The present work is devoted to a scientific inquiry concerning man's prospects for a future life. In pursuing this inquiry the author has endeavored to follow the strictest rules of scientific induction, taking nothing for granted that is not axiomatic, and holding that there is nothing worthy of belief that is not sustained by a solid basis of well-authenticated facts. In other words, he has studied the science of the soul precisely as the physical sciences are studied ; namely, from an attentive observation, and a systematic classification, of the facts pertaining to the subject-matter.
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A Scientific Demonstration Of The Future Life
Thomson Jay Hudson
A Scientific Demonstration Of The Future Life
Chapter I - Introductory.
Chapter Ii - Defectiveness Of The Old Arguments.
Chapter Iii - Spiritism And Hypnotism.
Chapter Iv - Spiritistic Phenomena.
Chapter V – Spiritual Phenomena (Continued).
Chapter Vi - Ancient Psychic Phenomena.
Chapter Vii - Ancient Psychic Phenomena (Continued)
Chapter Viii - The Advent Of Jesus.
Chapter Ix - The Intuitive Perception Of Truth.
Chapter X - Psychic Phenomena Of Primitive Christians.
Chapter Xi - Modern Psychic Phenomena,
Chapter Xii - Has Man A Soul?
Chapter Xiii - Has Man A Soul? (Continued).
Chapter Xiv - Has Man A Soul? (Continued).
Chapter Xv - Duality Demonstrated By Anatomy.
Chapter Xvi - Duality Demonstrated By Evolution.
Chapter Xvii - The Distinctive Faculties Of The Soul.
Chapter Xviii - Faculties Belonging To A Future Life.
Chapter Xix - The Dynamic Forces Of The Mind.
Chapter Xx - The Affectional Emotions Of The Soul.
Chapter Xxi - Practical Conclusions.
Chapter Xxii - Logical And Scientific Conclusions.
A Scientific Demonstration Of The Future Life,T. J. Hudson
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
Cover Design: © James Steidl - Fotolia.com
NEARLY three years have now elapsed since the publication of my first work, " The Law of Psychic Phenomena," in which I formulated, tentatively, a working hypothesis for the systematic study and correlation of all psychic phenomena. Before venturing to publish that work, however, I had devoted many years to a patient and thorough investigation of the subject, with the view of ascertaining whether any psychic phenomenon had ever been observed and recorded that was inexplicable under the terms of my hypothesis. Not being able to find a record of such a phenomenon, but finding, on the contrary, that every psychic fact furnished a fresh illustration of the correctness of my theory, I ventured upon its publication. Since then I have continued the search, aided by many able reviews and criticisms of my work, the result being that I have been unable to find a fact or an argument that militates against the truth of the hypothesis then formulated.
I have, therefore, felt justified in appearing before the public again, for the purpose of carrying to their legitimate conclusions some of the principles laid down in " The Law of Psychic Phenomena."
That work was devoted almost exclusively to the consideration of the mental characteristics and powers of man as we find him in this life. The present work is devoted to a scientific inquiry concerning his prospects for a future life.
In pursuing this inquiry, I have endeavored to follow the strictest rules of scientific induction, taking nothing for granted that is not axiomatic, and holding that there is nothing worthy of belief that is not sustained by a solid basis of well-authenticated facts. In other words, I have studied the science of the soul precisely as the physical sciences are studied ; namely, from an attentive observation, and a systematic classification, of the facts pertaining to the subject-matter. The facts of the soul, as the terminology indicates, consist of what are known as " psychic phenomena." These phenomena have, from time immemorial, excited the wonder and fed the superstitions of all the races of mankind; and it is humiliating to observe that in no age or nation have the superstitions arising from such phenomena assumed a more gross and palpable form than in the last half of the nineteenth century, and in those nations possessing the highest degree of civilization and culture. In the meantime, however, scientists have begun the study of the phenomena with the view of ascertaining something of their nature and proximate cause ; and although the study is yet in its infancy, enough has already been learned not only to remove them from the realm of superstition, but to develop the fact that psychic phenomena furnish the only means by which science can solve the problems of the human soul.
The object of this book is to outline a method of scientific inquiry concerning the powers, attributes, and destiny of the soul, and to specifically point out and classify a sufficient number of the well-authenticated facts of psychic science to demonstrate the fact of a future life for mankind.
The earlier chapters are devoted to a review of the principal arguments for immortality heretofore advanced, with the view of showing their invalidity from a scientific standpoint, as well as demonstrating the necessity for a new departure in the methods of treating this the most important problem of human existence. The phenomena of so-called spiritism necessarily come under this category ; and for that reason, as well as for the purpose of a correct classification of psychic phenomena, I have felt compelled to devote considerable attention to the refutation of the arguments recently advanced in support of the spiritistic hypothesis. I have also been compelled, in the interest of correct classification, to devote some attention to the psychic phenomena mentioned in the Old Testament.
If my interpretation of these two classes of phenomena runs counter to the opinions of others, spiritists, on the one hand, may derive consolation from the fact that my interpretation of their phenomena leads to the same general conclusion which they have deduced, namely, that man is heir to a future life ; and on the other hand, those who hold to the doctrine of plenary inspiration and to the literal interpretation of the Scriptures, will endorse my general conclusions, since they confirm the essential doctrines of the Christian religion, and invest them with a scientific value possessed by no other religion on earth.
In demonstrating the fact of a future life, I have simply analyzed the mental organization of man, and shown that, from the very nature of his physical, intellectual, and psychical structure and organism, any other conclusion than that he is destined to a future life is logically and scientifically untenable.
T. J. H.
WASHINGTON, D. C., Sept. 5, 1895.
