O'Neill's Electronic Museum

Penn Valley California


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It is this same accessible temper of mind which leads me to follow the problems of the Society for Psychical Research with an interest which, if somewhat calmed by advancing years, and by a perception of the inevitable slowness of discovery, is still as deep a feeling as any which life has left me. And I shall try to utilize this temper of mind today by clearing away, so far as I can, certain presuppositions, on one side or on the other, which seem to me to depend upon a too hasty assumption that we know more about the universe than as yet we really can know.

I will take the most essential part first, and address myself to those who believe with me in the survival of man's individuality after death. I will point out a curious, inveterate, and widespread illusion-the illusion that our earthly bodies are a kind of norm of humanity, so that ethereal bodies, if such there be, must correspond to them in shape and size.

When we take a physical view of a human being in his highest form of development, he is seen to consist essentially of a thinking brain, the brain itself, among its manifold functions, being a transformer whereby intelligent will power is enabled to react on matter. To communicate with the external world, the brain requires organs by which it can be transported from place to place, and other organs by means of which energy is supplied to replace that expended in the exercise of its own special functions. Again, waste of tissue and reparation have to be provided for; hence the necessity for organs of digestion, assimilation, circulation, respiration, etc., to carry on these processes effectually; and when we consider that this highly complex organ is fitted to undergo active work for the best part of a century, we can not but marvel that it can keep in tune so long. The human creature represents the most perfect thinking and acting machine yet evolved on this earth, developing through countless ages in strict harmony with the surrounding conditions of temperature, atmosphere, light, and gravitation. The profound modifications in the human frame, which any important alteration in either of these factors would occasion, are strangely unconsidered. It is true there have been questionings as to the effects that might be occasioned by changes in temperature and atmospheric composition, but possible variations in gravitation seem almost to have escaped notice. The human body, which long experience and habit have taught us to consider in its highest development as the perfection of beauty and grace-" formed in the image of God "-is entirely conditioned by the strength of gravitation on this globe. So far as has been possible to ascertain, the intensity of gravity has not varied appreciably within those geologic ages covering the existence of animated thinking beings.

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