Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

A Talk With William Jennings Bryan, Evangelist

From September 10, 1911

A TALK WITH WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN, EVANGELIST

A TALK WITH WILLIAM JENNINGS BRYAN, EVANGELIST: The Famous Democrat Has Taken Up a New Line of Work Though He Says He Has Not Abandoned Politics Entirely — Vigorous Views on Religion. (PDF)

Today I think of William Jennings Bryan as the anti-evolution prosecuting attorney in the Scopes Trial. But that wouldn’t be for another 14 years. By 1911, he was already a three-time Presidential candidate, and former Congressman. In a couple years, he would become Secretary of State under Woodrow Wilson.

Here’s some of what he says about evolution in this article:

“I cannot accept it. The monkey may be an acceptable ancestor for some — I do not find him so. The doctrine of evolution explains but one-third of the problem, and that the lowest of the thirds — the physical. It does not explain the mind, it does not explain the soul. In his ‘Philosophy of Christianity,’ which I often quote, Fairbairn says, very soundly, that to explain man as an animal is insufficient; he must also be explained in history, and that Darwin never did. His theory is that apes are older by long aeons of time than man, yet apes are still but apes, while man is what he is. And Darwin never in the least explained the origin of life. It takes, in truth, a faith in scientists to follow Darwin or any other of the learned opponents of Christianity far greater than the faith in God required to follow the great teachers of the Bible. Science always stops or ceases to be reasonable when it comes to the creation. The first germ — it baffles all of them. There is but one answer — God created it. They never have found any theory to substitute for this And that germ was infinitely wonderful. I cannot see why God might not, as reasonably, have created man. It is that which makes me skeptical of the theory of evolution. In efforts to destroy Christianity, religion, the scientists can only form a partial theory. The Christian’s theory alone is really complete.

“And there is a repellant thought in Darwinism. It attributes man’s evolution to the law of hate — of the destruction of the weaker by the stronger. Logically, if this is the real history of our advancement, then the law of love applied will take us backward toward the beast. We all admit, in general terms, no matter what our practices may be, that only through the law of love can man find happiness, has man ever found it; it is true that nations are advancing now through love and not through hate, through peace and not through war. How, then, can hatred be the law of progress? The darwinian theory does not explain. It is an effort to escape the miracle.”

And so on. It all sounds very similar to creationist arguments today.

Leave a comment

Written by David

September 6th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Politics,Religion

Where Witches Flourish In This Twentieth Century

From September 10, 1911

WHERE WITCHES FLOURISH IN THIS TWENTIETH CENTURY

WHERE WITCHES FLOURISH IN THIS TWENTIETH CENTURY: New York Woman Haled to Court as a Magician in Allentown, Penn. — Big Modern Communities Where Spells and Incantations Are Used Daily for Every Ill That Flesh Is Heir To. (PDF)

Meta Immerman, a dressmaker from New York, moved to Allentown. Her neighbors the Kipps noticed she was a bit odd. She walked barefoot through grass. She owned an electric flashlight. She ate nuts and raw eggs. Clearly, she was a witch.

The Kipps called police, and Meta Immerman was arrested and spent 48 hours in jail.

And that is why I won’t eat nuts and raw eggs.

3 comments

Written by David

September 5th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Religion,True Crime

People Who Still Believe In Witchcraft

From July 30, 1911

PEOPLE WHO STILL BELIEVE IN WITCHCRAFT

PEOPLE WHO STILL BELIEVE IN WITCHCRAFT: Instances of a Superstition Recalling Bygone Days in Salem. (PDF)

Burning old women at the stake as witches is a pleasantry no longer indulged in, even in Salem, but belief in witchcraft is not altogether dead. Only a few months ago a woman in Jersey City had a neighbor haled to court on the charge of pretending to possess powers of evil and threatening to use them unless paid to desist. As the complainant had suffered a streak of bad luck, in spite of paying to ward it off, her belief in her friend, whom she called a witch, was cruelly shattered.

