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Monday, December 1, 2014

Academic study about the mediumship of Chico Xavier


The journal Explore (1) has recently published an article by Alexandre Caroli Rocha, Denise Paraná, Elizabeth Schmitt Freire, Francisco Lotufo Neto and Alexander Moreira-Almeida containing an interesting study about the mediumship of Chico Xavier.

Entitled "Investigating the Fit and Accuracy of Alleged Mediumistic Writing: A Case Study of Chico Xavier’s Letters", the work performed an analysis of 13 psychographic letters and searched for the degree of information accuracy in each of them against the chance of "normal" access by the medium to that information. The article abstract reads:
We identified 99 items of verifiable information conveyed in these 13 letters; 98% of these items were rated as “Clear and Precise Fit” and no item was rated as “no Fit.” We concluded that normal explanations for accuracy of the information (i.e., fraud, chance, information leakage, and cold reading) were only remotely plausible. These results seem to provide empirical support for non-reductionist theories of consciousness.
The complete article can be reached here: http://www.explorejournal.com/article/S1550-8307(14)00108-6/abstract. The work was supported by FAPESP (see 2, process #2010/11047-0).

References

(1) http://www.explorejournal.com/article/S1550-8307(14)00108-6/abstract
(2) São Paulo Research Foundation: http://www.fapesp.br/en/

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Spirit Messages: Studies on Reincarnation (The Spiritit Magazine, February 1864)

The Spiritist Magazine, February 1864, Spiritist dissertations.
Spiritist Society of Paris, Medium: Mrs: A. C.

Limits of reincarnation

Reincarnation is necessary when matter dominates the spirit. But, from the moment the spirit has mastered matter and annulated its effects on moral, reincarnation has neither use nor reason to exist. In effect, the body serves the spirit in his progressive work, until he learns to manage the body, and project his will upon matter when the work is accomplished. Then another field of action is necessary for the spirit advancement toward the infinite way. Another circle of study is required, where gross matter of inferior spheres is unknown. Having purged and experimented all sensation on Earth or on similar worlds, the spirit is mature enough for a spiritual life and other studies. Having elevated himself above all bodily sensations, the spirit is free from all desires or necessities applicable to bodiliness: it is a spirit and lives only spiritual sensations that are infinitely more delightful than the most delicious bodily feelings.

Reincarnation and the aspirations of man

The soul's aspirations drive themselves to their realization which is accomplished during reincarnation, while the spirit is occupied with the material work. I explain. Let us take the spirit in the beginning of its human career. Foolish and unintelligent, he feels, however, the divine spark in himself, since he adores a material god in accordance to his bodiliness. In this being, still very close to animality, there is an almost unconscious instinctive aspiration toward a less inferior state. It starts by satisfying his material appetites and by envying those in a better situation. Then, in a following life, the spirit chooses by himself or is better pushed toward an improved body and always wishes, after every existence, a material improvement. Never feeling fully satisfied, the spirit wants to go up always, because the ambition for happiness is the great drive of progress.

As his bodily sensations increase in intensity and become more refined, his spiritual sentiments also awake and grow. Then, the moral work starts and the soul's urge for improvement follows the bodily aspirations to reach a superior state.

This state of equilibrium between body and spirit desires does not last very much, since the spirit will very soon elevate himself above matter and his wishes can no longer be satisfied. The spirit needs more, longs for something better; but then, having the body reached its sensitive perfection, it no longer can follow the spirit, which now dominates the body from which it increasingly detaches, as if dropping a useless instrument. The spirit then drives all its aspirations and longs for a superior state, he feels that material aspirations - a former source of happiness and amusement - are now a cause of annoyance and decadence, a sad demand from which the spirit hopes to set himsel free in order to enjoy, unimpeded, all spiritual luckiness he can now presages.

Action of fluids during reincarnation

Once the fluids are the agents of movement in their corporeal instrument, they are also the elements of our aspirations, since there are bodily and spiritual fluids and all must raise and join fluids of the same nature. These fluids compose the spiritual body of the spirit which, in the incarnated state, uses them to act upon the human machinery that the spirit is called to improve, since everything is a work of Creation and compete to general advancement.

The spirit has free-will and looks for what pleases and satisfies him. If he is a material and inferior spirit, he tries to satisfy himself in materiality when he boosts the material fluids which will dominate him, but make the spirit grow and improve materially. So, the desires of this incarnate will be material and, after returning to the spirit state, he will look for another incarnation in which he will satisfy his needs and material desires, since, note, the bodily aspiration cannot lead, as a realization, to anything different of a new materiality. But spiritual aspirations instead will only bind to the sensations of the spirit. This will be requested by the fluids that the spirit allow to materialize, and since in the act of reincarnation the fluids act to attract the spirit to the body that is formed, occurring then fluid attraction and fusion, the reincarnation takes place in accordance to conditions that satisfy the aspirations of the spirit's former existence.

However, when the spiritual has conquered the material, the spirit, which judges everything differently, will choose or is attracted to distinct sympathies. Since it needs depuration, which is only reached through work, the selected incarnations are progressively more grievous than the former ones, since, after the state of matter and fluid dominance, the spirit will fight to master the material. Therefore we see these painful existences that seem to be unfairly administered to such good and intelligent spirits. They are on the last corporeal phase and will enter, after leaving this world, the superior spheres where the high aspirations will finally be fulfilled.


Earthly affections and reincarnation

The dogma of indefinite reincarnations finds opposition in the incarnated and loving heart because, in the presence of infinite existences, each one producing bounds, he wonders with scare what would become the particular affections; if they would not melt in a single general love, destroying the persistence of individual relations. He wonders if these individual affections are only a way of advancement, and then despondency takes hold of his soul, because true affection expects the need of an eternal love, feeling that it would never tires of loving. The thought of those millions identical affections seem to him impossible, even admitting love to be the greatest of all faculties. 

The incarnated being who seriously studies Spiritism with no preconceived ideas on regard to a given system, will be attracted to a new existence by the justice that comes from spirit progress at each new life. However, when he studies from the point of view of his heart affections, he doubts and get astonished. Since he cannot cope with both feelings, he declares the presence of a veil on these matters, and his working thoughts calls the spirit's light to his help. 

