The Spiritual Delusion/1.1.5

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The Spiritual Delusion/1.1.5/1.1.4 The Spiritual Delusion/1.1.5/1.2.1

5. In its bizarre contributions to scientific knowledge.

The progress of science has not been a peaceful one, but rather that of a conquering army, passing victoriously from one battle-field only to find the enemy securely intrenched in another quarter. The strength of science lies in its methods of investigation. Determined to know more of the many mysteries with which we are surrounded, men of science realize that the mind must be divested of all preconceived conclusions on the subject, and pursue the inductive method of collecting a sufficient number of facts before attempting any generalization; to rise from the effect to an understanding of the law by which it is governed, is the method of science.

Long and arduously have men of science labored; with patient and pains-taking toil have they sought to obtain from the clutch of nature a glimpse, however faint, into the great secret; and now, through their labors, we find the conditions of life ameliorated, the comforts, and luxuries even, placed within the reach of the toiling multitudes, and a broader and more comprehensive education generally diffused.

Science has trod no “royal road” to knowledge, but struggled on in thorny paths, bravely trampling difficulties under foot, and ever pressing on, accumulating facts before theories. No guardian “intellectual guide” was there for Watt, or Fulton, or Stephenson, to consult for information in his darkest hour. No familiar stood ready, upon the payment of a certain amount of good and lawful currency, to appear and solve the problems perplexing the mind of Morse, when he was struggling to give form to the idea dimly burning in his brain.

Geologists were content to descend into quarry-beds, and to ascend precipitous mountains, hammer in hand, that they might read but a line on a page of the mighty volume spread out before them. Astronomers were satisfied if mechanical ingenuity could give them a clearer vision of the countless orbs which had so long kept their secret from human eyes, hoping to gain a deeper insight into the laws governing the universe. The biologist knew no greater pleasure than studying his science by the only method that as yet he knew to be capable of producing useful results,—that of careful investigation,—trusting to obtain but a glimpse into that mightiest of all problems,—the problem of problems,—life.

But old things have passed away, and all methods are new, under the light of the New Dispensation. Geologists are no longer required to content themselves with long and arduous toil to read the history of the earth’s formation. Sitting in his study, and placing his mind in a condition of “passive receptivity,” the geologist may become the agent of another,—of one who has risen above the “cramping influence of material environments” to the full realization of spirital manhood; of one who has a thousand facilities at his command for investigating nature, and libraries far older and more extensive than that of Alexandria at his service, libraries incapable of destruction. He has had it in his power to question the sages of the past, resting after their various reincarnations, and commune with the eminent geologists who have passed on after a lifetime of study. This more extended field of research exhausted, he hastens to unfold the mysteries of nature to the patient toilers in the form, who are still laboriously pursuing the “ mole-eyed” method.

Is this a jest? Not at all. The mind of “passive receptivity” having been found (and the spiritists’ ranks contain many such). Professor Lyon returns, and presents to mortals, still held in the “cramping influence of material environments,” the results of his studies in the higher spheres. The “material” consideration having been satisfactorily arranged to- the publisher’s notion, “The Hollow Globe” is born, and secrets which have long puzzled the mundane physicist stand revealed. By a trifling outlay of currency the whole mystery of world-building may be ascertained, and “mole-eyed science” forever silenced.

Worlds are made by, or through the agency of, spirital architects, who frame and fashion the whole material creation after certain immutable laws. And they builded wiser than we knew; for anxious, as we may conjecture, to economize in the expenditure of force, instead of a globe filled with a molten mass and pent-up forces, the earth was made in the form of a hollow globe, and fitted, internal as well as external, for the development of life. According to this new revelation, Lyell was led by his aforesaid “mole-eyed” mistress into many absurdities, calculated to cause a ghost of a smile to flit over the etherealized countenances of the supernal scientists; and Symmes stands revealed as the true prophet of geological science.

