When we see a magic trick for the first time we might not understand how the trick is done.

Some people are merely entertained by the trick and seek no further. Some think about it, assume that a trick is involved but can't be bothered to think about it further. Some believe that the performer has magical powers. A few will puzzle about the trick until they can work out how it was done; they might even devise a trick themselves and go on to become magicians.

This is of course my well worn analogy for the relative positions of science and religion.

Suppose that we can't work out how the trick was done, to leap to the assumption that because we can't work it out it must be magic is to say that everything we thought that we knew about our everyday existence is wrong. This is a choice that some can make legitimately. If we can't show how the trick was done and replicate it then it just might be magic.

There may always be tricks that we can't work out, but our history tells us that we have gradually moved from a position where we believed the tricks of witch doctors, shamans, and priests and pushed the boundaries back of the tricks that we do understand. Some in any generation will say that the tricks we don’t understand today are tricks that we will never understand because they are magic, but some will go on exposing the tricks and delighting in manufacturing tricks of their own.

In the twenty first century we are playing with genetic codes, artificial intelligence, the building blocks of matter and probing the fabric of space time. It won’t be long before magicians have no tricks left.

What is surprising is that it is well known how some tricks are done (even if the explanation is quite technical) and yet some continue to believe that real magic is involved.