The Spiritual Delusion/2.1
|The Spiritual Delusion/2.1/1.3.4||The Spiritual Delusion/2.1/2.2|
PART II -THE PHENOMENA.
Having somewhat critically examined the subject of spiritism as presented in its philosophy, and seen it to be crude and unscientific in its methods, gross and unphilosophical in its teachings, and demoralizing and unnatural in its effects, we might be content to rest. But the mind is not satisfied unless some explanation is presented of the various “manifestations” upon which the philosophy is based. In entering upon this portion of the subject—an examination of the phenomena—we are beset with many difficulties, and frankly confess that, in the present state of psychological science, it does not lie in our power to definitely explain every phenomenon to which spiritists may point; but we may endeavor to point out the false deductions drawn, and show good reason for withholding our belief in the entirely gratuitous assumption that they must proceed from disembodied human beings.
Let us carefully investigate the alleged manifestations, and while disclaiming the egotism that would pronounce them well understood, it is still possible to show that, whatever the causes, they can furnish no evidence of the presence of intelligence not in the physical form.
For many years I have carefully investigated the various phenomena presented as “spiritual” in their origin, without prejudice on the one hand, or blind credulity on the other. Soon convinced that the subject was well worth examination, no pains were spared to become acquainted with it in all of its various phases and to endeavor to arrive at just conclusions. In my mind it became established that spirit-communion was a possibility, and that departed friends had the power, under certain conditions, of making their presence known through the physical organism of a living person. While giving assent to this, however, the “communications” were never regarded as reliable: even in the most favorable conditions they seemed to be more or less influenced by the mind of the medium. But continued investigation has thoroughly convinced me that my conclusions were premature, and not logical deductions from the phenomena presecuted. After years of pains-taking and anxious investigation, these former conclusions, drawn from isolated and sporadic “manifestations,” were shown to be unwarranted inferences, destitute alike of scientific evidence and philosophical plausibility. To indicate, therefore, the proper manner in which the subject should be studied, and the reasons for denying the inferences based upon the phenomena is the purpose of the remaining pages.
To the spiritist, who already has his complete theory of the universe, and fancies himself in full possession of the key to the mysteries of nature, no appeal is made; it were useless; those already possessing knowledge are never students. But the thoughtful, inquiring mind, anxious to know if these marvels do really indicate an extra-material origin, we invite to follow us through the remaining pages, before coming into full possession of the spiritist’s “knowledge.”
No desire is felt to weaken any one’s faith in a future state of being, nor remove anything which may prove a consolation in time of bereavement. The writer has an abiding faith as to the future, a faith that has remained unshaken even under the perusal of countless “communications” purporting to emanate thence, and still cherishes it as one of the soul’s most precious possessions. But as men love truth, so do they abhor error, and scout the idea that error ever can be blessed or beneficial to the soul. If error seems for the time to possess consolation, it is because the soul has been content to rest on a lower level; and the enlargement of its vision, while destroying the supposed consolation, never leaves it destitute. Whatever is truth, is best, no matter whither it may lead us. The soul will instinctively cling to it when once seen, and find consolation and peace only therein.