Primitive Man viewed magic as a childish approximation of science. Magicians, sorcerers, shamans and the like, used people’s intuitive understanding of cause and effect plus simple incredulity to claim control over the workings of the world with charms, spells and potions. Eventually, even savages realized that the tricks of the magicians didn’t work. However, if the supernatural forces which controlled the world around him could not be commanded, primitive man reasoned, perhaps they could be placated or amused. Magic evolved into worship.
Today we lives in the era of science, but I wonder if the attitude of the average man is not so different from what it was in those earlier times. He might understand the little pieces of the world that he encounters daily, but the system, how it all fits together, that’s too large and complex for him. There’s the kingdom of the keepers of secret knowledge and it’s as obscure to him as it has ever been.
Consider the powers granted to him; the ability to fly through the air, collapse time, freeze it, communicate instantly at a distance, heal the body etc. They allow him to giddily glimpse omnipotence but then befuddle the deepest part of himself. And does he not sense, behind it all, some dimly perceived consciousness, perhaps just now awakening. Where is it coming from?
So, in the wee hours of a supposedly new age he holds two trains of thought in his mind at once. One the one hand, he’s confident that if he knows how to talk to this thing that gives him power, then he can control it. That it will do precisely what he wants it to do when he uses the correct commands in the correct order. But also, like the Athenians in the Aereopagus, he prays to an unknown God that the whole thing doesn’t break down, or die, or worst of all, become angry with him.