" Man, the minister and interpreter of Nature, does and understands so much as he may have discerned concerning the order of Nature by observing or by meditating on facts : he knows no more, he can do no more. " These words are Bacon's ; the italics are mine. If the great Lord Chancellor had written and expounded but that one sentence, he would have been entitled not only to the eternal gratitude of all mankind, but to the credit of having builded the grandest monument to Common Sense that was ever erected by human genius. This eulogium will not seem extravagant when it is remembered that Bacon was the first man who taught the world the true value of a fact ; that is to say, he was the first to discover and formulate the fundamental truth that all successful inquiry concerning the order of Nature must of necessity be founded upon a solid basis of well-authenticated facts. When we contemplate the wondrous civilization of ancient Greece and Rome, their advancement in the science of government, the beauty and grace of their literature, the subtleties and refinements of their philosophy, the transcendent genius of their artists, the grandeur and nobility of their architecture, it seems strange, incomprehensible, incredible, that the discovery of this self-evident truth was left for a civilization built upon a soil which was not rescued from barbarism when the Parthenon began to decay and the Coliseum to crumble. But such was the tardiness of human progress the conservatism of the human mind in the days before it had broken the shackles of authority, when opinions had the force of enactments, and dogmas were regulated by statute. What is now, to the unperverted mind of the average school-boy, a self-evident proposition, struck the scientific mind of the Elizabethan age with the force of a revelation ; and it is safe to say that the world owes all its subsequent progress in material science to the process of reasoning and of scientific investigation formulated and developed by Francis Bacon. Nay, more. The world not only owes all its substantial progress to that source, but the inductive process is the sure guaranty of the stability of our civilization, and of its constant advancement for all time.
The laws of correct reasoning are as immutable as the law of gravity; and, properly applied, are as certain and exact in their results as a law of mathematics. They are the natural laws of the human intellect ; they are inherent in its nature and constitution. But what is true of every law of Nature is also true of the law of reason ; namely, that until it is discovered and formulated by man, he is not in a position to avail himself of its uses, or to reap the benefits of its beneficence. Like every other law of Nature, when once comprehended the law of correct real soiling was found to be simple to the last degree. It is well stated in the opening sentence of the " Novum Organum," and quoted at the beginning of this chapter. It may be restated thus : Nothing can be known with certainty except by an appeal to facts. This is inductive reasoning.
Broadly speaking, there are but two methods of reasoning ; namely, induction and deduction. The former consists in reasoning from particulars up to generals, and the latter in reasoning from generals down to particulars. Each is proper in its legitimate sphere ; but all conclusions depend for their validity upon the correct employment of each in its proper domain, by which one is never allowed to take the place or usurp the functions of the other.
Inductive reasoning, then, consists in observing, verifying, and classifying all the facts attainable pertaining to the subject-matter undergoing investigation, with a view of arriving at the general principle or law which underlies all the observable phenomena. This is the first great step in the process, without which man can never be certain that he knows anything. The utmost care, therefore, is necessary in this step in order to avoid the pitfalls which beset the pathway of every honest investigator. The first of these pitfalls is inaccurate observation ; the second is insufficient verification; and the third, is the constant tendency of the human mind to generalize from an insufficient number of facts. There are many other sources of error which beset one who would conduct a scientific investigation ; but as it would be foreign to the purpose of this book to discuss the subject in detail, I will content myself by pointing out one that does not seem to have attracted its due need of attention.
Referring to the general tendency of the mind to generalize from an insufficient number of facts, a propensity which also includes inaccurate observation and insufficient verification, it will be observed that there is also a tendency to range facts into factions, and to determine general principles by suffrage. This often happens after an investigator has committed himself to an hypothesis. He soon finds that his theory is contradicted by some of his facts, but he consoles himself with the reflection that the majority of his facts sustain his hypothesis, and he triumphantly quotes the old maxim that " Exceptions prove the rule." No more pernicious and fatal error can be entertained. There are no exceptions to the operations of a law of Nature. There exceptions do not prove the rule. This maxim holds good only in its application to human laws. It is applicable to them because it often happens that a rule of common law which applies with substantial justice to a great majority of cases, will work irreparable wrong in an exceptional case. Hence courts of equity are established " for the correction of that wherein the law, by reason of its universality, is deficient." But Nature's laws require no courts of equity to provide for exceptional cases. Exceptions prove the rule in human enactments in that they provoke attention to the rule and thus give it emphasis by antithesis. In case of an apparent exception to a supposed law of Nature, one of the two propositions must be true : 1 . If it is truly a law, the exception is only apparent, and fuller investigation will demonstrate that fact, and thus emphasize the rule; 2. On the other hand, if one fact refuses to range itself under the terms of a supposed law, that fact demonstrates the invalidity of any hypothesis.
Particular stress is laid upon this point for the reason that, as before remarked, it seems to have been lost sight of in many quarters where one would expect to find the strictest rules of scientific investigation rigidly enforced. Newton fully appreciated the weight and importance of the distinction, as is shown by the fact that he long delayed the publication of the " Principia," because of the apparent refusal of one phenomenon to submit to the terms of his hypothesis; and not until it was demonstrated by subsequent discovery that the apparent exception did not exist, did he venture to give to the world the theorem which made his name immortal.
