The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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The opposition from scientific community is one of the arguments in- cessantly used by the adversaries of Spiritism. Why haven’t they dealt with the phenomena of the “turning tables”? Had they seen anything seri- ous in them, they say, they would not be on guard against such extraor- dinary facts nor would they treat them with disdain, whereas now they are all against you. Aren’t the scientists the light of nations, and isn’t their duty to spread light? Why would you want to diminish that just when the occasion was so great for them to reveal a new force to the world?

It is a serious mistake to think that all scientists are against us, to begin with, since Spiritism propagates precisely within the educated class. The wise individuals are not exclusively in the official Science and offi- cial organizations. Can the issue be prejudged by the fact that Spiritism does not enjoy the status of citizenship with the official science? The circumspection of that official science with respect to new ideas is well known. If science had never been wrong then its opinion could weigh in. Unfortunately, experience shows the opposite.

Hasn’t science repealed as pure illusion a number of discoveries that have later distinguished the memories of their authors? Should we then say that the scholars are ignorant? Does it justify the trivial epithets used by some bad taste people to call them names? Certainly not! There isn’t any sensible person who wouldn’t make justice to the scientists, acknowl- edging though that they are not infallible and, for that very reason, their judgment is not the last resort. Their mistake is to resolve certain ques- tions a little lightheartedly, putting too much trust in their own lights, before the judgment of time, thus exposing them to the contradiction of experience.

Nobody is a good judge but on the subject of their expertise. Wanting to build a house should we look for a musician? If we were sick would we prefer to be treated by the architect? If we faced a lawsuit should we be advised by a dancer? Finally, if it is a question of theology should we seek the solution by a chemist or an astronomer? No. Each one will stick to one’s own profession. Traditional sciences cover the properties of matter that we can manipulate at will. The produced phenomena have material forces as their agents.

The phenomena produced in Spiritism have intelligences as their agents, intelligences that are independent, have free will, and in no way submit to our caprices. They therefore escape from our anatomic or labo- ratory methods, as well as from our calculations, hence they are not in the scope of science, per se. Thus, science was wrong by trying to experiment with the spirits like it does with an electric battery.

Science started from a single, restricted and preconceived idea, want- ing to forcibly associate to the new idea. It failed, as it should, since it used a nonexistent analogy from the beginning. Then, without investigating further, it concluded by the negative: weak judgment, daily repaired by time, as time has done to so many others, and those responsible will in turn be sentenced to the shame of having so hastily taken a false position against the infinite power of the Creator.

Thus, the scientific organizations should not, now and in the future, pronounce about the subject, considering that it is not more in their scope than it is the right of attesting God’s existence. It is then a mistake to take them by judges. However, who will be the judge? Do the spiritists boast about their rights of imposing their own ideas? No. The great judge, the sovereign judge is public opinion, and when that opinion is formed by the approval of the masses and the educated people, the official scientists will accept it as individuals, submitting to the force of the circumstances.

Let us allow a generation to pass and with that the obstinate prejudices of self-love. Then we will see what occurs to Spiritism in the same way to what has happened to so many others who fought against injustices. Today the believers are called crazy, tomorrow crazy will be those who do not believe, exactly like in the past those who believed that Earth turned were considered mad. But this believe did not preclude the Earth from turning.

Nevertheless, not all wise individuals thought in the same way. Some used the following train of thoughts:

There is no effect without a cause and the most vulgar effects may yield the greatest discoveries. Had Newton not paid any attention to the falling apple; had Galvani repelled the maid, calling her crazy and quix- otic, when she talked to him about the frogs dancing on the plate, maybe we might not have discovered the remarkable laws of gravitation or the fecund properties of the battery. The phenomenon designated by the bur- lesque name “dancing tables” is not more ridiculous than the dancing frogs, and may contain some secrets of nature that will revolutionize hu- manity, when we have their key.

They went further: since so many people are involved with those facts; since careful people have investigated them, there must be something. An illusion, madness, if you will, cannot have such a character of generality. It could seduce a circle, a group, but it could never take the world.

Here is in excerpt what a doctor in medicine used to tell me, then a non-believer, now a fervent expert:

“They say that the invisible beings communicate with us. Why not? Before the invention of the microscope did we suspect the existence of those thousands of microscopic animals that caused so much devastation to our economy? Where is the material impossibility of the existence of beings in space that escape our senses? Would we, by any means, have the ridiculous pretension of knowing everything, telling God that we have nothing else to learn from Him? If those invisible beings that surround us are intelligent, why wouldn’t they communicate with us? If they maintain a relationship with human beings it is because they must play a role in their destinies and events. Who knows they are not one of the powers of nature, one of those occult forces that we do not suspect? What new hori- zons are open to our thoughts! What a vast field of observation!

