The Straw-Man Series: Super-naturalism

The Straw-Man series is meant to concisely and clearly present common straw-men used in arguments against a true Christian worldview and to properly dismantle them. A straw-man may be concocted purposefully for the purposes of deception, or assumed accidentally by virtue of a genuine misunderstanding, but the result is always the same: a distorted argument which overwhelmingly misses the point and therefore requires correction.

SUPER-NATURE

The Straw-Man: “Super-nature is the existence of something that is above or beyond existence”

The Real-Man: “Super-nature is the existence of something that is above or beyond physical existence.”

The Objectivist does not believe in ‘Super-nature’ because, as he argues, nature is all that exists. Therefore, if something is ‘above’ or ‘beyond’ nature, then it is above or beyond existence – meaning that it does not exist.

Such reasoning, in itself, is absolutely accurate. If something is ‘above or beyond’ existence, then that thing does not exist. The problem is that the ‘nature’ in ‘Super-nature’ is not synonymous with ‘existence’, and no rational advocate of Super-nature has ever suggested otherwise. Rather, the nature in ‘Super-nature’ refers to the physical world –to physical existence.  The claim of philosophical Super-naturalism is not that “something beyond existence exists”, but that “something beyond the physical universe exists”. And this is quite different from the straw man that Objectivists so passively attack.

At this point, the Objectivist will likely claim that such a concept : ‘non-physical existence’ is “arbitrary” or a “floating abstraction”, having no basis in reality. This is because Objectivist epistemology reduced ‘reality’ down to perceived reality. But, such a reduction is, itself, “arbitrary” by their own definition. All of that, though, is to be covered in future posts (stay tuned!). The purpose here is only to show that the concept of Super-nature does not contain the inherent contradiction that most Objectivists eagerly assume it does. If the concept of Super-nature is to be refuted by Objectivists, it must be done on some other grounds than the straw-man presented above.

Related Posts

Omnipotence - A Straw Man

Primacy of Consciousness - A Straw Man

Responses to Objectivism

5 thoughts on “The Straw-Man Series: Super-naturalism

  1. mmasztal

    Thanks. I’ve had these discussion many times with Objectivists, but you state it more succinctly.

    Reply
  2. mmasztal

    One additional comment. Wold you consider the Objectivist motto, “existence exists”,as they use it a tautology? In a recent discussion with an Objectivist, I noted that in order to even posit “existence exists” presumes not only perception, but also an object to perceive. Am I correct in this?

    Reply
  3. It depends on what you mean by "presumes". Haha. If you mean that one had to first perceive an object before one is capable of forming the concept of "existence", then yes. This is a chronological sort of hierarchy that orders the chronology of the human conceptual experience (which Objectivists emphasize). However, there is a logical hierarchy in which "existence exists" is foundational to one's thoughts about any particular thing in existence. So, chronologically, perception comes before the axioms. But, logically, the axioms come before perceptual ideas. This is something that I plan to write extensively about in the future. And you can see some of my thoughts on it in the "A is A?" thread on the Objectivist forums.

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  5. James

    I eagerly await your current formulation of how reduction to the perceptual as the the base of reference for reality is "arbitrary"!

    Reply

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