Category Archives: Core philosophy

Limits and Importance of the Law of Love

In Matthew 22:37-40, of the New International Version, we read the following.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

How does the moral law “hang on” these two commandments? For instance, can we use these two commandments to decide that premarital sex is immoral? No, but they do tell us that there is an objectively correct answer to the question and God has determined the objectively correct answer.

To love is to will the good of the other. We cannot choose that things good for God happen to God for nothing bad could happen to God So, to will good for God is to will, or always try to will, the good God wills. The good God wills for people is lives in accordance with the moral laws since lives in accordance with moral laws are good lives for humans. For God always wills what is good.

Next, to love our neighbors as ourselves is to will for them the same good life we will for ourselves when we correctly will what is good for ourselves. Hence, to love our neighbors as ourselves is to will, or try always to will, that all of us live in accordance with the moral laws God has laid out for human beings.

The limits of the two laws of love are that they do not tell us any definite moral rules. And, of immense significance, they do not tell us that any feelings of love are a guide to morally correct behavior. The importance of the laws of love are that they tell us that there are objectively true moral answers and getting and following these right answers lead to good human lives.

When Should We Talk of Immorality as Sinful

Grant that the moral laws are commands of God. When should we think and talk of morality as based on Divine commands? When we teach morality we should let our children know that our “does and don’ts” are not our arbitrary commands but come from God. God has gifted human beings with the cognitive and emotional capabilities to develop a concept of a moral authority to whom all their actions are transparent. Perhaps, God gave us this gift through evolutionary development. Regardless of how we received this gift of what Freudians label a superego, we should lead children to identify the moral authority with God. Yes, this leads children to develop a fear of God. And that is not a bad thing. Fear of the Lord is, indeed , the beginning of wisdom. In short, we should educate our children to have a sense of sin.

There are contexts in which it is legally or socially prohibited to talk of God. For instance, in secular public schools, talking of God, let alone teaching morality as coming from God is forbidden. I am uncertain whether these are policies are always good for public order. But in the home and in civil society at large, we should not hesitate to link morality with what God commands. When we associate with fellow citizens of “The City of God” we should maintain our sense of immorality as sinful, deliberate rejection of God’s will

Also, when tempted, it helps to think of we are acting in accordance with the will of God by suppressing unruly desires. It is helpful to think of God as the author of morality when we make moral judgments about others. When we do so, we can readily distinguish between the act we morally condemn and the inner state of the actor whose act we condemn. For the inner state is transparent to the moral authority, namely God, but not to us.

Morality comes into play in our lives most of the time when we teach, learn it, struggle with it and pass judgment on ourselves and our neighbors. In all of these contexts, there should be no hesitation to think feel and talk as morality being based on God’s commands.

But there is one context in which those who hold a divine command theory of morality should not assert any moral laws as God’s commands. This philosophical context is one in which they are making a case that, say masturbation violates a moral law. For making a case that masturbation is morally forbidden is making a case that it is a Divine command. It would be question begging to use as a premise “Masturbation is forbidden by God” when the aim is to prove exactly that.

But this eschewal of mentioning God in moral arguments is not reverting to moral deism. It is only secularizing a special context. For most people, philosophical thought is irrelevant. So to quarantine philosophical argument from assertions of God as commanding is not secularizing morality.

Of even more significance, for appreciating removing God from philosophical moral arguments is not necessarily secularizing moral reasoning are background assumptions of a Divine command moral theorist. For the reasoning will cite facts of nature as premises in a moral argument. The holder of a Divine command theory will regard nature as God’s creation. And God’s creation contains facts with normative significance. In a nature created by God there are purposes – the way things ought to be.

Coherence and Theories of Truth

This post is terminological clarification. I hope to clarify what appears to be totally dismissing coherence as an important feature of a philosophical world view.

I not talking about what are sometimes called “coherence theories of truth.” Coherence theories of truth propose that a true sentence is one which “fits in” with a large body of other sentences which are accepted as correct. Coherence theories are not realist theories of truth. So, I, as a realist, am not concerned with coherence theories of truth.

I have proposed that ordinary human thought about reality is essentially incoherent. But this incoherence is not an obstacle to getting the truth as is inconsistency. If we tolerate self-contradiction we cannot really think what is true if we think at all. Incoherence only leaves some alleged questions unanswerable. At worst, incoherence is a barrier to getting the whole truth. For instance, we can think of no way of systematically connecting how we talk – think – of thinking and how we talk about the physical. This incoherence is typically, if not always, exposed by philosophic questioning requiring an answer to a question which assumes the law of excluded middle? For instance, we ask ourselves “Is an image inside the skull or is not?” Or: “Is motion being at a succession of places or is it not?”

