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I've seen the word "plausible" thrown around quite a bit here in regards to spiritual/religious claims, I'll assume this is coming from pure agnostics, and not full on atheists.

I think words have meanings, and "plausible" means "reasonable or likely".

I do not find any spiritual/supernatural/religious claim to have any foundation in either reason or statistics, so I'm unsure where people are coming up with "plausible" in referencing them, but I'm willing to discuss it if anyone cares to educate me?

HereticSin 7 Aug 31

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I have not seen this use of "plausible" but i am new here. maybe i will some time. if i did see it used that way, with regard to what i consider the supernatural, i, too, would balk. i don't find such things plausible at all.



Sometimes people say 'plausible' when what they really mean is 'it is not impossible'


I just looked up the definition of plausible. The Oxford mini dictionary says 'Seeming reasonable or probable, (of a person) persuasive but deceptive'

Maybe the second half of the definition has more resonance for people with regards the supernatural. But essentially I agree with you, no proof = no belief


Just for fun, let's pull up an actual definition of plausible. Per

"Definition of plausible
1 : superficially fair, reasonable, or valuable but often specious a plausible pretext
2 : superficially pleasing or persuasive
a swindler … , then a quack, then a smooth, plausible gentleman —R. W. Emerson
3 : appearing worthy of belief the argument was both powerful and plausible"

So "superficially" factors into the top two definitions. This fits with my use of the word. I'd use plausible to mean something like "seems reasonable at first glance, but I'd have to dig deeper to decide whether it deserves credence. " I think there's always an implied "but" when I use the word.

I think this hits a crux. People use it in terms of the first two definitions but expect acceptance of it based on the third.

this is why I don't like the word. "it's plausible" either means it is superficially pleasing to intuition, or that it bears reasoning which matches expectation. spirituality is plausible right up until you actually understand how the real world works, and then it just isn't.


Can't recall running across any posts that used the word, so I can't render a judgment on how it aligned with the site's lexicon. Suppose it isn't entirely implausible that it was used incorrectly.


Theism convinces a lot of people that the options to the unanswerable questions of the universe are either "god(s)" or "no god(s)"/anything else. That argument is extended to support a stance that there is a 50% chance that god(s) is/are real. It's debate tactic that works far better than it should.

The reality is that someone long long ago asked "how did this all start" and someone else made up a huuuuge line of fucking bullshit. Imagine if you asked me why Mars is red, and I explained that Spiderman comes out of a cave and sprinkles dust on it each morning, and then tried to convince you that my argument is 50% likely because you have options of "Spiderman" and "no Spiderman".

Plausible and probable are not the same as possible. Anything is possible, because a .0 repeating 1 percent chance is possible. It's a trick, the wordplay was done on purpose and now idiots repeat it ad nauseum. Don't fall for it.


I don't even think the word probable is appropriate. For something to be probable, there must be some evidence. Any claim of magic is not plausible or probable, it is an arbitrary claim.

my point exactly. the use of plausible in a statistical or reasonable sense belies the very meaning when applied to "spiritual" claims, there can be no statistic or chain of reason to support it.

when it means "sounds good until you look deeper" i don't object to it at all, that's the meaning most fitting for such claims.


they are mixing up probable and plausable .


I'm not willing to accept that anything about gods and religion is "plausible".
There are no gods and religion is just a dangerous scam.
Then again, I'm an atheist, and an anti-theist. So it makes sense that I wouldn't.


I'll not claim that this would wholly justify the use of the word plausible, but some people accept the possibility of spiritual/religious claims because of things they have witnessed. Perhaps they have witnessed so much, that plausible seems like an appropriate term to them.

in this sense I can accept it, but I haven't seen that usage. personal experience is a powerful motivator. I couldn't prove to anyone on here that a squirrel just ran across my lawn, because I have only the evidence of my senses. it is plausible that it was a squirren and not a hallucination because I have no history of such hallucination.

it is when they suggest that their experiences make it plausible TO ME that I run afoul of their reasoning.

@HereticSin that sounds entirely plausible. To me.


In this context I think plausible probably means "sounds attractive and I want it to be true". It's not literally plausible, as you point out.

I don't mind it when it is used that way, but I've seen a few who are using it in the reasoning/statistical sense.


If something is plausible it SEEMS reasonable or likely. What seems likely to some people might not seem so to others. There is at least some evidence for nearly every idea, and it is perfectly legitimate to discuss those ideas whether or not they are accepted by the scientific establishment.