I have already said that reincarnation ceases when materiality is abrogated. I showed how material progress in principle refines the bodily sensations of the incarnated spirit; whose spiritual progress, in the sequence, counterbalances the influence of matter and then subjects it to its will and that, by reaching the spirit degree, bodiliness has no reason to exist after the work has been accomplished. 

Let us now examine the issue of affections from the material and spiritual points of view.

To begin with, what is affection, love? Still fluidic attraction uniting two beings in the same sentiment. This attractiveness has two distinct natures, since the fluids have different natures. But, for affection to endure eternally it must be spiritual and uninterested; abnegation and devotion are necessary, no personal sentiment must be involved in such an appealing drift. Provided there is personality involved in the sentiment, there will be materiality. Now, no material affection persists in the spirit domain. So, any affection resulting from animal instinct and selfishness will be destroyed with earthly death. So, how many beings who proclaim themselves to be loved are forgotten in a short time after separation! You have loved them by yourself not by them who no longer live, since you have substituted and forgotten them. You have looked for consolation in oblivion, you are indifferent to them, you no longer love them. 

Contemplate Humankind and see how scarce are the true affection on Earth! So, one should not wonder the multiplicity of acquired affections. The true affections are a relative minority, but they exist and the real ones will persist and perpetuate under several forms; first on Earth, then in the spirit state, as a friendship or an unchangeable love that continuously grows and elevates itself even more. 

Let us now study the true affection, the spiritual love.

The spiritual affection is based on fluidic spiritual affinity and, acting alone, gives rise to sympathy. When this happens, the soul loves the soul, and this affection is only increased under the manifestation of soul's sentiments. Two spirits spiritually bounded seek one another and tend to approach one another. Their fluids are attractive. If they inhabit the same globe, they will be urged to each other. If they are separated by earthly death, their thoughts will be united in memory and meetings will be held during sleep. When the time of reincarnation arrives to one, the other will try to approach his friend, entering what can be called material affiliation. This will be even easier, the more affine is the perispiritual connection in the material body of the incarnate who give birth to the new being. So, a new addition of affection, a new manifestation of love. The spirit friend who has loved you as your dad will loves you as a son, a brother as again a brother and the bounds will grow at every new life and will be perpetuated in a unchangeable way until when, after the work is fulfilled, you live the life of spirit. 

But such true affections are rare on Earth and matter tends to slow them down, to cancel their effects as matter dominates the spirit. Since true friendship and true love are spiritual, everything concerning matter does not belong to its nature and nothing will contribute to spiritual identification. Affinity persists in a latent state until the spiritual fluid dominates and a new progress of affinities occurs. 

In summary, the spiritual affection is the only one enduring in the spirit domain. On Earth and on other spheres of corporeal work, it contributes to the moral advancement of the incarnate spirit who, under the influence of affinity, will work miracles of abnegation and devotion for his loved ones. Here, in the heavenly spheres, affection is the full satisfaction of all aspirations and the greatest happiness a spirit can enjoy. 

Progress blocked by indefinite reincarnations. 

Here reincarnation has been regarded too much prolonged. One has not considered that such duration of corporeity, even if less material, would lead however to necessities obstructing spirit advancement. In effect, admitting the persistence of new generations in the superior worlds, corporeal needs are associated to the incarnate spirit; material occupations and duties are given to the spirit, tasks that secure and detain the impulse for spirit studies. Why such handicaps are necessary? Can the spirit enjoy the happiness of love without body diseases ? Even on Earth, this sentiment exists by itself, quite independently of the material part of our being. No matter how rare they are, there are sufficient examples to show that it should be felt even more frequently among the most spiritualized beings. Reincarnation determines the union of two bodies. Pure love only determines the union of two souls. Spirits are bound through affections started on inferior worlds and they work together to their spiritual progress. They have a fluid organization that is totally distinct of those resulted of their corporeal instruments, their works are exerted on fluids and not on material objects. The spirits go to the sphere that have completed the material period, dematerialized places that have underwent a superior transformation, placing them in conditions to undergo new modifications, but in an entirely fluidic sense. 

Now you can understand the immense power of fluids, a power that you can only determine but cannot see or touch. In a less dense state than you are now, you will be capable of seeing, touching and working on this fluid which is the great agent of universal life. 

Why is then necessary for the spirit to enter a body for doing a job that is not the scope of bodily understanding? You would say that this body is in accordance to the new works the spirit must fulfill, but, admitting these works are entirely fluidic and spiritual in the superior spheres, why the difficulties of the bodily needs are necessary? Therefore, as I stated, reincarnation will always requires generation and nourishment, that is, the need to satisfy matter but, on the other hand, imposes barriers to the spirit. 

You should understand that the spirit must be free in his fly toward infinity; that having the spirit just stopped wearing the nappings of matter, he wishes, as a child, to walk and run unimpeded, and that such early necessities of the first childhood education are redundant to the grown up child and unbearable to the adolescent. 

Do not wish then to remain in childhood. Look yourselves as students who are in the last phases of school and eager to enter the world, to have in it your status and to start to work on another level resulted from your earlier lessons. 

Spiritism is the lever that will allow a spiritual jump to every incarnate who, understanding and practicing it well, will be able to dominate and annihilate matter, become its master. Every spirit of good will is capable of conquering the spirit state definitely after leaving this world. Faith and active will are only required. Spiritism provides plenty of both to those who want to understand its moral sense. 

The Medium's protecting Spirit. 

Observation: this communication has only the signature above, showing that, in order to dictate good things, no famous name is necessary.

We can note some similarity with Sen's communications and the first part of the message above which is surely more developed, but the fundamental idea about the need of reincarnation is the same. We cite both messages to show that the great principles of the Spiritist teachings are taught everywhere and that this is the way Spiritism will find its unity and strength. Such agreement is the best benchmark for truth. One should note that eccentric and systematic theories dictated by pseudo enlightened spirits are always circumscribed to an individual and limited circle, what constitutes the reason for their lack of preponderance. This is also the reason for not fearing them since they all have temporary existence, which fades away like a weak lamp in day light. 

