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The supernatural or supranatural (Latin: super, supra "above" + natura "nature") is anything above or beyond what one holds to be natural or exists outside natural law and the observable universe.[1] Science limits its explanations for phenomena to natural explanations, a process known as methodological naturalism, and cannot consider supernatural explanations, as they cannot be investigated empirically. Those who hold mystical or theistic beliefs may have no conception of supernatural phenomena, but might perceive the scientist's natural laws, on their own, as being subnatural.[citation needed] To explain something using natural causes and excluding supernatural causes is to naturalize it.[2] To explain something as resulting from supernatural causes is to supernaturalize it.[3]

Supernatural themes are often associated with paranormal and occult ideas, suggesting the possibility of interaction with the supernatural by means of summoning or trance. In secular societies, religious miracles are typically perceived as supernatural claims, as are spells and curses, divination, and the afterlife. Characteristics for phenomena claimed as supernatural are anomaly, uniqueness, and uncontrollability. Thus, the conditions in which such phenomena are thought to manifest may not be reproducible for scientific examination.


Contrasting views

Adherents to supernatural beliefs hold that such occurrences exist just as surely as does the natural world. Opponents argue that there are natural, scientific explanations for what they often perceive as the supernatural.

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).[4] Likewise, legendary characters such as vampires and leprechauns are not typically considered supernatural.

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