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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Twins: science and magic (Read 531 times)
Freon_Bale
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #20 - Jun 11th, 2019 at 10:04am
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Frank1 wrote on Jun 9th, 2019 at 8:18am:
Just finished rereading C.S. Lewis's 'That Hideous Strength,' where he explores the theme, among others, that science and magic are 'twins,' with the lead antagonists in the novel being two former scientists who literally sold their souls to the devil, and the cover for their work being a scientific institute with the apt initials 'N.I.C.E.' (National Institute for Coordinated Experiments).

Lewis was a professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature, so he knew these time periods well. He writes, in his non-fiction work, 'The Abolition of Man' that magic, which has often falsely been labeled a holdover from the Middle Ages, was in fact much more at home in the Renaissance.

According to Lewis, the early natural scientists during the Renaissance were generally as interested in magic as in science. This means that, as Lewis says, they were generally interested in the pursuit of power rather than in simply acquiring knowledge.

Lewis quotes Bacon, to the effect that science and magic were twins born in the Renaissance. One was weak and died (magic) the other went on to thrive (science). But as twins they shared characteristics, namely the pursuit of power.

It occurs to me a more recent example of this, for those doubting Lewis and Bacon, is Sir Isaac Newton. I assume most of you are aware that Newton was just as interested in alchemy as in the theories for which he has become known.

Wasn't it William Blake who said he could hear the cruel cogs of Newton making their way through the Universities of Europe?


Only one clarification. The 'Power' you refer to was not power over other people, but power over nature. And ultimately, it was the power to predict the future, as in, if I mix A with B, I will get C every time.

This is the main reason that religion (magic) is not a good substitute for science. Religion cannot predict the future with any accuracy.
  
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petep
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #21 - Jun 11th, 2019 at 10:47am
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Freon_Bale wrote on Jun 11th, 2019 at 10:04am:
Only one clarification. The 'Power' you refer to was not power over other people, but power over nature. And ultimately, it was the power to predict the future, as in, if I mix A with B, I will get C every time.

This is the main reason that religion (magic) is not a good substitute for science. Religion cannot predict the future with any accuracy.


why can't the two co-exist - some of the greatest scientists also had faith...I went to catholic high school and we were were taught you were a fool if you really believe that all was created in 7 days...there is great science coming out of the top catholic/christian schools...BC, notre dame, etc...

you don't want to be a christian scientist with a case of appendicitis...
  
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #22 - Jun 11th, 2019 at 10:55am
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petep wrote on Jun 11th, 2019 at 10:47am:
why can't the two co-exist - some of the greatest scientists also had faith...I went to catholic high school and we were were taught you were a fool if you really believe that all was created in 7 days...there is great science coming out of the top catholic/christian schools...BC, notre dame, etc...

you don't want to be a christian scientist with a case of appendicitis...

Frank is presenting "magic" as something different than Christian faith because he doesn't want to criticize his faith. In reality, both are superstition running in different directions and subject to very different political power calculations. Also, Frank hopes to indict modern science as nothing more than a twin to superstitious "magic" (but of course NOT related to his religion, which is above the fray  Wink ) because, well, Frank hates the modern world and thinks the dark ages were a utopia compared to today.
  

Queshank:
  • Trump... He's the dictator those who find self governance too difficult have been waiting for.
  • Trump supporters... They finally have the dictator they've been longing for to put their anger and spite into action.
  • We need to go back to pretending a wall on the southern border is about immigration of all people's not just brown ones.

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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #23 - Jun 11th, 2019 at 11:12am
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Frank1 wrote on Jun 10th, 2019 at 2:35am:
The pursuit of magic is the pursuit of power, plain and simple. It is no surprise, of course, that in the Renaissance, with the advent of humanism and its elevation of man's worldly pursuits, that the pursuit of magical powers became prominent.

And someone like Isaac Newton was not pursuing alchemy, in the mid-18th century, out of superstition but out of desire for the power that would have accrued to him if he had mastered the art. To say otherwise is simply to cover for Newton and those like him in a misguided effort to protect scientists and science from criticism. The same people who will question and demean almost any positive view of pre-modern society cannot accept any criticism of science and scientists. Such closed-minded worship of science is unfortunately very common today.

Let's clarify a few things as it will help the discussion if everyone understands where you are coming from on this topic.

Can you please define "magic" as you are referring to it?

Do you believe in "magical powers"? Sounds like you do but please clarify.

Can you define the scientific method?

What does superstitious belief have to do with the scientific method? You seem desperate to link "magic" to the scientific method and it is unclear how this link is supposed to work. Please explain.
  

Queshank:
  • Trump... He's the dictator those who find self governance too difficult have been waiting for.
  • Trump supporters... They finally have the dictator they've been longing for to put their anger and spite into action.
  • We need to go back to pretending a wall on the southern border is about immigration of all people's not just brown ones.

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Freon_Bale
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #24 - Jun 11th, 2019 at 1:00pm
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petep wrote on Jun 11th, 2019 at 10:47am:
why can't the two co-exist - some of the greatest scientists also had faith...I went to catholic high school and we were were taught you were a fool if you really believe that all was created in 7 days...there is great science coming out of the top catholic/christian schools...BC, notre dame, etc...

you don't want to be a christian scientist with a case of appendicitis...


They can co-exist, but they cannot overlap.

I have extremely strong Faith, yet I am an unabashed scientist. I would no more ask science to explain my soul, or the difference between good and bad, as I would religion to explain how my species evolved.
  