More recently a woman living near Butler, Penn., was accused of being a witch. Mrs. Laupaule Orber was the victim of this ancient superstition. She was charged by Mrs. Julia Kroner, a farmer’s wife, with having gone to the Kroner barn and “casting a spell” over a cow so as to prevent her giving milk. Mrs. Kroner openly made the charge of witchcraft in court, but the Judge refused to consider it other than one of disorderly conduct. On this ground Mrs. Orber was found guilty and fined $5.

Sadly, there are still parts of the world where accusations of witchcraft still hold legal weight. Saudi Arabia even has an Anti-Witchcraft Unit. (Am I the only one who thinks that would make a great CSI spinoff?)

One comment

Written by David

July 29th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Religion,True Crime

The Last Of The Shakers — A Community Awaiting Death

From July 23, 1911

THE LAST OF THE SHAKERS -- A COMMUNITY AWAITING DEATH

THE LAST OF THE SHAKERS — A COMMUNITY AWAITING DEATH: Only Twenty-two Left at Enfield Colony — No New Recruits, and Shakers Are Dying Off Fast — With Their Passing the Famous Sect Will Come to an End. (PDF)

Shakers were an 18th Century offshoot of the Quakers. Somehow I thought there were more of them, but it turns out they really are an endangered religion. According to a PBS story from the Religion and Ethics Newsweekly program, there was still one Shaker community in September, 2010, and it had three members.

One comment

Written by David

July 20th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Religion

Indians Have A Celebration Of Their Own July 4

From July 2, 1911

INDIANS HAVE A CELEBRATION OF THEIR OWN JULY 4

INDIANS HAVE A CELEBRATION OF THEIR OWN JULY 4: They Call It Give-Away Day Among the Dakotas and the Sioux Tribes, and They Give Presents to Those They Wish to Honor. (PDF)

At first I had some trouble finding information about Give-Away Day apart from this article. I did find general information about a Native American Give-Away tradition, including a blog post on the topic, and even a Christmas book called The Give-Away: A Christmas Story in the Native American Tradition. But as a July 4 tradition, I couldn’t find much. It sounded a little odd that Sioux and Dakota Indians just happened to celebrate the 4th of July. I suspected the article may have been mistaken.

Then I found a chapter from a textbook by the Montana Historical Society [pdf] which describes how agents of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs discouraged traditional ceremonies among the Native Americans. So instead, the Natives adopted their own versions of American holidays:

Even honest agents thought they were helping Indians by forcing them to abandon their traditional cultures and to adopt mainstream (majority) American culture. Agents pressured tribal members to change their social customs, dress in European-style clothing, live in rectangular houses, become Christian, send their children to school, and learn farming and ranching the Euro-American way.

Agents often outlawed Indian religious ceremonies like the Sun Dance. They discouraged give-away ceremonies, a traditional practice of honoring the Creator by giving away food, blankets, horses, and other forms of wealth. If people performed their traditional practices or religious rituals, they could lose their food rations or be arrested. They also were not allowed to leave their reservations without a pass…

Montana’s Indians knew they needed to learn new skills and find new ways to support themselves. But they refused to abandon their tribal identities and cultural traditions to survive.

They performed give-aways and held religious ceremonies in secret. They turned patriotic and religious holidays—like the Fourth of July and Easter—into celebrations of their own traditions.

In 1898 the tribes of the Flathead Reservation held their first Fourth of July pow-wow (an American Indian celebration). They staged parades, held contests, sang and drummed together, and danced traditional dances like the War Dance and the Snake Dance deep into the night. Indians on other reservations also held celebrations on July 4. The organizers assured the reservation agent that these gatherings were purely social, but they actually performed important religious and tribal ceremonies.

