairness, however, equal stress should
be placed on process theism’s denial of the natural (as traditionally conceived) so that
one may highlight what the creatures cannot do, in traditional theism, in comparison to
what they can do in process metaphysics (that is, to be part creators of the world with
God).==Spirit==A spirit is a supernatural being, often but
not exclusively a non-physical entity; such as a ghost, fairy, or angel. The concepts of a person’s spirit and soul,
often also overlap, as both are either contrasted with or given ontological priority over the
body and both are believed to survive bodily death in some religions, and “spirit” can
also have the sense of “ghost”, i.e. a manifestation of the spirit of a deceased person. In English Bibles, “the Spirit” (with a capital
“S”), specifically denotes the Holy Spirit. Spirit is often used metaphysically to refer
to the consciousness or personality. Historically, it was also used to refer to
a “subtle” as opposed to “gross” material substance, as in the famous last paragraph
of Sir Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica.==Demon==A demon (from Koine Greek δαιμόνιον
daimónion) is a supernatural and often malevolent being prevalent in religion, occultism, literature,
fiction, mythology and folklore. In Ancient Near Eastern religions as well
as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology,
a demon is considered a harmful spiritual entity, below the heavenly planes which may
cause demonic possession, calling for an exorcism. In Western occultism and Renaissance magic,
which grew out of an amalgamation of Greco-Roman magic, Jewish Aggadah and Christian demonology,
a demon is believed to be a spiritual entity that may be conjured and controlled.==Magic==Magic or sorcery is the use of rituals, symbols,
actions, gestures, or language with the aim of utilizing supernatural forces. Belief in and practice of magic has been present
since the earliest human cultures and continues to have an important spiritual, religious,
and medicinal role in many cultures today. The term magic has a variety of meanings,
and there is no widely agreed upon definition of what it is. Scholars of religion have defined magic in
different ways. One approach, associated with the anthropologists
Edward Tylor and James G. Frazer, suggests that magic and science are opposites. An alternative approach, associated with the
sociologists Marcel Mauss and Emile Durkheim, argues that magic takes place in private,
while religion is a communal and organised activity. Many scholars of religion have rejected the
utility of the term magic and it has become increasingly unpopular within scholarship
since the 1990s. The term magic comes from the Old Persian
magu, a word that applied to a form of religious functionary about which little is known. During the late sixth and early fifth centuries
BCE, this term was adopted into Ancient Greek, where it was used with negative connotations,
to apply to religious rites that were regarded as fraudulent, unconventional, and dangerous. This meaning of the term was then adopted
by Latin in the first century BCE. The concept was then incorporated into Christian
theology during the first century CE, where magic was associated with demons and thus
defined against religion. This concept was pervasive throughout the
Middle Ages, although in the early modern period Italian humanists reinterpreted the
term in a positive sense to establish the idea of natural magic. Both negative and positive understandings
of the term were retained in Western culture over the following centuries, with the former
largely influencing early academic usages of the word. Throughout history, there have been examples
of individuals who practiced magic and referred to themselves as magicians. This trend has proliferated in the modern
period, with a growing number of magicians appearing within the esoteric milieu. British esotericist Aleister Crowley described
magic as the art of effecting change in accordance with will.==Divination==Divination (from Latin divinare “to foresee,
to be inspired by a god”, related to divinus, divine) is the attempt to gain insight into
a question or situation by way of an occultic, standardized process or ritual. Used in various forms throughout history,
diviners ascertain their interpretations of how a querent should proceed by reading signs,
events, or omens, or through alleged contact with a supernatural agency.Divination can
be seen as a systematic method with which to organize what appear to be disjointed,
random facets of existence such that they provide insight into a problem at hand. If a distinction is to be made between divination
and fortune-telling, divination has a more formal or ritualistic element and often contains
a more social character, usually in a religious context, as seen in traditional African medicine. Fortune-telling, on the other hand, is a more
everyday practice for personal purposes. Particular divination methods vary by culture
and religion. Divination is dismissed by the scientific
community and skeptics as being superstition. In the 2nd century, Lucian devoted a witty
essay to the career of a charlatan, “Alexander the false prophet”, trained by “one of those
who advertise enchantments, miraculous incantations, charms for your love-affairs, visitations
for your enemies, disclosures of buried treasure, and successions to estates”, even though most
Romans believed in prophetic dreams and charms.==Witchcraft==Witchcraft or witchery broadly means the practice
of and belief in magical skills and abilities exercised by solitary practitioners and groups. Witchcraft is a broad term that varies culturally
and societally, and thus can be difficult to define with precision, and cross-cultural
assumptions about the meaning or significance of the term should be applied with caution. Witchcraft often occupies a religious divinatory
or medicinal role, and is often present within societies and groups whose cultural framework
includes a magical world view.==Miracle==A miracle is an event not explicable by natural
or scientific laws. Such an event may be attributed to a supernatural
being (a deity), magic, a miracle worker, a saint or a religious leader. Informally, the word “miracle” is often used
to characterise any beneficial event that is statistically unlikely but not contrary
to the laws of nature, such as surviving a natural disaster, or simply a “wonderful”
occurrence, regardless of likelihood, such as a birth. Other such miracles might be: survival of
an illness diagnosed as terminal, escaping a life-threatening situation or ‘beating the
odds’. Some coincidences may be seen as miracles.A
true miracle would, by definition, be a non-natural phenomenon, leading many rational and scientific
thinkers to dismiss them as physically impossible (that is, requiring violation of established
laws of physics within their domain of validity) or impossible to confirm by their nature (because
all possible physical mechanisms can never be ruled out). The former position is expressed for instance
by Thomas Jefferson and the latter by David Hume. Theologians typically say that, with divine
providence, God regularly works through nature yet, as a creator, is free to work without,
above, or against it as well. The possibility and probability of miracles
are then equal to the possibility and probability of the existence of God.==Skepticism==Skepticism (American English) or scepticism
(British English; see spelling differences) is generally any questioning attitude or doubt
towards one or more items of putative knowledge or belief. It is often directed at domains such as the
supernatural, morality (moral skepticism), religion (skepticism about the existence of
God), or knowledge (skepticism about the possibility of knowledge, or of certainty). Formally, skepticism as a topic occurs in
the context of philosophy, particularly epistemology, although it can be applied to any topic such
as politics, religion, and pseudoscience. One reason why skeptics assert that supernatural
forces cannot exist is that anything can be described as “supernatural” and can be demonstrated
to be a part of the natural world would have to be classified as be “natural.” Although some believers in the supernatural
insist that such forces cannot be demonstrated under scientific conditions, skeptics assert
that the scientific method is the best tool humans have devised for knowing what is and
isn’t knowable. If the supernatural is inherently unknowable,
then there is no reason to accept its reality.==In fiction and popular culture==Supernatural entities and powers are common
in various works of fantasy. Examples include the TV show Supernatural,
the magic of the Harry Potter series, and the Force of Star Wars. Other depictions are taken from religious
texts, such as the Book of Exodus.==See also==
Liberal naturalism Magical thinking
Non-physical entity One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge, unclaimed
prize for anyone demonstrating the supernatural Paranormal
Preternatural Religious naturalism

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