“Symmes’s Hole” was no imaginative illusion, but a veritable fact, and exists still, awaiting the arrival of the adventuresome explorer, in the vast undiscovered continent, replete with life and tropical vegetation, which, as we know from other Flashes of Light from the Spirit-World, lies in the immediate vicinity of the North Pole! Oh, where is the daring Stanley, to penetrate through the icy barriers surrounding that undiscovered continent, and traverse its smiling valleys and cross its lofty mountains, and bring to us news of Sir John Franklin and his companions? Perhaps the knight has entered that “Hole” into which the Gulf Stream flows, and been borne to happier climes, where he may have renewed the vigor of his youth and be dwelling peacefully.

To all lovers of true science, who have felt a natural repugnance to climb the rocky road and learn the barbarous nomenclature prescribed by Old Science, we commend this volume. No one can doubt its mediumistic origin after one careful perusal, for it bears on every page irrefutable evidence of not being the work of any living scientist!

Astronomers also may dispense with their instruments, and enjoy a social chat with the inhabitants of the various planets, who occasionally penetrate our atmosphere on tours of scientific investigation. Denizens of the moon visit us, and by their presence confute the theory that their former abode is a burnt-out world, and from their lips we have a vivid description of lunar life and manners on the hither side of the moon’s surface.

Certain recent speculations of astronomers, who have confined themselves to the old methods of inductive research, are regarded from the spirital stand-point as fruitful instances of the inherent falsity of their methods, being in direct contradiction with the testimony of the “ spirits” who have resided in the sun and the planets, as well as the “ evidence” derived from the seer’s clear vision of those abodes. Are not persons who have lived on the sun more reliable than mere inferences drawn from spectrum analysis discoveries as to the physical constitution of the sun?

Recent researches of mortal astronomers have led them to conclusions regarding the physical constitution of the major planets of a startling nature; various singular appearances presented by them have led to the supposition that these planets themselves are still intensely heated, and emit light and heat of their own. True, as we know from the pen of A. J. Davis, “in the beginning the univercœlum was one boundless, undefinable, unimaginable ocean of Liquid Fire;” but “progression,” we had supposed, was fleeter-footed. According to the late Professor Bond, however, Jupiter shines far more brightly than the reflection of the light falling upon his surface will warrant. Observations taken while Jupiter’s satellites were passing its face exhibit these satellites as black spots on its surface, their reflected light being inappreciable when compared with that of the planet itself The belt-zones of Jupiter bear witness to terrific convulsions on that planet; the spectrum of Saturn and Uranus, and the nebulous edge presented by the spectrum of Neptune, are thought to be accountable for on no other hypothesis than that these planets have not yet attained that degree of density necessary for the presentation of a solid surface. Hence the major planets are rather to be viewed as secondary suns than as inhabitable worlds; as sources of additional light and heat to their satellites,—rulers of a scheme of subordinate orbs, on which alone the multiform manifestations of life may exist.

But what are sodium lines, when we have direct communication with those who have once lived on these planets? Have we not had duly spread out before us, in the columns of the spirital press, descriptions of scenery in the Jovian world, and picturesque delineations of the midnight sky on the Saturnian globe? We are told that their inhabitants are far superior to earth’s mortals in physical development, and have attained to so high a degree of spiritual unfoldment as to be able to pass through the air on their journeys to and fro. They have progressed far beyond earth’s sons and daughters, who for countless ages yet to come will not outgrow “the cramping influence of material environments” sufficiently to reach such high spiritual attainments. What has secular science told us concerning the seven spheres of the spirital life? It is to spirital science we owe the grand discovery that they are composed of the spiritual emanations constantly emitted by the various planetary bodies.

Without presuming to decide between the rival claims of “spirit-communion” and the ‘‘seer’s clear vision,” as to which is entitled to priority as evidence, I will quote briefly from both on this highly important point. Without compromising the authority of our ghostly visitants, we will first refer to the testimony of one who daily visits the “ inner life.”