One comment

Written by David

June 30th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life,Religion

Church’s Alliance With Money Alienates The Masses

From June 18, 1911

CHURCH'S ALLIANCE WITH MONEY ALIENATES THE MASSES

CHURCH’S ALLIANCE WITH MONEY ALIENATES THE MASSES: Rev. John P. Peters, Rector of St. Michael’s Protestant Episcopal Church, Sounds a Warning Note Against the Power of Wealth in Religion. (PDF)

I don’t have time to write more comments on this article because I’m a brand new dad and need to focus on that for a bit. But please feel free to read the article and make your own comments.

2 comments

Written by David

June 14th, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Politics,Religion

Religious Forward Movement Will Girdle the World

From June 4, 1911

RELIGIOUS FORWARD MOVEMENT WILL GIRDLE THE WORLD

RELIGIOUS FORWARD MOVEMENT WILL GIRDLE THE WORLD: Comprehensive Plan to Vitalize the Moral and Religious Forces, Backed by Leading Men of the Country, Will Be Inaugurated Here This Wek. (PDF)

I don’t have time to write more comments on this article because I’m a brand new dad and need to focus on that for a bit. But please feel free to read the article and make your own comments.

One comment

Written by David

June 2nd, 2011 at 9:55 am

Posted in Religion

The Remarkable Confessions Of A Country Parson

From May 14, 1911

THE REMARKABLE CONFESSIONS OF A COUNTRY PARSON

THE REMARKABLE CONFESSIONS OF A COUNTRY PARSON: Actual Experiences of a Preacher Show Not Only the Hardships of Service, But the Lack of Business Principles in Some Small Congregations. (PDF)

Leave a comment

Written by David

May 13th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Life,Religion

Have Englishmen Found The Ark Of The Covenant?

From May 7, 1911

HAVE ENGLISHMEN FOUND THE ARK OF THE COVENANT?

HAVE ENGLISHMEN FOUND THE ARK OF THE COVENANT? A Mysterious Expedition, Apparently Not Composed of Archaeologists, Hunts Strange Treasure Under the Mosque of Omar, Sets the Moslems in a Ferment, and May Cause Diplomatic Incident. (PDF)

If I didn’t have a new baby coming this week, you can be sure that this post would include a witty paragraph or two about Indiana Jones, archaeology in general, and this Time magazine article.

2 comments

Written by David

May 2nd, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Adventure,Religion

The Strange Story Of A Society Clairvoyant

From February 12, 1911

THE STRANGE STORY OF A SOCIETY CLAIRVOYANT

THE STRANGE STORY OF A SOCIETY CLAIRVOYANT: One Who Teased Spirits Out of the Unknown to Edify Royalty Tells What His Clients Said and Did. (PDF)

I find so-called clairvoyants maddeningly frustrating, as they tend to pray on people in grief and frustration, giving them false hope in exchange for money. Often, lots of money. But the society folk who used the services of a clairvoyant named Frederick S. got burned in another way. In his tell-all book Recollections of a Society Clairvoyant Frederick reveals his experiences with royalty and others who came to him.

I shudder to think of all the contemporary celebrities who seek advice and consultation from psychics. What would happen if a modern clairvoyant wrote a tell-all? I don’t think there are any laws regarding clairvoyant-client confidentiality. Do people have an expectation of privacy in consulting with their psychic?

Leave a comment

Written by David

February 11th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Religion

The Human Aura Has At Last Been Photographed

From February 5, 1911

THE HUMAN AURA HAS AT LAST BEEN PHOTOGRAPHED

THE HUMAN AURA HAS AT LAST BEEN PHOTOGRAPHED: Dr. W. J. Kilner of London Succeeded in Catching on the Sensitized Plate the Halow or Atmosphere That Surrounds the Body. (PDF)

This article describes the apparent success of Dr. W. J. Kilner in photographing the human aura. Of course, there is no such thing as auras, which might explain why they didn’t actually publish any of his photographs, and opted instead to use illustrations explaining what exactly Kilner claims to have captured.

For centuries, people have claimed to be able to see auras. Kilner in fact clamed that he could see them with his naked eyes. But in simple tests, such people always fail.

