In Catholicism, while the meaning of the term and its antithesis vary, the “Supernatural Order” is the gratuitous production, by God, of the ensemble of miracles for the elevation of man to a state of grace, including the hypostatic union (Incarnation), the beatific vision, and the ministry of angels. Divine operation, “spiritual facts” and “voluntary determinations” are consistently referred to as “supernatural” by those who specifically preclude the “extrinsic concurrence” of God or by those espousing a materialist or determinist worldview that excludes immaterial beings or free will. Barring disingenuous intent, there is no objection to this manner of speaking.
Divine revelation of the supernatural order is considered to be a matter of fact, contingent upon proper evidence of such, (miracle, prophecy etc.). “The revelation and its evidences are called extrinsic and auxiliary supernatural, the elevation itself retaining the name of intrinsic or, according to some, theological supernatural.” The supernatural order was analyzed primarily by scholastic and post-Tridentine theologians. Theories denying or belittling the supernatural order, are historically classified into three groups:
- present de facto condition (Pelagianism, Beghards, Stoic influence),
- the original status of man (Reformers such as Baius, Protestant and the Jansenist School),
- possibility and evidence (Rationalist School, from Socinus to the present Modernists).
One complicating factor is that there is no universal agreement about what the definition of “natural” is, and what the limits of naturalism might be. Concepts in the supernatural domain are closely related to concepts in religious spirituality and occultism or spiritualism. Additionally, by definition anything that exists naturally is not 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 the bounds of possibility (see the nature of God in Western theology, anthropology of religion, and Biblical cosmology).
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. Proponents of supernaturalism say that their belief system is more flexible, which allows more diversity in terms of intuition and epistemology.
Views on the "supernatural" include that it is:
- 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. As a pedagogical exercise, a physics university instructor might ask what the aftermath would be, as nature returns to normal, following a hypothetical miraculous intervention by God, similar to a modern thought experiment. 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).
- incorrectly attributed to nature. Others believe that 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.
- Ex nihilo, (Latin, "out of nothing"), refers to a doctrine of creation that claims the world, by divine fiat, emerged from a state of absolute nothingness.
- Magical thinking
- Wonders of the Invisible World, Cotton Mather, Boston, 1693
- More Wonders of the Invisible World, Robert Calef, 1700
- The Supernatural Side of Maine, C. J. Stevens, 2002
- CBN Video: Living a Life of Miracles
- CBN Video: Miracles Outside the Church Walls
- Testimonies on iBethel.tv
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