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Chesterton, G K - Orthodoxy - Science and belief systems



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A description of the experience

Orthodoxy – G. K. Chesterton

Granted, then, that certain transformations do happen, it is essential that we should regard them in the philosophic manner of fairy tales, not in the unphilosophic manner of science and the 'Laws of Nature'.  When we are asked why eggs turn to birds or fruits fall in autumn, we must answer exactly as the fairy godmother would answer if Cinderella asked her why mice turned to horses or her clothes fell from her at twelve o' clock.

We must answer that it is magic !

It is not a 'law', for we do not understand its general formula.  It is not a necessity, for though we can count on it happening practically, we have no right to say that it must always happen.  It is no argument for unalterable law that we count on the ordinary course of things.

We do not count on it; we bet on it.

All the terms used in the science books – 'law', 'necessity', 'order', 'tendency', and so on, are really unintellectual, because they assume an inner synthesis, which we do not possess.  The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in the fairy books – 'charm', 'spell', 'enchantment'.  They express the arbritariness of the fact and its mystery. 

A tree grows fruit because it is a magic tree.  Water runs downhill because it is bewitched.  The sun shines because it is bewitched

The source of the experience

Chesterton, G K

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