As for the last communication, it would be dispensable to emphasize their range both in principle and in form. It can be summarized as follows:

Regarded from the point of view of progress, the Spirit's life has three main periods:

1. The material period: in which the influence of matter dominates the Spirit. This is the state of the brute and fleshly passions of men, of lustiness, whose aspirations are exclusively earthlike, bound to temporary goods or unruly to spiritual ideas. 

2. The period of balance, in which the influence of matter and spirit operates simultaneously; in which, while submitted to material needs, man feels and understands the spiritual state, when he works to emerge from the bodily state.

3. The spiritual state, in which, having completely dominated matter, the spirit no more needs an incarnation nor material work. His works are entirely spiritual instead. This is the state of the spirit in the higher worlds. 

The ease by which certain people accept the spiritist ideas, about which they seem to have an intuitive notion, shows that they are already in the second period; but between this phase and the other periods many degrees exist, that the spirit transposes rapidly as he approaches the spiritual phase. In this way, from a material world like Earth, he can inhabit a superior one like Jupiter, provided his moral and spiritual advancement is sufficient to exempt him from the intermediary stages. It depends therefore on man to leave Earth forever, as a world of tests and atonements, or to return to Earth in mission. 

Allan Kardec

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Spirit Message: Rebirth (by Urbain Grandier)


"Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep." (Luke, VIII, 52)


Humankind, to you I address these words! To you, who say lost, those who try to read you future! To you, annihilated by unbelief, frozen by skeptical selfishness, befogged by doubt! On you, poor daughter of Jairus, many exclaim: "No use calling, the girl is dead !!!"

But the Master gets in the house and moving closer says: "Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep!"

Humankind, near this deathbed, where passions bind you, the Master has deigned to approach and, followed by some of his dear ones, has extended to you his divine hands and said: "My child, get up and walk! Leave this lethargy, this apathy so common to those approaching death, get up and walk!"

Get up Humankind and leave this deathbed of agony, the cause of your sufferings! Leave selfshness that restricts and smothers your noble passions; leave your pride, the thirst of gold erasing the generous pulsation of your heart! Renounce hatred, the desire that binds you, get up! Shake the shroud that keeps you captive, ignorance and lack of faith!

Get up and awake with the mighty blow, the divine blow, and hey you are reborn, you are rewarmed, you are saved again. Now, is the material life far from you, because you are a soul, you are an intelligence that was brough back to life?

You are indeed so surprised with the aspirations you feel within, your amazed glance search for help and for a new pathway.

Here my daughter, here is the new path, the path of love, of hope and faith! Walk, the truth will be your guide, science will be your torch, compassion your support, perfection your goal!

Walk toward this light, the sunshine of a homeland, now reaching you. The light will lead you to this homeland where one lives by love, work and justice!

Walk, the spark of transformation has just fallen upon you, daughter of Jairus, poor humankind, and has made this obscure world a sun of truth, life and love!

Your day has come! In vain passions of despair fight to keep you captive, we extended our hands to you and neutrilized the effect, you can now shake the yoke!

This divine breath, this spark of life, this powerful hand extended to the Earth, you can now recognize my friends, it is Spiritism! This young, powerful and sound grafting coming out of the old trunk diverted; it is the sublime belief, such an enlightened and wise philosophy that will give devotion to the strong, help to the weak and happiness and piece to all!
Urbain Grandier (1, 2) 

August, 1874
References


(1) On the Spirit author: Urbain Grandier (1590-1634) was a French Catholic priest burned at the stake in the famous witchcraft case of the "Loudun Possessions". In fact he was a victim of the political turmoin in France at his time. His process was a fraud enacted  by Ursuline's nouns. More about Grandier can be read here. 240 years after his death, his spirit is back through Mrs. Krell as one of the authors in many Spiritualist articles about the future of Humankind and the new era of Spiritualism/Spiritism.

(2) Spirit communicaton by Mrs. W. Krell, "Rayonnements de la vie spirituelle". Original source and text in French:

Renaissance
Août 1874 « Cette fille n’est pas morte, elle n’est qu’endormie.» (St Luc).  
Humanité, c’est à toi que j’adresse ces paroles ! A toi, que disent perdue ceux qui essayent de lire dans ton avenir ! A toi, anéantie par l’incrédulité, glacée par le sceptique égoïsme, engourdie par le doute ! A toi, pauvre fille de Jaïre de laquelle chacun crie : « il n’est plus temps d’appeler, cette fille est morte !!! » 
Mais le maître entre dans la maison et s’approchant il dit : « non, cette fille n’est pas morte, elle n’est qu’endormie ! »  
Humanité, près de ce lit de mort où te retiennent les passions, le maître a daigné s’approcher, et suivi de quelques-uns des siens, il a étendu vers toi sa main divine en te disant : « ma fille, lève-toi et marche ! Sors de cette léthargie, de cette torpeur que tous prennent pour la mort, lève-toi et marche ! »  
Lève-toi, humanité, et laisse sur ce lit d’agonie les causes de ta souffrance ! Laisse l’égoïsme qui t’étreint et étouffe tes nobles aspirations ; laisse l’orgueil, la soif de l’or qui éteignent les palpitations généreuses de ton cœur ! Rejette la haine, l’envie qui te tiennent ; lève-toi ! Secoue le suaire qui te retient captive, c’est l’ignorance, c’est le manque de foi !  
Lève-toi, je t’ai éveillée par un souffle puissant, un souffle divin et te voilà vivifiée, te voilà réchauffée, te voilà sauvée. Loin de toi maintenant la seule vie matérielle, car c’est une âme, c’est une intelligence que je viens de rendre à la vie ?  
En effet, tu es surprise des aspirations que tu sens au-dedans de toi-même et ton regard, étonné, cherche un appui et un chemin.  
Voici ma fille, voici la voie nouvelle pour toi, la voie d’amour, d’espoir et de foi ! Marche, la vérité sera ton guide, la science ton flambeau, la charité ton soutien, la perfection ton but !  
Marche vers cette lumière, rayon du soleil de la patrie, qui arrive aujourd’hui jusqu’à toi, elle te reconduira vers cette même patrie où l’on vit d’amour, de travail et de justice !  
Marche, l’étincelle qui doit te transformer vient de tomber sur toi, ô fille de Jaïre, pauvre humanité, et faire de ce monde obscur un soleil de vérité, de vie et d’amour !  
Ton jour est venu ! C’est en vain que les passions luttent avec la rage du désespoir pour te retenir, en étendant la main vers toi j’ai neutralisé leur effet mortel et dès maintenant tu pourras secouer le joug !  
Ce souffle divin, cette étincelle de vie, cette main puissante étendue sur le monde terrestre, vous l’avez compris, ô mes amis, c’est le spiritisme ! C’est cette jeune greffe saine et vigoureuse, sortant du vieux tronc dévié, c’est cette croyance sublime, cette philosophie éclairée et sage qui donnera aux forts le dévouement, aux faibles l’appui, à tous, le bonheur et la paix !  
Urbain Grandier. 






Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Spiritist Magazine by Allan Kardec in English

As announced in the blog NWSpiritism, we can now read some historic editions of "La Revue Spirite" (originally published in French, 1) by Allan Kardec in English. The formal name of the work in English is "The Spiritist Magazine - Journal of Psychological Studies". This achievement is just the beginning of a monumental translation work still under preparation by IPEAK (Allan Kardec Institute of Research) and carried out by Luiz A. V. Cheim. IPEAK website is a bilingual page (in Portuguese and French) which we hope will bring more content in English in the future.

This is surely a relevant endeavor, since A. Kardec was one of the pioneers of the psychic research but he is widely unknown to English speaking people. There are several cases of hauntings and psychic communications analysed by Kardec as a first read through "The Spiritist Magazine" can reveal. 

The Magazine also was a key tool in the beginning of Spiritism, since it contains many introductory texts where Kardec developed basic principles of Spiritualism and their relationships. For example, Kardec was the first thinker to understand the relation between reincarnation and the processo of soul evolution, linking these concepts to Christian ethics as many articles in the Spiritist Magazine show. 

Reincarnation in psychic communications already in 1857.

An interesting example can be found on page 99 of the February 1858 edition (2). Entitled "Conversations from beyond the grave - Evocation of Ms. Clary D." the full text is reproduced below in blue and show the presence of reincarnation ideas in a Spiritist work already in 1857.
Note: Ms. Clary D... was an interesting girl, who died in 1850 at age 13, who has since then stood as the genie of the family, where she is frequently evoked and where she gives a large number of communications of the highest interest. The conversation we reproduce below occurred between us on January 12th, 1857 through her brother, who is a medium. 
1. Do you have precise memories of your corporeal existence?
The spirit sees the present, the past and some of the future, according to their perfection and their proximity to God.
 
2. The condition of perfection is relative only to the future, or it also
refers to the present and the past?

The spirit sees the future more clearly as they get closer to God. After death, the soul sees and embraces, at a glance, all past migrations, but can cannot see what God prepares. For that we need to be fully in God, there are many existences.
 
3. Do you know when your reincarnation will be?
In 10 or 100 years.
 
4. On Earth or another world?
On another.
 
5. The world where you will be, compared to Earth, will have better conditions, same as on Earth or inferior?
Much better than on Earth. One is happy over there.
 
6. Since you are here among us, are you in a particular place? Where?
I’m ethereal in appearance. I can say that my spirit itself extends much further. I see many things and I transport myself far from here with the speed of thought. My appearance is right by my brother’s side and guides his arm.
 
7. This ethereal body which dresses you up allows you to experience physical sensations, such as heat and cold?
When I remember much of my body I feel a sort of impression, as when a blanket is removed from you and, for some time, you still keep the sensation that you have it on.
 
8. You said you can move with the speed of thought. Isn’t the thought the soul itself, which detaches from its involucre?
Yes
 
9. When your thoughts move to a given region, how does the separation of the soul take place?
The appearance vanishes. The thought goes alone.
 
10. Is it therefore a faculty that stands out, the actual “being” stays put?
The form is not the being.
 
11. But how does this thought act? Is it not always through matter?
No.
 
12. When your thinking faculty stands out, don’t you act then by means of matter?
The shadow fades away and reproduces wherever the thought may guide it.
 
13. Considering that you were only 13 years old when your body died, how can you give us answers beyond the reach of a child of that age, about such abstract questions?
My soul is very old!
 
14. Among your previous existences can you mention one in which you had raised your knowledge most?
I was in the body of a man who I made a virtuoso. After his death I was in the body of a girl whose face stamped my own soul. God rewards me.
 
15. Could we be allowed to see you here as you are now?
You could.
 
16. How could that be? It depends on us, on you or on those closest to you?  
On you. 
17. Which conditions should we satisfy to obtain that?
You need to seclude for some time, with faith and fervor; you need to be in a small group; you need some isolation and a medium like Home.
Then, the following article is an essay by A. Kardec about the mediumship of Daniel D. Home.

References

1 - Original texts of the Spiritst Magazine in French can also be read at the French mirror  site of Ipeak. Just click on the French flag on top and go to the link "Revue Spirite" (left menu "Oevres d'Allan Kardec").

2 - Only two links to 1858 and 1859 editions are provided:





Wednesday, August 13, 2014

God and his causes II - Primary and secondary causes


“We can allow satellites, planets, suns, universe, nay whole systems of universe, to be governed by laws, but the smallest insect, we wish to be created at once by special act.” 
― Charles Darwin, Notebooks

Our study here addresses the debate between "Creationists" and "Evolutionists" on regard to the origin of species and life. We notice that the conflict between "Darwin and God" is sometimes devoid of fair argumentation. It is somewhat fabricated by both a religious fundamentalist view of the world and the way science has established itself in opposition to traditional views of this same world. Today, the last vestiges of dogmatic theology are billeted around controversies on the evolution of life. If the life forms that we know today were not the product of several direct interventions of a man's made God then,  he at least possibly gave birth to these forms at a single time in the beginning. 