In college, a friend of mine had a book about auras. It showed illustrations of different auras and explained what auras of certain colors mean about a person’s mood or personality. My favorite by far was the drawing of a person with a purple aura. The caption explained that it was the aura of a person wearing a purple shirt.

One comment

Written by David

February 4th, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Religion,Science

Important Jewish Manuscript Older Than Gospels

From January 1, 1911

IMPORTANT JEWISH MANUSCRIPT OLDER THAN THE GOSPELS

IMPORTANT JEWISH MANUSCRIPT OLDER THAN THE GOSPELS: Thought by Dr. Solomon Schechter to Tell of the Beliefs of a Band of Jews Who Broke Away from the Older Body About 290 B. C. — Dr. G. Margoliouth Dates It About 70 A. D. (PDF)

This Hebrew text was discovered in the genizah (storeroom) of an ancient synagogue in Cairo, but experts couldn’t agree on what it means:

In Hebrew learning Dr. Schechter has certainly no superior. With infinite patience and with that devotion that scholars know he sought the long-hidden manuscripts under the old synagogue at Cairo and deciphered and published them.

In this instance, however, the interpretation he puts on one document of his remarkable find is questioned by another great authority, Dr. G. Margoliouth of the British Museum, who suggests a meaning for the manuscript that is of startling interest.

The fragment just published by Dr. Schechter is called by him a Document of the Jewish Sectaries. He sees in it an extraordinarily interesting account of the beliefs of a band of Jews who broke away from the main religious body about 290 Bc. C., went to Damascus and founded a cult of their own, based closely on the Jewish Law, but with an additional belief in some sort of Messiah.

Dr. Margoliouth, on the other hand, finds an entirely different meaning. To him the document is of much later date, probably of the second half of the first century of the Christian era. To his min there are two Messiahs, not one, spoken of, the first a forerunner and the second a unique “Teacher of Righteousness” — the “Only Teacher.”

He identifies the first Messiah with John the Baptists and the “Teacher of Righteousness” with Jesus himself.

The University of Manchester has scanned 15,000 of the fragments found in the genizah, and you can browse them online. More information is also available through the Friedberg Genizah Project.

Leave a comment

Written by David

December 31st, 2010 at 10:15 am

Posted in Religion

James Lane Allen On “The Future Christmas”

From December 25, 1910

JAMES LANE ALLEN ON THE FUTURE CHRISTMAS

JAMES LANE ALLEN ON “THE FUTURE CHRISTMAS”: Author of “The Bride of the Mistletoe” Traces Festival to Remote Pagan Past and Pictures Its Development Through the Ages. (PDF)

Although the headline suggests the article is all about the future, in fact novelist James Lane Allen gives a detailed history of Christmas. He focuses on the symbols we associate with the holiday — the tree, Santa, etc — and explains their Pagan origins. He then speculates that in the future, Christmas will again be celebrated as a ritual worshiping nature. He doesn’t say exactly when this will happen, so there’s still time for his prediction to come true.

James Lane Allen wrote a story that uses on the Pagan roots of Christmas as a theme. It’s called The Bride of the Mistletoe and can be read free here at Project Gutenberg

Leave a comment

Written by David

December 24th, 2010 at 9:30 am

Sir Oliver Lodge Teaches The Soul’s Pre-Existence

From November 20, 1910

SIR OLIVER LODGE TEACHES THE SOULS PRE-EXISTENCE

SIR OLIVER LODGE TEACHES THE SOUL’S PRE-EXISTENCE: Famous Physicist Announces His Belief, Gained Through Scientific Research, in Immortality, the Gift of Prophecy, and Christ’s Incarnation. (PDF)

Why the Magazine has become infatuated with this debate in recent weeks is beyond me. It’s an interesting topic, but I’m surprised to see so many articles about it. It all started when Thomas Edison proclaimed there is no soul, and now they keep writing about some expert or other who is sure that there is or isn’t a soul. Add this one to the pile.

