Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Sermon - Spiritualism

The basis of all religion is the fear of the unknown; and all religions attempt to explain what the unknown is, and what occurs there. Here is the happy hunting ground of the wildest superstitions and the most outlandish rites. A large section of the spiritualist movement openly claims that their views are those of a new religion. For many people religion and spiritualism are part and parcel of their life, it is always easy to weave the supernatural element into anything that is done. This mystification is usually intensified if there are some material gains attached.

Since there is no scientific evidence of life after death so it's reasonable to assume that mediums cannot be contacting the dead. Spiritualists have evolved an elaborate theory to explain how this is possible but most followers are no more interested in this than the average church-goer is in theology. It's the simple, popular belief that it is possible to contact the dead that attracts them.

So what are those mediums doing? Some will be out-and-out frauds who are deceiving vulnerable and gullible people as a way of obtaining the money we must all obtain, one way or another, to survive under capitalism.  Some mediums take advantage of  feeding back to their victims information supplied using what are called cold reading techniques by them. Or more simply, they have engaged in  previous research. Some mediums may indeed be sincere in the same way that a Roman Catholic priest, who will know full well that he is only serving sour wine and dry biscuits to his parishioners in communion, will genuinely believe that he has somehow transformed them into the blood and flesh of Christ. In other words, psychics will know that they have fished for the answers or have caused the tapping noises but will mistakenly but genuinely believe that this was prompted by their "Spirit Guide" "from the other side".
Mediums will justify their activities as bringing solace to unhappy people (which they perhaps do). Some psychics will be suffering themselves from a mental disorder involving hallucinatory delusions who hear voices and see visions and who would otherwise have ended up in a psychiatric ward.

The history of spiritualism is one long record of fraud and swindling. Practically every prominent medium—whether paid or unpaid—has been proven a fraud, while not a single "miracle" has been produced when the conditions have been at all stringent. In other words, while fraud has been proven as rampant throughout the spiritualist movement, not a single claim of anything "supernatural" has ever been established. In practically every case the medium dictates the conditions of the séance. This is not "scientific method," it is just barefaced fraud. Where the investigators insist upon elaborate precautions, they get no positive results.

 The Society for Psychical Research (SPR) was a society set up by a group of Cambridge academics in 1882 to investigate life after death in a scientific manner. Their basic premise was that this existed and their work consisted in trying to distinguish fraudulent mediums from genuine ones.  The overall result was that there was no general agreement that any one was genuinely able to act as a channel between the living and the dead. It never occurred to them that this failure to find a genuine medium might be due to the fact that there is no life after death and that they were therefore never going to find what they were looking for.

Science is based upon knowledge and knowledge only. Observation, experiment, classification, generalisation, are its methods. Such errors as occur are the usual human ones of faulty observation, incomplete experiments, or too hasty conclusions. But these errors are corrected as further knowledge is acquired and applied to the various departments of science. No scientist places any definite limit upon the knowable. All the scientist asks is that any claim to the extension of the knowable must be based upon knowledge, not superstition. Scientists continue along the lines because it has  proved so fruitful in the past, this observation, experimentation, and classification of the facts of phenomena around us. Fresh properties have been discovered and new facts of structure have been demonstrated. But these are all properties and facts of MATTER.  Every step in the new knowledge has been made along rigid materialist lines, and along no other. To hold firmly to the scientific method— the only one that has brought us any results —may be "dogmatic" (though we deny that), but it is the only sensible position. Socialists merely ask for one scientific discovery that confirms occultism or spiritualism.

 This is not an anti-religious crusade, it is the campaign to see the world through our eyes rather than someone else's. Religion is a class issue. We must understand our world as it is, make our own generalisations about it, come to our own conclusions. Then we must put our ideas against existing ones, and make the world in our image. Socialist propaganda is our ideas; revolution is our struggle to make those ideas a reality. Ditch god, spiritualism, ouija boards and all that other crap and join us for a world made by us, for us. A movement, based upon the ideas of primitive man plus the puerile conjuring tricks of "mediums," cannot be of any "importance" to socialism—except as a stumbling block to be cleared out of the way.


ajohnstone said...

Modern resuscitation science will soon allow doctors to reanimate people up to 24 hours after their death.

ajohnstone said...

Under a phenomenon known as the ideomotor effect, muscles and movements can move the ouija without a person being aware of the action, leading many to believe they have witnessed some form of magic.

The mental processes that directly control a movement are not connected to the processes that decide what caused the movement. Because of this, if a person is under the belief that they have not moved their hand, they are less likely to make a connection to any small movements that they have made.