“Canst thou form an idea of the magnitude of the second sphere?

“Multiply our earth by twenty-seven million times its present size, and it will give you the exact size of one of the countless parks of the second sphere.

“How was the spirit-land formed?

“What law was it which formed the sparkling girdles of Saturn? What becomes of the fine invisible particles of matter which emanate from vegetation, from minerals, from all animal bodies, and from the entire globe? This earth alone gives off eight hundred million tons of invisible emanations every year. Where do these atoms go? The earth perspires, like the human body. . . . All the other planets—Mercury, Venus, the vast group of asteroids. Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the three orbs beyond, together with all their moons [sic]—give off fine emanations just like the earth. Where do these emanations go? These questions are left you as replies to query as to the foundation of the spirit-land.”

The “Milky Way” is composed of countless systems of worlds, of which our solar system is one, and the “second sphere” lies beyond and encircling this. “The second sphere [the spirital] girdles the first sphere [the “Milky Way”], just as the rings girdle the planet Saturn. The representation is perfect.” Thus far from the “clear vision” of Andrew Jackson Davis in “The Present Age and Inner Life,” and not, as some may have inferred, from the spirital lips of some ancient Brahmin.

Of all the testimony offered us by the dwellers in the spheres, we will only refer to that given by Immanuel Swedenborg, who in a case of this nature should be deemed a competent judge. That there might be no doubt of the identity of the illustrious Swede, “twenty spirits” appeared, and voluntarily took an oath, “in the name of God,” that Swedenborg was really present. This distinguished “spirit,” having been thus satisfactorily vouched for, deposed as follows: “The second sphere is above the atmosphere, about six miles in height. The third occupies about forty miles in height. The fourth occupies a still wider space; and so of the others, until the outer boundary of the sixth and commencement of the seventh, which is distant four or five thousand miles.” “In rising to the spheres, there are openings through which we rise.”—Supernal Theology.

In spiritual geography we have had considerable addition to our fund of knowledge; but, as we are more concerned at present in ascertaining the contributions to mundane science, we leave this highly useful and instructive study, to ascertain in what respects the biologist is indebted to the light of the New Dispensation.

From the Banner of Light, of July 6, 1872, I extract from the “Questions and Answers” of the “Banner of Light Free Circles” the following:

“Question (from a correspondent).—Among the questions and answers in the Banner of December 23d, is opened up a subject of considerable interest, upon which I would be pleased to receive more light from the controlling intelligence. The declaration is made that ‘offspring are born to parents in the spirit-world.’ Is it supposed or known that the process of generation continues in the higher spheres indefinitely?

“Answer (Theodore Parker).—So far as my experience extends, I learn that the process of generation, so far as the human species is concerned, begins here and ends here; and yet there are spiritual births taking place every hour in our life,—every moment, every second, according to earth-time,—and in this way. You are constantly sending off from your life these germs that need individualizing, that need to be surrounded by love, by wisdom, and strength, that they may mature in intelligence in the spirit-world. These germs that are thrown off in your life, ere they are ushered into existence here, are destined to an individualized existence in the spirit-world, and they all need fathers and mothers there. They have need of the father’s strength to hold them in position until they shall become individualized existence.”

There are many questions that might be pressed to elucidate this position of spirital physiology; but I forbear, and leave the “spirit” Theodore Parker to explain in his own way.

“Ques.—Please explain what you mean by individualizing the germs thrown off from our own spiritual natures.

