The Occult and Science

            Occult phenomena are placed outside the structures of science. There is a sense that science must relegate magic, the occult, and pseudo-science to the fringes of acceptable knowledge. Traditional science seeks to explain the natural world based on models, and therefore, experiences and phenomena that cannot be replicated or performed in a laboratory are suspect. Science must continually compete with other forms of inquiry, and continue to set itself apart. Those that support occult knowledge are seen in opposition to modern science. For occultists, there is always an answer to the question because it is assumed there is order in the world. For example, occult groups have created a framework of mythologies to explain the meaning and origin of life.

            Rationalism and a decline in spiritual beliefs do not occur with scientific development. In some cases, science has encouraged occult beliefs. For example, the early modern European witch craze grew out of secular medicine. University-educated male doctors competed with midwives and traditional healers for medical practice. Those women without medical degrees were then persecuted as witches. Witchcraft accusations, instead of disappearing with the development and science, thrive in contemporary narratives as moral commentaries.

            Science can answer many topics about the natural world, but when it comes to death and other ultimate philosophical questions, it either remains silent or advises doubt. Here, the occult becomes a means to find closure amidst the world’s uncertainties. In the modern age, information is readily available through various means, yet, knowledge has become fragmented and less stable. Occult belief systems allow people to link narratives and accommodate a variety of information. For occultists, the interpretation, not just the discovery of information, is necessary.

Further Reading

The Occult – A library guide to the occult, magic, and divination

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