148. Is it not regrettable that materialism should be' a consequence of studies which ought,
on the contrary, to show men the superiority of the intelligence that governs the world?
"It is not true that materialism is a consequence of those studies it is a result of the
imperfection which leads men to draw a false conclusion from their studies, for men may
make a bad use of the very best things. The idea of annihilation, moreover, troubles those
who profess to hold it more than they will allow to l)e seen; and those who are the loudest in
proclaiming their materialistic convictions are often more boastful than brave The greater
number of the so-called materialists are only such because they have no rational ground of
belief in a future life. Show a firm anchor of rational belief in a future state to those who see
only a yawning void before them, and they will grasp it with the eagerness of drowning men."
There are those who, through an aberration of the intellect. can see nothing in organised beings but the
action of matter. and attribute to this action alt the phenomena of existence. They have seen, in the
human body. only the action of an electrical machine they have studied the mechanism of life only in the
play of the bodily organ"'; they have Often seen life extinguished by the rupture of a filament, and they
have seen nothing but this filament. They have looked to see whether anything stilt remained, and as they
have found nothing but matter that has become inert, as they have neither seen the soul escape from the
body nor been able to take hold of it, they have concluded that everything is reducible to the properties of
matter, and that death is consequently the annihilation of all thought. A melancholy conclusion, if such
were really the case for, were it so, good and evil would be alike devoid of aim every man would be
justified In thinking only of himself, and in subordinating every other consideration to the satisfaction of
his material Instincts. Thus all social ties would be broken, and the holiest affections would be destroyed
for ever. Happily for mankind, these ideas are far from being general. Their area may even be said to be a
narrow one, limited to the scope of invidious opinions; for nowhere have they been erected Into a system
of doctrine. A state of society founded on such a basis would contain within itself the seeds of its own
dissolution; and its members would tear each other to pieces like so many ferocious beasts of prey.
Man has an intuitive belief that, for him, everything does not end with the life of his body; he has a
horror of annihilation. No matter how obstinately men may have set themselves against the idea of a
future life, there are very few who, on the approach of death. do not anxiously ask themselves what is going to become of them for the thought of bidding an eternal adieu to life is appalling
to the stoutest heart. Who, indeed could look with indifference on the prospect of an absolute and eternal
separation from all that he has loved? Who, without terror, could behold, yawning beneath him, the
bottomless abyss of nothingness in which all his faculties and aspirations are to be swallowed up for ever?
Who could calmly say to himself, "After my death there will be nothing for me but the void of
annihilation; all will be ended. A few days hence, all memory of me will have been blotted out from the
remembrance of those Who survive me, and the earth itself will retain no trace of my passage. Even the
good that I have done will be forgotten by the ungrateful mortals whom I have benefited. And there is
nothing to compensate me for all this loss, no other prospect, beyond this ruin, than that of my body
devoured by worms !"
Is there not something horrible in such a picture, something that sends an icy chill through the heart?
Religion teaches us that such cannot be our destiny ; and reason confirms the teachings of religion. But
the vague, indefinite assurance of a future existence, Which is all that is given us either by religion or by
reason, cannot satisfy our natural desire for some positive proof in a matter of such paramount
importance for us and it is just the lack of such proof, In regard to a future life, that, In so many cases,
engenders doubt as to Its reality.
"Admitting that We have a soul," many very naturally ask, "what is our soul? Has It a form, an
appearance of any kind? is it a limited being, Or is it something undefined and impersonal? Some say that
it is 'a breath of God :' Others, that it is a spark' others, again, declare it to be 'part of the Great Whole,
the principle of life and of Intelligence.' But what do we learn from these statements? What is the good of
our possessing a soul, if our soul is to be merged In inimensity like a drop of water in the ocean? Is not the
loss of our individuality equivalent, so far as we are concerned, to annihilation? The soul is said to be
immaterial ; but that which is immaterial can have no defined proportions. and therefore can have no
reality for us. Religion also teaches that we shall be happy, or unhappy. according to the good or the evil
We have done ; but of what nature are the happiness or unhappiness thus promised us in another life? Is
that happiness a state of beatitude in the bosom of God, an external contemplation, with no other
employment than that of singing the praises of the Creator? And the flames of hell, are they a reality or a
figure of speech? The Church itself attributes to them a figurative meaning but of what nature are the
sufferings thus figuratively shadowed forth? And where Is the scene of those sufferings? In short, what
shall we be, what shall we do, what shall we see, in that other world which is said to await us all?"
No one, it is averred, has ever come back to give us an account of that world. But this statement is
erroneous: and the mission of Spiritism is precisely to enlighten us in regard to the future which awaits us
to enable us, within certain limits, to see and to touch it, not merely as a deduction of our reason, but
through the evidence of facts. Thanks to the communications made to us by the people of that other
world, the latter is no longer a mere presumption, a probability, which each one pictures to himself
according to his own fancy, which poets embellish with fictitious and allegorical images that serve only to
deceive us it is that other world itself, in its reality, which is now brought before us, for it is the beings of
the life beyond the grave who come to us, who describe to us the situations in which they find themselves,
who tell us what they are doing, who allow us to become. so to say, the spectators of the details of their
new order of life, and who thus show us the inevitable fate which Is reserved for each of us according to
our merits or our misdeeds.
Is there anything anti-religious in such a demonstration? Assuredly not since It furnishes unbelievers
with a ground of belief, and inspires lukewarm believers with renewed fervour and confidence.
Spiritism is thus seen to be the most powerful auxiliary of religion. And, if it be such, it must be
acknowledged to exist by the permission of God, for the purpose of giving new strength to our wavering
convictions, and thus of leading us back into the right road by the prospect of our future happiness.