I don’t know why you link spirituality and the “supernatural”. To be spiritual is to be sensitive, aware, and appreciative of the grand mystery of existence. “Supernatural” is just a word used by some to label phenomena outside the realm of rational understanding. Nothing is supernatural, just not understood. Conversely you could say that everything is supernatural since nothing is truly understood on a deep basis.

that connotation is not one I made, it is built into the word. "spiritual" means having to do with a spiritual realm.

if one means aware, one uses aware, if one means appreciative, one uses appreciative. spiritual is, not always but most commonly, used to give a sense of something transcendent to the physical, which I reject based on evidence.

@HereticSin But what is a spiritual realm? Is it not the higher, truer reality that lies beyond the realm of our senses based on our artificial model of matter, space and time? Just about any modern physics book will confirm such a higher reality. For example, read “Reality is not What it Seems” by Rovelli.

What evidence could you possibly have upon which to base your rejection?

"just about any modern physics book" followed by a book on quantum interaction. if you mean "quantum" when you say "spiritual", I suggest you use "quantum" instead.

"higher" reality. no, not currently understood reality, no "transcendence" is implied by quantum models.

@HereticSin No matter how you label it, The reality you see before you is only a crude and symbolic representation of a higher realm. According to quantum loop theory there is no such thing as time. Space is not smooth and continuous but rather granular in nature. Particles are not things, they are field fluctuations.

It is precisely what spirituality oriented people are talking about—there is no difference. If the word “spirituality” disturbes you I’ll try to remember and say “quantum” in the future, however, time is an illusion so the meaning of “future” is uncertain.

@WilliamFleming "higher" please define that term.

"we don't understand everything, ergo spirituality". I call bullshit.

@HereticSin If you are looking at a map of Alaska, a higher realm would be Alaska itself. If I am watching a movie in a theater, a realm higher than the world of the movie would be the world outside the theater.

Reality as we perceive it is just made up and is displayed in our minds as matter moving in space and time.There’s a higher reality beyond our senses that we can’t understand except a little bit with mathematical modeling.

You can’t say much about a world that’s outside your perception, but you can marvel and wonder.

you are locked into the idea that I'm discussing sense perception. you are wrong. there is nothing "spiritual" about QM, just because we lack the tools for sophisticated measurement doesn't make it "higher" than the realm we live in, it IS the realm we live in. "there are things we can't perceive, ergo spirituality" is BS.

they couldn't perceive germs in 1300 BC, it didn't make germs "spiritual".

@HereticSin The way you are defining the word, it IS bullshit. There’s no such thing as the “supernatural” IMO. It’s not just sensory—it’s the fact that space, time, and matter as we experience them do not exist except in our imaginations.The stark facts by far out-woo the woo.

I still think however that the word “spiritual” is a good one and that most people who describe themselves as spiritual are intelligent and perceptive. In the final analysis we are abjectly ignorant when it comes to the deep questions of life.
As a person who lives in total awe and bewilderment I am not much interested in arguing over semantics.

@WilliamFleming for someone not interested in arguing over semantics, you spent a lot of time doing it. if you don't think words have meanings, more power to you, but I do.


They're just misusing it, mixing up plausible and possible. There's a possibility, albeit minuscule, that god exists, but it's not plausible.


It can also mean simply "possible".


Very often people don't mean 'reasonable' or 'likely' when using the word 'plausible'. I think it means the following. Something is plausible if it fits into somebody's worldview (in other words: "there is nothing in my worldview that contradicts it" ). So for a religious/spiritual person plausible means: "maybe God/spirit/demon X did it"
An atheist or agnostics might mean 'reasonable' or 'likely' (within their scientific worldview), but in a discussion people would be talking past each other if they assume they share the same meaning with the words they use. Nobody is wrong just because they use words a certain way. That's why it would be important to clear up these different usages to avoid confusion.

Dietl Level 7 Aug 31, 2018

Yes! I was going to say plausible means it passes a "gut check". But I think you've very well expressed what was behind that feeling.

I am starting to see that from many of the comments, it is possible I overreact to the word because of how many times I've seen it misused. Logically plausible and "seems plausible" are two different connotations, and my background until the last few years was pure logics, not philosophy. thanks for the input.


I haven't seen any either. I hang around women who do yoga and they are very "woowoo", their term for it. But they have no reasoning behind what they say is our connection to divinity. They just believe it is there and that yoga is in itself a spiritual practice. Of course this is not true for all yoga practitioners but they say that yoga was begun as a spiritual practice to help connect to divinity. I think it connects me to my body and it is good for me to do that. Why does it have to be anything more than that?

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