The laws of physics place no limits on progress, be it scientific, economic, cultural, or intellectual. In fact, the laws of physics require the knowledge and wealth possessed by intelligent beings in the universe to increase without limit, this knowledge and wealth becoming literally infinite by the end of time.
Tipler's Law of Unlimited Progress

Age of Belief

[A mumble of vague agreement meets this remark. Many of the audience appear to be distracted with more important matters, conjuring their own spells or consulting crystal balls rather than attending to the young speaker on the stage.]

"Here, I beg to differ from the standard view of our history and present the key finding of my thesis. I believe that, in those long-lost days, in the distant past when we were still limited to the surface of one planet, human beings had potent powers and capabilities we no longer have, indeed powers we have ourselves lost, or perhaps no longer need. Yes, Gentle-beings, our ancestors once relied on something other than Magic!"

[Any pretence that the audience is uninterested in the speaker's remarks dissipates in a moment. Most of those professing boredom earlier are now looking on with rapt interest, while those who were previously dismissing now appear angry at the youngster's unsupported assertions.]

"I know this is a shocking proposition. But I genuinely believe there is a different way of looking at the process of understanding and manipulating the universe. The body of evidence I have assembled is compelling."

[The speaker makes an expansive, even overblown gesture with his right hand. The susurrations of interest increase as members of the audience receive what he has just broadcast.]

"Everywhere one looks, one can find tantalising hints, shards of understanding embedded in otherwise anodyne materials; indirect indications or suggestions in cryptic terms in academic papers; allusions and throwaway remarks in respected reference works; inexplicable jokes and bad puns in meeting minutes and recordings, and unlikely diagrams and mere sketches - sometimes just hand-drawn, if you can imagine such a thing - perhaps intended to remind the reader of some more fundamental truth."

[Many members of the audience are now in open dialogue and earnest discussion with one another - in some cases, to the point of angry exchanges and heated debate. The speaker raises his voice, its clear and penetrating quality enhanced by subtle glamours which amplify his words.]

"Let me give the summary of my conclusions, derived from the suggestions and intimations I have just this moment circulated."

[The speaker takes a deep breath, preparing himself to launch into a new topic.]

"Once there was a process, a way of thinking based entirely on deduction and experiment, upon logic and reason. There was something called the Scientific Method which was, as far as I can ascertain, a coherent way of viewing the universe and everything in it."

[The atmosphere of dissention and debate is too much for some members of the audience. Two more of the audience disappear with soft pops, while several others are heading for the exits with convincing expressions of confusion or disgust on their faces.]

"This Method led to the development of something which was called Science or Technology or, perhaps, Engineering - the distinction may be important. And it was this development, I contend, which first settled our kind in comfort over much of our original world and later led our expansion across the stars!"

[The speaker has adopted a heroic tone of voice, one intended to carry the audience with him. It is not clear it is working: less than half the audience appear to be listening to his words and the majority seem to be engaged in multiple discussions which are barely being suppressed by the sound containment spells. The speaker ploughs on regardless.]

"I believe there once existed multiple specialisations in abstruse subjects called names like Physic and Chymestry, perhaps analogous to our Scryers and Seers, the distinctions between them as important as those between Delvers and Diviners."

[The speaker pauses, for effect or just to catch his breath.]

"This was the missing age, the Age of Reason."

Part 2 Part 4