The word “natural” is use in many different contexts, but in most cases it is meaningless. In many cases this issue can be solved by asking yourself what “natural” or nature really means in your perspective.
It mostly depend on your definition of “natural”.
Are human beings “natural” and are the products derived from their behavior thus “natural” as well. Is you tablet “natural” because you are a human being and thus part of nature, just like a bird’s nest as its product is “natural” as well?
The “natural” is often used to associate with positive emotional load, “healthy”, “clean”, “unspoilt”, untouched”, “as it is meant to be”, “good” as the opposite of “unnatural”, being often more negatively associated: “synthetic”, “dirty”, “not good”, “not healthy”, etc.
Even though we are undeniable a product of nature on this planet, we, as a species, spend a lot of time, energy and money to change, improve, modify, manipulate, dominate or destroy nature, intentionally or not, consciously or unconsciously.
In my context the words nature and natural are often used in the context of sport and nutrition.
Wearing clothing? Not natural! Using means of transport other than your own legs, wings or fins? Not natural!
Using tools, apart from some rare exceptions like birds or monkey using sticks, twigs or stones, tool use is not natural. See where you are if you could only use a stone or a stick for everything that you want to accomplish.
Take your eyes off the screen and look around, and listen, anything that you see or hear that would still be there if humans being were not around? Very little, is my guess.
In sport, the word “natural” is often associated with getting there with your “natural” talent, in other words, as you came to life. A great concept, too bad is meaningless in this context. Right from the start when you were born, in some cases, the doctor needed a Caesarian for the bay to be born alive. Something that does not happen in nature outside of human beings. In elite sport the same: in nature animals don’t train for their tasks, they play when they are young, just to practice and learn skills, but as soon they are able e.g. to walk, to run, to fly or to catch a prey, they don’t train anymore to improve that skill.
A “natural” athlete does not exist unless her/she would not train, and gather his/her own food from the wild, instead of going to the supermarket, and eat that food raw. Ever seen an animal cook, fry or bake it’s food and eat it? Natural food does not exist, it is marketing only. The natural athlete should also train and compete naked, without shoes or tools.
In nutrition the relationship between natural and healthy is often emphasized. Of course, even natural food is not natural, but grown, harvested , processed, transported and prepared by humans. We should not forget that nature provides us with the most toxic substances on the planet, from Corona virus to Clostridium bacteria, ricin, snake poison, all very natural and all very lethal. Natural does not equal healthy.
The word “natural” is often used in the context of doping, some people consider the use of doping unnatural, but how to think about any medication in general? Natural or not? In some religions, people stay away from blood transfusion or vaccination for the reason that this is against what God intended. And animals don’t go the pharmacy when they are sick.
As a consequence of this way of thinking, a supposedly natural athlete should not use any medication.
It even gets more complicated when one talks about genetic modification of humans in general and in athletes specifically. Some people might say that it is like “playing God”, but we have already been playing God for the longest time. Any genetic improvement like breeding of animals or cultivation of flowers and plants is like playing God also.
Once again this all depends on your world view: to what extent are you anthropocentric, which means that you think the human being is exceptional, beyond and above everything else on this planet, and is the center of existence. Human beings are seen as being at the top of the pyramid of life, and the top of the food chain.
Or do you think that we are just part of a cycle, not at the top of the food chain, but likely just a highly developed link in this chain. Not being at the end of the chain, but also the beginning again, e.g. as a host for bacteria and viruses, (think Corona at this moment). We could also be just a temporarily dominating part of the ecosystem on this planet and with the same power and creativity which we use to change and dominate this planet, destroying this and ourselves as a species?
Only time will tell.