However, we can apply “coherent” to things in addition to thought and word. I have said nothing against thinking of reality as an immense complex unity with everything somehow connected with everything else.

The type of coherence I am explicitly setting aside is a requirement for realist theory of truth conditions. This requirement is that there be a search for one set of basic elements and one set of basic rules for their combination to provide truth conditions for all claims. Ultimately, the same kind of elements and structures should make true claims about the physical, biological, psychological, social and supernatural, if such there be.

There is no hope of doing so. Standard philosophical problems show that we have no way of talking about such a basic uniformity in reality. And, of most importance, such a requirement is a requirement for a theory of truth conditions. As, I have brought out, there can be no theory of truth conditions. See Theory of truth All that a realist theory of truth can specify is “A true sentence says of what is that it is or of what is not that it is not.”

To link with earlier posts, I can say that here I am explicitly dismissing the Parmenidean Postulate that the order and connection of thought is the order and connection of reality. See Parmenidean postulate However, we can still hold with Parmenides that being is one.

Morality a Foundation of the Supernatural

If there is truth, beauty, goodness and holiness independent of human thought, then this objective truth, beauty, goodness and holiness are supernatural realities along with the human capacity to perceive them.

I am seeking the foundations of divine command morality. So, I focus on goodness. Since I am a professed moral realist holding that authoritative moral theory is correct, it is not surprising that I need the supernatural for the realm of reality in which divine commands are given and heard.

Discussion about belief in more than the natural should be divided into two parts. Part one is whether or not there is such a belief. Part two has two parts. Is such a belief to be interpreted as about something apart from it, viz., interpreted realistically? Or,is such a belief to be interpreted as a human invention.

Two famous arguments in moral theory show clearly that moral thought cannot be reduced to thought about the natural. Hume’s famous observation that “ought” cannot be derived from “is” show clearly that moral obligations are more than what is the case. To modify the opening remark of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, let us say that the natural contains only what is the case. G.E. Moore’s observation that attempts to define “Good” in terms of natural states of affairs is always question-begging – what he called the “Naturalistic Fallacy”- shows that belief that something good is not to be understood as belief in any natural condition.

Since humans do think morally, humans do think of the supernatural. Admittedly, it is not usual to classify morality as supernatural. Typically, the notion of supernatural carries the connotation of the action or force of something non-human as well as non-natural. However, a bit of reflection on moral thought soon, as I hope I have shown, leads to the ideas of a moral authority to whom all of our actions are transparent.

Here is a list of a few supernatural realities.
The moral obligations of a human being such as “Do not kill!”
The goodness of a natural human condition such as human knowledge
The moral agent causality of human beings, viz., free will – the ability to choose what is good and what ought to be done
The beauty of a landscape
The holiness of a site
The truth of a sentence

I wish that I could do more than claim that we have to take a stance on whether or not moral thought is purely a human invention or is given by a reality apart from it. One has to take a stance on whether or not to be a moral realistic. I can only add that unless one constantly keeps in mind philosophical motives for being an anti-realist the human default stance is realism about morality.

It is in this supernatural realm of the moral that we must specify how moral commands are given and received and how an order of morality is developed. The moral order will be complex because not only are there basic commands there are also many ad hoc rules because of violations of basic commands. These ad hoc rules can be eliminated by restitution and retribution.

Much takes place in moral reality. Humans with our physical, mental and social capabilities interact with the moral. There is no coherent account of how humans interact with the supernatural. But in the previous post it was pointed out that consistent talk is enough. We can talk consistently of the physical, mental and social interacting without any real hope for giving a coherent account of the interaction.

In a subsequent post, I hope to characterize how commands are given and received.

Physical Nature, The Natural and the Supernatural

This post is for clarifying my terminology. The label “terminology” does not carry any connotation of trivial or merely about language. Trying to be clear about what one means is really difficult but essential for philosophy or any other subject for that matter. In writing about evolution, I usually write from a perspective that the natural is physical nature. But this perspective needs to be expanded so that there is not the slightest suggestion that the mental and social are supernatural.