So, we continue our study to get a fairer image of the question and of the idea of God as a "primary cause". Maybe such reasoning will also help to build a satisfactory solution to this question in the future, by showing possible points that could eliminate the conflict with the scientific authority.

Primary and secondary causes

1) Science depends heavily on "theories" (from Greek: θεωρία meaning "vision", "consideration") which is a way to generalize and systematize principles explaining certain phenomena in a causal way; 

2) The problem with old religious notions is mostly related to what is frequently understood as "explanation". According to such views, God created everything: water, the Earth, the animals and plants as, since time immemorial, some old texts are literally interpreted. Some state offhandedly that this is in fact a "theory" or scientific explanation that compete with scientificly accepted ones (see G. Witt);

3) However, science is most of the time in search for the so called "secondary causes" for the majority of Nature's phenomena. These are the phenomenological causes linked to the natural occurrences. To understand this idea, see Fig.1.
Fig. 1
Certain causes, 1 and 2, result in a phenomenon 1.  Such phenomenon is the cause of another, number 2. On the other hand, this last event is the cause of another two, 3 and 4. In this simple example, what is the "secondary cause" of phenomena 3 and 4? Although 3 and 4 cannot occur without the original causes 1 and 2, from a "sufficient" explanatory view, only phenomenon 2 (called cause 3) really matters.  Causes 1 and 2 (primary) are, therefore, not "necessary" to directly explain phenomena 3 and 4, although they are legitimate "causes leading to other causes". So, we can regard a good explanation for phenomena 3 and 4 a theory that postulates only phenomena 2 (cause 3) without  any reference to the primary causes 1 and 2. An improved theory however will probably find causes 1 and 2. There are dozens of examples - including very simple ones - in Nature that demonstrate the existence of such causal relationship among phenomena and their explanations.  

4) Examples of the dynamics between cause and effect according to Fig. 1 can be also found in many sciences, such as economy, biology and even pathology, a branch of medicine studying the nature of diseases;

5) A given theory is not more true because it is simpler than another one. In fact, there is no simpler explanation than admitting the idea of God creating everything - not in the sense of maximum explanation, but more efficiently, in the sense of explaining the maximum number of possible phenomena;

5) We can understand the idea of "efficiency" by the possibility of "falsification" of a theory. Let us take the very dogmatic idea that is imposed upon us: how is it possible to show that the notion of God, as creator of all things, is false? We mean with it that "how is it possible to show that this idea is false in the same way that we can show to be false, for example, to say that oil and water does mix? A very simple answers is: by making an experiment. An experiment allow us to observe not only that an effect results from a cause, but also the conditions for certain effects to occur, as resulting from certain (secondary) causes.

6) However, the idea of God as the creator of everything cannot be refuted because it is not a theory, but should be regarded as a principle that cannot be demonstrated because it is phenomenologically distinct of our way of grasping the world (1).  It is part of God's attributes, the notion of Divinity as presented in "The Spirit's book" (2), that he should be regarded as the primary cause of all things. Just as in Nature we see that phenomena are regulated by very specific laws (3), how is it possible to admit  that he, on mere whim (that seems to be a human condition imposed on God's idea by certain sacred texts), breaks his own laws and behave randomly? Such behaviour implies easy acceptance of the idea of God as a secondary cause, something that still needs to be demonstrated in face of the universal laws. We know that these laws exist and that they may be regarded as mechanisms of Gods actuation. In this way, there is no limitation to God,  but only lack of understanding about his way of acting in the world. 

7) Even if it were possible to admit and show that God acts in the world as a secondary cause sometimes (we know that the movement of the smallest particles in the Universe are governed by well determined laws showing no arbitrariness), it is much less defensible the idea that the creation of living beings could have happened at once by a direct act of the Creator. 

Fig. 2 Mythological view of the Universe: ancient people in the Middle East conceived the Earth as surrounded by the "lower waters" (because of the geographical location of those people). Above there was the firmament holding the Sun, Moon, stars and planets in place and around the Earth. Beyond the firmament, there were still waters (that caused rain to fall) and well above, the "Kingdom of God". This concept was compensated later by the idea of "hell", well below the Earth. 
8) From a historical perspective, we know that ancient people did not discriminate between primary and secondary causes. Therefore, old narratives of the Creation and their associated cosmology (Fig. 2) were modernly discarded, not as an "allegory of truth", but as the particular views of ancient people. Those who insist in literally interpreting old texts like the Bible are rarely aware of the ridicule they are exposed to since science will continue to describe Nature as something very different.

9) But, in the same way as it is illogical to dispense with the idea of secondary causes, we are also far from truth if we discard the primary ones. According to such a view, an effect is a succession of several causes. In this way, one cannot logically state that the idea of evolution of species or of any other that takes into account only secondary causes leads to the denial of God's idea as a primary cause. Rather, they are both correct, one is a consequence of the other, but, for the sake of explanation or rationalisation of natural events, the secondary causes are sufficient.  We see that it is possible to conceive good theories about natural events only admitting secondary causes. However, this does not mean that further secondary causes could not be found with the natural evolution of knowledge. This is what happens to the idea of God and his rule in Creation: we do not need God (as a secondary cause) to explain the evolution of species and, perhaps, the onset of life, but that do not mean he does not exist as a primary cause. 

Conclusions

From a logical perspective, there is no conflict between the idea of God (as a primary cause) and the evolution of species or any other mechanism that science will find out in order to increase our knowledge about living beings. The conflict is entirely originated in the peculiar way that certain dogmatic theologies see the world. By insisting in this vision, the gap between scientific knowledge and dogmatic religion will increase and become irreversible. The result is an increase in materialism and generalized belief in the "death of God".

Spiritism - according to the principles contained in "The Spirit's book" - endorses and openly supports all scientific theories which are viewed as knowledge about sufficient (secondary) causes, and that are needed for the correct explanation of natural phenomena, including all life forms. Additional forces will  be required, however, for improving our understanding about these things - mainly on regard to the origin of life. Science will reveal them at the right time and under the right methods.  

