WHAT RELATION DOES SPIRITUALISM BEAR TO SCIENCE? EHB 1871

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WHAT RELATION DOES SPIRITUALISM BEAR TO SCIENCE? EHB 1871

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The Spiritual Magazinee. May 1.1871. Digitized by Google
P202-209
WHAT RELATION DOES SPIRITUALISM BEAR TO SCIENCE?
By Emma Hardinge Britten
THE question has been constantly raised by those who are unaqquainted with the details of Spiritual phenomena-" Why have these rapping spirits revealed to us nothing new?• Why have they thrown no light upon science? In what respect, if any, can their communion with earth, granted it be true afford light to science or reveal to the world aught that is useful?,” It is not in view of these questions alone that our subject is selected. The exposition of Spiritualism is its defence, and therefore it is to a brief exposition of the relations which some of its phenomena sustain to well-known phases of science that we ask attention.
We need not remind you that this revelation has come, like all our Father's works, from a germ seed; from the simplest, and apparently most insignificant of sources; but one not less potential than the little acorn from which originates the mighty giant of the forest. Such is God's method. "Be still and know that I am God," speaks every voiceless atom when we attempt to call it too insignificant to be worthy the action of the Infinite Mind. And so by these little germ seeds of the tiny raps have we been permitted to enter into the adytum of the temple of spiritual existence.
I purpose to speak of the new laws, new forces, and new possibilities, revealed to us through the phenomena of modern Spiritualism. To those who have neither observed them nor condescended to acknowledge their existence, we have no word to say, no more than we should offer colour to the blind, or the anthem of the Creation to the deaf. The phenomena of Spiritualism, or the external signs of the presence of a spirit, may now, as in olden times, be classified. We do not know that there is much difference between this nineteenth century and the first in regard to the possibility of classifying spiritual gifts.
We have heard for 1800 years the charge that we should not be ignorant concerning spiritual gifts; but whilst our ears have drunk in the charge for eighteen centuries, there are tens of thousands at this day who do not know that there are any spiritual gifts at all. You will therefore pardon us for reciting some of those gifts-some of those forms of phenomenal evidences of spiritual agency which are now not unfrequent. They consist in rappings, the movement of ponderable bodies, the production of lights, the manifestation of hands and forms, the apparition of spiritual beings, the production of voices, and various other sounds and other motions. Feats of physical strength have been exhibited, chemical combinations have been produced, bodies have been carried, through the air, and a world of influence acting upon the minds of those called the media, has been evolved, proving that there are two c1asses of manifestation: the one which acts through a force that emanates, in all probability, from the person of the medium, an invisible unknown force, and the other a power which psychologically impresses the mind and compels the action of the medium. It is chiefly the first class of phenomena that we propose to consider, and on these we hope to show, at least, five phases of novelty, and very scientific novelty.