Physical nature is what is investigated by physics and the other sciences whose subject matter can coherently connected with the subject matter of physics. The social institution of science requires coherence for physical nature. Think of the principle of the uniformity of nature. If the laws and objects of other sciences such as chemistry, biology and psychology cannot be represented as laws and objects of physics it is assumed that amongst the fundamental physical laws there are laws for emergence. For instance, it would be assumed that cellular life arose from the objects of physics and chemistry. There is scientific research to vindicate this assumption. There is a coherent way of talking about emergence of life from the non-living. Laboratory production of a cell from molecules necessary for life is a scenario of biology being connected with physics and chemistry. As of this writing – Winter 2022 – there is no experimental evidence for any such way of talking. But a research program is all that is needed for coherence.

Assuming that the subject matter of biology is lawfully connected with that of physics and chemistry, the subject matter of the special biological field of origin of species, viz., evolutionary theory, is physical nature.

There are philosophical materialists who proclaim that the mental and a fortiori, the social are somehow reducible to physical nature. But the standard mind-body problems still stand in the way of a coherent account of such a reduction. Mind body problems also stand in the way of any interactionist accounts of the mind being coherently connected with the physical. Parallelism and epiphenomenalism are simply admissions that we have no coherent account of the physical, mental and social.

The mental and social are natural. Not only hominids but non-human animals now living had or have mental and social lives. Most of those who deny that there is any supernatural would not say that our mental and social dimensions make us more than natural. The broad sense of “nature” includes the physical, mental and social.

So, lack of a coherent way of talking of nature is no barrier against using the concept of “natural.” Similarly, lack of a coherent way of talking of the natural and supernatural should be no barrier against talking of the supernatural and the natural as constituting reality. I must add, though, that coherence between ways of talking, i.e., thinking, is not to be ignored. I submit that many of the classical philosophical problems are genuine intellectual anxieties about incoherence, e.g., how can we talk coherently about free will and causal regularity?

But what, if anything, is in the supernatural?

In my next post, I will argue that being morally bound -receiving a divine command is a sufficient condition for being supernatural.

Imperishability of the Human Soul

The human soul makes a human animal a supernatural being as well as a natural being.

That which makes a human animal supernatural is its moral capacity to know the good and freely choose it. Knowing the good is bipartite. First, there is knowing the basic natural human goods, Second, there is knowing that which the basic human goods are good for. The natural goods are also bipartite. First, there are those conditions which make for human flourishing. Second, there is being the kind of person who freely chooses these conditions for human flourishing. Since basic human goods are goals as well as natural conditions, knowledge of goods as good give humans purposes. Purposes are goods which are intentionally sought. Knowing what basic human goods are good for gives humans a purpose for living itself. But purposes are not part of nature when we think of nature from the perspective of evolutionary theory as we are doing here. So, our having purposes makes us supernatural beings as well as natural beings even if most of our goods are natural conditions.

This capacity for knowing the good is a moral capacity because we can freely choose to act against attainment of what is good. But the fundamental law of morality is “Choose what is good!” With knowledge of what is good and free will comes obligation. We could say that it is having obligations which places us in both the natural and supernatural.

It must be emphasized that exercise of the capacity to know and pursue the good depends upon physiological states of an individual human but this moral capacity is not any physiological state or capacity. It is an additional feature that enables physiological states and capacities to be used in intentionally knowing and choosing what is good. Individuals with severe cognitive capacities still have this moral capacity although unable to exercise it. Individuals receive this moral capacity – the human soul – when they began to be human, which is at conception.

This moral capacity is essential to the human species even if it did not arise by natural selection. This means that in a thought experiment in which humans from the period when humanity began, off-spring of these ancient humans due to mating with contemporary humans would have all of the basic moral concepts we have now. See Natural and Supernatural Origin.

The soul of an individual human is that individual’s capacity to know and pursue what is good.

Why claim that the soul of a human is imperishable? Why claim that the soul of a human does not cease to exist at biological death. Why claim that the soul of a human does not cease to exist when there is no body to form into a moral agent? I give a Kantian answer.

A human being is morally perfect if that person becomes the kind of person who freely chooses the natural goods. Amongst these natural goods is being morally perfect.

Consider, now, these brief syllogisms. The justification for (1) is given above when it was pointed out that our natural goods are obligatory goods. Premiss (2) is an alleged truth of logic.

Syllogism I

1. A person ought to be morally perfect.
2. What ought to be can be.
3. If a person’s capacity to be morally perfect ceased to be at biological death, that person cannot be morally perfect.
Hence: (4) A person’s capacity to be morally perfect cannot cease to be at biological death.