Sir Oliver Lodge was a scientist whose inventions aided in developing wireless technology. He was also a member of The Ghost Club, an organization in the UK that still exists and whose “prime interest is that of paranormal phenomena associated with ghosts and hauntings.” Other notable Ghost Club members include Charles Dickens, W. B. Yeats, and Peter Cushing. If you’d like to join, you can find a membership application on their website, but please note that the Ghost Club does not perform clearances or exorcisms, and the use of Ouija Boards is strictly prohibited.

Leave a comment

Written by David

November 19th, 2010 at 9:45 am

Posted in Debate,Religion,Science

The Birth Of The Halo

From November 6, 1910

THE BIRTH OF THE HALO

THE BIRTH OF THE HALO (PDF)

I always was under the impression that halos in paintings are meant to represent light, like rays emanating from a person’s head, giving a visual cue that the character depicted is holy, heavenly, or otherwise divine. But an unnamed but assuredly “well known” American painter puts forth a more interesting theory in this article.

“The first subjects to feel the Renaissance were architecture and sculpture, and this several generations before the days of Cimabue and Giotto, the earliest of painters. Of these subjects architecture came first, as is still evidenced in the magnificent ruins of cathedrals scattered over Europe. I say cathedrals, because everything was saturated with the religious spirit in those days, and the architect expressed his genius in his conceptions of the house of God.

“Later came the sculptor. He gave expression to his art in the images of the saints and other holy characters. The commonest form of expression was life-sized images of the saints, which were set in solemn row about the outside of the churches and cathedrals immediately under the eaves of the building.

“Now, the earliest sculptors soon saw that in a very short time the heads and faces of these figures were soiled and disfigured by action of the driving elements in time of storms; even the hot sun contributed its share in cracking the skulls and faces of the sacred images. Accordingly, to protect them they placed upon their heads a flat wooden disk that extended out far enough to act as umbrella or sunshade, as either was necessary.

“Now, it was several generations before any painters of note arose. These, of the Cimabue-Giotto type, were ignorant, even for that day of ignorance. Of course, following the spirit of the age, they must needs make their subjects holy ones, and the statues standing so invitingly to their hands offered themselves as their first models.

“Thinking, in their wealth of ignorance mentioned, that the wooden disk had something to do with the saintly character of their models, these peasants faithfully copied it into their paintings. In nearly all of the paintings of Comabue and many of those of Giotto, especially his earlier ones, the flat disk is represented, merely as such without any attempt at idealization. Later, however, the painters emphasized the rim and painted the body of the disk a color that barely distinguished it from the surrounding hues.”

So halos are really just misunderstood umbrellas. Somebody needs to add that to Wikipedia.

Leave a comment

Written by David

November 5th, 2010 at 9:15 am

Posted in Art,Religion

Madness And Death Add To The Mystery Of Koresh’s Tomb

From November 6, 1910

MADNESS AND DEATH ADD TO THE MYSTERY OF KORESHS TOMB

MADNESS AND DEATH ADD TO THE MYSTERY OF KORESH’S TOMB: Men Meet Strange Fate Trying to Ascertain If This Alleged Messiah Has Risen From the Dead as He Promised. (PDF)

Quick, think of a cult leader named Koresh. I’ll bet you thought of David Koresh, the self-proclaimed prophet whose compound in Waco, Texas was famously raided during the Clinton administration. But this article is about an earlier cult leader named Koresh (his real name was Cyrus Teed) who lead a colony in Estero, Florida.

Koresh believed among other things that the Earth was hollow, and that we live inside of it, being held to the ground by centrifugal force. He said he held the secrets to alchemy. He claimed to be the messiah (David Koresh more humbly claimed only to be a prophet), and said he would rise from the dead to rule heaven on Earth. The article is about what happened when he died and stayed dead.

