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Miracles And Magic And The Human Brain


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One man's miracles are another man's magic.

Thus spoke a Christian professor. I've done some research on both and will share some of what I learned.

 

When it comes to magic, there seems to be a right-hand path and a left-hand path. I talked indepth with a person who practices the right-hand path. It seems to be benign magic--the kind that probably does neither good nor bad. I have also read about some of these things.

 

At their meetings, witches and warlocks sometimes "send good thoughts" and have a rule not ever to harm anyone. It seems they do sometimes take it upon themselves to decide who deserves positive and negative thoughts. In my mind, that borders on doing harm. The bottom line is that the success rate is about the same as the success rate for answered prayer--fifty percent of the time it "works" and fifty percent of the time it doesn't work. Random incidents are just as predictable.

 

I understand the left-hand path is hard or dark magic where the intention is to make serious manipulations with reality. The person I talked with did not want to be involved with that and seemed not to know for sure what goes on in that tradition.

 

Some years ago I talked with an old lady who was an indirect witness of metamorphosis (shape-shifting). She was a child. Her brother saw it told the rest of the family. About a year ago in a Christian magazine I real about a miracle. It was not called a miracle but the way the story was told made it appear that angels in the garb of hunters came to someone's rescue.

 

There had been heavy rains and the bridge this lady had to cross to get to work was flooded. She tried crossing and got swept into the river. You know how these stories go--the car filled up with water and just as she thought the last remaining pocket of air was going to fill up a hand pulled her through the window and the next thing she knew she was lying on the grass with several men in hunting gear standing around her. The paramedic crew arrived and when she tried to thank the hunters they were gone. Classical "angel" story.

 

I screened that story for possible loop-holes or missing links through which angels might have entered and been just ordinary humans. After reading it several times I found them. There were holes in the sequence and timing of the story. Given the oxygen deprivation and emotional and physical stress she experienced, she may have been in and out of consciousness. She does not say that she saw the men and immediately thanked them. The paramedics crew came in the meantime. There was room in the story for a time lapse between when she first saw her hunter rescuers and her attempt to thank them. Thus, the "hand" that pulled her out of the car was probably one of the men.

 

To her credit, she did try to locate the men later and eventually found the entire team. That story showed me how "miracles" and "angels" can happen. The man I mentioned above in connection with right-hand path magic told me of "supernatural" events experienced by some of the people in his group of practitioners. There were things like pictures taken off the wall and set on the floor.

 

I gave it much thought. The human mind is fallible. It plays tricks. Humans are prone to do things without thinking. One member of a family moves a picture for some reason and forgets to replace it, and also fails to mention to other family members what had been going on. These things happen. Thus, I cannot take these "proofs" as evidence of the supernatural.

 

The same goes for the boy who witnessed metamorphosis. What he saw was a calf running in the barnyard or wherever. It was the property of a woman suspected of serious magic. This family got its eggs from her and the mom warned the kids not ever to cross the lady because she might harm them. As the boy watched the calf running, he heard it make a sound that he thought was a human voice laughing. This was his evidence that the woman had metamorphosed into a calf. It was the woman's voice he heard.

 

Again, there are so many holes in the story that the supernaturalness can be ruled out. Because of his fear and superstition, he may have failed to separate the visible image of the calf from the audible sound of a human voice laughing. The woman may have been watching from the front door or her garden. She would probably have known about her reputation in the neighbourhood. She may have seen the fear on his face and realized that he thought he was seeing things when all he saw was a regular calf from her herd. This may have prompted her to laugh.

 

When we extend this kind of skeptical thinking to religious belief in virgin births and dying and rising saviours, and other "supernatural" events in religion, we are told that we "just don't want to believe." Hmmm. I wonder.... Why is it called "seeking the truth" or "thinking rationally" when applied to "popular superstition" but "not wanting to believe" when applied to equally questionable events in religion?

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When we extend this kind of skeptical thinking to religious belief in virgin births and dying and rising saviours, and other "supernatural" events in religion, we are told that we "just don't want to believe." Hmmm. I wonder.... Why is it called "seeking the truth" or "thinking rationally" when applied to "popular superstition" but "not wanting to believe" when applied to equally questionable events in religion?

 

Good old fashioned human hypocrisy?

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But there is no such thing as magic only illusions and scams......

 

PS What do witches and warlocks actually do cast spells and crap like that? Not to be disrespectful but this is just funny that people believe in magic tricks.

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Good old fashioned human hypocrisy?

