It was Arthur C. Clarke who posited this law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. I disagree. The technology need not be advanced at all. The truth is that the sole reason we don’t see the world all around us as magic is that we are jaded, too cool for the school of wonder. A little fire, a little sand, a little care, a little gentle blowing, and presto chango, we have glass. That’s magic that we now watch at Founders’ Days fairs. A little water, a little sluice box, more fire, a hammer and some nuance, and abracadabra, we have a golden ring.
C.S. Lewis reminded us of the glory of dirt in his account of the creation of Narnia. As Aslan sings his creation song the ground itself begins to bubble up like a toasted cheese sandwich. Soon those bubbles burst and elephants, badgers, and platypi shook off their mantles and walked forth into the light. Having been just born they mistake the evil Uncle Andrew, with his wild shock of hair, for a plant. Believing that hair to be roots they plant him upside down, and the coins in his pocket (silver and gold—this was a bygone era) fall to the ground, and up sprouts trees of silver and gold. The fecundity of Eden, I suspect, would have been much the same.
As Jesus is about the business of remaking, redeeming the world, as He, the second Adam succeeds in fulfilling the dominion mandate, our dirt becomes ever more productive and fruitful. Sand was turned into computer chips such that I rub the tips of my fingers across plastic keys (also formulated from liquid dirt, petroleum) and the words in my head become words on the screen in front of me. Sand turned into glass wires, through pushing a few more buttons, will take those same thoughts across the globe to your magic machine. You are reading my mind right now, all because of magic fairy dust.
Technology is indistinguishable from magic, because it is magic. The exercise of dominion flows out of the image of God in us and is empowered by the same Spirit who said “Let there by light” and there was light. God took nothing and made everything. We, reflecting His glory, take dirt and make widgets. The widgets, however, exist ultimately not for our comfort, but for our sanctification. They exist so that we might give thanks, that we might praise the One whose image we bear. To be jaded, to fail to be astonished that hot water pours forth when we twist a knob, that cool air flows into our homes, offices, shops and cars with the push of a button, that sheep become sweaters, that iron, wood, and cat gut become guitars to accompany our praise, is to be bored by magic.
Dust has a greater power still. When it is molded and shaped, then filled with the breath of life, it in turn speaks words of life, just as its Maker did. Words—spoken, written, preached—these bring life from death, conviction from indifference, gratitude from cynicism. Lord, give us wonder.