Monday, January 1, 2007


Having opened the subject of Spiritualism, I want to add one important thing which does not clearly appear in the “Declaration of Principles”. I was reminded of this by the most recent posting in AS IN LIFE.

Spiritualists constantly reiterate that there is no such thing as a miracle, and that there is no such thing as “supernatural”. Everything is natural. Everything takes place within the “natural law” which governs all things in the universe.

This conforms with my own preconceptions. Just as “Nobody out there cares” in the sense of judging individuals and doling out personal rewards and punishments, it is also true that nobody out there is able to break the rules.

As I write this, I see that my “preconceptions” may be reactions to the Christian church teachings that God breaks the laws of nature with “miracles” -- that there is Someone out there who looks upon Creation from the outside and can reach in and use supernatural (i.e. law-breaking) means to help or harm His creatures, like a child playing with toy soldiers. To introduce such arbitrariness into the universe is disconcerting, to say the least. More importantly, there is no evidence of it. The standards of logical analysis are better met by assuming that everything is part of the natural order, and that there are simply some phenomena we can’t understand.

Which brings my thoughts back to the conundrum of whether the Source (“God”) is active or passive, and to what extent. Between the extreme of a God “out there” who molded the world and its creatures with her hands and can deal with them as a dog breeder deals with her kennel, to the other extreme of the Source as a great passive pool of power which can be drawn upon and put into action by the Will of individual entities, lie a number of fascinating possibilities for speculation.

Why haven’t I learned that there are no answers, and that speculation is futile? Because speculation is fun, like playing a game, even if we know that every question always leads to another question.

That question reminds me of another topic I want to write about: The futility of trying to prove free will. A great deal is made of man’s “freedom of choice”, and yet philosophically it has never been possible to prove that free will exists. On the other hand, philosophers have found it is easy to find arguments that free will does NOT exist. So why do we persist in talking about “free will” (the Spiritualists, for example, are always on about “freedom of choice” and “individual responsibility”)? I think it is because in our daily lives we FEEL that we are making choices. As long as we feel that we choose things for ourselves, and that our decisions make a difference, we will persist in acting as if we have free will, despite all apparent proofs to the contrary.


  1. There is more in heaven and earth than their philosophy, I'm sure. I've heard from many sources that the future is undecided. If you read about Chaos theory - James Gleick's Chaos is an excellent book combining theory with narrative---both scientific and human adventure---you see that determinism is impossible to prove too!

    A radio programme about the world's imminent doom---global warming, biological terrorism, nuclear war, resources running out, species extinction, asteroid collision---highlighted for me the importance of philosophy. If we take comfort in God being in charge, or everything being decided already, then perhaps we can "take it easy". But if we have responsibility for the future and everything is up for grabs, then anything can happen.

    There is much more to be said on these topics, Fleming, and thanks for bringing them up.

  2. To declare that we constantly return to these topics because 'speculation is fun' probably is the best reason I ever heard for philosophy and philosophical argument. After all, were there not schools in the Middle Ages who dealt with such weighty matters as how many angels could dance on a pinhead?

    As far as God is concerned, I maintain that it is impossible to limit the limitless, and as impossible to define the indefinable. In seeking to create God in our own image, we manage only to create 'intermediaries' and veils to conceal Infinity. For most of humanity, Infinity is a terrifying vista.