When the majority of those who have really studied the phenomena of the sensitives, starting with absolute skepticism, have come to a new form of the old belief; and when, of the remaining minority, the weight of respectable opinion goes so far as suspense of judgment, how does the argument look? Isn’t it at least one of those cases of new phenomena where it is well to be on guard against old mental habits, not to say prejudices?
Is it not now vastly more reasonable to believe in a future life than it was a century ago, or half a century, or quarter of a century? Is it not already more reasonable to believe in it than not to believe in it? Is it not already appreciably harder not to believe in it than it was a generation ago?
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So far as I can see, the dream life, from mine up to Mrs. Piper’s, vague as it is, is an argument for immortality based on evidence.
The sensitives are not among the world’s leading thinkers or moralists—are not more aristocratic founders for a new faith than were a certain carpenter’s son and certain fishermen; and only by implication do the sensitives suggest any moral truths, but they do offer more facts to the modern demand for facts.
Spiritism has a bad name, and it has been in company where it richly deserved one; but it has been coming into court lately with some very important-looking testimony from very distinguished witnesses; and some rather comprehensive minds consider its issues supreme—the principal issues now upon the horizon, between the gross, luxurious, unthinking, unaspiring, uncreating life of today, and everything that has, in happier ages, given us the heritage of the soul—the issues between increasing comforts and withering ideals—between water-power and Niagara.
The doubt of immortality is not over the innate reasonableness of it: the universe is immeasurably more reasonable with it than without it; but over its practicability after the body is gone. We, in our immeasurable wisdom, don’t see how it can work—we don’t see how a universe that we don’t begin to know, which already has given us genius and beauty and love, and which seems to like to give us all it can—birds, flowers, sunsets, stars, Vermont, the Himalayas, and the Grand Canyon; which, most of all, has given us the insatiable soul, can manage to give us immortality. Well! Perhaps we ought not to be grasping—ought to call all we know and have, enough, and be thankful—thankful above all, perhaps, that as far as we can see, the hope of immortality cannot be disappointed—that the worst answer to it must be oblivion. But on whatever grounds we despair of more (if we are weak enough to despair), surely the least reasonable ground is that we cannot see more: the mole might as well swear that there is no Orion.