Since the first public demonstrations of the psychic phenomena that heralded the new religion of Spiritualism, both Spiritualists and non-Spiritualists have been interested in ways of proving those phenomena. There were scientists who absolutely refused to entertain the thought that mediumship and the resulting phenomena were valid but there were some who welcomed the opportunity to study it.
One of the earliest scientists to study psychic manifestations with impartiality was the eminent physicist Sir William Crookes. He designed experiments to thoroughly test several mediums including the famous medium Daniel Dunglas Home.
He used impartial witnesses and went about the experiments in his own home so that he could be sure of the conditions. After many experiments he concluded that Mr. Home was “…the most remarkable medium…” and he discovered that there was a force, which he called a “psychic force”, that was “in some unknown manner, connected with and working through the human organism.”
Many other scientists studied the phenomena as well including Sir Oliver Lodge who studied several popular mediums and was led to an absolute faith in the continuity of life. He pursued his research when his son Raymond was killed in World War I and wrote of his results in his book entitled Raymond.
Several early scientists went on to found or be members of some early research organizations that studied psychic phenomena. Dr. Hereward Carrington joined the English Society for Psychical Research working along side of both William Crookes and Oliver Lodge. He founded the American Psychical Institute and Laboratory in 1920 and spent 35 years in research.
The London Dialectical Society was formed in 1867, to “investigate the phenomena alleged to be Spiritual Manifestations and to report thereon.” They studied many types of phenomena but their reports on séances were very interesting. They held séances with members of the society but without “professional” mediums and were very careful to document all findings very scientifically. They determined that the phenomena that they experienced were coming from intelligent entities based on the questions asked during the séance and the method in which they were answered.
Both science and Spiritualism strive to understand nature and require demonstration and proof to obtain that understanding but in regard to psychic phenomena, they differ greatly in their methods and conclusions.
The scientist has a very specific model for scientific discovery which starts with a problem to be solved. He proposes a solution which is called a hypothesis. He then devises experiments that will hopefully prove his hypothesis. The results of these experiments will either prove or disprove his hypothesis. To be scientifically sound, the experiments must be able to be duplicated exactly and the same results obtained every time.
The Spiritualist on the other hand, understands that the demonstration of mediumship is, in and of itself, proof of the world of spirit and the continuity of life but that the exact same demonstration cannot be had each and every time. The scientist discounts any phenomena that cannot be reproduced in the exact same manner every time it is attempted.
Both the scientist and the Spiritualist attempt to demonstrate the truth but science directs itself mostly to the physical world and dismisses the spiritual world. But to the Spiritualist, there can be no separation of the two; the world unseen is just as real and is governed by the same laws as the physical world all around us.
Science continues to investigate what it calls “paranormal” phenomena but the Spiritualist understands that there in nothing “outside of the normal” in the manifestation of phenomena.
There will come a time when science expands its scope of investigation and the scientist will be able to prove to his satisfaction what the Spiritualist already knows: That the universe we live in is comprised of both a physical world and a spiritual world which connect with each other and are driven by a great spiritual force. That everything in nature operates along the natural laws which were created by this great force and that, even though the results may not be exactly the same every time, the demonstration of mediumship and its phenomena consistently prove that beautiful connection between the known and unknown worlds.
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