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Supernatural Is Unnatural Is Uninspiring (When You Think About It)
In the 14-billion-year 'big history' of the Universe, and 4.5-billion-year history of Earth, evidence suggest that the only place that the supernatural realm has ever existed is in the minds and hearts (and speech) of human beings, and actually only quite recently.
As Benson Salem compellingly showed in his 1977 American Anthropological Association Ethos paper, “Supernatural as a Western Category”, the 'supernatural realm' only came into being as a thought form after we began to understand things in natural, scientific way. Only after the concept of “natural” emerged was it deemed necessary by some to speak of the “super-natural”: that which was imagined to be above or outside of nature. As I point out in the preface to the Plume paperback edition of my book,
How was the world made? Why do earthquakes, tornados, and other bad things happen? Why must we die? And why do different peoples answer these questions in different ways? The big questions that children have always asked and will continue to ask cannot be answered by the powers of human perception alone. Ancient cultures gave so-called supernatural answers to these questions, but those answers were not truly supernatural—they were prenatural. Prior to advances in technology and scientific ways of testing truth claims, factual answers were simply unavailable. It was not just difficult to understand infection before microscopes brought bacteria into focus; it was impossible. Without an evolutionary worldview, it is similarly impossible to understand ourselves, our world, and what is required for humanity to survive. For religious leaders today to rely on prenatural answers puts them at odds not only with science but with one another—dangerously so. Their resistance, however, does make sense. Until scientific discoveries are fleshed into the life-giving forms of beauty and goodness (as well as truth and utility), scriptural literalism will command power and influence.
As we have learned more and more about the natural, the so-called supernatural has become less and less attractive. After all, supernatural and unnatural are synonyms. Anything supposedly supernatural is, by definition, unnatural. And most people find unnatural relatively uninspiring when they really stop and think about it. I mean, does this sound like "good news" to you?...
An unnatural king who occasionally engages in unnatural acts sends his unnatural son to Earth in an unnatural way. He’s born an unnatural birth, lives an unnatural life, performs unnatural deeds, and is killed and unnaturally rises from the dead in order to redeem humanity from an unnatural curse brought about by an unnaturally talking snake. After 40 days of unnatural appearances he unnaturally zooms off to heaven to return to his unnatural father, sit on an unnatural throne, and unnaturally judge the living and the dead. If you profess to believe in all this unnatural activity, you and your fellow believers get to spend an unnaturally long time in an unnaturally boring paradise while everyone else suffers an unnatural, torturous hell forever.
If this is supposedly “the gospel”, God’s great news for humanity, it any wonder that young people are turning their backs on religion and that the New Atheists are riding bestseller lists—while promoting Bible reading!?
ALSO HEAR / SEE:
The New Atheists Are God's Prophets
Religion Is About Right Relationship With Reality, Not the Supernatural
Is This the Meaning of Life?
God Is a Divine Personification, Not a Person
Idolatry of the Written Word
Atheists Promote Bible Reading!?
The Salvation of Religion: From Beliefs to Knowledge
Evolutionary Spirituality: Coming Home to Reality
God Is Not a Supernatural Terrorist
How and Why I'm a Pentecostal Evangelical