In her interview with Oprah, and in response to what she thinks of the religious criticism of her use of magic in her books, JK Rowling paraphrases the following quote:

 

"'in magic man has to rely on himself "

 

She goes on to explain that magic is a way for people to take control of their own lives, and to change the world around them, unlike in religion where you have to accept the world as it is.  

 

This quote reminds me that we all have a certain power in ourselves, and the best we can do with our life is to use it the best we can. This means not using religion as an excuse.

She further explains that magic is kind of like having a lot of money.

 

My own thought and question for discussion is: do you think that atheism is like magic in this way?  As atheists do we have a responsibility to shape our world for the better, just as someone with magic or money would have?

 

 

here's the link to the video

start around 5:00 to hear her discuss the quote.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQ8C1XM9JIc&NR=1

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Perhaps I'm guilty of thinking from a magical literalistic point of view.

Magic is the art of producing a desired effect on the natural and/or supernatural world through the use of ritual. There's various types of magic, ritual, symbolic, spoken, visualization, etc... In any case, there's always something you must do to get the stuff to work. It's never really a passive process. Whether the power lies in the object, subject or ritual of the magic depends on the type of magic used. Is the power in me and I bring it about by doing? Is the power in an external agent and I bring it about by doing? Is the power in the doing itself? It really depends.

Then there's the definition of magic which is akin more to an energy, like saying that Stonehenge is full of magic. There's also the magic of mystery - which is more a "magic of the gaps" hypothesis. :P

Reading over your comments it seems like you might be suggesting that magic is the mind/will/soul. Would that be an accurate representation of your position? Something which is both internal and nonphysical, while also giving humans the power to be the arbiters of change. That sounds like the mind/will to me. I would prefer that point clarified so that I don't end up running terribly off topic.

mhmmm... more than ritualistically defining magic, the idea of the soul or will as a controlling channel could be the source.. :)

In that case, are you speaking about this magic in a symbolic or literal sense? Is it merely a symbolic way of representing the active force within us or is it that we are governed by literal magic within us?

There was a time when I would agree that the soul is literally made out of magical energy, that is no longer the case for me.

I might be able to get behind the idea of magic as a symbol for the internal seat of the will. That seems to be JK's intent from that quote. That magic represents using our own internal power to affect the world around us. I can agree with that symbolism and agree to it's use in fiction and myth, but I'm not sure I would go so far as to say that it could be translated into the world outside of entertainment media. Basically, it's perfectly okay for fictional and mythological characters to use personal magic because it can work as a symbol for personal power, but that doesn't mean that it would necessarily have the same effect outside of the fictional and mythological realm.

very symbolic obviously... and depends on what one's interpretation of magic really is!i wouldnt confine it to fiction, not yet atleast. on some level there is a personal power working inside each one of us, atleast thats how i understand it. if you've read The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, you'd probably know i am talking about magic at the level of energy and will... seems plausible to me :)

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