British University Plans to Offer Masters in Witchcraft, Magic, and Occult Science
“Witches are back, and they want academic credit,” said Dr. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in a recent episode of his podcast “The Briefing.” Mohler discussed the University of Exeter in England, which plans to offer a master’s degree in witchcraft, magic, and occult science by fall of 2024. And they aren’t alone. America’s Rice University also has a Gnosticism, Esotericism, and Mysticism certificate from its Department of Religion involving magic, ritual, and witchcraft.
Mohler discussed how these are “universities that once understood the universals, the good, the beautiful, and the true, to be held together within the Christian worldview, which Jesus Christ is the unity of all truth.” But we are now in a time, he added, where Christ is removed as the unity of all truth, and these universals have been divided, which leads to programs centered around “ancient paganism.”
Professor Emily Selove is the director of the new program and said “a recent surge in interest” from students has led to the development of the degree. “Magic and the occult inside and outside academia lies at the heart of the most urgent questions of our society,” she claimed. The university’s website states the program will take place in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, which is meant to help students understand “the Arabo-Islamic cultural heritage back where it belongs” by focusing on “decolonization, the exploration of alternative epistemologies, feminism, and anti-racism.”
According to Selove, the classes are meant to “allow people to re-examine the assumption that the West is the place of rationalism and science, while the rest of the world is in a place of magic and superstition.” Mohler observed, “This is what happens when society is progressively evacuated of Christian content. … The resulting space is not a vacuum.”
For Mohler, the practice of witchcraft and the occult “feeds into” the culture’s current secular obsessions of gender and sexuality. Joseph Backholm, senior fellow for the Center for Biblical Worldview, told The Washington Stand, “The interest in magic isn’t surprising or new. Witchcraft was specifically condemned in Deuteronomy, and King Saul consulted the Witch of Endor in 1 Samuel.”
He explained how humans are “wired with an interest in the supernatural,” and are “born with a desire to be connected to the divine.” However, he added, our sinful nature is what makes us hesitant to submit to the Creator through a relationship with Him. For Backholm, “[M]agic is sometimes where we turn when we want access to supernatural power but we don’t want to submit to anyone. It creates the illusion of power with control.”
He continued, “Of course, all supernatural power that is not from God is from Satan. It’s real power, but it comes at a tremendous cost that isn’t disclosed up front.” Backholm affirmed that the West has been long “impressed with its … commitment to rationality,” and stated it’s “less inclined toward magic for the same reason it is becoming less religious.” As Backholm put it, what we see in our society is growing materialism, which denies that “anything exists beyond what we can see and touch.”
“But ultimately,” he concluded, “Satan’s goal is just to keep the crown of God’s creation — humanity — from knowing their creator. Both atheism and magic accomplish that goal, so Satan is happy with either choice. Atheism is for those who think something can come from nothing and magic is for those who can’t quit shake the idea that there is something more but still want to be in charge of themselves.”
Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.