and why is only science reproducible enough to be demonstrated to others at will?


The books Harry Potter and the TV series The Librarian opened my curiosity to the 3rd major branch of social phenomenon known as magic

So we basically knew there are (at least) 3 major branches of social phenomenon and worldviews known as

Science: Using inductive reasoning, logic and reproducible phenomenon from experiments, formulate a model or conceptual framework that can account for these results and even predict them in advance

Religion: There exists at least one supernatural entity who can create improbable events (miracles) at will and does not need to follow any established nature laws. This entity is referred to a god and can be communicated with. Religion also heavily discuss about the purpose, rather than how things happen.

Magic: I am not very sure about this one because it is quite diverse (with esoterics being the largest branch). However the common concepts are the development of the self via/or utilisation of supernatural forces in order to result in some effect.

It has been noted that science and magic are quite similar in that they rely on some systematic conceptual framework and that it can be used to achieve an effect (technology in the case of science). It is also said historically the branch of thinking science might be stemmed from astrological and achemical practices as well other things related to magic.

Magic and religion are also similar in that they involve the supernatural, and

science and religion also have overlaps in their methods in that they both involve interpretation of data (experience and historical accounts in religion; experimental data in science), reflection on the phenomenon, creative imagination and both have the ultimate gola of understanding something better (the gods or purpose in religion; the rules that govern the unvierse in science), and science developement are often known to be influenced by the religious beliefs within a culture.


Since the 3 views have very similar methodology and process as each other

Q1. Why is only science reproducible enough that most people would not doubt about its existence, while there are nonbelievers in both religion and magic?

Q2. Why only religion and science became widespread enough in modern 21 century that can influence a majority of cultural phenomenon (and most people are aware of their impacts) , but magic still remains relatively localised and unknown (often experienced only via rituals, shops that sell esoteric things like crystals, talismen, in folklore)?

  • Science, as its commonly understood, is defined such that it's repeatable; this is usually named Baconian Science. Feb 25 '16 at 13:11
  • 1
    Arthur C Clarke, an author of science fiction, once speculated that the science of an advanced civilisation would look like magic to a contemporary one. Feb 25 '16 at 15:10

There is some quibbling about what reproducing an effect actually means, but, as @MoziburUllah points out, modern science is reproducible because it adopts the assumption that to be useful, things have to be reproducible, and limits itself to those things. (So asking 'Why?' here is like asking why the wall you painted blue, is blue.)

Religion and magic are actually equally common. But people prefer to call their magic religion, when they can get away with it. The idea that supernatural forces affect real life is a valid religious principle in almost every religion, even those without gods.

Various religions allow for 'higher' and 'lower' levels of supernatural status. For instance, traditional Roman Catholicism allows for a belief in the power of individual prayer, directly to God via Christ, and also for 'intercessory' prayer, where one appeals to the specific concerns a given Saint expressed in life or in previous intercessions, and you speak to them by name, to more easily make one's case, but ask for smaller favors.

When analyzed and organized, this latter practice can be come a form of magic known variously as Santeria, Condomble, Voudou, etc. But it is not different in real basis from the orthodox religious practices. One is speaking to identified dead people who have responded in the past to messages with certain contents, often delivered in a specific ritual form ('Hail Mary, full of Grace...') and you expect them to respond, so that your emotional energy has some effect on the world.

So some religions are structured in a way that makes an arbitrary distinction between magic and more genuine religious expectations easier to make. It is easy for me to look at my grandparent's prayers to Mary in three different forms, St. Thomas and St. Jude as more 'magical' than my sibling's prayers "In Jesus Name". Other religions, like those that choose to call themselves 'Witchcraft' and 'Satanism' on purpose, abolish the distinction and choose to call it all Magic, to make the point of identifying with the less refined, less pretentious practitioners of other religions. However it is made, the distinction within a religion is only relative. It is all religion, and, when effects are sought, it is also all magic.

In the best cases: cultures like Louisiana slave populations constituted from randomly selected African nations, with multiple religions that respect one another; or periods of Islamic history when folks were OK with competing-but-not-hostile leadership of the same religion; or periods of Christian history when Alchemy and Astrology were seen as "echos of God's Will" -- people have used the word 'Magic' to refer to the other peoples' miracles.

When they are 'loas', Vodou is magic, when they are 'Saints', it is religion. When a Sunni cleric writes a verse on a special slate and cleans it with appropriate reverence in order to shorten the term of a disease it is magic to more 'modernized' Muslims, but proper religious devotion to some ultra-Orthodox Muslims. When a Christian Astrologer casts your chart and believes in the influence of Mars on you that week, it is magic. But it is the remnant of a genuine religion, in which that person, to some degree, still believes (even if they need a big dose of Jungian psychology to wash it down with).

Monotheistic 'Manicheanism' from time to time invades those cultures and turns all such relativistic Magic into Satanism and Witchcraft, or into 'superstition' (while protecting itself, somehow, from being similarly identified, though it is belief in something standing above reality, which is the etymology of the word). But that is a very local interpretation, and it does not even apply to large swaths of the major monotheistic religions outside strict orthodoxies.

'Magic' seems like a separate category to cultures like Europe where rigid monotheism repeatedly overlayed and alienated other religions and pushed them into a secondary status, without eradicating their practices. But if we look at places not overridden by Manicheanized forms of monotheism, it looks less that way. Is praying to Ganesh religion or magic? How about Shinto observances? Or the calendar rituals preserved by Confucianism?

The distinction of magic from science, before the modern period, is equally weak. Was Arabic Alchemy magic, religion, applied philosophy, or underdeveloped science? Which is Kabbalah? The distinctions become silly, even in the West.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.