Syllogism II

5. If a person’s capacity to be morally perfect were never embodied after biological death, that person’s capacity to be morally perfect could never be exercised after biological death
6. If a person’s capacity to be morally perfect could never be exercised after biological death, that person cannot be morally perfect.
Hence: (7) If a person’s capacity to be morally perfect were never embodied after biological death, that person cannot be morally perfect.
Using (1) and (2) above, we can conclude:
8. A person’s capacity to be morally perfect – a person’s soul- is embodied some time after biological death.

Note that if a person attained moral perfection that person cannot cease to be. For what ought to be cannot cease to be. If what ought to be ceased to be something which ought to be could no longer be.

The Supernatural Origin of Humanity

The following philosophical account of the supernatural origin of humanity exhibits a supernatural account consistent with a naturalistic evolutionary account of the origin of humanity. Admittedly, it is influenced by my Catholicism and the Divine Command moral theory I have been working towards in blog posts the past few years. In addition to consistency with natural science, I hope that it is also a true account of the supernatural origin of humanity. Before turning to the question of truth, though, I need to ask myself what do I think is true about the natural and supernatural origin of humanity. My post on evolution outlines what I think is true about the natural origin of humanity. This post outlines what I think is true about the supernatural origin.

We are animals with a moral capacity. Full natural and supernatural humanity began when God gave us this moral capacity. I conjecture that this happen roughly fifty thousand years ago when homo sapiens-sapiens was a small population in sub-Saharan Africa. Our moral capacity is correlated with the biological conditions for being a species. But our moral capacity is not the condition for being a natural species. There are natural cognitive, anatomical and physiological features which distinguish homo sapiens-sapiens from other animals. Because it gives us free-will, the moral capacity is not amongst our natural features. With morality humans are supernatural beings as well as natural beings.

I am setting aside the issue of whether or not the moral capacity which gives the natural human species a supernatural dimension is a capacity unique to the human species.

Briefly, what is this moral capacity? It is the capacity to know what is the good for the exercise of our basic natural faculties plus the capacity to choose that good or some alternative inclination satisfaction in the exercise of a basic faculty. See Core Concepts of Authoritarian Morality and Reconsideration of Justifying a Moral Principle for details about my moral theory and references to my book justifying the good of male sexuality used in the example below.

For instance, the good of a male’s sexual capacity is in coitus with a woman to whom he has lifelong marital commitment. These goods constitute what would be a happy human life.

They are attractive to humans when we think carefully. Nonetheless, despite their attractiveness, these goods have to be commanded because with free will humans can choose to evade them. So, the basic human goods are obligatory goods.

We are as we are by choice. Why say by choice? We are good and evil but we do not have to be the way we are with respect to evil. We know the good but we do not always choose it. We cannot think of humans without this capacity for good and evil. Acquiring the capacity to choose contrary to a way we ought to choose is the beginning of humanity as we know it. As we know humanity it is not as it ought to be. Since ought implies can, humans can be as they ought. So, our soul is immortal as I will argue in a later post.

God created humanity when humans had the capacity to know the good and choose it. When humans chose to know the good but choose contrary to the good: humanity as we know it began. Whose choice? When and where was the choice made? Questions about choices of individuals thousands of years ago are not questions answerable by natural science. Reflection on the supernatural provides no further data on these questions. The choice was made by both men and women. Moving from consideration of definite individuals, I think of the man and the woman making that fateful choice.

If I wanted a presentation of these thoughts about our beginning as moral beings in story form, the Genesis story of the fall of Adam and Eve would be just what I wanted.

The Natural Evolutionary Origin Plus Supernatural Origin of Humanity

It is logically consistency to accept a complete naturalistic evolutionary origin of homo sapiens or homo sapiens-sapiens and still posit a supernatural origin of humanity. I follow some in using homo sapiens-sapiens to admit the prospect of human intelligence itself needing an evolutionary account. I write of a complete naturalistic origin to emphasize that the supernatural origin is not introduced to fill any gaps in the naturalistic evolutionary account. The supernatural should not be introduced to answer any question which could be answered naturalistically. From here on, I will write simply of evolutionary accounts and not use modifiers such as “naturalistic” or “by natural selection.”

What do I accept by granting that there is a complete evolutionary account of the origin of homo sapiens? I give the answer of a non-scientist who sooner or later faces the question “What do you accept or reject by accepting or rejecting an evolutionary explanation of humanity?”

There are two parts to my answer. The first sketches a model which finds a place for empirical evidence to support theories that species, some still existing, evolved by natural selection. The second part presents an imaginary scenario of what it means for the species we are now to be the same species as one existing thousands of years ago.