“Ans.—Gathering to them those elements necessary for form and experience. Your individuality depends upon the amount of elements you have gained from nature. Now, nature extends beyond this earth. It goes through all the spiritual spheres; for without nature there could be no form; without form there could be no experience. Now, these little waifs need assistance in gathering to themselves those elements necessary to build up form,—structures through which the soul can manifest itself and become individualized. When it remains here in the mother-life during the proper time, it gathers these elements from the mother-life. When it is cast off before the proper time, it is without these elements; then somebody must assist the little soul-germ to gather them for itself When you feed your infants, you strengthen the form: in the spirit-life they do even more than this; they build up the form. At conception, the soul-germ becomes simply conjoined with matter. Now, then, suppose it is thrown off immediately after that, it is not individualized at all; it is joined to matter, but not individualized. So, then, a mother-life is necessary in the other world,—a mother’s love and father’s strength. All souls are first conjoined to matter through the sexual relations here in this life, here in the earthly sphere. That is the business of this life.”

To spirital science we are indebted for new light on “biology;” not the biology described in the text-books of the “mole-eyed” system, for spirital science scorns to be indebted to its less ambitious rival, but the “electrical-biology” of the platform, where it is illustrated by its distinguished exponents, “ Professor” Stearns, “ Professor” Cadwell, and others. Again Mrs. Conant, of Boston, is the medium for this influx of scientific truth, as may be found in the Banner of Light for April 6, 1812. Professor Edgar C. Dayton is the ghostly respondent.


“Question (from the audience).—Professor Cadwell is in town, giving exhibitions of so-called ‘ mesmeric’ power. After he has slightly manipulated the heads of the persons who present themselves to be mesmerized, they declare that they see any object or scene that he mentions, and, by their actions, indicate that they do believe, for the time being, that they see them. The other evening, besides a variety of other experiments, he caused about a dozen young men apparently to see him boiling coffee on a hot stove, and to snuff up its odor; and when he pretended that he had thrown it on their feet, they pulled off their boots, and jumped. about, and acted as if they had been scalded. Yet this pot of coffee and hot stove were nothing but an empty tin cup on a chair, and really nothing had been thrown upon them. . . . I would inquire, ‘What is the explanation of these persons seeing scenes and objects which did not exist?’

“Answer.—You say he caused them to see scenes which did not exist. I shall be obliged to take exceptions to that statement, since all these psychological conditions do exist, of a verity; and they are just as perceptible to the consciousness of the spiritual senses, as are conditions which are apparent to all in this room perceptible to the consciousness of the material physical senses. Now, when it is understood that you are all living double lives, that you possess a double consciousness, one distinct and separate from the other, these things will appear less miraculous. The psychological professor psychologizes his subjects through the action of his spiritual senses. True, they see no boiling coffee, they physically feel no burn; and yet, spiritually, this is a positive reality; just as much a positive reality as it is a positive reality that the drunkard, during an attack of delirium tremens, sees snakes and venomous reptiles and they offend him. You say this is the hallucination of a disordered brain. I say it is not. There is nothing in all the science of life that can prove it to be so. It is a positive, spiritual reality to the one who sees, who feels and realizes the condition, as it is not a reality to one who does not see, feel, and realize that condition. Now, then, I deny that there is any such thing as imagination. Everything that appeals to either of our sets of senses, the inner or the outer, is real, and becomes a demonstrated fact to that one set of senses at any rate. The others cannot demonstrate it, because it does not belong to them. . . . The law of psychology is, properly speaking, the law of spiritual science.

“Ques.--Will you be kind enough to explain just what you mean by ‘psychologizing’ a person?

“Ans. I mean this: by bringing them into rapport with your thoughts, with your spiritual senses, your thoughts act upon these spiritual senses and produce these conditions. For instance: the psychological professor thinks of boiling coffee; his spiritual senses inhale the aroma, see the boiling coffee, realize the fact. The first thing to be done is to establish a connection between the two,—subject and operator. The professor’s thoughts act as a key upon his spiritual senses; in turn, his spiritual senses act in producing these conditions objectively to the spiritual senses of the subject. It is almost impossible to clearly elaborate these abstract ideas so that you who are cramped about by mortal conditions can clearly appreciate and understand them.”

