Sample Essay on Religion Magic and Science

Religion, Magic and Science

Define religion magic and science

Religion can be perceived as a form of submission to a supernatural being on the basis of faith. Religion inspires individuals to base their beliefs on a being that is invisible yet those who believe in its existence know its powers. Religion affects different aspects of life, which include the personal, political, social and even artistic aspects ((Luhrmann 1). This is largely because of the doctrines that are defined by different religious practices coupled by the belief that failure to abide by these doctrines may lead to punishment from the supernatural beings.

Magic is a form of belief in activities whose performance is expected to produce specific results. For magic to be considered successful, an individual must engage in definite sequential activities and in situations where the expected results are not produced, there is need for some form of change in the routine. Those who engage in magic are often inspired by the desire to alter the outcome of a particular event in line with their desires. Any form of failure is considerd as failure of the part of the participant to act in accordance with the routine.

Science is some form of rationality whose theories and findings are based on experiment and verifiable evidence. For an idea to be considerd scientific there must be facts in the natural world that can not only be demonstrated to be true but also those whose existence operates in accordance with the tenets of the experiments. Scientific endeavors are often based on the understanding of a phenomenon and the development of a proposal on the best possible approach that can be used in explaining the phenomenon. Through such deliberations, a scientific discourse does not only base its assumption on possible but also verifiable outcomes.

Differences and similarities between religion science and magic

Religion magic and science cannot be defined in isolation considering the role they play in different societies. Religion just like science and magic are approaches that are used in different societies to find solutions to existing problems. Magic just like religion and science are used in the description of specific practices from a theoretical perspective. This means that the diverse phenomenon as projected by these approaches to reality can be grouped on the assumption that they operate in similar ways.

Religion, science and magic are approaches that can be used in the explanation of complex phenomenon in the real world. For instance, American baseball players, despite the scientific pride associated with Americans, often turn to the use of magic as the best way to explain their success (Gmelch 349). This is also the case in mukunza village in Zambia where traditional healers engage in religious rituals as part of their curative procedures (Turner 72). Science through observation and experimentation also serves the purpose of providing the society with explanation of certain truths concerning the universe.

The major difference between religion, science and magic lies in the techniques used in arriving at their findings. Religion just like magic is different from science largely because they both operate from the subjective perspective while science is driven by objectivity. The existence of different religious practices and differences in the belief in magic is also defined. The religious beliefs of Christians as defined by the biblical teachings and the belief in Jesus as the savior of the world and the son of God are different from the beliefs propounded by the Ndembu people of Zambia. This is because the former believe in the existence of a God in the form of trinity while the religious world of the latter is defined by spirits, which are said to be active participants in the lives of the living in Zambia ((Turner 75). Science provides an objective approach to different phenomenon. The objectivity of scientific endeavors is derived from its ability to develop generalizations that are applicable in different parts of the world. Magic is also subjective largely because it is dependent on the individual who finds relevance in the routine practice. This is as witnessed in the case of American baseball players who apply different routines, which they believe is a guarantee that they will win whenever they play (Gmelch 349).

The cultural worldviews and cosmologies defined by the concepts of religion, science and magic

The cultural worldviews and cosmologies as propounded by these concepts can be said to be both complementary and in competition. For instance, religion and magic can be observed to be complementary since they involve consultation of some supernatural powers. For a participant to be successful in the consultation of these powers, there are practices that such an individual must be engaged in. For example, in the case of the American baseball players such as Dennis Grossini who was compelled to engage in defined practices such as touching and straightening the letters on his uniform with the belief that such practices would be a guarantee that his team would win in the games (Gmelch 348). Religion also plays the role of motivating people to engage in different activities and to some extent risk their lives with the belief that such activities would be a guarantee of blessings (Winkleman & Baker 6). This explains why Christians are willing to travel to foreign countries to preach the power of their god over all the other gods.