Perhaps a million or more years ago one particular breeding population in the genus homo, which I label A, flourished and grew. Some members of A would mate with members of other homo populations, which I label B, C, D. Genetic and environmental factors were not favorable for the flourishing and growth of B, C, D despite interbreeding with A. B, C, & D gradually became extinct.

Of course, my sketch is very “sketchy.” Over the thousands and thousands of years B, C & D have had successor populations which have bred, more or less successfully, with other populations, including successors of A. In the end though, all but the successors of A have become extinct.

Only A still exists in the sense that a path down from the present through a tree structure of branches ending before the present, leads from the present to A. The nodes at base of branches on the tree are species; not individuals. It is a branch which has not yet reached its tip.

The genuine hard scientific work lies in tracing such a pathway in the fossil and archaeological data. It is not always clear when they are on the pathway. For instance, do these tool-like rocks clearly indicate A’s? Most likely there can be no specification of a definite time for the origin of A’s. Individuals but not populations have definite origin times. But there can be a bracket of, perhaps, a few thousand years before which there were no A’s but within which A’s appeared. Perhaps, the beginning point of the bracket was fifty to forty thousand years ago.

It should be emphasized that the scientific program is not for explaining the origin of individual members of a species. If one accepts evolution, as I do, it is tempting to believe that there is a “family tree” tracing me back to a breeding pair of humans at a definite time before which there were no humans. But the scientific program is guided by a model of a “species tree.”

Also, it should be emphasized that evolutionary accounts face all of the mind-body problems of any scientific study of contemporary humans. The relation of human thought and feeling, collective as well as individual, to their physiological correlates in the nervous system of individuals, are unexplained in any study of humans.

There is a sexual or reproductive dimension to believing that a species long ago is the same species as ours. This is the requirement that, in general, individuals can reproduce fertile offspring if and only if they are of the same species. There is no way that such a test can be conducted with individuals thousands of years apart. So, I will indulge in a thought experiment.

Suppose somehow a male and female of ancient A had been frozen or preserved in some fashion so that they can now be revived and be sexually active here and now in the twenty first century. Let’s call them Ancient Man and Ancient Woman. They should be able to have offspring by mating with people of the twenty first century. Suppose Ancient Man mates with a contemporary woman Mary and she gives birth to a daughter Clara. Clara should grow up to have all of the cognitive abilities and technical skills of any other child of our century. This means, amongst many other things, that Clara could learn to speak English. Suppose further, Ancient Woman mates with a contemporary male Dick and Ancient Woman becomes pregnant and bears a son Tom. Just like Clara, Tom would be born with the ability to learn the cognitive and technical skills of the twenty first century. To be sure, there would be physical features which set Clara and Tom apart from typical twenty first century people. Almost certainly, they would have smaller body size. Over the centuries, natural selection changes many features of a species without leading to a new species. However, in this thought experiment the prediction is that if Clara and Tom breed with typical twenty first people and then the offspring of these children mate with typical twenty first people the physical differences will be significantly modified to match human features of our century.

The above is my attempt to specify what I admit when I claim to accept that the scientific community has the correct research program for giving a naturalistic explanation of the origin of the human species, indeed for the origin of any species.

The question of whether or not members of this species have been given a purpose or goal for their lives is not, and ought not be, even raised in the evolutionary account. So, it is consistent with this naturalistic account to claim that humans as beings with a purpose began when God specified that each man and woman has the goal of living to know, love and serve Him while living so that they can be happy with Him after biological death.

Of course, consistency is far from significant, let alone true. So, the further questions concern motivation and justification for supernatural claims.

No Truth Conditions for Claims About the Natural and the Supernatural

Most of the claims that I will make about the supernatural are also claims about the natural. For instance, Luke’s account of the Annunciation is about a young virgin and the angel Gabriel. Claims of a miracle are at least claims that something with a supernatural feature acted in the natural world. I will argue that a complete understanding of the origin of homo sapiens requires interpreting human beings as beings who are both natural and supernatural. Roughly: certain homo hominids with a supernatural soul were the original humans. In a way, the origin of humans is miraculous!

What is it like, though, for claims about such radically different kinds of things to be true? For two reasons, which I have elaborated on in previous posts, I will not answer this question.

First, the challenge to provide an analysis of how elements of reality can be combined to make truth conditions for a claim is a challenge to show that what is claimed to be is really possible, viz., a possible combination of realities. This challenge can be set aside because of an assumption that whatever is consistently describable is really possible.