In the Banner of Light, of November 2, 1872, we find Theodore Parker indorsing the same views, and denying the existence of imagination in man. I have taken up so much space with this scientific contribution that I will not pause to comment upon it. In fact, notwithstanding our “cramped conditions,” I have no fears but they will be fully “appreciated” by the reader, even though unversed in the rudiments of spirital science.

To spirital science we are also indebted for the restoration of astrology to its proper rank in the circle of the sciences, and learned treatises are laid before the public, on the magnetic influence exercised by the planets and fixed stars upon human destiny, and the nature of their influence on the formation of character and personal accountability.

The chemist may break his retorts and discontinue his molecular investigations, and sit at the feet of Theodore Parker, and learn that the accumulation of wealth is a chemical process; for Parker informs us, through the Banner of Light (February 11, 1871), of this valuable truth. I submit it in full, that it may receive the attention it merits from students in chemical science:

“That the reception of wealth is indeed a result of the action of chemical laws is an absolute truth; but it is no less true that the chemical relations and conditions of an individual are constantly changing. You are constantly throwing off chemical emanations from your bodies, and taking on new ones. Perhaps to-day you may be chemically in a fit condition to attract to yourself wealth,—gold, silver, the precious things of this earth. To-morrow you may be chemically another being. Yes; hard work and economy and good common-sense [!] are valuable acquisitions to your chemical condition. They are levers assisting what you have by nature; precisely as a musical education would be of value to one musically endowed by nature. The elements being in the individual, these are conditions that favor their evolutions.”

Political economists should seek to thoroughly understand these chemical processes and evolutions!

Spiritists are barred from saying that “spirits” do not enlighten us on scientific subjects, for they have so sought in innumerable cases, or the communications were not from “spirits;” and I think but very few spiritists would hesitate to call Mrs. Conant a veritable medium, “through whose organism” most of these facts in spirital science were given. They profess their willingness and ability to receive and answer any question propounded, and yet what real addition have we acquired to our fund of practical knowledge? If a scientific question is pressed, we have in reply the merest dribble of “unimaginative” brains, or paltry evasions of facts, by replying in general terms. For instance:

“Ques.—Please explain how it is possible that spirits can be photographed.

“Ans.—They first pass themselves through a chemical process which is analogous to the process of galvanism. They are plunged—if you please—in a bath of certain chemicals, that will be held in solution for a very short time only, because they are taken from the air, and the air absorbs them again very quickly; but the spirit can hold them in form for a sufficient length of time to impress itself upon the sensitive plate. The use of a medium is necessary as a condenser.”—“Theodore Parker,” in Banner of Light, August 10, 1872.

However much we may object to the lucidity of this explanation, we at once see that it professes to grapple the subject. When “mole-eyed science” is found to clash with the teachings of the spirital scientists, no trouble is experienced in solving the difficulty. The following may pass as a sample of the easy method of disposing of such apparent contradictions:

“Ques.—I read in the Banner that the moon is inhabited by both man and animals. Now, Professor Shaler, of Harvard, and all other scientific men who have made the moon a special study, declare, beyond all doubt, that the conditions necessary to sustain life are not there, nor ever have been. How are we to account for these seemingly flat contradictions?

“Ans.—It is very easy to account for them. Professor Shaler has not been there; somebody else has. One has absolute knowledge; the other has guess-work, backed up by a little scientific knowledge,—very poor at that, however. Harvard cannot boast of much!”—“Theodore Parker,” in Banner of Light, July 21, 1872.

Spiritists object to mundane science that it is “ dogmatic” and “ one-sided.” Not desirous of bandying epithets, I refrain from characterizing the spirit displayed in the above. But Theodore Parker, though evidently a very changed man, was never remarkable in “earth-life” as a scientist, and we therefore part company with him here, to summon Benjamin Franklin on the stand, in whose testimony we should at least expect to observe an absence of dogmatism or self-assertion. Our American philosopher has our spiritual welfare so near his heart that he has assumed control of the editorial portion of the Banner of Light,—in other words, is the spirital guide and source of inspiration to the editor thereof, probably supplying the loss of “imagination” in the editorial brain with impressions on the “set of spiritual senses” therein.