Notes and references

Original text in Portuguese: "Deus e suas Causas II - Causas primárias e secundárias", http://eradoespirito.blogspot.com.br/2012/05/deus-e-suas-causas-ii-causas-primarias.html

(1) It is interesting to read the answer to question #10 in the "Spirit's book" (2):
10. Can man understand the intimate nature of God?
"No, human beings lack the capability for such understanding."
Therefore, the integration of God's idea to purely rationalist explanations about the world is something still very far in the future.  

(2) A. Kardec (1857). "The Spirit's Book". See question #1. 



Friday, July 4, 2014

God ans His causes I

It took less than an hour to make the atoms, 
a few hundred million years to make the stars and planets, 
but five billion years to make man!” George Gamow, "The Creation of the Universe".

The present scientific image of creation - supported by modern cosmological theories and having as scope the material phenomena only - concedes that our Universe was created in a single instant in time, the so-called "Big Bang" (1) . 

The Big-Bang is associated to the origin of the material element. But matter is far from being the only ingredient that exists in the Universe - even from the academic of view. There are also "laws" and "principles" that help to organize matter and give the Universe its shape and structure. These principles regulate how matter interacts with itself and with other elements in order to produce everything we can see with our ordinary senses and mainly all that we can't see. Without the laws, the Universe would be a chaotic mess of matter with no resemblance to what we know today.

The Big-bang theory builds a description of the Universe past history. According to this report, the laws of physics just showed up or "were given" since the beginning, that is, they are not "derived" from the same postulated origin. Therefore, the idea of a "beginning" is troublesome: it would be far easier to explain the Universe if it had ever existed, since we would not need to justify the laws.  Therefore, many cosmologists defend a non-causal origin for the  Universe. The task would be even easier if something else could be done: some scientists look for a way to unify the laws of physics. If all laws could be unified, that is, if it would be possible to find a theory where all laws share the same common origin, than it would be clear how to explain the Universe origin. Therefore, the Big-Bang theory is actually incomplete since such unification was not found yet.

Clearly, the motivation for such grand unification is supported by other principle: that it is possible to reduce all phenomena to interactions among the constitutive and primitive elements regulated by the laws of physics. This idea is known as reducionism

As a consequence of such a view, the Big-Bang event plays exactly the same role of God in cosmology or of all other historically known religious "cosmogonies" (2). In Fig. 1, we represent the natural law as originated also in this first postulated cause. 
Fig. 1
The Big-Bang plays the role of God in modern cosmology. 

What really matters here is take the notion of the Big-Bang and compare it to the introduction of this text. We have already arrived to the following conclusion: the Big-Bang is a scientifically postulated cause to account for the origin of matter, and hopefully, of all natural laws. However, it perfectly admissible to hinder the Big-Bang idea in order to explain what we see around us:
All sciences (biology, chemistry and even physics) do not invoke the idea of the Big-Bang to exist, that is, research in these fields do not require the notion of a first cause to explain particular phenomena.
But, that does not mean that the Big-Bang did not happen indeed. Therefore, by the same reasoning, the fact that the idea of God is useless in science does not mean that God does not exist and contradicts a recurrent argument of atheism against the idea of God (God cannot be seen in Nature).

Can we detect the Big-Bang? The answer is "no", because we have no special sensory organs to capture the kind of evidence cosmologists have found to sustain the idea of the Big-Bang:
  1. Observations in spectroscopy show that galaxies uniformly scattered in the sky are also moving away from us with a speed proportional to their distances; 
  2. A residual radiation was found coming from all directions. This radiation is a thermic source associated to the beginning of the Universe.
Such simple facts are regarded as evidences of an expanding Universe (and only logically and theoretically linked to a first cause). The first fact indicates that, indeed, the Universe is still expanding while the second is interpreted (2) as a direct mark of the initial explosion. We add that, in order to ensure such facts, equipments are necessary (telescopes, spectrographs, sensible radiotelescopes etc) that are not easily available. Even when such resources were available, it took years of data accumulation in order to interpret them as evidences of the Big-Bang. Anyway, the Big-Bang theory was postulated before such facts have been discovered. 

Clearly, no theory supports God's idea not only because, as we could (naively) point out, material and direct evidences are lacking, but also because one believes that everything - including the laws - were created by matter alone. To circumvent this problem (towards a science that admits God's existence), we are faced with a somewhat more serious problem: there are several conceptions and ideas about God: 
Since there exists many ideas and conceptions about God and admitting that he is unique and existent, it is absolutely impossible that more than one of these ideas are correct at the same time. Therefore, the immense majority of notions (possibly all of them) that men created about God are wrong.
In particular, there is no way to prove that God is a person as some religious interpretations propose. After eliminating the influence of all religious notions, what is left? What would be the way our modern conceptions could follow, in accordance to the discoveries of science, in order to conceptualize the notion of God?

In other words, what would be the best starting point for science to realize the need of God?

Surely, science would have to admit the notion of God as a primary cause of all things. In what does this concept differs from the notion of the Big-Bang? In principle, the Big-Bang emerged from nothing, while God is an intelligent causal entity. And, for many religions, it is unacceptable the notion of an intelligent being deprived of all secondary aspects of a person.

However, it is easy to see that the notion of survival after death somehaw dismisses the need of a body for consciousness to manifest. So, since our very consciousness is not an attribute of matter, the idea of God, as a primary, non-personal and intelligent cause is strengthened.  On the other hand, does the very notion that consciousness does not spring from arrangements in matter create an embarrassing situation for reducionism and, therefore, to the idea of the Big-Bang as a sufficient cause for the entire Universe (including us)?  So we can speak about the cosmological consequences of survival by merely stating that consciousness does not depend on matter. There is something much bigger, transcendent and quite unobservable in the origin of the Universe, well beyond the simple birth of matter as heralded by evidences of an expanding visible Universe.


It is precisely this notion that is supported by Spiritism (3): that God manifests himself in the world through the essential attributes of intelligence and that He cannot be grasped as a secondary cause.  By simply examining the effects due to secondary causes, science will never be able to get direct "evidences" that God exists - mainly when our old notions about Him (bodiliness, tangibility, gender etc) come into play. Again, this however does not mean that He does not exist, but merely that the way he manifests himself is very far from old religious conceptions.