As described by Henry D. Silverfriend, Vice President of Koreshan University, Koresh’s followers watched his body for a few days before they finally decided to bury it:

“Three factions were formed. One that Dr. Teed was dead and would never rise again. Another took the view that Teed had failed in his estimate of himself as the Messiah. The third faction believed he would fulfill all he said and rise glorified. They believed the tomb was like his alchemic laboratory and that he was transforming his mortality into immortality. When his corruptible body had become incorruptible they held that he would come forth and establish his kingdom of heaven on earth.

“The strain of waiting was very great and many of our faith became utterly hopeless. At length Emil Fisher, a German member of the Unity, believed that since two years had elapsed since the death of Teed and nothing had come as a revelation from him, it would be right to look into the tomb. He felt that we had been too long hoping against hope that Dr. Teed would break through the concrete tomb and show himself in the splendor of a Christ resurrected.

“Fisher went to the island and approached the tomb. He had no sooner laid hands on it than he swooned and fell. Several persons had accompanied him at a distance. When they hastened toward him he rose and came at them, a raving maniac. It was necessary to bind him.”

Another person tried to open the tomb and was also stricken mad. Naturally, Koresh’s followers assumed this meant the body was being protected by evil spirits. “Koreshans hold that the evil spirits will consume any who may venture to disturb the tomb. And nearly every one believes that in due time the tomb will open of itself and that Dr. Teed will come forth and do what he taught he would.”

I assume they’re still waiting.

Leave a comment

Written by David

November 5th, 2010 at 9:00 am

Posted in Religion

New Meeting House For Society Of Ethical Culture

From October 16, 1910

NEW MEETING HOUSE FOR SOCIETY OF ETHICAL CULTURE

NEW MEETING HOUSE FOR SOCIETY OF ETHICAL CULTURE: Unusual and Interesting Features About the Edifice That Will Be Dedicated Next Sunday. Simplicity the Keynote — The Seats are Arranged Radially Around Slightly Elevated Platform. (PDF)

Over the previous two weeks, the Sunday Magazine had published several articles about religion. First, they had a front-page story in which Thomas Edison declares there is no soul or afterlife. The following week, they published articles in which experts claim that there surely is an afterlife. This week, they approach the topic from a different vantage, announcing the opening of a new meeting house for the Society of Ethical Culture, a non-theistic congregation led by Felix Adler.

For the unfamiliar, here is some of what Felix Adler has to say about ethical culture:

“Moral training is necessary for every one; religious training is another matter. Not every one is born with a religious nature; there can be unreligious persons just as there are unmusical persons.

“It is a gift, given to many and omitted almost entirely in the case of others.

“Very great harm is done by trying to force religion on people who are not by nature religious. They are not attuned to it, they do not grasp the real significance of it, and they inevitably degrade it. Much of the tragedy of history has arisen from no other cause than insistence in forcing religion on persons irreligious by temperament, and their consequent misconception of it.

“Therefore, in my own training of children I assume with regard to religion the attitude of ‘You may take it or leave it.’ A child of religious temperament may be trained in religious thought, but others may need only moral training, and would be better for not having the religious side forced on them.”

Today, the Society of Ethical Culture continues to have regular Sunday services for the unreligious community, and houses the Fieldston School, a notable private school whose alumni include Diane Arbus, Sofia Coppola, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and Walter Koenig.

The article describes the building’s architecture, including its auditorium, which is used today not just for the Society’s services, but for other community events, too. I attended a Lydia Kavina theremin concert there in 2000, and a panel discussion on civil liberties after 9/11 moderated by Phil Donahue in 2002. You can find a calendar of events at the Society’s website

One comment

Written by David

October 15th, 2010 at 9:15 am

Posted in Education,Religion

Readers Of The Times Take Issue With Edison’s Statements

From October 9, 1910

READERS OF THE TIMES TAKE ISSUE WITH EDISONS STATEMENTS

READERS OF THE TIMES TAKE ISSUE WITH EDISON’S STATEMENTS (PDF)

100 years ago last week, the Times Magazine ran a front page article in which Thomas Edison states his belief that there is no soul, and no life after death. This week, the Magazine printed several articles in response.