Second, the challenge asks for an account of how reality makes a claim about reality true. It asks for the truth about truth. This is analytic philosophy which I am abandoning.

So, I set aside an impossible task which I am strongly tempted to begin. I would like to begin with an inventory of the basic individuals, properties, relations and atomic facts of the supernatural and then the natural. Then guided by some hopefully noncontroversial rules on combination of facts, construct combinations of atomic facts, i.e., molecular states of affairs, which correspond with claims about the natural and the supernatural. If the molecular state of affairs obtains, the claim is true; otherwise, false.

Of course, a further challenge is to develop an epistemology on how one can determine whether or not a mixed natural and supernatural state of affairs occurs. Theoretically, on this analytic approach, I am setting aside, the truth of claims about molecular facts can be determined once the truth of the claims about atomic facts has been determined. Still, there is the problem of how to determine truth of atomic supernatural claims. I suspect it would be ad hoc in the way indicated below.

So, I set aside the task of a philosophical analysis of how we can talk of the natural and supernatural. I simply start talking about the supernatural under the assumption that such talk can be intelligible. I use an ad hoc epistemology which means that each claim I make has to be discussed on its merits with intelligent people of good will and at least a mildly skeptical temperament.

Distinguishing the Supernatural From the Natural

In distinguishing the supernatural from the natural I am making truth claims. However, my truth claims are about our ways of thinking and speaking about what is real and unreal. They are not directly about the realities we might call the natural and supernatural. For instance, I am not talking directly about the truth of a claim such as “Her cure was miraculous.” I am talking about what I mean by saying her cure was miraculous. In short, I am talking about conceptual schemes as opposed to what the schemes are used to represent. Sometimes talking about thinking is called second order thinking as opposed to first order thinking which is saying of what is that it is a certain way.

These second order claims can be true or false. But their truth is not so directly dependent upon realities as that of first order thinking. Truth of second order claims is filtered through human consensus. Second order claims are offered to human thinking as proposals on the best ways to think directly about reality. In short, they are claims describing and correcting, if necessary, the fundamental human conceptual scheme, viz., the way of thinking to distinguish between the real and unreal. If in the opinion of those who think in this second order way about realities my characterizing this way of thinking aptly characterizes their way of distinguishing real from unreal, then there is support for my truth claims about the way of distinguishing real from unreal. Note that support for me would come not only from the consensus. Support comes from other’s agreement that these are appropriate ways of thinking about the reality with which they are acquainted. Reality is not ignored in the forming of the consensus.

It needs to be emphasized that agreement with my proposed conceptual scheme for distinguishing real from unreal need not be agreement on what I think is real and unreal. For instance, someone could agree with me that I have characterized a supernatural reality properly. Some might well agree that if there were supernatural realities, they would be as I have said they would be. However, they might go on to argue that their experience and efforts to explain how things happen and what there is show them that there are no supernatural realities. They would claim that the supernatural is an empty category. They might add that they can understand acquaintance with supernatural realities as natural mental occurrences. However, they should not proclaim that the notion of “supernatural” is meaningless or that it is impossible there be anything supernatural. I am working under the assumption that the only impossibility is logical impossibility; there cannot be anything whose description is logically inconsistent.

I, though, believe that there is a supernatural reality. But what is it? Here are some of my beginning speculations.

First: supernatural realities are dependent upon the Transcendent for their existence. Of course, then, the Transcendent is not a supernatural reality. Fundamental metaphysics is not an investigation of the supernatural. However, realities dependent upon the Transcendent which are clearly not any kind of natural reality would be supernatural realities.

At this point, I am using “natural” in the broad sense in which it is opposed to the supernatural. I am not here using “natural” in the narrow sense in which it designates the material or physical in naturalism as a philosophy.

The supernatural realities are those which are not any kind of natural realities. What, though, are the natural realities? I characterize the natural epistemically. Natural realities are those humans develop beliefs about with use of human empirical reason. Supernatural realities are those human beings develop beliefs about with faith. Faith is itself a supernatural reality. So, only with faith can one develop beliefs about faith! (This role I attribute to faith may require correction as I go forward.)

Human empirical reason is that which we use in developing beliefs about the physical, mathematical, social and moral.

So, a first outline of my conceptual scheme for distinguishing the real from the unreal is as follows. There is the supernatural and everything else is natural. The categories of the natural are the moral, mathematical, social, mental, physical and material.