 

I don't think it's conscious hypocrasy. I think it's conviction on the gut level that one is WRONG and the other is SACRED. That is definitely how I used to feel. Perhaps I felt a niggling question at the back of my mind as to HOW WE KNOW.

 

The opening post is probably the first time I confront the discrepency of such thinking so boldly but I have been thinking about it for a long time. Around the years 1999-2001 I was seriously struggling to find evidence for the existence of the spiritual realm. My logic was: If the spiritual realm exists then it is possible for God to exist; if the spiritual realm does not exist then neither does God.

 

I did quite a bit of research on it. I think that is when I first began to see the similarities. I came across Rudolph Otto's concept of the numinous; it resonated with something deep inside of me. I took that as evidence that the spiritual realm was real, and therefore it was possible that God existed. I compared it with anthropological accounts of Native American ceremonies and beliefs. I also encountered the Iroquoise lady whose brother had witnessed the neighbour lady's metamorphosis. And an Ojibwa lady who talked about sacred objects she kept hidden away that danced.

 

These ladies were trusting me with confidences they seldom if ever shared with white people. I felt a deep kinship with these people. Both these ladies were also Christians, Anglican and United if I remember correctly. I also read some literature by contemporary medium, who was also a Christian--RC, I think. Maybe it was through these people that I began to see the parallels and similarities. I never shared this stuff with orthodox or fundamentalist Christians. I would have felt I was betraying them on the deepest level.

 

Later I studied major world religions as described by adherents. The numinous seemed to be shared by all.

 

This is powerful stuff. It is a natural part of the human condition. It is the part out of which religion is made. Each individual human being interprets or understands it within his or her personal culture and worldview. This explains why Eastern religions share basic structures and Western religions share basic structures. These religions are all ancient interpretations that arose out of independent geographic centres.

 

That is how I make sense of what religion is.

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But there is no such thing as magic only illusions and scams......

 

That is what I am trying to show in the OP--I think it is selective perception, blocking out certain links of reality.

 

PS What do witches and warlocks actually do cast spells and crap like that? Not to be disrespectful but this is just funny that people believe in magic tricks.

 

You might want to go to the public library and read up on it. That is how I learned. Just so you know, this is serious stuff for practitioners and I think we have some on this forum. My previous post might give some insight, too.

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You might want to go to the public library and read up on it. That is how I learned. Just so you know, this is serious stuff for practitioners and I think we have some on this forum. My previous post might give some insight, too.

 

I know I said I am not trying to be disrespectful and I know there is bound to be someone the practices this here HOWEVER that is just how I post I satire a lot on here towards any religion. ( That is just my style of writing) In the orginal thread where I asked about it. You said the male and female (witch and warlock) I get that. So these are people that practice Wicca? But you also stated that they all meet and go to meetings.

 

Wiki didn't really help me on the the subject but I did learn one thing, the Pentagram is a Wicca symbol not a Satanist.

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In the orginal thread where I asked about it. You said the male and female (witch and warlock) I get that. So these are people that practice Wicca? But you also stated that they all meet and go to meetings.

 

I don't really know too much about this. Just general impressions. I was not reading it for terms and definitions and rituals; rather it was part of my spiritual search for something that I connected with deep down inside. It didn't quite do the trick for me so I never got into it very deeply. In my mind, there are a batch of terms that sort of go together and I am not sure if they really do go together for people who are into it. These words are: Wicca, witches, warlocks, pagan, magic, etc.

 

I thought wicca was activities. Often there is a circle and some rituals, often including a candle and maybe some emblem of nature such as a head of wheat or boquette wildflowers. Maybe some chanting. They don't all do things the same way. Some practice in private and others practice in a group. I think there are national and international associations. I've read of annual gatherings. Like I said, it never really meshed with me so I never got into it very deeply.

 

Wiki didn't really help me on the the subject but I did learn one thing, the Pentagram is a Wicca symbol not a Satanist.

 

I wouldn't know the difference between wicca and satanist.

 

If you type wicca into Google I would expect about ten thousand entries to come up. No need to limit yourself to wikipedia. Some of the best information might well be private. That is why I suggested the public library rather than the internet. There are some informative books out there. Cinnamon Moon is a good author. I get the impression she is a white woman converted to Native beliefs, and does healing.

 

If you are looking at aboriginal thought some key words might be: shaman, medicine man/woman, sage, seer, etc.

 

You can research this stuff without subscribing to it. Go to the information desk at your public library and ask for books on magic, or whatever word you choose. You would learn much better detail that way than relying on me as a source of information.

