Monday, July 1, 2013

Religion, Magic and Science


Human beings face problems and perplexities throughout life. It would have been similar experience with the primitive people as well. The primitive man when faced with an insurmountable problem would have prayed and offered worship making a religious approach. He would have tried to coerce a superior unseen power into service      through magic. The two kinds of approaches would have been made to tide over difficult situations.

Frazer based on world wide studies arrived at two laws in classifying magic. The first law known as law of similarity includes homoeopathic and imitative or mimetic magic. The second law named law of contact is associated with contagious magic.

Homoeopathic magic is known among some tribes in Chota Nagpur and in the Ho tribe. The tribes of Chota Nagpur believe that thunder with its rumbling noise causes rains .In order to cause rains they imitate thunder by flinging down rocks and boulders down hills with the hope that rains will follow. The Ho tribe lights huge bonfires from which smoke curls up and hope that rains will follow.

Belief in natural and super natural phenomena in primitive people possibly developed side by side independently. The powers of two needed to be controlled through religion and magic. Religion is communal and has a congregated character and magic is surrounded by secrecy. While people respect the religious priest the magician is feared. The benign quality of religion is ostensibly the reason for religion to take deep roots in society.

Mechanistic procedures are involved in the pursuit of both science and magic. The difference is that the scientists deal with the natural world and the magician is concerned with the supernatural.

According to Fraser religion, science and magic are in principle similar but magic is based on wrong assumptions regarding causal relations. Magic has an element of amazement, expectation and uncertainty. In science there is expectation based on observations,experiment and analysis  of the data obtained  from experiment.Failure in science  may be due to inadequate knowledge and so continued  research on right lines may lead to success.Failure in magic may be the result of errors in performing  rituals.
In certain situations skills and capabilities possessed by people are of no avail and so religion or magic may be used as tools to gain what is desired. In magic certain objects are considered to possess powers which help people to get over difficulties. The sheer anchor of religion is faith and faith makes one to pray to His benediction.

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