My wife and I watched the Sorcerer’s Apprentice the other night and I was pleased to hear Jay Baruchel’s character, David ask “is Sorcery science or magic?” To which Nicholas Cage’s character, Balthazar Blake, replies, “yes and yes.”
After having David fix her antennae during a stormy night (using science), Teresa Palmer’s character, Becky, states, “It’s a miracle we even got on the air tonight.”
I have long been intrigued with the connection between magic and science. Not only would many of our scientific discoveries seem like magic to ancient civilizations (ex. Matches, flashlights, etc.) but the motivation behind both seems to be similar (or at least can at times be).
For example, magic was prohibited in the Old Testament because it was an attempt by humanity (the natural) to manipulate the gods (supernatural). Say the right words in the right order, with the right emphasis, maybe the right actions, and you could force the supernatural elements, of which the gods were in charge, to do your bidding. Perform the correct action at the right time and the gods (supernatural) will be manipulated into doing your will…maybe (have sex with a temple prostitute and that act of fertility might encourage the god of fertility to bring rain and make the land fertile).
Of course, the God of the Hebrews would not allow this, for he was God, Creator, the only deity and he would not be manipulated. As the sole deity, those gods that humanity were trying to entice, were nothing more than natural elements. No god of thunder, just thunder; no storm god, just storms. And, as the sole deity, Israel’s God was in control of all these and according to Genesis 1, he had put humanity in control of them as well. So any dabbling with magic was (1) a refusal to acknowledge Israel’s God as the sole deity or (2) an attempt to manipulate him.
So, magic was forbidden. The created beings were not at the whims of the supernatural forces/gods. Those elements were at the whim of Israel’s God, he controlled them and would not allow them to be controlled by humanity, nor would he be controlled by humanity.
So enters science. I don’t know much about science, but I like many of the things we have inherited from science. My father was diagnosed with cancer. He died about a year ago, but the advancements that science had made enabled him to live an extra 20 years. Modern medicine has benefited from science. However, when science is used to manipulate nature, one has to wonder how different it truly is than ancient magic. If you mix these right ingredients together or genetically modify this type of food, then you can force nature (supernatural elements) to do your will. Of course now we’re realizing that some of our magical/scientific powers are actually self-defeating; are actually destroying the natural world in which we live.
In the ancient world Israel’s God wanted his people to put his trust in him, not their own magical powers. I wonder if today he would desire the same of his people in regards to their scientific powers.
So, is sorcery science or magic? Yes and yes.