Words of wisdom and miscellaneous facts by Dr. Wysong and others. This is an accumulation over several decades and the accuracy cannot be attested to.
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We are all fascinated by magicians. They seem to know what it is impossible to know, make things appear out of nowhere and then disappear, and perform superhuman feats. They amaze us because they defy our ordinary bias, i.e., our assumption that things will always continue as usual. They also appear to defy the laws of nature by which the rest of us are irrevocably bound.
In the past, anyone who could perform extraordinary feats was considered to be possessed by the devil or revered as an instrument of God. Imagine what would be thought of some of today's magicians if they could take their skills and be time-transported, for example, back to the Middle Ages. If they could escape burning at the stake, they would be revered, feared, and could have ruled the world.
So "magic" has a lot to do with where we are in history and where our heads are. What is magic to one with little knowledge is ordinary to another with more knowledge. Obviously we want to get rid of as much magic as possible so we are not in awe of someone who deserves no awe at all. We do that by growing our minds and always keeping the skeptical lobe alive and well.
Aside from the magic of nature that science has demystified, and the magic of magicians that is explained by understanding how the trick is done, or the magic of chance, such as finding the face of Jesus in a three-cheese pizza or the name of Allah in a cut potato (two events just reported, April, 2011), there remains true unexplained magic that properly deserves our awe, respect, and humility.
It is the magic that is all about us every day, every moment. It is just so "normal" that we take it for granted and don't even think of it as magic. In fact, it is the "normal" that is magic—or perhaps a better word, miraculous.
For example, throw a stone into the air. Magically it returns to Earth. I know, you think that is explained by the Law of Gravity. But the Law of Gravity is just another word for magic. Nobody knows where natural laws come from, what gravity is made of, or why it ALWAYS behaves unerringly without even a hint of tiring.
Light travels at 186,000 miles per second. Hop in a car, accelerate to 100 mph (0.028 mps,) turn on a flashlight, and then point it down the road ahead. The speed of the light is not now 186,000.028 mps, but still just the 186,000 mps. That is magic anyone can do and nobody can explain, much less understand where this magical thing called light ever came from in the first place.
While we're on the subject of speed, consider this little trick we are a part of at this very moment. If you combine the speed of the spin of the Earth, with the speed of the Earth rotating around the sun, with the speed of the solar system moving around the galaxy, with the speed of the galaxy moving through space, they total to you and I moving at about one million miles per hour. That continues day after day, year after year, millennia after millennia. All the while we go about our day to day life as if the ground underfoot is motionless. That's a magic that is not only outrageous, it is terrifying.
The existence of energy (a form of matter) is also magical. Nobody knows where it came from and why it ALWAYS hangs around. According to the First Law of Thermodynamics, it can change form, but the sum total of it always remains. We use this magical entity constantly to make life livable but have not a clue how it came into being.
The alternate form of energy, matter, consists of atoms. These miniscule solar systems made of a nucleus of neutrons, protons, and electrons buzzing about in orbitals, shells, and probability clouds are in turn made up of quanta, some of which cannot even be considered material. Nobody has any idea where the strong and weak nuclear forces came from that hold atoms together, why these little machines just keep going, or where they came from in the first place. We can say atoms and energy came from nothing, but that explains nothing since it is just another way of saying it is magic.
This reminds me of the confrontation between the creator and the evolutionist. The evolutionist says, "I don't see the big deal about the universe and life." The creator replies, "Really, now?" "Yeah, it is all perfectly explainable." "Okay, then do it." The evolutionist, all excited about demonstrating his great knowledge, takes a deep breath and says, "First you take some dust..." The creator breaks in, "Hold on there, get your own dust."
Watch ants as the busy themselves with their mounds and excursions underfoot. Their industry, strength, and form are amazing. Perfectly preserved ants in amber from the Cretaceous period (up to 145 million years ago) show them to be identical to today's ants. Trillions upon trillions of ants that have come and gone on planet Earth and yet this creature is as perfect now as it was at the start. Nobody has a clue where this little machine came from or how it could continue to function so perfectly without it ever even being repaired. The ants, and all creatures for that matter, are pure miraculous magic.
Slip and cut your hand in the kitchen. If it is really laid open you go to a doctor. He stitches it up. You heal up and think back about how wonderful it is what surgeons can do. Let's rethink that. The surgeon only did what any seamstress can do... and probably not really as well. When you sliced your hand, you destroyed thousands of cells, disordered millions of molecules, cut capillaries, opened the flood gates of blood and lymph, and severed layers of skin and subcutaneous tissue. How was all that destruction taken care of, the bloody debris cleaned up, the tissues and skin reconnected? The doctor didn't do it. The sutures didn't. Somehow the body was able to repair itself back to normal on its own. It didn't stay cut and dependent on the sutures in order to stay closed, it didn't grow an ear out of the cut or a lobe of liver. No, it miraculously, like magic, restored you back to you all on its own.
Next time you are lying down resting, put your mind to what is going on inside. Note how you breathe without even thinking about it. Feel your heart faithfully beating away, lub-dub, lub-dub... Consider the magic in the body's ability to burn food you eat with the oxygen you breathe to maintain a temperature of 98.6.
Think about how this biological machine upon which you depend to stay alive just keeps plugging along, second by second, day after day, year after year. This is all done without you or anyone else doing anything other than eating to keep it going. And nobody has any idea how such a machine could come into existence and continue on autopilot. It is mind-numbingly miraculous, pure magic. (To learn more about the inexplicable magic of our world, read Solving The Big Questions—As If Thinking Matters.)
No, we are not masters of our world, nor will we ever be. We are the beneficiaries of life and a world that are a gift. To think otherwise, to take all of this magic and presume it is somehow owed to us, or that we, with our puny sciences, technology, and knowledge are creators and masters of it, is to not really think at all. It is egomaniacal thievery. This materialistic attitude and its tendrils of unreason lie at the root of our health problems, since health comes from respect for the body as it is designed, not its manipulation with ignorance and impunity. Such irrationality also lies at the root of all our other problems, from environmental to geopolitical...to everything that stems from being so silly as to think we know and deserve what we patently do not.
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