SPIRITUALISM AND PHYSIOLOGY
Those who are familiar with the methods of evolving these phenomena know, that the presence of certain exceptional persons seems to be always demanded. Now, as in ancient times, when these spirit-people can manifest their presence, it is always through an aura, or through some force connected with special individuals. What is this speciality? We will ask physiology. Physiology is a science, which, added to anatomy, undertakes to explain the living structure. Physiology not only takes from that anatomy a classification of the various parts and organs of that structure, but follows out their motions through the fiving tissue. It informs us, even to the innermost, to the most secret chambers of life; it informs us of the various modes and methods by which all the wonderful machinery of life is conducted. Now we must ask the physiologist what part of force or function is that which enables a child:...... a frail, perhaps ignorant rustic, with no motion, no action, no will of his own-to furnish the means by which the inhabitants of an unknown world can manifest their presence? So long as that individual is present, the most startling evidences of an invisible intelligence are rendered; remove that individual, and all is silent; the phenomena end: we stand with naught but memory to give us the assurance that the missionaries from this vast and hitherto unknown continent have been in our midst. What kind of force is this?' It is not matter, for we carefully watch him or her that we call the medium. Perfect passivity is all that seems to be demanded. It is not mind, for we know that will cannot effect the motion of a rose-leaf. We may will from now until the crack of doom that it shall move, and it will remain motionless, until the action of time disintegrates every fragment of' it, and it becomes dust and ashes. And yet the presence of this child this rustic, this ignorant and impassive being, shall cause a table or other object to be as a thing of life, telegraph words and messages, speak of the things of immortality, sound out messages from the corridors of eternity, proclaim the existence of the Great Spirit, and Bound the oratorio of creation from one eternity to another. Physiologists, what force is this? Where does it reside? In what organ? What kind of function is this? The spirit medium stands in your path, and until you can explain that which constitutes the force by which the spirit-people can manifest themselves in presence of an uninstructed and impassive medium - the most Ignorant Spiritualist, whom ye affect to despise, knows more in this respect than can be found in all the books on physiology that were ever written. This is a page of new science. You cannot advance until you have explained what is the force, the essence, the function, organ, or power, by which these marvels are effected in the presence of the unlettered medium.
SPiRITUALISM AND MECHANICS.
There is a portion of physics which we call mechanics. The motions of bodies are explained and defined by mechanics. The last discovery that has been made of motive powers is vaguely called electricity or galvanism; but the various motions that we can procure for ourselves, such as animal power, mechanical power or chemical power are defined as mechanics.
Now there is one form of motion that as yet we do not find, recorded in any page of the scientist; none that he has written - attempts to define by what power a table floats in space, or bodies are removed from one point to another without any visible or known cause. Whilst tables, floating bodies and erratic things are gyrating, rotating, and moving, they tell a tale more potential than the denials of the ignorant. Not all the bold, presumptuous assertions of those who do not know of what they speak have been sufficient to prevent these erratic motions. We know that the last resort of antagonism, when it is no longer able to dent the tact, is to question the use of it. “Granted that your tables dance, and your chairs move, and your furniture generally behaves as furniture is not accustomed to do - of what use is it?" Of what use are the sands by the sea shore? Of what use are the grains of dust beneath our feet? Of what use are noxious insects? Of what use are the humble flowers that bloom in the desert? Of what use are the non-producers and idlers that lounge about our city streets? We may follow out these questionings until at last we arraign the Infinite Wisdom, and question wherefore He created anything which we cannot tell the use of, or coin into wealth. The whole question is answered by the movement of a single rose leaf. Unless we are in a position to determine that there exists an inherent force in that leaf which enables it to move of itself, that one leaf is sufficient to suggest the opening of the gates of a new science, and a new form of motion. Should you go forth into the city streets and behold any object moving itself, no matter whether usefully or not, but manifesting the power of motion, and neither wind, nor wave, nor galvanism, nor magnetism, nor animal power at work to cause that motion, would you not exhaust all the resources and all the acumen of science to determine what form of motion it was? And until you could explain it, it is a motion that baffles you, though it should be nothing but a rose leaf. And so our dancing tables and vibrating furniture are the evidence that there is a new motive power which neither mechanic, nor operative, nor scientist has yet defined, and which he in his ignorance simply meets by bald denial.
SPIRITUALISM AND OPTICS.
There is a science called optics. It may be defined thus :-In order to perceive by human sight, it first requires that there should be a curious collection of lenses, an admirable and wonderful arrangement, a telescopic object, which we call the human eye, and that this should be in perfect integrity. Next, that there shall be a material object to observe; next, that the object shall be in space, that is to say, in a certain relation in the world to the eye which perceives; next, that the object shall be in time, that is, time present; not time past, that is but memory; not time future, that is but dreaming, or clairvoyance, or any other term by which you may define that which is not perceived. These are the conditions of human sight-a material eye a material object, time, and space.
Now; learned opticians, do you know that there is a kind of sight that exists, independent of the human eye, which does not require for perception a material object, which does not need the conditions of time or the limitations of apace? Denial will not serve, for the facts of clairvoyance are more potential than the loud rude tongue of denial. Clairvoyance is a description of sight which never demands the aid of the human eye. To the sleeper, to the dreamer, to the eye carefully protected from the light, and obscured by all the methods and tests that you can adopt, sight is perfect. The object perceived is sometimes the spirit of the dead, a being that has no material existence, the material portion of which is dust and ashes beneath your feet; and yet that the object is perceived, ten thousand and twice-told ten thousand vivid descriptions have proved. Clairvoyance does not always need to observe the form or image of a person; it takes note of distant scenes, places and objects. It perceives the remote past - not only the garments that have perished, the city that is not, the forms that have no longer a material existence, the events that have long since transpired - it also perceives the untried future. The prophetic eye of the seer beholds objects that have not yet come before the eye of mortality, scenes that have not yet been enacted, even beings that have no physical existence, the things, the beings and events that shall be. What kind of sight is this?
