Archive for September 17th, 2011

September 17, 2011

The Natural, the Supernatural and Miracles

by Neil Rickert

In his recent post “The four tiers of Intelligent Design – an ecumenical proposal” at the Uncommon Descent blog, vjtorley has attempted to define “natural” and “supernatural.”  In a comment, I pointed out what I saw as some problems with his definition.  And vjtorley has since asked how I would define them.  So this post is intended as a reply.  It is a bit too long to post as a comment on UD.

“Naturalism” is sometimes defined as the thesis that nature is all that exists.  Or, alternatively, everthing that exists is part of nature.  As a mathematician, I have problems with that definition.  I do not see mathematics and mathematical entities as part of nature.  We might try a broader definition such as “everything that exists is either part of nature or arises out of nature.”  And that would presumably include mathematics as arising out of nature, even if not part of nature.

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