We will continue to explore this subject in a future post.

Original post in Portuguese: "Deus e suas causas" (I)

References and notes

(1) Ironically, this name was created by Fred Hoyle who did not accept the idea. With this word, he intended to give a pejorative meaning to the theory.
(2) According to a given theory.
(3) A. Kardec. Question #1, "The Spirit's Book".

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Call for Opinions and new spiritist blog (by Brian Foster)


Brian Forster has recently sent several contribution for the SKL directory. Now he became the founder of a new Spiritist Blog called Nwspiritism (http://nwspiritism.com/) and also send us another contribution "Call for Opinions: analyze the Communication of a High Order Spirit to Nosso Lar" which is freely available in the SKL repository (see below). The article brings a challenge for readers of the book Workers of the Life Eternal by Chico Xavier/André Luiz.



Reference: SKL#08Call for Opinions: analyze the Communication of a High Order Spirit to Nosso Lar

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Some considerations about the proper use of mediumship

We know that mediumship is a human faculty that allows us to get in contact with the Spirits (1). Mediumship is a neutral ability, that is, it is not attached to the "good" or the "evil" side or, putting in another way, it does not depend on the bad or good use we make of it. Moreover, it is not equally distributed among all people. Organic dispositions make it a gorgeous capacity of some people while , for the majority, it is almost imperceptible.

In the past, mediums were highly regarded and persecuted. It is possible to identify traces of mediumship in many past personalities of the human history. In the Old Testament, prophets were consulted and called "Seers" (see, for example, Isaiah 30:10, Samuel I, 9:18 and 19). In ancient Greece, the Oracle of Delphi listened to all kinds of problems of private and public life. Religious dogmatism, however, in several times, also persecuted mediums who were regarded bearers of unknown and diabolical powers. Even today, we find religious groups that do not accept mediums. Also, skeptical groups in modern times do not recognize the faculty legitimacy and regard mediums as ordinary deceivers.

In general, the public relations with such intermediaries were always commercial in character. For the majority of people, payment of mediumship or psychic service may seem natural. However, the truth they may bring is received freely from elsewhere. Commercial relations with mediums are as old as humankind and are among the main obstacles to the development of mediumship, for the simple reason that, again, the fruits mediums bring to men are not product of their own work. Moreover, mediums have no domain over their faculty.

Therefore, any medium can lose forever his/her abilities and this is the main reason for the onset of trickery and fraud in many mediums who were formerly capable of notable effects.

If you still resort to professional mediums to solve your inner problems, it is a good thing to insure yourself against certain practices and beliefs using some simple directions:
  1. Know the past history about the medium you are going to consult. It is perhaps the best "certificate of excellence" of that medium. Do not believe in careless opinions people may give you about a certain medium;
  2. Regarding payment, pay attention to the relation between what is being asked for and what is being offered in reward. Be suspicious of those who ask large amounts in exchange of information they claim to receive;
  3. One cannot force communication with the After Life. Frequently, attempts of this type may lead to information being forged in order to satisfy the client;
  4. Be suspicious of mediums who claim to receive resounding and disproportionally assertive information compared to the magnitude of your life facts. Surely, you are responsible for your life and should evaluate rationally if the disclosed information correspond, in fact, to what you would normally expect. It is not the case that great changes may not happen to you, however, for they to happen, great life adjustments require that you change first on your side;
  5. Be suspicious of mediums who claim to be in contact with far superior beings than us. Almost always, the medium is a person like us, with all kinds of problems and often commit more serious mistakes. Exchange with elevated spheres may happen indeed, however, never under suspect, continued and forced conditions. It does not make any sense to believe that entities living in a far superior world could, at the same time, be submitted to puerile request of those down on Earth; 
  6. Know what to ask. Think about your doubt or request first, if it simply is a problem that may be solved by resorting to other professionals (therapist, psychologist etc). Perhaps, they are in a much better position to help you than mediums of any kind;
  7. In general, many spontaneous revelations are preceded by subtle signals in life, incidents that may appear before and after the reading (dreams, coincidences, spontaneous messages received elsewhere etc). It is therefore necessary that you, who ask for help from the After Life, also have the sensibility and insight to realize the existence of these signals in your life by yourself.
Perhaps the loss of a closed relative may lead you to seek a medium. If this is the case, you should also know that you can also receive consolation by invoking him by yourself and asking the most High on behalf of him. Often this is the right attitude before looking for help from the After Life.

Above all, be sure that commerce with the highest spheres cannot be established on earthly grounds. The recipient should have merit in order to receive, which is equivalent to have special credit. Such credit cannot be purchased by any amount. On the other hand, we all have, to a greater or lesser extent, some degree of mediumship. In this way, you may receive the benefit, if you haven't received yet, by being naturally inclined to hear the message content from above. 

Note

(1) Medium - (Latin -  intermediary) - Person who serves as an intermediary between Spirits and men. ("The Book on Mediums", II Part, "On Spirit's manifestations", Chapter XXXII, Spiritist Vocabulary)




Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spiritist articles in German (Seele, Spiritistischen Gedanken by Adriana Sachs Vogel)


Für mich wird es eine erfreuliche Aufgabe sein, mit den Lesern mein Wissen teilen zu dürfen. Kommentare und Fragen sind herzlich willkommen, und werden mit Freude und Hingabe beantwortet, schließlich wird der Blog für die Leser gemacht, und ihre Teilnahme bereichert umso mehr den Inhalt. Wissenschaft, Philosophie und Religion... das ist Spiritismus! (1)
(Adriana Sachs Vogel- Seele, Spiritistischen Gedanken)
German speaking countries now have a new Spiritist blog in German. Adriana's blog: http://seelesg.wordpress.com/ [Seele - Spiritistischen Gedanken,  blog über Spiritualität "Soul - Spiritist thoughts, blog about spirituality"] - is a recently created web log with many interesting articles and texts in German language.

Some examples of articles are:
There are other articles about reincarnation. Also informative are the section of biographies, among others we find: Allan Kardec, Chico Xavier and Divaldo Franco.