The complementarity of the concepts of science, magic and religion lies in the ability of these concepts to alternate on the modes of rationality. The arrival of these concepts to any form of conclusion begins with the development of artificial constructs. These constructs are often considerd as the objective of the practice. In the case of magic, as in the instance of American baseball players, the physical construct was triumph in the games, in religious the construct is to attain eternal salvation while in Christianity the objective can be indicated as the achievement of a verifiable explanation of natural occurrences in the world today. Prior to the development of strategies on the best mechanism to apply in arriving at these conclusions, science, magic and religion can be said to be operating as rational schools of thought. These concepts can however be said to be competing when considering the approaches they introduce in fulfilling their artificial constructs. In magic and religion, failure to attain the objective is considerd as failure to operate according to the definite routine as defined by the requirements of the two schools of thought. However, in the case of science, failure to realize the artificial construct can be said to be its falsification largely because the objective of these constructs are derived from failure of the procedures and experiment. This necessitates a repeat of this experiment or in some instances requires that the artificial construct be replaced with an alternative or an improved approach that promises the production of the desired results

Science however, provides competing findings that seek to falsify those propounded by religion and magic. While religion and magic seek to explain phenomenon from the perspective of different forces within the universe, science seeks to explain the forces that propel different aspects in the physical world that explain these occurrences. While religion and magic attribute success in life and the existence of the universe to supernatural beings, science seeks to provide facts and falsifiable evidence of atoms, neutrons and protons that are definitive of different aspects of matter. Science provides a platform of flexibility in terms of accepting or refuting the results while in magic and religion the strict nature of their procedures, which often prevent the possibility of flexibility in their defining measures (Winkleman & Baker 6).

Consequences of competing and complementary worldviews and cosmologies

Complementary approaches in the understanding and the development of world view and cosmologies from the scientific perspective can be understood as those derived from the desire of these schools of thought to provide numerous alternatives upon which different scientific aspects in the physical world can be understood. Through the provision of these approaches, individuals from different societies are able to engage in varied discourses that they consider most applicable to them. The application of different approaches provides an explanation as to why baseball players in the United States resort to the use of magic, the Ndembu of Zambia to engage in practices aimed at appeasing the world of spirits while those who believe in the scientific discourse engage in experimentations.

Despite the complementarity of thoughts, the subjective nature of science and magic can be considered to be challenging the objective nature of science. In an attempt to prove the application and authenticity of magic, baseball players in America often resort to engaging in rituals, taboos and in some instances magic with the objective of controlling the outcome of an uncertain event (Gmelch 356). This can lead to some form of shift in the attention of individuals whose beliefs are founded on unverifiable instances instead of banking much of their concentration on among other factors physical fitness and discipline in their areas of expertise. It is also important to note that the subjective nature of religion brings with it some form of misunderstanding among different societies which engage in varied religious beliefs (Winkleman & Baker 6). The desire by every religious group to demonstrate the superiority of their practice over others may lead to the categorization of the spiritualized beliefs of the Ndembu of Zambia as a belief founded on ancestry therefore inferior while at the same time asserting the superiority of Christianity on the basis of their god defined in terms of the trinity.

The objective nature of science may lead to the development of questions on matters related to the authenticity of religion and magic in explaining occurrences in the physical world. While it is true that truthful nature of magic and religion can be questioned on the basis of the existence of numerous techniques and approaches, it is important to understand the ability of these concepts to provide solutions to their participants in ways that are unexplainable from the scientific point of view (Luhrmann 4).










Works Cited

Gmelch, G. Baseball Magic. Elysia Fields Quartely, Vol. 11, No. 3, 1992.

Luhrmann, T. When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship

with God.  New York, N.Y: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. pdf

Turner, E. A Visible Spirit Form in Zambia. Broadview Press: Toronto, Canada, 1994. pdf

Winkleman, M & Baker, J. Anthropology and the Study of Religion. Pearson Education: Upper

Saddle River: New Jersey, 2008.