Of course, sorcery isn't much of a problem for us these days. At least, that's how most of us see it. But some folks are concerned that magic in modern fiction poses a threat to sanctity. Several years ago I wrote a book called From Homer To Harry Potter, in which one of my aims was to help Christians (many of whom were concerned about the sorcery of young Mr. Potter and its influence on their children) think about myth, fantasy, and magic. Not all magic is equal, I argued, and not all of it should alarm us.
So this word "sorcery" in St. John's Apocalypse caught my eye recently. Perhaps sorcery is a bad thing, after all? The word St. John uses is pharmakos, related to the Greek pharmakeia and to our word "pharmacy." It means one who makes potions, and especially potions used to poison others.
What's wrong with this version of sorcery should be obvious to everyone: it amounts to the idolatry of power and the abuse of nature to worship that idol. To put it in simpler terms: it is an idolatry of power because it regards human lives as things to be sacrificed on the altar of power. We kill because we desire to dominate. Selah.
And it is an abuse of nature because it regards chemistry as a tool of domination of others. It concocts in order to destroy, and, again, it destroys in order to dominate.
Christians who are concerned about magic should ponder this. Is God concerned with hand-waving, spells, and incantations? I doubt it. But it would appear that God is not pleased with using chemistry to do violence, and with regarding natural science as a tool for domination of other people. I know it alarms me, at any rate.
I haven't got a quick conclusion here. My point is not that we need to do away with chemistry or hold witch-hunts for chemists. But I frequently return to Francis Bacon in his Advancement of Learning,  where he offers a way to speed up science by dividing up the four causes that Aristotle said all scientists need to seek. Bacon suggests that if we can find the material and efficient causes of things - the matter and energy that cause particular contingent states and arrangements of things in the world - that should be enough for science. Seeking the other two causes - formal and final causation - amounts to something like seeking the meaning of things and their purposes in the world. To require scientists to seek these things is probably an undue burden on the natural sciences, and it certainly bogs down their progress by engaging them in endless debates about metaphysics and ethics. Bacon leaves these latter questions to theologians and metaphysicians, freeing natural scientists to much more rapid progress in their research. Bacon's division of causes was a brilliant stroke, and modern science owes it very much.
In the same book, Bacon finds he must make a defense of chemistry. He does so by means of an analogy between chemistry and sorcery.  It is prohibited to converse or do business with evil spirits, he says, but it is not prohibited to inquire into their nature and power. Those who do the former are sorcerers, but those who do the latter are theologians. Bacon adds, as an aside, that he's not sure either one is doing anything real, because those alleged spirits are "fabulous and fantastical." Still, the analogy is helpful: it may be unethical to use poisons on other people, but it is certainly not wrong to seek to understand the nature and power of poisons. So natural science, when it seeks to understand the nature and power of chemical compounds, for instance, is doing something like theology.
Here is where I find myself at a loss: theology has a story it can tell about why we should not converse with demons, and for those who live in the community that is shaped by that story, it is compelling. But what story can we tell that will teach us how to avoid modern sorcery? We have traded albs and chasubles for lab coats, and for the most part, this has been a positive development. But we have not been intentional about telling a good story about science, and we have liberated it from questions of meaning and purpose - a liberation that we have recently begun to question, as we "have become death, the destroyer of worlds." We have become unwitting sorcerers all, crafting potions that do wider and greater violence than the ancient theologians could have imagined.
 Rev 22.14
 See Bacon, Of the Advancement of Learning, 2.VII.3, e.g.
 Bacon, op. cit., 2.VI.2.