Stop Saying, “Supernatural”

There is difficulty for some to accept the idea of the supernatural because, in their understanding, the supernatural is akin to magic. So when a skeptic hears a report of a miracle or healing such a report is easily dismissed. Magic makes for good fairy tales, but it doesn’t really exist. Thus, the supernatural doesn’t exist.

This is all a matter of definitions. The biblically grounded Christian knows that the supernatural exists, but as long as his reports are bound by the definition of the skeptic he can never see a skeptic acquiesce that the miraculous might be possible. Perhaps what we need is a new term unsullied by notions of magic, superstition, and the flamboyant preacher who puts on an episode of his miracle and healing show.

I’d like to suggest that we may want to stop using the term supernatural and instead one possible term might be, Above Natural. Here’s why. First, already mentioned, the term supernatural has become equated somewhat with magic, which is nonsensical. However, to aid the skeptic’s understanding we can use a term that describes, in a rational way, the reasonableness of that beyond the human and beyond the natural as we understand it. I, therefore, use the term above taken from scripture as a qualifier. The scripture says of man that God, “Made him a little lower than the heavenly beings” (Psalm 8:5, Hebrews 2:7). Being lower implies something that is above in order or being. Thus, we should think of angels as created beings of capabilities higher than man currently possess—but not magical. This is reasonable, even from a scientific point of view.

Man is of a higher order of being than the animals. We possess certain mental and emotional attributes not found in the animal kingdom. Likewise, animals are of a higher order than insects for the same reason. It is this hierarchy of ability which helps us define what is meant by a higher order of being.

Angels are a higher order of being. They possess abilities that man does not yet possess. What seems supernatural to us about angels is not supernatural to them. Rather, what they do is perfectly in line with their natural abilities. This is not to be equated with superstition or magic. It’s a matter of classification of being. Scientists speculate that if life exist elsewhere in the universe that some of that life might be so different as to represent a completely different order of being, an order higher than man. Yet, isn’t this just what we would expect of angels? Would not the biblical description of angels fit into such a system of classification, as a matter of definition? Might we consider them, Above Nature as we understand it?

If this description and definition is fair and reasonable, then can we not also say the same of God? He is a living being of different order and class than we are. He is as different from us as we are to a single cell; and perhaps that comparison doesn’t do justice to the true higher nature of God’s being.

Biblically speaking, this has nothing to do with superstition or magic. God is not a magical being like a fairy or witch working dark magic. God’s abilities are above what is natural for us, or for angels. That is, God’s abilities are unique to himself and are not observed in angels, man, or any other created thing. He is above our nature. Everything that God is able to do is natural for him as being part of his nature. But his abilities are above our natural abilities. Thus, like the angels, he is above natural—and significantly more.

None of this has anything to do with superstition or so called magical powers. It is a matter of order or classification. If man is of higher order than other life on earth, does it not follow logically that their might be life that is of a higher order than man? If angels fit this description then why is their existence not possible? And could there not be life of a higher order than they?

I may stop using the term, supernatural altogether. It’s modern usage is too associated with unreasonable associations and pollutes a rational understanding of that which exists which is higher than man. Perhaps Above Natural isn’t perfect either, but it has the fortune of being bereft of superstitious baggage. And if we want to talk with the skeptic about the supernatural, perhaps abandoning the term for a perceptively more reasoned one might elevate such a discussion to its own higher order.

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