We all may remember that questions similar to these were put by the learned St. Augustine to his pupil ages ago. He questioned one who could not realise the existence of a spirit apart from matter, "With what eyes did he perceive in dreaming ? With what ears did he hear? With what organs did he touch ?', If this be the case in dreaming, how much more in the open lucidity of the spirit medium.
SPIRITUALISM AND CHEMISTRY.
There is a science called chemistry. Through chemistry we understand how Deity laid down the ancient rocks, how He aggregated the nebulous matter of vast and unknown realms of void into form and order, and fashioned worlds. By the science of chemistry the processes of creation throughout the universe may be in great measure explained. But we invite your attention to one special portion of chemistry. Take, for instance, a small, almost invisible point of matter, a nucleated cell. Examine it with your glass. As you gaze upon it, you perceive that it is apparently structure less. Give it the conditions of life, surround it with those living tissues by which it can chemically gather the materials to build up life, and you will find presently that this little cell expands, and bursts, and elaborates other cells like unto itself. Each cell repeats the story of the parent cell, until a mass of tissue is formed that takes the shape of the rudiment of a brain, then of a spine; then elaborating itself through the same process of chemical assimilation and growth, we have at last the living creature; with all its marvellous variety of organs, its wonderful structure, its various forces and functions. We can scarcely number up the variety of wonderful forms of tissue which the living creature exhibits. But we return to the period when it was but a nucleated cell, and all this marvellous process of life and growth has been the work of chemistry, such a chemistry that the single grain of wheat which we convert into bread, when it enters into the lips, will pass throughout the whole frame, and be secreted in every portIon of the organism, until that grain of wheat shall be divided into blood, and bone, and tissue, and serum, and brain matter and in the lustre of the eye, the ruby of the lip, and the rose of the cheek, shall be found a portion of that gram of wheat. It is but a process of chemistry. Pass on a little further, and now the man that creates, invents, and recreates the forms that we gaze upon, shall lie at our feet a clod of dust. It is but a process of chemistry. Pass on a few years more, and that clod of clay shall have disappeared; there shall not be a handful of dust, there shall not be a single grain ofmatter left; it shall be nothing, its place shall know it no more, and none of the elements shall give up even a single grain as large as the nucleated cell from which the whole mystery of its existence sprang. It is but a process of chemistry, and so marvellous is this kind of chemistry, that it has been truly called Divine, and those who have contemplated it with reverent minds, those who have regarded it as a performance far far beyond the power of man to imitate, have bent low the knee, and declared that the mystery of life and creation belonged alone to God. Is it so? Is not God our Father? And has He hidden from His children aught of His work, of His power, of His majesty; has He not revealed to the aspiring mind of the creature all that He has done? The works of His hands are an open page, a grand and everlasting Bible which we have only to patiently, diligently, and reverently study to comprehend; and where we fail, the spirit takes up the tale and finishes it for us. Let us show you a page of spiritual chemistry. There are some of us that even in the midst of the gloom, not necessarily the thick darkness, not necessarily with the screen that may favour imposture or deception, but even in the gloom where every motion can be detected, where every action can be scrutinised; there are some of us that have seen in the midst of the aerial nothingness of the atmosphere at first the dim outline of a mass of matter; now it advances, crystallizes, forms, takes shape, flutters towards us, and becomes a human hand! It is laid in ours, it manifests all the attributes of life, it is warm and soft, it returns the tender pressure of affection. Some of us there are that have examined Its tissues, and found them to correspond so marvellously with all the appearance of human life, that we have wondered whether it was possible that we were dreaming, or whether it could be a reality; when lo! As we clasp it, it becomes nothing, melts in our grasp, and it is gone. What kind of chemistry is this? We do not see the living tissue that builds it up; we do not count the processes of growth; we do not number up the years, months, days, hours it has taken to form; it is but the work of a single moment. We do not watch the slow process of decay; we do not number up the years that it may take to disintegrate the atoms, but it is gone in a single moment. What kind of chemistry is this? O, scientists, ye that decompose the sunbeams, and examine the composition of the distant planets, ye that have gathered up the rays of light passing through billions of miles, and made them speak:, and give up the mystery of its composition, are ye baffled by the tricks and legerdemain of a low, undeveloped spirit? The soul of a clown passing into the beyond performs a feat of chemistry that baffles all your science to discover.
SCIENCE OF ACOUSTICS
We can speak of but one more phase. There is a science called acoustics, the science of sound. For the production of sound it seems to be absolutely necessary that there shall be two bodies that shall come into collision. They may be in any of the three conditions of matter;--gaseous, solid, or liquid –but there must be two; one or both must be in motion, and that motion must produce a collision and the vibration in the atmosphere impinging on the ear is that which we call "sound." Now the Spiritualists will tell you that there are certain sounds produced, and but one object, one material body which gives account of their production-the table, the chair, the wall, or any sounding-board you please to find. But, where is the other moving body? Where is the other form of matter that produces the spirit-raps? Yet not all the reprobation that has exhibited itself in the, cry of “imposture" has sufficed to silence these obstinate rappers: they still rap on, and till you can explain these raps the science of acoustics is imperfect; there is a sound, in your midst, a tone in your world which has never been explained by any of the forms, of physical science.
SUMMARY
And now for our resume. You ask for something new; you ask what relation Spiritualism bears to science. It opens before you a new page in physiology; a new page in mechanics, a new page in optics, a new page in chemistry, and a new page in acoustics. There are many others. We are only embarrassed with the multitude of our rlches, and not with the answer to the demand, " Give us something new," or to the question, "What relation does Spiritualism bear to science?" The spiritual is the only true exponent of science, for the spiritual alone can lead you into the realm of causation. When you stand in this glorious temple of spiritual science you realise the cause of causes. If there be law for all creation, if the architect of the universe be adequate to the production of all its grand and glorious phenomena, then must law, immutable and eternal law, prevail in spirit as in matter, and then must the science of spirit be the only solution to the problem of material being.
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Re: WHAT RELATION DOES SPIRITUALISM BEAR TO SCIENCE? EHB 1871