Having established a general principle or law by induction, the process of deduction begins ; and if no fact remains to negative the principle, we can take our stand upon the constancy of Nature and the immutability of her laws, and confidently explain the past and predict the future. And this is the test of the correctness of an hypothesis, that it enables one skilled in the science to which it appertains to predict correctly, to state with scientific certainty what will happen under a given state of circumstances. Thus a knowledge of the laws pertaining to the movement of the heavenly bodies enables the astronomer to predict the phases of the moon and the eclipses with mathematical exactitude. We may take the science of astronomy as an illustration of the processes of inductive reasoning and of all scientific investigation. By the accurate observation of facts for a long series of years by many and independent observers ; by comparison of the results of their observations, and by a system of checking, tabulating, verification, and revision constantly employed, aided by the genius of such men as Kepler and Newton, the Copernican system of astronomy was finally wrought out, and the laws governing planetary motion were formulated. This was induction, reasoning from particular facts up to general principles or axioms. By deduction, the astronomer, taking as his premises these general principles thus established (the constancy of Nature being always assumed), is enabled to explain all the salient features of planetary motion, and to predict with unerring accuracy the phenomena of the future. On the other hand, the Ptolemaic system, which preceded the Copernican, may serve as an illustration of the defective methods of the ancients, arising from inaccurate observation, insufficient verification, and premature generalization.
It must not be understood that, because Bacon was the first to discover and formulate the law of inductive reasoning, he was the first to reason inductively. Men had always reasoned by that method, more or less. Nor must it be inferred that, because he was the first to discover and make known the true value of a fact as an element of logic, he was the first to employ facts as a basis of reasoning. The first man who ever observed the sun rising at one point of the compass and setting at the opposite, observed three hundred and sixty-five facts every year, from which he reasoned inductively up to the general principle, that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west; and he was enabled to predict, from day to day, that the sun would continue so to rise and set. It so happened that the man was approximately right, having observed a sufficient number of facts to justify his belief. But the same man, doubtless, was equally certain that the earth was flat, and that his horizon marked the boundaries of the habitable world. In this he was wrong, and his error arose from defective observation of an insufficient number of facts. Nor in this was he alone. His defective methods of reasoning, differing only in degree and not in kind, were shared by all his contemporaries, and by all his successors, great and small, down to the days of Plato and Aristotle, and from Plato and Aristotle down to the days of Queen Elizabeth.
Until that time all men reasoned by defective methods ; for the fundamental law of reasoning had not been discovered. Hence the wisdom of a Socrates or a Plato afforded no protection against the fatal error of deducting the most momentous conclusions from assumed premises; nor could the_ logic of Aristotle, which, as Bacon declares, "corrupted natural philosophy," prevent him from "constructing the universe out of his Categories." The wisdom of the Greeks, according to Bacon, was disputatious ; their science was spectacular ; their history was composed largely of tales and rumors of antiquity, and they were always more intent on founding sects and systems of philosophy, and fighting for supremacy in wrangling, than zealous in their search for truth. Their teachings, therefore, often seemed to justify the charge of Dionysius against those of Plato, that they were "the words of idle old men to inexperienced youth;" and of the Egyptian priest who said of the Greeks that " they were ever children, and had neither antiquity of knowledge nor knowledge of antiquity ; " and of Bacon, who, quoting the above, added, " And surely in this they are like children, they are ready to chatter, but cannot beget."
Nevertheless, no one can fail to appreciate the subtlety of their philosophy, the vigor of their intellects, or the virility of their manhood, whatever may be said of the soundness of their methods of searching for truth. In spite of defective processes of reasoning they have bequeathed to posterity an immortal literature, a deathless fame, and a philosophy which, in many instances, demonstrates an intuitive perception of truths which modern science can only illustrate and confirm. But of true science they had nothing worthy of the name. Like their philosophy, it was speculative, and hence was unable to withstand those ever-present reactionary forces which impel the human mind to rebel against any system of science, philosophy, or belief not based upon observable phenomena or demonstrable propositions.
Hence it was that all the learning and the philosophy, all the arts and the civilization of ancient Greece and Rome could not avert their decadence, nor rescue the intellectual world from the dismal horrors of the long night of mediaeval barbarism. It is a common remark that the physical effeminacy of the people of ancient Rome, resulting from the luxurious habits engendered by the refinements of their civilization, rendered them an easy prey to the hordes of vigorous barbarians of Northern Europe, and was thus the primary cause of their downfall. Other instances exist where ancient civilizations have risen and flourished and fallen. Every year fresh discoveries are made of the remains of prehistoric civilizations which must have been in decay, if not extinct, long before tradition began. And in every case, historic or prehistoric, there exist evidences that their extinction was the result of practically the same causes as those which led to the downfall of the Roman Empire. From these facts it has been argued that there must exist a natural law pertaining to civilization analogous to the law of organic nature ; namely, that growth results in maturity, maturity in degeneracy, and degeneracy in disintegration, in other words, that the law of human development is not the law of constant progress, but that civilization moves in successive cycles." Such reasoners look with gloomy foreboding upon the present state of progress in science and the arts as a sure precursor of the imminent decadence of those nations who have attained the higher civilization, and of their ultimate relapse into barbarism.
I cannot so interpret the history of mankind. Our present civilization is built upon a radically different foundation from that of any of the nations whose history may be cited as a precedent. The difference may be illustrated by a single reference. Taking Greece as an example presenting the most striking contrast between the highest degree of her enlightenment and the lowest degree of her degeneracy, the most obvious fact pertaining to the character of her civilization is this : that in not one of the arts or sciences in which she excelled the most barbarous nations which surrounded her was there a single element of power that could give promise of national perpetuity, or even of substantial national progress. The Greeks excelled in philosophy, but it was almost purely speculative, and was therefore subject to the law of reaction. Their science was as speculative as their philosophy, and subject to the same law. They excelled in mathematics, but in the absence of other sciences, of which mathematics is but the handmaiden, it was not an element of power. They excelled in art and in literature, but in neither was there an element of national strength ; for though the art of Phidias has never been surpassed, and Homer's rank after the lapse of ages is unchallenged, the sculptor's chisel and the poet's tablet were poor weapons of defence against the superior physical force of their enemies.
