Many strange things happen to us when we are asleep.




Scientists classify them as sleep disorders. But ... One can simply misinterpret the supernatural as disorder. In fact, the supernatural is a kind of disorder in nature.

how can one distinguish between disorder and the supernatural?

I have a personal experience when I was asleep, alone, I suddenly felt like I was appeared on my bed and then I kicked hard on the floor, very hard. It was as if I was not in my own bed at all, When I was not awake and conscious.

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    By making sure that all natural explanations are ruled out first, including sleep disorders, illusions, hallucinations, etc. Whatever is left will be either a new natural phenomenon or supernatural. As those are highly unlikely, you can safely assume that it wasn't one of them unless there is evidence beyond weird dreams.
    – Conifold
    Mar 10, 2021 at 0:23
  • @Conifold How exactly would one rule out "illusion"?! Can't that always be used as "explanation"? I have a hard time imagining how you could rule out "illusion" for an experience that happened to you while being alone (alone so you can't ask others what actually happened). I am not saying you are wrong, you certainly are correct, it's just that some of the explanations seem like you could never rule them out, even if something was actually going on.
    – kutschkem
    Mar 11, 2021 at 12:39
  • @kutschkem Illusion is not something to be ruled out, supernatural is something to be ruled in, it is an "explanation" of last resort. If weird something only happens when someone is alone and leaves no trace to be examined afterwards supernatural doesn't get ruled in. If the phenomenon is at least recurring we may get a chance to classify it more specifically as illusion, hallucination, etc., if not all we can say is that those are far more likely than the supernatural.
    – Conifold
    Mar 11, 2021 at 13:15

1 Answer 1


It's a different sense of "disorder" - not "disorder in nature," but rather a medical disorder. Sleep paralysis and hypnic jerk are disorders not because they violate natural law, but because they may be undesired and unusual. An "out of body experience" is not a disorder in this sense, because it is not undesired.

Science does not have any problem accounting for these phenomena as the result of neural activity. They are not "disorder in nature."

However, let's ignore the examples and just ask whether disorder in nature is supernatural. Suppose there is some phenomenon that seems to defy science - say that sometimes bricks randomly levitate for no apparent reason. This could be described as "disorder in nature" because the known laws of nature don't account for it. Would we call this supernatural?

At first, of course we would. But then suppose that scientists work out the reason for the levitating bricks - they discover the mumble-magnetomorphic-dynablast field whose equations can be written down, which fully account for the levitating bricks. Then we would say that the bricks are a natural phenomenon, and also no longer "disorder."

So what we call "natural" or "ordered" really depends on whether we can trace the cause and effect as the result of some governing principles. Science can study whatever is ordered - and if it does not appear ordered at first, perhaps science simply hasn't figured it out yet, and will eventually.

Besides that we might call something "supernatural" if it has traditionally been called so. Suppose for the sake of argument that ghosts, ESP, souls, and deities are real. And suppose that scientists investigate these phenomena and determine that there are definite laws governing them; they do not act at random or with disorder. We might still call them "supernatural" because they are traditionally so, or we might call them "natural" because they have been explained, according to personal preference.

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