Addressing the Skeptics
Humanism affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It also rejects supernaturalism, pseudoscience and superstition. I like to think of myself as a humanist because even my belief in so-called "magic" is predicated on years of observation and experimentation with what I consider to be an entirely natural phenomenon which obeys a certain set of principles. I suggest that skeptics dabble in these so-called pseudo-sciences before you form your own opinion. If you get results that satisfy your own critical analysis,
then perhaps you've discovered something. Who am I to say otherwise, or anyone else, for that matter?
Frankly, I'm sick to death of these temporal materialistic atheists who sound like fundamentalist Christians. It
appears as if these debunkers have become the new evangelists. Allow me to re-educate these cynics on what
freethought is all about:
Freethought holds that beliefs should be formed on the basis of science and logic and should not be influenced by
emotion, authority, tradition, or dogma. Right now, there is this new - this entire generation of young people who
worship at the altar of temporal materialism, which is not congruous with true science.
Now, allow me to share my definition of "temporal materialism." Temporal means, "of or relating to the sequence of
time or to a particular time" - Merriam - Webster's Online Dictionary. The "materialism" of today is not the
"materialism" of your grandfather's generation and it will not be the "materialism" of your great grandchild's
generation. The Richard Dawkins clones I meet online seem to have their definitions of materialism and
supernaturalism all neatly lined up in a row. Then, a paradigm shift occurs and they suddenly develop a convenient
case of amnesia, lest they be thought of as fools. I could give numerous examples, but the following one should
I was born in 1951, the year the first computer became commercially available. The Univac I had 5200 vacuum tubes,
weighed 29,000 pounds, and consumed 125 kilowatts of electrical power. The one in Boston occupied an entire floor of a rather large building. Today, you could fit that same computing power on the tip of your baby finger. Now, if you
were to explain the future to a scientist back in 1951, he would laugh at you and accuse you of promoting
supernatural beliefs. The "supernaturalism" of yesteryear is the "materialism" of today.
And so I begin my lesson on magic and most assuredly there is a braying chorus of naysayers who will insist I have no right to even address the issue until I can provide demonstrable evidence that such a thing exists. Well, let me use the analogy of a car. I open the door, sit in the driver's seat, put the key in the ignition, turn it, shift it in drive and put my foot down on the pedal. I'm not a mechanic. I have no idea how the fuel drives the pistons or what makes the motor work. I need not deliver a long discourse about internal combustion engines and how they operate. I just know the damn thing works. It gets me from point A to point B and that's all that matters.
I realize the laws of physics may also apply to magic - how and why? I have no clue. I've performed experiments and
acquired enough prima facie evidence to convince me to proceed with my magical operations. And what advice would I give to those who have experimented with magic and have consistently failed to see any results? Simple. STOP DOING IT. If you perform an experiment and it consistently fails for you, STOP DOING IT. But this does not give you the right to yell "fraud" and "sham" at those who claim a certain degree of success.
Empiricists often use that ironic "leap of faith" argument. "Oh, you're asking me to take a leap of faith and I can't
do that." They keep forgetting that every time there's a scientific advance, the old school colleagues at first refuse to accept it. They will argue and belabor their outmoded hypotheses, then begrudgingly take that "leap of faith" when factual or supportive evidence becomes too overwhelming. As a humanist and a rationalist, I say it's alright to withhold your opinion until all the facts are in. You don't have to leap from one paradigm to another - just keep an open mind.
What is Magic and Does It Work?
Well, magical imagery is formed in the subjective mind - world of dreams and our emotions - but magic is more than
just fairy tales or science fiction fantasy. Aleister Crowley defined it this way, "Magick is the Science and Art of
causing Change to occur in conformity with Will." In fact, he goes further to state that every intentionally willed
act is an act of magick. "I turn the knob, open the door, walk into a room and sit in a chair." That's magic.
We know that "real" events in the solid, objective world can alter the way our subjective mind reacts to things. For
instance, hopefully you are not too young to remember 9-11. That event, with buildings disintegrating and thousands
dying, caused many people, related and unrelated to the deceased, to experience nightmares and develop phobias such as an psychological fear of boarding planes. The airline industry was greatly affected.
So, we know for a fact that events in the objective world can change our subjective world and what Carl Jung called
our "collective unconscious." Another example, fear of sharks is universal even though shark attacks are exceedingly
rare. Movie studios have learned how to manipulate primitive fears and phobias. Ask someone in Kansas if they've ever seen "Jaws."
I'm going to tell you something that should be obvious by now:
Cause and effect is a two-way street. Manipulating your imagination, dreams and emotions will likewise influence or
effect what transpires in the physical, objective world as well! That is the basis of magic. Does it work? Of course
it works, but you must consider balance, direction, timing and above all intent.
For example, people will ask why they couldn't work magic to win the lottery. The answer should be obvious. There are hundreds of thousands of people daily praying and dreaming and wishing that they will be the winner. Some rub the lucky rabbit's foot in their pocket, others playing a set of numbers that has "magical" or personal significance to
them. What makes you think magic should work for you and not for them? Others want to use their magic to bring a
popular religious figure or politician down. Good luck with that. Chances are, they have a fan club out there who
adore them and pray for them daily. Consciously or unconsciously they form their own protective spell. Again, magic
is any intentionally willed act and it occurs all the time, everywhere you look.
So-called magic has to do with laws of physics explained and unexplained. I really don’t think of it as "supernatural." I’ll use the analogy of electricity: you can use it to light and heat a room or you can stick your finger in a light socket and hurt yourself. Magic is magic, whether it is used to kill or heal. If you use it to inflict harm, that would be called a "curse." If you use magic to heal, it is generally called a "blessing."