On the other hand, the civilization of the present day is founded upon the inductive sciences. v In the inductive sciences the law is that of eternal progress. In them there is no possible element of reaction. A proposition or principle of natural philosophy, once established, is as firmly fixed as a proposition in mathematics, and is never afterwards disputed. Every step, therefore, is a step in advance. Every new demonstration of a law of Nature furnishes the basis for a fresh start in a thousand different directions. There is, therefore, no possibility that, either in the purely demonstrative or in the purely experimental sciences, the world can ever again go backward, and there is as little probability that it will ever stand still.
The inductive sciences have within themselves the inherent principles of perpetuity and of progress. Not only that, but they are constantly providing external defences against assaults by physical force. No hordes of barbarians can now swoop down upon a superior civilization, and conquer its people by means of mere muscular superiority ; for the inductive sciences have provided appliances which confer upon intelligence and skill a vast superiority over combined muscular and numerical strength, though the latter may be inspired by the most desperate physical courage. Science, and not muscle, is now the prime factor in the struggle of nations for supremacy; for the victories of war, as of peace, are organized in the laboratories of the inductive sciences'?
The obvious inference is that, other things being equal, so long as the world is under the dominion of the inductive sciences, no civilized people can ever again be conquered except by the agents of a higher civilization.
It is unnecessary to dwell further upon the obvious importance of the discovery which Bacon made ; and my only excuse for reciting the a b c of the processes of induction is that it is always proper, and frequently important, in the discussion of any question, to recur to fundamental principles. Besides, whilst there is no law of nature more simple, or more easily comprehended, than the fundamental law of human reason, yet there is none that is more habitually and persistently disregarded and set at defiance. It is safe to say that nine-tenths of all that mankind believes, or thinks it believes, is destitute of any solid basis of fact. It is, perhaps, not so much the fault as the misfortune of humanity that this is true. We must not forget that, much as mankind has achieved in the way of wresting from Nature the secret of her laws, the intellectual world is yet in its infancy. It is less than three centuries since man began to comprehend the first principles pertaining to the power which enables him to make an intelligent search for truth. Gigantic strides have been made within that time, it is true ; but they have been in one direction only. The material universe has been explored, the dynamic forces of Nature have been enslaved, and the physical condition of man has been ameliorated.
But many problems still remain unsolved which are of far greater importance to mankind than any that have yet yielded to the processes of induction ; and they are problems upon which none of the physical sciences throw the faintest glimmer of light.
Natural theology stands precisely where it did when Thales philosophized and Simonides sang ; and the arguments are identical with those which Socrates employed in his confutation of the atheism of Aristodemus. Not one of the physical sciences in which we excel the Idumeans has advanced us one step in the solution of the great problem ' propounded by Job, " If a man die, shall he live again? " ~
Indeed, the discoveries of modern science seem to have weakened, rather than strengthened, the old arguments employed to prove the existence of Deity or the doctrine of immortality. Modern physical science has at least weakened the hold which those beliefs had upon humanity ; for the scientific mind is prone to hold that what is not proved by induction is, to a certain extent, disproved. And no scientist has ever attempted to demonstrate either of those propositions by induction. Bacon himself does not seem to have regarded theology, natural or revealed, as being susceptible of being brought within the domain of science. On the contrary, he appears to have regarded the essential doctrines of religion as sufficiently well established by revelation. He warns his readers, however, against " an unwholesome mixture of things human and divine," and advises them to " render to faith the things that are faith's."
It does not seem probable that Bacon, whose mind was cast in a severely logical mould, could have overlooked the wide discrepancy between the methods of reasoning which he taught, and those which were at that time necessarily employed in sustaining the fundamental doctrines of religion. Nor does it seem possible that he was insensible to the difficulties which must environ the Church when it should be called upon to defend its faith against the assaults of scepticism, armed with the weapons which he created. Be that as it may, it was not until many years after Bacon wrote that the secondary effects of his philosophy became manifest. As soon, however, as the students of material science became imbued with his "wisdom, and began to apply the severe rules of his logic to the investigation of the problems of the physical universe, they began to inquire why the same rules were not applicable to things spiritual ; and as soon as it was prudent to do so, they began to demand that the theologian should give as good reasons for the faith that was in him as were required of the scientist for the elucidation of the simplest propositions in natural philosophy. It is needless to remark that this demand has not yet been met with an adequate reply, although the Church has been engaged, with a zeal entirely disproportioned to its success, in defending its strongholds.
It was not, however, until after the beginning of the present century that the real battle between science and religion took a definite form, or that science assumed a seriously threatening aspect towards the fundamental doctrines of religion. It was not until within the memory of men now living that scientists, worthy of the name, became the aggressive opponents of the doctrine of a future life, or attempted to disprove the existence of Deity. The great conflict between religion and science, previous to that time, which may be said to have been begun in the destruction of the Alexandrian Library and ended with the Inquisition, was waged on entirely different grounds. Thus, when Hypatia was stripped naked in the streets of Alexandria by Cyril's mob of monks, dragged into a church, and there killed by the club of Peter the Reader, it was for the offence of teaching mathematics and the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. '_ The subsequent conflicts were principally respecting such questions as the nature of the Godhead, the nature of the soul, the nature of the world, the age of the earth, the criterion of truth, and the government of the universe. For many hundreds of years these questions were discussed, the principal arguments employed against science being feebly typified by those of Cyril against Hypatia. Even as late as the eighteenth century the religious polemics of the day were not directed against the fundamental truths of natural religion, but against the system of theology which is based upon the interpretation which the priesthood has given to revelation. The works of Voltaire and of Paine may be cited as the best known examples. Each of these writers has been stigmatized as an atheist : but Voltaire believed in God, and steadily upheld the truths of natural religion ; whilst Paine, were he living today, would find congenial employment in the Unitarian pulpit. The effect of their polemics was great in their day and generation, but it was not lasting. They shook the foundations of creed and dogma, but not of religion. They were not atheists them, selves, yet it cannot be denied that their writings have been instrumental in converting many to atheism who have not been able to distinguish between dogma and religion. This effect, however, in the very nature of things, could not be permanent ; for no argument not based upon scientific induction can long prevail against the instinct of worship which is inherent in the human mind, or that hope of a life beyond the grave which springs eternal in the human breast.
