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.