Sunday, May 29, 2011

Null Conversation (a speculative dialog)

I wrote this in 2005.  It's a parable of magic and gardening.  It illustrates part of my point of view regarding magic.

The following conversation probably never took place:

Captain Greedle: All of this sorcery talk is bunkum.
Tentacle Boi: Why do you think that?
G: What do you mean? Just look at it. It's pure hokum. The universe is deterministic, and there's no way that you can convince me that you can change it just by saying "Mumbo Jumbo" and thinking really hard about the way you want the universe to change. It doesn't work that way.
T: Wow. You're a paragon of rationalism. Most people don't hold such strong opinions about cosmology.
G: No, I just know new age crap when I see it.
T: Well, what if I told you that I was a sorcerer, and that I've had pretty good results with this stuff.
G: You're a what? Oh come on. I guess that I would probably say that you're crazy.
T: I'm crazy because I believe in causality?
G: Causality?
T: Yes, Causality. Cause and effect. Certain actions result in certain outcomes.
G: That sounds like more clap-trap to me.
T: Hmmm. Have you ever planted a seed?
G: Well, yes, I used to garden a bit. I love rhubarb.
T: Please, tell me about the process.
G: It's very simple really. You dig a little hole, and put the seed in. You cover the hole back up with soil, add some fertilizer, make sure that the seed gets enough water, and wait for the plant to grow.
T: That all sounds interesting, but I'm not sure that I believe it.
G: What? What do you mean? It's part of nature.
T: Well, how does a whole rhubarb plant come from such a tiny little seed?
G: It just does. I don't know how it all works, but I've done it. I'm sure that a biologist could tell you how it all works.
T: Maybe it's just a coincidence.
G: I beg your pardon?
T: Maybe it's just a coincidence. Maybe there's really no relation between your planting a seed and a rhubarb plant appearing.
G: Of course it's not a coincidence. Like I said, it's just part of nature. Plants have to come from somewhere!
T: Does it always work? Do you always get a plant when you plant a seed?
G: Well, no, not always. Some seeds don't grow into full plants.
T: Why not?
G: Well, the soil could be the wrong type, or the seed might not get enough moisture. I don't know exactly why.
T: So it doesn't work all of the time, but in general, if you plant a seed, and take care of it, it will grow?
G: Yes, exactly.
T: Same thing with sorcery.
G: What? How can you make that comparison? That's crazy talk.
T: Well, if formulate my desire into a directed statement, that's like a seed.
G: Please.
T: No, really. When I launch my statement as a spell, that's like planting the seed.
G: You really should see someone about these delusions.
T: Sometimes the spell works, sometimes it doesn't. But more often than not, something happens.
G: Well when you think it's working, I'd say that's just a coincidence.
T: I'm fine with that way of looking at it, as long as I can get that coincidence to happen when I want it to.
G: Do you really mean to tell me that you believe that you can get these things to happen when you want them to?
T: Not all of the time, but yes.
G: Now I've heard everything. How deluded and egotisitical must you be to believe such hog wash? So do these spells of yours come from the devil?
T: No, the devil is only an archetype. He's a manifestation of the collective negative aspects of mankind.
G: But the bible says that he's real.
T: The bible is an amalgamated collection of parables and Semitic mythology compiled to justify the edifice of the Christian church.
G: What? Oh, now you are surely going to Hell. I'll pray for you to see the error in your ways.
T: What do you think happens when you pray?
G: I ask God to bestow his grace and forgiveness.
T: So God is like an operator, standing by, just waiting for your call?
G: He's everywhere and everything. He knows all and sees all.
T: So he's the whole universe?
G: Yes, and much more.
T: So when you pray, you're basically formulating a desire, and entreating an all-powerful universal being to fulfill it for you?
G: Well, yes, I suppose so.
T: Hmmm, that sounds vaguely familiar. Does it always work?
G: Well, no, not always. No one may know the mind of God, for he moves in mysterious ways.
T: Don't you think that it's a little egotistical to expect God to alter his plans of how things are supposed to be for you? If you're asking for a change, isn't that implying that God has done something wrong?
G: Uh... I've never thought of it like that.
T: I guess that a lot of people probably haven't.

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