The science of the nineteenth century, however, has developed an entirely new aspect of the question. The conflict between religion and science still goes on ; but the questions are different and the weapons are not the same. It is no longer a question of geography, or of astronomy, or of the shape of the earth, or of its relative magnitude and importance as compared with the other planets in the solar system. All these questions have been settled, and it will not be denied that in each of these conflicts the palm of victory has been awarded to science.
The doctrine of evolution has now given rise to another controversy (it can no longer be called a conflict) between science and religion, or, rather, between scientists and a portion of the Christian Church. On its face it is a controversy relating to the creation and government of the world, whether it was by a special creative act of God, followed by incessant divine intercession, or by the operation of primordial and immutable law. The Church, however, is by no means united in its opposition to the doctrine of evolution. On the contrary, many of its most progressive and enlightened adherents accept the doctrine without qualification, whilst others attempt to harmonize it with the Mosaic account of creation. There can be little doubt of the ultimate triumph of science in this, as in other controversies ; and there can be as little doubt that, when the day of its triumph comes, it will be found that true religion has lost nothing. Religion has never lost anything as a result of the triumphs of science, but only as a result of misdirected zeal in opposing science. Religion, therefore, has nothing to fear from the doctrine of evolution, or from any other science, if religion is truth ; for no truth is inconsistent with any other truth .
The real danger consists, not in the conflict of religion with science, but in the failure of the Church to meet the demands of science. The latter reaches its conclusions from the observation of facts, and holds that nothing is worthy of belief that is not sustained by observable phenomena ; and it demands of the Church the same quality and character of evidence of what that institution claims to be truth as is demanded of science in support of its propositions. The failure to meet this demand is filling the civilized world with materialism ; for scientists are prone to hold that whatever is not susceptible of scientific proof by the processes of induction is, ipso facto, disproved. On the other hand, this proposition is offset by many of the clergy by the declaration that questions relating to immortality and the existence of a God are not proper subjects of scientific investigation ; that spiritual truths must be discerned by spiritual perception, must be seen by the eye of faith alone, and are necessarily undemonstrable by scientific induction. Herein lies the fundamental error, an error which is fast driving the scientific world into the ranks of materialism ; for science holds that truth is only sacred in the sense that error should never be allowed to usurp its place, and that anything which man desires to know is a legitimate subject of scientific investigation. In this declaration science is undoubtedly right ; and it might well go a step farther, and declare that anything which it is important for man to know can sooner or later be scientifically demonstrated by the processes of inductive reasoning. In making this declaration I make no distinction between physical and spiritual laws. A psychic fact is just as much a fact as a granite mountain. If there is a God, it is important for man to know it ; and there are facts which will prove it. If there is a life beyond the grave, it is important for man to know it ; and there are facts which will demonstrate it beyond a peradventure. It is to the task of presenting a few of these facts that I address myself in succeeding chapters.
BEFORE proceeding with the line of argument which it is proposed to adopt in the discussion of the subjects under consideration, I deem it proper to say a few words regarding the methods of reasoning which have heretofore prevailed, with the view of pointing out a few of the salient defects in the arguments commonly employed, as viewed from a purely scientific and logical standpoint. This will not be done in any spirit of censure or fault-finding ; for I cannot be unaware of the difficulties which have heretofore environed the whole subject-matter, and of the practical impossibility of formulating a conclusive argument in the absence of those facts which have come to light only within the last quarter of a century. No one can justly be blamed for failure to reason inductively in the absence of facts pertaining to the subject-matter of his speculation ; and no man can be justly censured, except from an ultra-scientific standard of reasoning, for accepting, without too critical an examination, such arguments as were available in support of a doctrine which has given to mankind so much of comfort and consolation as the belief in a future life has afforded to a great majority of the human race. For, much as we may deprecate many of the dogmas of the Church, much as we may deride the crude speculations of men regarding the future destiny of the soul and its rewards and punishments, the fact remains that they have all served their purpose in their day and generation ; and it is difficult now to see how the world could have gotten along without them. Their terrors have been a potent means of restraint from wrong-doing among men whom nothing else could restrain ; and their promises have filled the human heart with consolation in this life, and placed the iris above the door of the sepulchre. Each dogma, each system of religious belief, has been a step in the evolution of the human mind towards a knowledge of the attributes, the powers, and the destiny of man.
In looking backward, therefore, over the tortuous and difficult pathway which the human mind has been compelled to tread in its search for evidences of the reality of that most important of all the objects of human aspiration, immortal life, it would ill become us to despise, or affect to despise, any one of the gradients by which mankind has been gradually lifted into a purer intellectual atmosphere, and enabled to enjoy a clearer perception of truth. In this spirit it is proposed briefly to examine the arguments which have heretofore been advanced in support of the doctrine of a future life, and to test their validity by the simple but infallible rules of logic which every intelligent reader understands and appreciates. If the old arguments are found invalid or inconclusive from a scientific standpoint, it will then be in order to inquire what science has to offer in their place.