Post by obiwan on Fri Dec 18, 2009 11:24 am

Just a few musings that I may not have thought through fully... I am not sure why one would expect communication from the other side (with my usual caveats Smile) to provide new scientific information.Why should they have more access to information about our physical universe, which they no longer inhabit, than we do? Information about their own world may be impossible to validate and seem nonsensical to us. In their position I might be more interested in understanding the world I now inhabit than trying to find further explanations for the way the world I have just left operates.

I suppose if 'Mrs Bloggs the medium and part-time washer-woman' came up with an insight into nuclear physics it would be interesting - but there are plenty of people around who can demonstrate abilities and insight on an apparently supernormal scale already (savants I think they are called more politely). If at a Leslie Flint sitting Albert Einstein had dictated revised calculations for the Theory of Relativity it might have made scientists sit up and think but I am not sure but it would be of much more use, at best, than endorsing the identity of the communicator. It would also only be evidential to someone who knew Einstein or was was sufficiently familiar with his work to confirm beyond reasonable doubt that it could only have come from the man himself.

There seems a great deal of emphasis on scientific evidence to support survival however I wonder how much that means to the person in the street. Does the average person really need to have Richard Dawkins or James Randi confirm what they ought to be able to determine with their own intellect? In fact maybe it is more important that they do in fact determine the matter for themselves with their own intellect and senses.

As far as perhaps fraud is concerned, or more so with borderline phenomena - and by this I mean types of phenomena which barely register but which my be significant mathematically (which I have to say I find rather dull to read about) then it is fair to say the scientific opinion is more relevant. When talking about materialisation or Independent Direct Voice or other such apparently clear cut evidence I suspect the average person is no less well equipped to determine fraud than the average scientist.

obiwan


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