Magic is not Just for Children

Baby examining grassMany think of magic as being a kid’s thing. It’s not. Kids don’t need it. Adults do.

Don’t get me wrong, kids enjoy magic programs. Magic can be a great tool for clearly presenting a memorable lesson. However, kids, especially younger ones, don’t need it because they haven’t lost their sense of wonder. They can still see the wonders, large and small, that surround us every day.
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The Real Secret of Magic

Card up sleeve

“How’d you do it?” That’s the one question we magicians aren’t ever supposed to answer. Well, I thought I’d make an exception and tell you how magic is really done. Yes, really. For starters, the hand is not quicker then the eye, it’s not all done with mirrors, and there is (almost) never anything up my sleeve. Magic uses physics, chemistry, optics, psychology and more, but those are not the real secrets either.

The real secret  comes down to managing information and assumptions. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but this is extremely powerful. If I can successfully manage the information people have and influence their assumptions, I can make anything seem to happen. Anything. Let me explain how it works.

First, I carefully control the information I make available to my audience. If I share everything that’s really happening, there’s no magic. I share what I want them to know, and hold other information back. This forces them to fill in the blanks of what they don’t know.

People have to interpret the information they have and fill in the blanks left by the information they don’t have. If people interpret the information they have correctly, they’ll understand what’s really happening. For me to make magic, I have to keep that from happening. That’s where the assumptions come in. If I can influence people to make false assumptions, they will misinterpret what is happening. The real power of this technique is that when it’s done properly, most people don’t even realize they’ve made any assumptions at all.

I use this technique to entertain. However, there are people who use it differently–both for good and evil. For example, armies use this technique to fool the enemy. It has also been abused by con artists, psychics, mediums, faith healers, and more.

In life, we never operate with complete information. We have to interpret the limited information we do have through our assumptions. If our assumptions are correct, we’ll correctly interpret the information we do have. However, if our assumptions are wrong, then we’ll come to the wrong conclusion. In the context of a magic show, incorrect assumptions are harmless. In other areas of life, they can potentially have catastrophic consequences.

What are the assumptions we use to live our lives? What are they based on? Do we stick with what others have taught us? Do we pick something that “feels right” and hope for the best?

Only God never makes assumptions. Because he knows everything, he doesn’t need to fill in the blanks, or work with limited information to figure out what’s happening. God is the only solid foundation there is. If we don’t want to be deceived about the things that really matter, we must base our assumptions on God and his Word.

It’s a Demon!

Gargoyle

One question I am asked fairly often is whether some of the magicians on TV use demonic power to accomplish their feats–particularly levitation. People also ask me whether demons enable psychics to know the future.  So in this second post in my series on the occult and paranormal, I thought I’d briefly address the topic of demons.

People have a lot of ideas about what demons can do, but where are we getting our information? Does the Bible indicate that demons can make people or objects levitate? Does the Bible tell us that demons know the future? Unfortunately, I think our understanding of demons is based more on Hollywood than Scripture.

So what does scripture really say about Satan and demons? A good place to start is Jesus’ own words in John 8:44, that the devil is “a liar and the father of lies.” So Satan is a deceiver. (And I think it is reasonable to say the same about demons in general.)  So is it possible that displays of demonic power are, at least in some cases, nothing but deception? As an entertainer using stage magic, I can appear to levitate people and objects. Through entirely natural means, I can seem to foretell the future. 2 Thessalonians 2:9 talks about Satan using what would be literally translated as “lying wonders.” The New Living Translation puts it this way, “This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles.” In at least this instance, the power is fake! Isn’t it likely that Satan is using “lying wonders” or “counterfeit miracles” today?

As a magician, I can say that I have never seen any levitation or predictions of the future that couldn’t be accomplished entirely by natural means. That is not to say that there is no demonic influence. I am only saying that the supposed manifestation of power is not necessarily what it appears.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not arguing that demons have no power. Scripture clearly says otherwise. Satan is “like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) I am in no way suggesting that demons are harmless. As we are reminded in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

What I am saying is that our beliefs about demons, and the spirit realm in general, need to be based on the truth presented in Scripture, not movies and popular culture. While Satan and demons are genuinely powerful, they ate finite created beings. They are not all-powerful or all-knowing. We do not need to live in fear of them. The Bible is clear that we should fear God alone. (Matthew 10:28).