This magic is done by offering a tribute to god. The tribute is mana, the magical power source. You offer it up in return for a wish granted by god. The benefit of the magic is that the only bottleneck in using it is the mana cost and the person's imagination. The crazier the wish, the higher the cost.
I wish to throw a basketball sized fireball at the donkeybutt over there.
God grants the wish while taking the appropriate amount of mana as payment.
My medieval society was introduced to tribute magic. A time before guns and the printing press.
A person's mana capacity is how much they can gather in a day. Mana comes from god, it is humanity's daily allowance.
Only humans can do magic.
One millionth of the population are super magically gifted. They can split the Mississippi and walk across the split once a day. I would assume that creating an instant dam to contain all that water would probably kill a heck ton of people when the dammed up water goes rushing all over the place.
The lowest 90% of people in terms of magical talent have enough mana in their bodies to use magic to hover for ten minutes and light fires and not too incredible things.
Point is, there isn't enough mana to go around to really stop people from inventing things to make their lives easier. The problem is that tribute magic would only accelerate the growth of technology. It would be best if development of science is more or less similar with a non magical world.
Using this magic, can't a group of very determined people start asking for wishes in a scientific and logical fashion to deduce the laws of reality? The laws of this magical world's reality is not in anyway the exact same as a non-magical world. There will be ghosts, and giants, and a known god. Science being cheated through because of tribute magic is still a problem though.
How would the I change the rules of tribute magic to stop that from happening? Or even, what rules can I set up that would keep tribute magic from increasing the development speed of the sciences?
I don't want my magical society to refine this magic to take the most efficient and effective path to killing people and doing things. I want tribute magic to foster creativity. I want for there to be a thousand schools of magic to be born from tribute magic. I want a world in which all sorts of whimsical and fantastical ideas comes to life because people used tribute magic to turn "what if? questions" into reality. This really doesn't have much to do with the question, but I thought it might help if you see the sort of world I want to create.
If you all think that the most likely outcome is for humanity to advance in the sciences at the speed of light, then please say so. I'll ask for the question to be thrown into the void. I'll grudgingly move on and maybe visit Reddit. shivers
I know it would be very difficult to decide the mana cost for wishes. I would certainly make mistakes when deciding mana costs in the the actual world creation. That is not a problem. I don't mind it since that is not an issue with tribute magic, but an issue with me not being all knowing.
I just really would like for a world in which a magically talented child could wish for a pig to fly, and it would happen. The threat of rapidly developing science bothers me. The child wishing for a flying pig on a farm during medieval times and a child wishing for a flying pig in the middle of magical modern megalopolis are two very different different worlds to me. One is filled with wonder, and the other is filled with fire breathing reality TV stars.
My question may be very annoying or inappropriate. I read the rules for asking questions and had a headache of it. There were so many links to so many suggestions. The whole "no opinions but subjectivity is sometimes okay" was very difficult to understand. I'm not too smart so I might just be breaking a holy law somewhere.
I found many questions on this site about magic and science coexisting. It is related to my question but not quite enough to solve my problems. I'm past that. I care more about the effect magic would have on scientific progress. And specifically how to prevent them from giving too big of a boost to each other..
For SlothsAndMe - To clarify. God cake is a possibility but unfortunately for mankind, only god has enough mana for that. As for delicious food. Hmm. I'll say that the less specific the wish, higher the mana cost/more random the result. It is like wild magic in dnd. Don't make a wish along the lines of: I offer tribute of all my mana. Give me something great. This wish would either go terribly wrong or terribly right. Or you might just get cake.
The issue of wishing for things that increasingly strengthens a person all the way to the end of time has been brought up. This is a problem solved by adjusting mana cost of such a thing. Think of god as a game developer. He will scale the possibilities accordingly so that his game doesn't break.This issue is unrelated to my question. My original question was for answers that could help me solve my problem without calling on god to just limit scientific development with his god powers. As a rule of thumb, the more God has to interfere, the worse this world would be.
Liesmith's Answer is the accepted answer based on the what I have seen so far. While his first two points was interesting, the 3rd point was almost a catch all solution that didn't require god to slap every scientist and smartypants for trying to ruin the balance of the world. I would like to point out such a non-god answer as something that exemplifies the sort of solution that would be perfect. I am not saying that all the well thought out "god answers" are terrible. They are just not ideal. I will of course implement some of those ideas as well.
As for how Liesmith answer is a solution.
Connecting the world's population to the power of magic is a great thought. Tech makes life better, which makes the population limit higher. But a higher population would decrease the effectiveness of using magic as an instrument of science. When the population becomes so high that magic becomes too basic for the conman scientist to cast "magical sight" to see bacteria, humanity may have to pay the price for failing to develop a microscope. The result would either be to start inventing the things they have always used magic to do over time, or mass slaughter for the sake of science/more mana.