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english  magic, science and religion

Marc-Jan Trapman, emailmtrapman@xs4all.nl, 12.10.2003, 22:50
Original: english  Religion and magic. (ARIOCH), 12.10.2003, 21:21



Arioch,

I am sorry, but I feel you are completely missing your own point.
You write:

"The objects of science are identical with those of magic. Mankind is progressing from magic to science, not by meditation and reason, but rather through long experience, gradually and painfully."

This means that the 'magic' of the egyptians was the science of their times. It is completely unscientific to describe people of an earlier era as ignorant and/or savage. This shows only that you are unaware of the fact that people in a century from now would easily speak of us likewise if they would not know better.

If you want to give judgement in terms of 'scientific' versus 'magic' and 'religion' than you must keep within your own time-frame. Only then the concepts can be used in a meaningful way.

We can apply te question to the matter of HIV today.

Religion (the catholics) has just decreed that the HIVirus can permeate condoms. Science has proven it does not.
In Africa we now see religious and scientific bases for intervention, as well as interventions that western scientists describe as belonging to the realm of 'magic'.
I think that (I refer to the discussion about Descartes below), it is necessary to take a stand in this if one is to judge and/or implement intervention.

We can than say that the catholics gamble on creating fear for condoms in order to get people to have monogamous sex only. If succesfull, this would help. If not, the catholic approach is simply criminal, and since we can conclude from a period that fear was the only weapon against AIDS, that it does not work, I see no other conclusion.

The scientific analysis is not an intervention in itself. Ultimo, following Descartes, we must say that science is also a belief-system, and as such not better or worse than religion.
We must *choose* to base ourselves on scientific 'facts', and when we can agree on this we have a base for intervention.
Practical people use science as a base for intervention, but not science alone, because they experience that people react to other things than 'facts' alone.
Many of them therefore treat local 'magicians' with respect when they try to design interventions.

There is no sense in being derisive about this, because many programmes in the west are based on what we call 'psychology'. This is at the moment generally seen as a pseudo-science. For instance some of it is based on a literary magician, (Freud) who was, scientifically spoken, a fraud.
Other psychologists base themself on new-age sources or even on not more than what they describe as 'proven practice'.
In fact, nobody nowadays would be able to design a credible definition of 'magic' that would not cover psychology (and a large part of medicine).
Yet, without these psychologists, a large part of humanity would by now be out in the cold.