In order that I may not be accused of misstating the fundamental grounds upon which mankind has built its hopes of a life beyond the grave, I quote the following passage from Alger's admirable work, in which is summarized the "suggesting grounds on which the popular belief rests " :
" When, after sufficient investigation, we ask ourselves from what causes the almost universal expectation of another life springs, and by what influences it is nourished, we shall not find adequate answer in less than four words : feeling, imagination, faith, and reflection. The doctrine of a future life for man has been created by the combined force of instinctive desire, analogical observation, prescriptive authority, and philosophical speculation. These are the four pillars on which the soul builds the temple of its hopes ; or the four glasses through which it looks to see its eternal heritage."
These being the " four pillars " on which the temple is built, it is obvious that if either one of them is found to rest upon an insecure foundation, the whole structure must be in danger ; and if all are found to have been built upon logical quicksands, the superstructure must inevitably fall. Dropping the architectural simile, it must be said of the four grounds of belief that some of them embrace valid arguments, but none of them are conclusive. The first in the order named — " instinctive desire " — also stands at the head in point of validity. Its discussion, however, will be reserved for the last of the series, for reasons which will be obvious when it is reached.
The question of "analogical observation " will first receive our attention, although a large part of that which comes naturally under the head of "philosophical speculation" must also be included under this head. I cannot sum up the leading analogical arguments in favor of an immortal life in better language than by quoting again from the same author: —
" Man, holding his conscious being precious beyond all things, and shrinking with pervasive anxieties from the moment of destined dissolution, looks around through the realms of nature, with thoughtful eye, in search of parallel phenomena further developed, significant sequels in other creatures' fates, whose evolution and fulfillment may haply throw light on his own. With eager vision and heart-prompted imagination he scrutinizes whatever appears related to his object. Seeing the snake cast its old slough and glide forth renewed, he conceives so in death man but sheds his fleshy exuviae, while the spirit emerges, regenerate. He beholds the beetle break from its filthy sepulchre, and commence its summer work; and straightway he hangs a golden scarabaeus in his temples as an emblem of a future life. After vegetation's wintry deaths, hailing the returning spring that brings resurrection and life to the graves of the sod, he dreams of some far-off spring of humanity, yet to come, when the frosts of man's untoward doom shall relent, and all the costly seeds sown through ages in the great earth-tomb shall shoot up in celestial shapes. On the moaning seashore, weeping some dear friend, he perceives, now ascending in the dawn, the planet which he lately saw declining in the dusk ; and he is cheered by the thought that
' As sinks the day-star in the ocean-bed, And yet anon repairs his drooping head. And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore Flames in the forehead of the morning sky, So Lycidas, sunk low, shall mount on high.'
"Some traveller or poet tells him fabulous tales of a bird which, grown aged, fills his nest with spices, and, spontaneously burning, soars from the aromatic fire, rejuvenescent for a thousand years ; and he cannot but take the phoenix for a miraculous type of his own soul springing, free and eternal, from the ashes of his corpse. Having watched the silkworm, as it wove its cocoon and lay down in its oblong grave apparently dead, until at length it struggles forth, glittering with rainbow colors, a winged moth, endowed with new faculties and living a new life in a new sphere, he conceives that so the human soul may, in the fullness of time, disentangle itself from the imprisoning meshes of this world of larvae, a thing of spirit beauty, to sail through heavenly airs ; and henceforth he engraves a butterfly on the tombstone in vivid prophecy of immortality. Thus a moralizing observation of natural similitudes teaches man to hope for an existence beyond death."
From time immemorial the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly has been used as a standard, illustration of the thought that the soul will survive the decay and dissolution of its earthly investiture. Thus, the late Bishop Butler, whose work is still a standard reference book in many of our leading universities, begins his argument by reference to the metamorphosis of " worms into flies," the hatching of birds from the egg, and even the birth of men from the womb, as so many evidences of a future life; because, he says, " that we are to exist hereafter "... is " according to a natural order or appointment of the very same kind with that we have already experienced."
Without stopping to show the invalidity of this specific argument (for it has often been refuted), I will proceed with what I have to say regarding the general defects in the system of analogical argumentation when reasoning from purely physical phenomena up to conclusions relating to spiritual laws.
I approach the subject with much diffidence for the reason that this form of reasoning has been resorted to by so many able men that it seems almost iconoclastic to say that it is one of the most unsatisfactory, not to say dangerous, forms of reasoning that can be imagined. Indeed, it is absolutely devoid of the first essential element of correct logical induction.
Analogical reasoning belongs to the realm of poetry and rhetoric, — not to that of logic, nor to that of science, except within certain clearly defined limitations. " Poetic license " confers the right to employ almost any figure of speech or comparison, however fanciful ; and the same may be said of the productions of the rhetorician. But when we are dealing with scientific questions on a purely logical basis, the field in which analogical reasoning may be properly employed has very decided limitations. It may be proper to employ it when dealing with matters which are known to be governed by the same, or substantially the same, laws ; but never when instituting comparisons, either between subjects which are known not to be governed by the same laws, or between subjects which are not known to be governed by the same laws. It seems like arguing a self-evident proposition, to enlarge upon the foregoing ; but the necessity for making my meaning clear is evident when we consider the fact that the world has, through countless ages, pinned its faith in a future spiritual life largely upon analogies drawn from the physical universe.
