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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/93

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may pass at par with very learned metaphysicians, but it can hardly claim the serious attention of thinking minds, particularly when the "something otherwise inexplicable" is something the existence of which is taken for granted. The professor continues his process of reasoning: "A man dies; the spirit passes from him; the flesh is left." The synthetical activities of the body which produced the phenomena of life have ceased; the analytical or destructive process is master of the situation; but "the spirit passes from him"! What passes from him? What is this spirit, professor? "Imponderable spirit" is it? I don't understand you, because I do not know what you are talking about. You may explain that the spirit is ethereal matter. Will I be informed as to what spirit may be or is, when I know nothing about imponderable matter? "And likewise may there not be a spiritual ether surrounding us, a medium through which impulses may come to the spirit from on high, and from the spirit be transmitted to the intellect? Such influences come to us strongly at times, as at the communion table." This may be so, but even your single illustration, as to causation, lacks confirmation. We have observed so-called evidences of "the spirit from on high" in the prostrate forms of persons at sacred altars, persons in a state of unconsciousness produced by brain acting upon brain. I know, if I know anything, that a certain amount of physical energy is involved in every instance of nervous excitation, and that the influence of this energy acting upon matter is easily communicated to, and will act upon, willing subjects. Still further: "Now, is it not conceivable that, in the spirit after its severance from the flesh, our present imperfect senses may become perfect, and the influence of other now unthought-of sensations become possible?" No, it is not conceivable, if the conception is to rest upon a rational basis—truths at this time demonstrable. The existence of "unthought-of sensations" is a bold assumption. The conception is not scientific, because our present "imperfect senses" are the outcome of purely physical (earthly) conditions, so far as science knows anything about the senses. What science does not know, or what science may know hereafter, has nothing to do and can have nothing to do with the professor's conception at present.

I concede to every man the right to formulate a belief that will afford him some needed consolation in his struggle for existence, so long as he is perfectly willing to allow other men to do likewise without let or hindrance, but no belief should be set forth in the name of science unless there be tangible evidence produced in support of it.

It is frequently observed that some scientists are loath to accept and to abide by the results obtained as the fruitage of their laborious investigations. They observe the operations of Nature,