Defining Magic

Ask twenty people what there definition of magic is and you are likely to get twenty different answers – from ‘it’s all trickery and illusion’ to ‘the mystic forces in the earth are the source of all magic’ to allegations that it comes from god or the devil.  Personally, I believe there are two sorts of true magic (as opposed to stage magic).

The first sort encompasses phenomena such as out-of-body experiences as well as the abilities that generally are lumped together as psychic.  For the purpose of this discussion, I will ignore that many of the people claiming these abilities are charlatans and con artists.  I have experiences that are sufficient to me to believe that in some cases such phenomena do exist.  Where I depart from a many people is in my interpretation of these. Simply put –  I don’t believe there is anything particularly mystical about these abilities when they are real.  I believe they are the result of science we don’t yet understand.

The third ‘law’ espoused by Arthur C Clarke states: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”  I agree with him on that point.  Consider this – If you could take one of the new Ubuntu, solar-powered computers back a thousand years, how would it be viewed by the average person?  My guess is that, as in Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court”, it would be viewed as magic.

The other sort of ‘magic’ is more difficult to explain.  These are events that require some outside power, whether god or some other, for explanation unless you believe they are all just random chance (which I don’t).  It is the realm of miracles and of ‘callings’.  Miracles might sometimes be put in the first category – for instance in the case of people being healed of supposedly incurable diseases.

What about the case where someone feels a specific calling to do something, though?  I have specific insight into this because I believe I was ‘called’ in that way once, some years ago.  At that time, I found myself in a group of people that I had little in common with and would not normally have socialized with.  The end result of it is that I convinced a young girl not to take her own life.  I believe that was a calling from god.  Others might believe it came from some other great power or even that it was random chance.  I have no problem with people who believe it was a higher power by some other name but have difficulty believing that it was mere chance, largely because of the circumstances surrounding the whole event.

These are my personal views on magic.  I’d love to hear comments and alternative explanations from others.

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