In all inductive reasoning there is one proposition that is, or may be, always assumed ; namely, the constancy of Nature, Thus, by the observation of a series of phenomena, say the rising and setting of the sun, we are enabled to predict with absolute confidence that it will, on any given day in the future, rise in the east and set in the west. Why? Because we have such confidence in the immutability of the laws of Nature that we assume that the order of the rising and setting of the sun will never be reversed. It is upon this assumption of the constancy of Nature, or rather upon the absolute verity of this assumption, that all advancement in the arts and sciences depends; for if it were not true, we could derive no certain information from our experience or from our observation of the phenomena of Nature. If gravity operated one day and on the next refrained from operating, the whole human race would be instantly put to confusion and lose faith in the integrity of the Creator. Inductive reasoning, therefore, could have no possible value as a means of interpreting the laws of Nature but for the fact that we know that Nature is ever constant.
Reasoning by analogy is one form or modification of induction. It, too, depends for its validity upon the truth of a proposition which is generally assumed to be true. Unlike induction proper, it reasons from the phenomena of one subject up to the general principles pertaining to another subject. It may, or it may not, be a valid form of reasoning ; for its validity depends upon the truth of the assumed proposition that the laws governing the subject-matter observed are identical with those of the subject-matter under investigation. It is obvious that this proposition must be tacitly assumed, for otherwise there could be no possible excuse for employing that form of reasoning. It is also obvious that if the proposition is true in any given case, the argument is valid ; and it is self-evident that if it is not known to be true, the argument is, ex necessitate, logically invalid; a fortiori, if the proposition is known to be untrue.
Thus, it would be perfectly legitimate for the scientific observer familiar with the natural history of the silkworm to infer the probable metamorphosis of any other larva into a winged insect ; because the laws pertaining to the one may legitimately be assumed to be substantially identical with those pertaining to the other. But the case presents a far different aspect when he assumes to reason from the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly up to an immortal life for man, for the obvious reasons, first, that the one is an insect and the other is a mammal, so that even the physical laws governing the one are not identical with those pertaining to the other ; and, second, that the one retains a physical organization through every change in the metamorphosis, whereas the other is wholly deprived of any bodily organization, so far as our powers of observation inform us, the moment the first change takes place.
Lord Bacon seems to have been fully alive to the intrinsic invalidity of conclusions relating to spiritual life which are drawn from physical phenomena, when he said, —
" Our inquiries about the nature of the soul must be bound over at last to religion, for otherwise they still lie open to many errors; for, since the substance of the soul was not deduced from the mass of heaven and earth, but immediately from God, how can the knowledge of the reasonable soul be derived from philosophy ?"
The italics are mine. It is quite certain that if he had lived in a later era he would not have hesitated to set forth, with his accustomed clearness, his utter condemnation of analogical reasoning when employed to demonstrate propositions relating to spiritual law by reference to physical facts. He would certainly have taught mankind the much needed lesson that there is a vast difference between illustration and proof, between poetic license and scientific demonstration.
It seems evident, therefore, that this old and standard argument for a future life must at least fail to be convincing for the very simple and purely logical reason that one of the premises necessary to its completeness is known to be untrue. It does not possess even the negative merit to which the most of Bishop Butler's analogies are limited ; namely, that " there is no presumption, from analogy, against the truth " of the proposition advanced. Moreover, "the presumption, from analogy," is decidedly against the continued existence of man after the death of the body, for the obvious reason that the insect dies after the metamorphosis has been completed. Indeed, most of] the analogies drawn from our daily observation of the laws of the physical universe lead inevitably to the conclusion that " if a man dies," he does not " live again." For it is a fact within the experience of the most superficial observer that Nature constantly follows the one routine, — birth, growth, maturity, decay, death. Nor does it relieve us of the difficulty to say, as has often been said, that the seed which falls from the tree to the ground contains the same life principle which it derived from the parent stem ; that the seed, as a result of its own decay and physical disintegration, springs into renewed life, and another tree is produced, still retaining the same life-principle. Such an analogy can at best be employed to prove only the self-evident truth that a man, in a certain sense, lives in his own posterity. Moreover, the argument is equally as good for pre-existence as it is for future existence. It does not touch the question of the continuance of the individual life after the death of the body ; or, if it does, it legitimately leads to the old pagan doctrine of emanation and absorption, which in one form is embodied in the vast system of Buddhism, and in another in that of Averroism. This system supposes that, at the death of an individual, his soul returns to or is absorbed into the universal mind from whom it had originally emanated. Averroes taught the Saracens that the transition of the individual to the universal is instantaneous at death ; but the Buddhists maintain that human personality continues in a declining manner for a certain term before nonentity, or Nirvana, is attained.
" Philosophy among the Arabs, and indeed throughout the East, saw an analogy between the gathering of the material of which the body of man consists from the vast store of matter in Nature, and its final restoration to that store, and the emanation of the spirit of man from the universal Intellect, the Divinity, and its final reabsorption."
This is, perhaps, the most plausible analogical reasoning on that subject that has ever been promulgated ; but as it assumes the very thing logically necessary to be proved, namely, that man has a soul, and that the soul has a future existence, it must be held not to answer the requirements of logic or of modern science. The doctrine however, with various modifications, is still an essential part of the philosophy of a great proportion of the human race ; and Europe itself was only saved to Christianity by the timely establishment of the Inquisition, which carefully eliminated the advocates of the doctrine of emanation and absorption.
