science and magic

One could say that science describes what we understand and magic what we do not. The inexplicable always fascinates; like children at a party asking the conjuror to repeat the trick.
Since 95% of the universe is dark energy or dark matter, which we do not understand, there is still plenty of magic. It was Isaac Newton who said ‘the bigger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of uncertainty.’
Pressure to conformity; valuing difference,

Often what is specialist knowledge may seem like magic to the uninitiated. Most people do not understand quantum physics because it needs an understanding of advanced mathematics. The very language we use implies secrecy and sects, though this may not be by intention. However the simple fact is that specialist knowledge, whether of shamanism or nuclear physics, leads to exclusivity. Indeed in a sense it is not specialist knowledge, but specialist experience that differentiates the exceptional individual from the crowd. We are not all the same and some differences lead to an individual having a different view of the world. For example autistic children are different, experience the world differently and some are very talented and creative. It has been proposed that Newton had Aspergers syndrome. His development of the concept of ‘gravity’ a universal force acting at a distance, which was accepted as real, though unexplained and so in essence ‘magical’.

Einstein took the understanding further developing the concept of ‘spacetime’. Interestingly, since nothing can travel faster than light this automatically gives each individual a unique viewpoint on the universe and gives the sensation (illusion?) of time.

Difference is always liable to give rise to suspicion and fear and it was only recently that people were being burnt at the stake for their religious convictions or because they were considered to be witches. Clearly there was a disincentive to anyone talking about having spiritual experiences!


Our society needs exceptional individuals whether explorers, scientists engineers or philosophers. Until recently there was dependence on shamans for making rain, now science has taken over this role- to an extent.

We need to be able to think the unthinkable (in a safe environment, a University ) if we are to develop an increasing understanding of the universe and the way it works. Science allows this, a well defined situation is explored and reproducible results obtained. It is an approach which has proved to be successful. Yet it has limitations.

One-off unique events can be observed but not repeated.

Subjective experience cannot be objectively studied, though modern imaging technology of the brain in action is getting close.

There is still room for the magic of the individual and spirituality. Indeed some feel that individual experience is ultimately all there is.

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