Rebirth of Reason

Sense of Life

I, Muggle
by Craig Ceely

The second Harry Potter film has been released, and the pundits of the pre-Enlightenment are upset. The Harry Potter books and films, you see, feature Muggles (normal humans with no supernatural powers) and young wizards, who must be schooled in the art of using the powers they possess. Obviously these books and films are not mere children's entertainment: they are a blatant invitation to paganism, to withcraft, even to Satanism itself. Of course, many of these critics make the same charges against Halloween, yoga, meditation, aikido, and even Catholicism.

These Christian critics of contemporary culture see themselves as surrounded by believers in magic and magick, in ESP, psychic readings, UFOs and crop circles, tarot card readings, channelling, the Loch Ness monster and various forms of life after death (particularly reincarnation). Plenty of the occult supernatural here. But the Christians themselves offer their own God, the Devil, angels and demons, and these creatures have varying degrees of supernatural power themselves. Cynics may be tempted to ask if the Harry Potter universe is the only place where Muggles exist.

All of these beliefs are silly to begin with, and no credible evidence has ever been put forth for any of them. What's a Muggle to do?

Oddly, both the Christians and the neopagans believe in witches, and here, we may have something of interest. Consider a witch: a normal human being with no supernatural powers, who is yet able to command such powers by means of possessing knowledge (spells and incantations and so forth). In a sense, such people have always been with us, and all of what they are able to do is quite explicable.

Physicists inform us of four fundamental forces in nature: the gravitational force, the electromagnetic force, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force. Much has been done to master these forces, and more is being done every day.

Consider the electromagnetic force: you are reading this piece of writing on a computer, in an artificially lit and artificially heated or cooled room. When you're finished, perhaps you'll go watch television or listen to some music on your stereo. Your food is stored, cool, in your electric refrigerator. Realize, too, that man's exploitation of electromagnetism goes back more than a hundred years.

Consider also the force of gravity. Gravity is inescapable on this Earth, and yet the planet is covered with bridges and building, and, again for over a hundred years now, traversed by aircraft at all hours of the day and night.

From the Curies through Einstein and Fermi and on through breeder reactors and beyond, the nuclear forces are being explored and exploited.

Knowledge, it would seem, truly is power.

Ayn Rand liked to quote Francis Bacon's observation that Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed. If that's the case, then uncounted numbers of intelligent, productive people are obeying like slaves. And I, happy Muggle that I am, benefit from their efforts. There is no need to fear demons behind every bush, nor to pray to the thunder god, nor to consult a tarot card reader--nor do I harbor such desires.

I do have a frequent desire for magic, though, and I employ the electromagnetic force to bring me the voices of Mario Lanza or Maria Callas. Magic indeed.

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