Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Getting a Grip About Science, Religion, Technology, and Magic

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
(Arthur C. Clark, "Profiles of The Future")
I think the same might be said of any 'sufficiently unfamiliar' technology.

Sparkly Things and Coffee

I remember when some folks were buying 'magic crystals.' Maybe some still do. I like sparkly things, and have a geode on my desk occasionally. I'm more likely to get 'creative energy' from coffee and concentration, though.

That geode is sparkly, but not 'magic.' On the other hand, the crystal block in the next photo probably is 'magic,' sort of:

Viking Sunstones, Lodestones, and Cell Phones

(from Alderney Museum, via LiveScience and, used w/o permission)
"Researchers say this crystal found at the Alderney shipwreck near the Channel Islands could prove fabled Viking sunstones really did exist. (© Alderney Museum)" (
"...if you were to look at someone's face through a clear chunk of Icelandic spar, you would see two faces. But if the crystal is held in just the right position, the double image becomes a single image and you know the crystal is pointing east-west...."
(Megan Gannon)
Gazing into a crystal block to tell direction on an overcast day might seem 'magical,' or might be accepted as an unexplained but useful phenomenon: like a suspended lodestone's tendency to point in one direction.

During the last few centuries, we've been finding new uses for things like Icelandic spar and lodestones at an increasingly rapid rate. Part of what's increased the pace is 'science:' the systematic study of this universe pioneered by folks like Copernicus, Galileo, and Mendel.

Knowledge gained from scientific research has led to technologies like solar cells and the liquid crystal clock display on my desk. Cell phones, computers, and other gadgets we use every day might seem like 'magic' to someone who wasn't familiar with them.

Science, Religion, Technology, and Magic

Some folks don't like science, technology, religion, or magic. I suspect that's partly because it seems easy to get them confused. 'Dictionary definitions' aren't necessarily helpful. I put some at the end of this post, anyway.1

Science, technology, and religion are part of being human. As for "magic," I'll get back to that in another post. Here's an over-simplified look at how I use the words:
  • Science
    • What things are
    • How they work
  • Religion
    • Why things are
    • How we should deal with them
  • Technology
    • Applied science
    • Tools we use
  • Magic
    • Harmless entertainment
    • Unfamiliar technology
    • A really bad idea

Sorting Out Jumbled Notes

I don't see a problem with honestly seeking truth in the visible world and seeking God, and post about both fairly often.

As posts about faith and reason accumulated, I put a short explanation of my position and a link list on one of this blog's 'pages:'
While writing notes about that block of Icelandic spar and Viking sunstones, I wandered off on a tangent. By the time I realized what was happening I'd quoted Arthur C. Clark and the Code of Canon Law.

Eventually I sorted out the mess, and had three more-or-less related posts: including this one.

The next post is a fairly brief look at why science isn't religion: and why I think both can be reasonable. The third one's about technology and three sorts of 'magic.'

Other related posts:

1 Definitions
  • Science
    • Systematic knowledge of the visible world gained through
      • Observation
      • Experimentation
    • Technology
      • Practical applications of knowledge
      • Tools
      (Princeton's WordNet)
  • Religion
    • A particular system of faith and worship
    • A pursuit or interest followed with great devotion
  • Magic
    • Any art that invokes supernatural powers
    • An illusory feat
      • Considered magical by naive observers
    (Princeton's WordNet)

No comments:

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More


Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.