 

Just so you know, my aim in this thread was to discuss the evidence in reality for these things, not to teach about rituals and terms. I know threads tend to deviate but it so happens that this one is deviating into an area I don't know much about. I would guess there are others here who could help you out. Providing you honestly want to know. You said:

 

I satire a lot on here towards any religion.

 

Satir is seldom understood as being an serious search for information.

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When we extend this kind of skeptical thinking to religious belief in virgin births and dying and rising saviours, and other "supernatural" events in religion, we are told that we "just don't want to believe." Hmmm. I wonder.... Why is it called "seeking the truth" or "thinking rationally" when applied to "popular superstition" but "not wanting to believe" when applied to equally questionable events in religion?

Special pleading.

 

To the superstitious mind reason is the mistress that is kept separate from the wife ( religious beliefs). You want both, but they must never meet. They cannot. Otherwise you would have to get a divorce...

 

:P

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Artur, thanks for clarifying things. That should help Ramen.

 

To the superstitious mind reason is the mistress that is kept separate from the wife ( religious beliefs). You want both, but they must never meet. They cannot. Otherwise you would have to get a divorce...

 

What an excellent analogy! I guess what you are saying is that anyone who accepts any supernatural beliefs is to some extent superstitious. I've struggled long and hard with this thing. I've been studying for several years at a Christian seminary. I love and respect my professors and classmates because they have shown me that there are good--and intelligent--Christians on this earth. Yet when I seek to take theories in theology to their logical conclusion I always run up against something they call faith. This thing called faith has a habit of coming down right in front of my nose like a stone wall with a boldly emblazoned nonnegotiable "NO TRESPASSING."

 

They let me ask the questions and voice the ideas but they won't go there. I have heard some excellent definitions for faith but they all add up to the same thing: STOP THINKING. NOW. At that point, their intellectual talents turn to perfecting definitions of faith. Either that, or just a solid and uncompromising "I don't know."

 

It was in this laid-back yet stimulating environment that my deconversion came to completion. They are tolerant of all belief systems and do not feel compelled to convert anyone. Just so long as students demonstrate having an intact belief system, that is all they require. Academic criteria, of course, apply. Thus it was a safe place in which to deconvert. I feel very fortunate having had this environment in which to sift through life-long questions. The intense reading I did on spirituality, magic, and miracles came a few years before I was at this school. I guess I'm still working on the details.

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Artur, thanks for clarifying things. That should help Ramen.

 

To the superstitious mind reason is the mistress that is kept separate from the wife ( religious beliefs). You want both, but they must never meet. They cannot. Otherwise you would have to get a divorce...

 

What an excellent analogy! I guess what you are saying is that anyone who accepts any supernatural beliefs is to some extent superstitious. I've struggled long and hard with this thing. I've been studying for several years at a Christian seminary. I love and respect my professors and classmates because they have shown me that there are good--and intelligent--Christians on this earth. Yet when I seek to take theories in theology to their logical conclusion I always run up against something they call faith. This thing called faith has a habit of coming down right in front of my nose like a stone wall with a boldly emblazoned nonnegotiable "NO TRESPASSING."

 

They let me ask the questions and voice the ideas but they won't go there. I have heard some excellent definitions for faith but they all add up to the same thing: STOP THINKING. NOW. At that point, their intellectual talents turn to perfecting definitions of faith. Either that, or just a solid and uncompromising "I don't know."

 

It was in this laid-back yet stimulating environment that my deconversion came to completion. They are tolerant of all belief systems and do not feel compelled to convert anyone. Just so long as students demonstrate having an intact belief system, that is all they require. Academic criteria, of course, apply. Thus it was a safe place in which to deconvert. I feel very fortunate having had this environment in which to sift through life-long questions. The intense reading I did on spirituality, magic, and miracles came a few years before I was at this school. I guess I'm still working on the details.

Yes. I consider anything outside naturalism to be superstition. I used to believe in miracles and the magic man in the sky. Everyone values reason even though we are not using reason consistently -we still value it. As a fellow mankey I still have my blind spots and am irrational at times. However, superstition is a reckless neglect of reason. Some Christians are certainly more intelligent than I am but that in no way changes that fact.

 

They can try to redefine faith all they want but the Apostle Paul's definition will always be embarrassing...

 

Sounds like a great experience with some great folks. I am happy that your deconversion was not a bad experience. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...
Sounds like a great experience with some great folks. I am happy that your deconversion was not a bad experience. :)

 

That specific part of my deconversion was not a bad experience, and was actually helpful. But that's only one part. If you want more details, you can click on my signature and look in my posts in Who's Who.

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