In the editorial columns of the Banner of Light, of October 5, 1872, is an article based on a recent trial of a gentleman (Dr. Schoeppe) for murder through the use of poison. He had been tried and found guilty, but a subsequent trial resulted in his acquittal. Both verdicts were based on the evidence of medical “experts.” The philosopher says,—

“In the trial of Mrs. Wharton at Annapolis it was demonstrated, as clearly as it is possible to do it, that science knew no more about matters it considered itself competent to testify upon than ignorance. . . . And now it has come to an equally ignominious end in the case of Dr. Schoeppe, of Pennsylvania. . . . The testimony on the second trial completely destroyed that adduced on the previous one, thus showing again that science is of all things the most unreliable. It has floored itself, and proved that it is idle to hang any faith upon it. Yet, while it shows its incapacity to deal with demonstrations on the coatings of the human stomach, it presumes in the most impudent manner to pass judgment on the mysteries of spiritual phenomena, of which it can know much less than it does even of physical operations. Year after year it comes forward to deny the truths of spiritualism in the most dictatorial and offensive manner, while year after year spiritualism continues to advance with its proofs and to make captive the convictions of the human mind and heart. We may reasonably conclude, therefore, that science is a humbug, a pretender, a charlatan, not fit to be trusted with a judgment on any matter that involves such great interests as those involved in human beliefs.”

My respect for Benjamin Franklin is so profound that I will make no comments on the above, nor seek to rob it of any of its weight. With this characteristic quotation (of spirital science,—not of Franklin) I close my collection of acquisitions to science.

Nearly a quarter of a century has elapsed since the first electric rap was struck which opened the line of communication between us and the spheres; and since that eventful hour, we are told by Professor Denton, “spirits make their presence known daily, hourly, to multitudes, not disdaining the poorest or the vilest.” Plato has returned, and socially chatted in New York in English speech. Demosthenes again thrills the hearts of multitudes with his burning eloquence, through the inspired lips of Victoria C. Woodhull. Benjamin Franklin continues his interest in scientific subjects, and Shakspeare renews his acquaintance with the muse. Theodore Parker becomes an encyclopedic oracle, and Daniel Webster returns to correct mistakes in his dictionary! Lord Bacon discourses philosophy with Judge Edmonds, and the mirthful Calhoun indulges in antics under his table. And we have for results: in cosmology, the presence of spirit-architects for world-builders; in geology, a hollow globe, with an internal development of forms of life; in astronomy, races of salamanders living in the sun and major planets, and the discovery of the “spheres” “circling” the Milky Way; in geography, a vast continent lying around and beyond the north pole, exceeding in size the whole known surface of the earth, and the definite location of “Symmes’s Hole;” in biology, the existence of “spiritual senses,” which perceive what our outward senses had erroneously supposed to be the resuits of imagination as evidenced in delirium tremens; in astrology, the influence of the stars on character; in chemistry, the law of attraction between human bodies and precious metals.

In history, we have also valuable additions. Dr. Channing informs us that Jesus was an illegitimate child of Mary by Caiaphas, the high-priest; and the disclosures by St. Paul of his share in the betrayal of Jesus, and subsequent hypocritical assumption of belief, may be read at length in his work on “Jesus of Nazareth,” as given through the organism of Alexander Smith. The influence of the planetary bodies on the formation of character, if a truth, might lead us to conjecture that the lunar orb had a prevailing influence in the horoscope of our spiritist friends.

Beyond these,—what? Savage and primitive in its forms of thought, ignorant and imbecile in its conception of uniformity in nature, arrogant and prejudiced in its investigations, partial and illogical in its collection of testimony and inferences therefrom, and contemptible and ridiculous in its vapid contributions to scientific knowledge, spiritism stands justly charged with being, in every sense of the term, unscientific.