Here, the Times prints several letters to the editor in response to the article. They show a cross section of views from the public.

Some readers, like Adele Malette, disagreed with Edison. She says, “I firmly believe there is a supernatural being, and I thoroughly believe of life after death, life in this same world; that the soul reappears in the shape of another body, and that the soul is in the brain.” She also believes that animals have souls, but she doesn’t believe there is a heaven.

But a reader named Lurana Sheldon wrote to praise Edison for speaking out:

The “amazing” part, it seems to me, is that Mr. Edison is willing to give his views to the world and take the petty furor of undeveloped minds that will doubtless rage at his statements.

This is not an age of martyrdom, and few people will bother to expound their faiths, especially if by so doing they are bound to joggle the pedestal of some mythological belief, unless in the words of commercialism “there is something in it.”

Mr. Edison does not need to preach even the most intelligent faith; he can go right on eating, without telling any one what he thinks, but the fact that he has “put himself on paper” so fearlessly is certainly “amazing” — delightfully so, in fact — now who else in his rank and file will follow his example?

If Lurana were around today, she might be interested in the Celebrity Atheist List, a wiki that chronicles notable individuals who have publicly stated their own lack of belief in deities.

One comment

Written by David

October 8th, 2010 at 10:30 am

Posted in Debate,Religion,Science

Author Of “Brain And Personality” Replies To Edison

From October 9, 1910

AUTHOR OF BRAIN AND PERSONALITY REPLIES TO EDISON

AUTHOR OF “BRAIN AND PERSONALITY” REPLIES TO EDISON: Dr W. H. Thompson, Whose Book the Inventor Quoted, Says That Any One Denying the Immortality of the Soul Is Either Abnormal or Pathological. (PDF)

100 years ago last week, the Times Magazine ran a front page article in which Thomas Edison states his belief that there is no soul, and no life after death. This week, the Magazine printed several articles in response.

In the original article, Edison said that our brains are nothing more than bundles of cells. In reply, Dr W. H. Thompson, author of a book called “Brain and Personality” (Google Books), says that Edison doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He correctly points out that “the fact that he is prominent in one branch of science does not entitle him to pass on other branches of science.” Often a person who is an expert in one area oversteps their bounds by speaking authoritatively in another area. So it’s good of Thompson to call out Edison on that point. But with no concrete evidence of immortality, does Thompson, an expert on the brain, commit the same infraction when he states, “People who do not believe in immortality are abnormal, if not pathological”? Where did he get his expertise on immortality?

He goes on to say interesting things about the brain and how it relates to personality, as was understood in 1910. I’d like to see a recent look at the subject for comparison. How much more do we know about the brain and personality now than we knew a hundred years ago?

Leave a comment

Written by David

October 8th, 2010 at 10:15 am

Is There A World Of Spirit Behind Matter?

From October 9, 1910

IS THERE A WORLD OF SPIRIT BEHIND MATTER?

IS THERE A WORLD OF SPIRIT BEHIND MATTER? (PDF)

100 years ago last week, the Times Magazine ran a front page article in which Thomas Edison states his belief that there is no soul, and no life after death. This week, the Magazine printed several articles in response.

In this one, Dr. Isaac Heysinger recounts the evidence for life after death as he published in his book “Spirit and Matter Before the Bar of Modern Science” (Google Books). If what he says in the article is any indication, it seems to be just a lot of anecdotal evidence.

He starts by listing a full page of scientists who believe in the spirit world. He goes on to say:

“The basis of all religions,” he declares, “of whatever race, country, or age, is the same, and this basis is precisely identical with the claims and practices of modern Spritualism” — meaning by that term the Spiritualistic conception of the universe. “This universal belief,” he goes on, “in all times and ages, and among all people, is valid evidence of its truth.”

In other words, if enough people believe in something it must be true!

One comment

Written by David

October 8th, 2010 at 10:00 am

Posted in Debate,Religion,Science