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #25 - Jun 11th, 2019 at 1:17pm
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Freon_Bale wrote on Jun 11th, 2019 at 1:00pm:
They can co-exist, but they cannot overlap.

I have extremely strong Faith, yet I am an unabashed scientist. I would no more ask science to explain my soul, or the difference between good and bad, as I would religion to explain how my species evolved.


I'd agree with that...and sometimes science explains things we did not understand before, and other times science fails to explain things that just make you stand in awe of the unexplainable...

I once said to someone, as humans, we only experience a tiny fraction of whats around us, like sound...the demonstration is simply turning on a radio...all those electromagnetic waves that are outside our spectrum...they are there, we are just not aware of them...

Imagine if our eyes were like electron microscopes...we would see each of us as just large clumps of atoms, electrons whizzing around, that are struck together through electrical affinity and bonds...I know it takes some of the magic out of it...but it is true... and attempts to demonstrate how ignorant we all are to what is around us...we see and hear and experience inside a very narrow spectrum...
  
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #26 - Jun 11th, 2019 at 1:52pm
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petep wrote on Jun 11th, 2019 at 1:17pm:
I'd agree with that...and sometimes science explains things we did not understand before, and other times science fails to explain things that just make you stand in awe of the unexplainable...

I once said to someone, as humans, we only experience a tiny fraction of whats around us, like sound...the demonstration is simply turning on a radio...all those electromagnetic waves that are outside our spectrum...they are there, we are just not aware of them...

Imagine if our eyes were like electron microscopes...we would see each of us as just large clumps of atoms, electrons whizzing around, that are struck together through electrical affinity and bonds...I know it takes some of the magic out of it...but it is true... and attempts to demonstrate how ignorant we all are to what is around us...we see and hear and experience inside a very narrow spectrum...


I think your response is somewhat disingenuous. "and other times science fails to explain things that just make you stand in awe of the unexplainable..." is a convenient loophole for you to ignore what science is explaining because religion has come up with a more palatable answer.

Evolution is a top candidate for this. Science has not 'kind of' explained evolution. It is reinforced daily with new data that has no other reasonable explanation besides evolution. Yet when some people hear they and chimpanzees had a common ancestor, it freaks them out, makes them feel a little less special.

I challenge that notion. We ARE special. In so many ways. We are the first species, as far as we know, that has achieved consciousness. And since we are a natural product of the universe, we are the first means by which the universe is able to understand itself. Now THAT is a high calling. When I think of 'miracles' like changing water to wine, parting the sea, or even resurrection, it is so infinitesimally small compared this higher calling. It's really hard to understand why everyone is so impressed with what, in a few generations, will be considered parlor tricks.
  
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #27 - Jun 11th, 2019 at 4:27pm
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Freon_Bale wrote on Jun 11th, 2019 at 1:52pm:
I think your response is somewhat disingenuous. "and other times science fails to explain things that just make you stand in awe of the unexplainable..." is a convenient loophole for you to ignore what science is explaining because religion has come up with a more palatable answer.

Evolution is a top candidate for this. Science has not 'kind of' explained evolution. It is reinforced daily with new data that has no other reasonable explanation besides evolution. Yet when some people hear they and chimpanzees had a common ancestor, it freaks them out, makes them feel a little less special.

I challenge that notion. We ARE special. In so many ways. We are the first species, as far as we know, that has achieved consciousness. And since we are a natural product of the universe, we are the first means by which the universe is able to understand itself. Now THAT is a high calling. When I think of 'miracles' like changing water to wine, parting the sea, or even resurrection, it is so infinitesimally small compared this higher calling. It's really hard to understand why everyone is so impressed with what, in a few generations, will be considered parlor tricks.


I never attributed anything I'm in awe of to religion...as you seem to be a self proclaimed scientist I'm surprised you jumped to a biased assumption...I simply said I stand in awe at the unexplainable...I'm sure the wright brothers may too if they saw a jet...doesn't have anything to do with God. Your unscientific bias is beaming thru...

and why someone with a scientific background would take what mortal men wrote decades later and translated many many times over centuries and centuries so literally is, well, very unscientific...

most religious people I have met are contexualists, understand the difference between literal interpretations and contexual interpretations...and are generally just focused on the "golden rule" - the soviets practiced state sponsored atheism...maybe stalin could have used some of the good aspects and teachings of religion...
  
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #28 - Jun 11th, 2019 at 4:41pm
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Frank1 wrote on Jun 10th, 2019 at 2:35am:
It is no surprise, of course, that in the Renaissance, with the advent of humanism and its elevation of man's worldly pursuits, that the pursuit of magical powers became prominent.

First, let's be clear about what we're talking about here: alchemy (rather than using the term interchangeably with 'magic'). Second, alchemic pursuits became prominent in Europe well before the Renaissance. (Source) And there is an even older tradition of alchemy in 'The West' going back to the Greeks.
  
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petep
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Re: Twins: science and magic
Reply #29 - Jun 11th, 2019 at 4:52pm
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Demos wrote on Jun 11th, 2019 at 4:41pm:
First, let's be clear about what we're talking about here: alchemy (rather than using the term interchangeably with 'magic'). Second, alchemic pursuits became prominent in Europe well before the Renaissance. (Source) And there is an even older tradition of alchemy in 'The West' going back to the Greeks.


so true - and isn't the line the more we know the less we understand so true...

this is basic knowledge...thanks for reminding the data driven, fact based scientist.

  
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