We have a special collaboration with Seele in the form of two articles translated into German. The first was Kommerzialisierung der Medialität  and a second Die Ziele von der Lehre der Geister (Spiritismus) ("The aims of Spirit's teaching"), which is a translation of Os objetivos do Espiritismo  already published in Portuguese. We hope to provide English versions for all these articles and publish them here very soon.

Adriana's blog is not a personal account, but truly a repository of articles that bring Spiritist content and information in German language, which is somewhat difficult to find. It also has an interesting approach: to show Spiritism in its triple aspect, emphasizing the scientific and philosophical sides which are necessary to open access to the religious counterpart. After all, gone are the times of dogmatic principles of faith.

Probably, Adriana's page is one of the most complete sites about Spiritism addressing German speaking people.

Note

(1) "For me, it is a blessing duty to share knowledge with my blog readers. Comments and questions are welcome and will be answered with commitment and pleasure, because this blog was created to readers and their participation will further improve the content of all treated subjects. Science, philosophy and religion.. this is what Spiritism is all about!  "

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What is death? (Victor Hugo*)


Death is a continuation. My glance penetrates 
as deep as possible into this darkness where I can see, 
from an extent that seems so fearful if it were not sublime, 
the onset of the immense dawn of Eternity.

What makes a man free?

The soul. Who says free, says responsible as well.

Is he responsible for all in this life?

Definitely not, because there is anything more proved in this world than the possible and recurrent prosperity of bad men and the undeserved misfortune of the good ones during their passage on Earth.

How many righteous men had only anguish and miseries until their last day? How many criminals had lived until old age in a peaceful and serene enjoyment of all goods of this world, including consideration and respect of all! Is man then responsible after this life? Evidently so, since he is not responsible during the present one. Something in him must survive to submit itself to this responsibility: the soul.

The freedom of the soul explains its immortality. Death is not therefore the end of all. It is instead the end of a thing and the beginning of another one. In death, man ends and the soul begins. Take as example what to regard of the face of a loved one, of such strange anxiety made of hope and despair. Say all those who have crossed this mournful time, the last happiness, the first grief, let they confirm they feel there is somebody still there, that nothing is over yet?

One feels around this head the flipping of wings just expanded, a muddled and unheard trembling floating in the air and around this heart that no more beats. This open mouth seems to call what has just left and one even says it utters secret words to the Invisible World. 

I am a soul.

I feel very well that what I will give to this grave is not myself, my being. What constitutes my being will go beyond.

Earth, you are not my abyss.

Man is no less than a captive.

The prisoner painfully escalates the walls of his dungeon, he climbs every bump, he steps every void to reach the vent. There, he contemplates the far hills, breathes the free air and sees the light.

So is man.

The prisoner does not doubt he will find the brightness of the day, the freedom. How can man doubt he will find Eternity in the end? Why would he not possess a subtle, ethereal body, of which our own human body is nothing more than a coarse sketch?

The soul thirsts for the absolute and the absolute does not belong to this world. It is too heavy for the Earth. There are two laws, the law of globes and the law of Space. The law of globes is death. The limit requires destruction. The law of Space is Eternity. The Infinite allows continuation.

Between the two worlds, between the two laws, there is a bridge: transformation. The ambition of the living should therefore be to be a living in Space.

The luminous world is the Invisible one. The luminous world we cannot see. Our earthly eyes can only see the night. Woe to those who have open eyes only to this material world and do not face the world unknown!

Death is a change of cloth.

Soul: you were dressed in darkness, now you are going to dress the light. Man makes his last progress in the tomb.

In death, man becomes celestial. Death is the revenge of the soul. Life is the power the body has to keep the soul on Earth by exerting weight upon it. Death is the power the soul has to rapture the body from Earth by assimilation.

In the earthly life, the soul loses what it irradiates. In the extraterrestrial life, the body loses what it weights.

Death is a continuation. My glance penetrates as deep as possible into this darkness where I can see, from an extent that seems so fearful if it were not sublime, the onset of the immense dawn of Eternity.

The souls cross spheres, they become even more light, they get increasingly closer to God.

The point of union is the Infinite.

He who sleeps and awakes, also sees he is man.

The living that dies also awakes and sees he is a Spirit.


Note: this text is a translation by A. Xavier of a version in Portuguese entitled "O que é a morte" that was published in the book "O Espiritismo nas Ciências Contemporâneas - Textos selecionados dos terceiro e sétimo encontros nacionais da Liga de Pesquisadores do Espiritismo (LIHPE)" (Ed. CCDPE-ECM, 2012). In the article "Algumas anotações sobre o Advento do Espiritismo" (Some notes about the onset of Spiritism), p. 153-175,  Eduardo C. Monteiro attributes the authorship of this text to Victor Hugo. 


(*) I would like to thank Jérémie Philippe for finding the original reference: V. Hugo, "De la Vie et de la Mort", Extrait de Post-scriptum de ma vie, (1901). The text above contains excerpts of this original work by Hugo.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Principles of good government according to the Spirit World (by Brian Foster)


A new article has been added to the SKL repository: "On the Way to the Light - Principles of Good Government as Implied by the Spirit World" by Brian Foster which is an analysis of the idea of good governemt in the context of the book 'On the Way to the Light' by C. Xavier  (see reference below for book availability).

Abstract
The Spirit world is actively moving us to manage ourselves in a civilized manner. The book, On the Way to the Light, and other writings lay out the track for us to follow to improve the governments of whatever nations we reside. 
Spiritism has existed over one hundred and fifty years, since Allan Kardec published The Spirits Book. The book states, in the conclusion section, "The development of these ideas present three distinct periods. The first is that of curiosity, excited by the strangeness of the phenomena produced; the second, that of reasoning and philosophy; the third, that of applications and consequences" (Kardec, 2010, p. 531). It is time for application, time to apply the principles that a decent society must follow. These principles and why the Spirit world has guided us to them is the topic of this article.

Read the article here: SKL repository.

Se also: A short history of the world as told by a spirit (by Brian Foster).
Reference

Xavier, F. C. (2011), On the way to the light, Edicei of America, LLC. Available at Amazon here.