The discovery of the invisible world would be very different from that of the infinitely small. It would be more than a discovery: it would be a thorough revolution of ideas. How much light can shine from that! How many mysterious things would be explained! Those who believe in these things are ridiculed, but what does it demonstrate? Hasn’t the same happened to all discoveries? Wasn’t Christopher Columbus sent off, cov- ered in sadness and considered insensible? These ideas, he was told, are so strange that reason denies them. We would had laughed only half a century ago if we were told that we would communicate from one end to the other of the world in a few minutes; that we would travel across France in a few hours; that a ship would navigate against the winds driven by the steam of some boiling water; that the means of illumination and heating would come from water. If a man had proposed to illuminate the entire city of Paris with only one source of an invisible substance, he would have been taken to the hospital. Would it then be more prodigious if space were inhabited by intelligent beings that, after having lived on Earth, left their material envelope behind? Don’t we find in that fact the explanation to a number of beliefs that goes back to the remotest eras of antiquity? Isn’t that the confirmation of the existence of the soul, of its individuality after death? Isn’t that the proof of the very foundations of religion? However, religion only vaguely tells us what happens to the souls. Spiritism defines it. What can the materialists and atheist object to? It is worth investigat- ing these things further.”

Such were the reflections of a scientist but of an unpretentious sci- entist. These are also the thoughts of a large number of educated people, who have thought about it, who have seriously investigated it, without preconceived ideas, having had the modesty of not saying: I don’t under- stand it, thus it does not exist.

Their conviction came after observation and meditation. If these ideas were illusions, would it be possible that so many distinguished persons had embraced them? Would it be possible that they would have being victims of an illusion for such a long time? Hence, there is no material impossibility for the existence of beings who are invisible to us and that inhabit space. Such simple consideration should instigate more thoughts in some. Not long ago, who would have thought that a single drop of wa- ter could contain thousands of living creatures, of such a small size that defies imagination? Well then, the acknowledgement of such minuscule beings would be more difficult to be accepted by reason than those that we call spirits.

The adversaries of Spiritism ask why the spirits, who should be con- cerned about proselytizing, why wouldn’t they be more positively dedi- cated to the task of convincing certain persons whose opinion could have huge influence. They add that we accuse them for showing lack of faith, then responding, and rightly so, that faith cannot come in anticipation.

It is a mistake to think that faith is necessary; however, good faith is something else. There are skeptics that deny even the evidence and that even miracles would not convince them. There are even those who would be really upset if they were obliged to believe, since their self-love would suffer by confessing that they were wrong.

How do you respond to people that can only see illusion and charla- tanism everywhere? Say nothing. It is necessary to leave them alone, say- ing that they saw nothing, for however long they wish, and that we were unable to make them see anything. Side by side with these tough skeptics there are those who wish to see things their own way. Once they form an opinion, they want to submit everything to that belief, not recognizing that there are certain phenomena that are not submitted to their will.

They either know nothing or do not wish to bow before the necessary conditions. If the spirits do not seem as interested in convincing them through exceptions it is due to the fact that, at that point in time, there is little interest in convincing certain people, whose importance the spirits do not measure as these individuals measure themselves. It is really not very flattering, but we do not govern their opinion. The spirits have a way of assessing things that are not always in agreement with ours. They see, think and act based on other elements. While our life is constrained by matter, limited by the narrow circle in which we find ourselves, they see the whole picture. Time, that seems so lengthy to us, is an instant to them, and distance is only a step. Certain details that seem of extreme importance to us are nothing but childish things to them. On the other hand, they consider to be important certain things whose reach we hardly comprehend. In order to understand them it is necessary that we elevate our thoughts above our material and moral horizon so as to be positioned from their standpoint. It is not up to them to come down to ours. We are the ones who must elevate to them, achieving that by the study and observation. The spirits like the assiduous and conscientious observers to whom they multiply the sources of enlightenment.

It is not the doubt originated by ignorance that sends them away. It is the fatuity of the pretense observers who observe nothing, keeping them under pressure and wanting to maneuver with them as they do with puppets; it is the feelings of hostility and criticism that they bear in their minds, above all, or in their words, despite the protests against it. The spirits do nothing to these ones, showing little or no concern with respect to what they may think or do, for their time will come. That is why we say it is not faith that is needed, but good faith.

Well then, we question if our wise adversaries are always in such con- ditions. They want to control the phenomena but the spirits do not obey their orders. It is necessary to wait for their good will. It is not enough to say: show me a given fact and I will believe. It is necessary to persevere; allow the facts to be spontaneously produced, not willing to force or drive them. That very thing that you wish for is exactly what you will not ob- tain, but others will take place and maybe what you wanted will come when you expect the least.

The phenomena multiply to the eyes of the attentive and assiduous observer, reciprocally confirming one another, but the one who thinks that the only requirement is to move the lever to crank up the engine is completely wrong. What does the naturalist who wishes to study the habits of a given animal do? Does he command the animal to do this or that in order to have the opportunity to freely observe it, according to his conveniences? No. He knows perfectly well that the animal will not obey him. However, he watches the spontaneous manifestations of the animal’s instinct; he waits for them and observes as they happen.

The simple common sense shows, with more reason, that it is how it must be with the spirits, who are intelligences much more independent than that of the animals.

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