Is there a way to distinguish super-advanced technology from magic?

Find the fundamental causes and effects. Technology will always be bound and based on conservation laws of matter and energy. Magic will make something from nothing at some step. No matter the level of complexity, you will find that matter and energy are manipulated sophisticatedly but never gained from nothing or lost to anything. Fundamentally, all can be accounted for in technologic devices. Magic is not of our universe other than as an idea of human minds. Magic would violate many laws of space, time, matter, and energy in order to exist. So, no matter the advancement, technology is innately distinguished from magic in that it is in the world (i.e. not just imagined) and that you can deduce it’s functions down to fundamental forms of matter and energy forces.

Note: Magic can be understood the same way as technology or anything real, really. To do so would require physical accounting, mostly rooted in sociocultural and biological psychology. That is, accounting for things in the realm of mental constructs and social beliefs; rather than thing in the realm of physical forces beyond the mind.

19 Comments

  1. I think some alleged practitioners of magick (their spelling) would disagree with your outlook here. I myself often disagree with them, but more for ethical reasons. Not so much because they would apparently mess up the supposed “laws of physics.”

    IMO there are mysteries and many inner-outer layers to be discovered.

    The basic distinction between religion and magick than I am most familiar with is that they both involve the supernatural but religion is ideally based on humility and service. Magick is based on trying to control or manipulate alleged supernatural powers. At least, this was a popular way of looking at the difference in anthro and religious studies. Some have critiqued this distinction.

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  2. From my perspective, there is a difference, experientially—as in the quality and character of the numinous. That might partially fit under your idea of perspective but probably not entirely.

    By way of analogy, if we say water tastes like this and whiskey tastes like that, it’s not just a matter of perspective. The thing being tasted (most likely) differs in itself.

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      1. Yes but that was only an analogy pointing to spiritual perceptions, which arguably operate somewhat differently. Analogies are good and bad. Good in that they help point to ideas that might not be considered by others. Bad in that they are rough… analogies. ๐Ÿ˜Š

        For me spirituality is not an endorphin rush. I was a runner when younger. I know endorphins.

        I’ve had this conversation more than once with people who, imo, are limited by a matter/energy perspective. For me, spirit is another ballgame. It intersects with matter/energy but itself is qualitatively different.

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        1. Fair due. I am limited by a matter/energy perspective but do so as a means of guiding myself. I am open to spiritually existing however it must but hope it can be explained in the same way you can explain the weather or black holes; i.e. as natural rather than supernatural no matter how confounding or complex.

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          1. Well, I was a matter/energy person too until things gradually changed. People speak of “conversion experiences.” For me it’s been a long and winding road which I’m still on.

            As for explaining ‘spirituality’ with words, this does differ from person to person. It’s pretty hard to go into the complexities of one’s inner life if others don’t (seem to) share some of the core experiences.

            You can only point to them.

            I remember a philosophy professor in India saying… “If you want to guide someone to a star that’s near the moon, first you say… ‘Do you see the moon?’ When they reply ‘yes’ you then say, ‘now look up and to the right… do see that star?'”

            I think he was borrowing from Plato or one of those guys.. ๐Ÿ˜

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            1. I was raised Christian and so know the many holy sensations and experiences. I figure those were based on biological forces in my neurons. But of course that is an assumption as belief itself may harness forces beyond just neurons. Since the brain and it’s functions are innately emergent, it’s difficult to pin point causes and effects.

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              1. Well, I suspect that different Christians – and religious persons in general – have varying types of ‘holy’ experiences. There could be a correlation of sorts between spiritual experience and biological conditions. But I tend to see the source as different from the receptor.

                Another analogy… a radio receives a signal but the signal is not the radio. And the signal can vary dramatically.

                I agree, however, that a good degree of mystery is involved. Who can fully say what the soul is, and the spirit, for that matter?

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  3. Haha. The word research makes me smile. I have a religious acquaintance who once disparagingly declared that she learned from experience and not from “BOOKS.” She probably assumed that because I have a substantial library, at Ph.D. etc that I was just an educated fool locked up in conceptual knowledge instead of direct experience.

    I myself see that distinction as somewhat flawed. But I mention the incident to highlight just some of the complexities and difference we find. We both formerly belong to RCC.

    For me, research is a holistic endeavor. I imagine your meaning is similar.

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    1. Indeed. Research is just using the Fresh “re” as in “strong/intense”. So research is just searching with fervor and depth I’d say and do as broad as the word “search” itself. Books and experience apply and offer equally valid insights, but I must say they dearly compliment each other if not validate each other.

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      1. Yes, and I think it is flawed to assume that conceptual thinking cannot be inspired from somewhere beyond the personal (sense of) self.

        Does God only inspire self-declared mystics or bona fide saints? I doubt it. And in some of those instances, I think their inspiration could be false or at least corrupted by personal biases, issues, etc.

        The old debate: Was Joan of Arc mad or inspired?

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        1. Good point. For instance, asceticism induces visions and prophecy but some ascetics are physiologically demential from starvation and solitude. I think a so-called middle way of diligence and health/purity would yield true (or at least rational) enlightened states.

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          1. Thought-provoking but I think it’s hard to say. IMO there are so many different types of mystical truth claims, prophets, etc. I hesitate to outline “conditions.”

            Having said that, maintaining a healthy routine would probably help most of us avoid errors or at least recognize, admit and correct them.

            Making (harmless) mistakes in the spiritual realm should be no more big a deal than, say, a Mars probe acting up or sending back images with too much interference. You fix it and move on. No guilt nor shame. Just honesty and learning from the mistake.

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