In closing my remarks on this branch of the subject, it cannot be too strongly insisted upon that no analogy sought to be instituted between the operations of physical nature and those of the spiritual realm can possess any possible logical validity unless it is first clearly shown that the laws of the two worlds are identical. And as it is manifestly impossible to know the laws which prevail in the unseen universe, it follows that reasoning from such analogies is not only unsatisfactory to the last degree, but, measured by logical and scientific standards, it is, to employ no harsher expression, positively nugatory. It is like trying to demonstrate a proposition in mathematics by citing a rule in grammar. Nor does it avoid the objection to express the analogy in the negative form, which was such a favorite of the late Bishop Butler ; for it is the logical equivalent of saying, "There is no presumption, from analogy, to be found in the rules of grammar against the possibility of squaring the circle. Therefore the circle can be squared."
The second in the order of treatment, of the common grounds of the belief in a future life, is prescriptive authority. Little need be said on that subject, for the reason that no one, in this enlightened age, claims that the dictum of any man has any legitimate weight as an argument in the absence of facts upon which to base his claims. " Such a doctrine," says Alger, " is the very hiding-place of the power of priestcraft, a vast engine of interest and sway which the shrewd insight of priesthoods has often devised, and the cunning policy of states subsidized. In most cases of this kind the asserted doctrine is placed on the basis of a divine revelation, and must be implicitly received. God proclaims it through his anointed ministers; therefore, to doubt it or logically criticise it is a crime. History bears witness to such a procedure wherever an organized priesthood has flourished, from primeval pagan India to modern papal Rome." No one, of course, holds that the prescriptive authority claimed by the priesthood possessed any scientific value, per se, as an argument in favor of a future life ; and it is mentioned here only because it is elsewhere set down as one of the grounds of belief in immortality. The basis of the authority of the priesthood is that of divine revelation, which is set down in books which all may read, and each for himself estimate its value as a basis of belief. In the mean time there are few who claim that the Bible records possess any scientific value as arguments in favor of anything therein set forth. There are more who hold modern science in contempt when it sets itself up as a critic of divine revelation ; and some go so far as to affect to disdain the principles of induction when they are sought to be applied to the elucidation of the problems of spiritual life. Such men forget that the sole value which any one claims for the records of the New Testament consists in the fact that it is an attempt to prove the doctrine of a future life by the forms of inductive reasoning. What is the New Testament but a record of facts from which the Christian Church proceeds to argue that immortal life for mankind is logically demonstrated? Take, for instance, the record of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Here is a fact, or a series of facts, from which the principle of immortality is deduced. Thus Paul pinned his whole faith in immortality on the fact that Christ was raised from the dead ; and he used the purest forms of induction to express the grounds of his belief.
"Now, if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
" But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen;
" And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." 1
Now, whilst this one fact was a reason all-sufficient to induce Paul to believe in the doctrine of a future life, it does not fulfil the requirements of modern science; not because of any defect in the form of reasoning, but because it is held, first, that the fact is not sufficiently authenticated ; and, second, that, even if it were perfectly verified, there are other alleged facts which render the conclusion invalid. Thus, it is held that the " twelve men of probity " who are summoned as witnesses of the fact, did not observe the phenomenon under the test conditions required by modern science for the verification of phenomena which are claimed to belong to the domain of the supernatural.
But, supposing the fact of the death and the subsequent resurrection of Jesus to have been verified beyond a scientific doubt, there is another alleged fact which must be considered in that connection. It is alleged that he was a God, equal in power and coexistent with the Father. If that be true, it does not follow, because he had the power to resume his physical investiture after having been crucified, dead, and buried, that a mere man possesses the same power of resurrection after the death of the physical body. In other words, the mere fact that Christ, a God, rose from the dead does not demonstrate the principle of immortality for mankind.
Again, supposing that Jesus was a mere man, invested only with the powers and attributes of common humanity, and hedged about by the same limitations ; and that God, as a special manifestation of Divine favor, or for some inscrutable purpose, wrought a miracle in behalf of Jesus and restored him to life, it does not follow that God will repeat the miracle in behalf of each individual for all time to come. If it was a miracle, it was clearly outside of the domain of natural law, and each repetition of it must also transcend the order of Nature. The only other alternative is to suppose that the miracle wrought at the resurrection repealed the old law of Nature and instituted a new one in its stead. We are nowhere taught that a miracle permanently changes the order of Nature. If it did, the miracle at Cana would have changed all the waters of the earth into wine; and the miracle of the loaves and fishes would have released man from that part of the primeval curse which has compelled him to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow.
It will thus be seen that prescriptive authority, even when sanctioned by the words of the only book which has been held by the Christian world to have had a divine origin, is not invested with a sufficient power of conviction to silence the objections of modern science. The sceptical world still demands the same proofs concerning the realities of spiritual life that it requires as the price of its assent to the propositions of material science. I hope, before I close my labors on this volume, measurably to satisfy the demands of intelligent scepticism ; but in the mean time I beg the reader to remember that in these preliminary observations I am attempting to give voice to a few of the objections of modern science against the qualitative character of the proofs of a future life afforded by the Bible. My individual estimate of the New Testament records as a proof of immortality will be given in its appropriate place.
The third ground of belief in a future life is the result of philosophical speculation. This is a topic of such vast magnitude that it could only be briefly summarized within the limits of a volume like this. It would be foreign to the purpose of this book to undertake such a task, and it could lead to no useful result if all the arguments embraced under this head could be given in full. They all begin and end with the confession of the utter impossibility of demonstrating a future life by scientific methods ; or if the author fails to make the acknowledgment, he forces the conviction upon his readers that such is the fact. Thus Alger, in his masterly epitome of the thought of mankind on the destiny of man, from which quotations have already been made, has this confession to make : " The majestic theme of our immortality allures yet baffles us. No fleshly implement of logic or cunning tact of brain can reach the solution. That secret lies in a tissueless realm, whereof no nerve can report beforehand. We must wait a little. Soon we shall grope and guess no more, but grasp and know."
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