The Law Of Psychic Phenomena - online book

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406        THE LAW OF PSYCHIC PHENOMENA.
the emotion of worship is demonstrative of the existence of a Supreme Being.
And right here I wish to make an important distinction. The standard theological argument in favor of the immortality of the soul is based upon the following syllogism :
i. There is a universal desire for immortality.
2. The mind of man cannot conceive an object of desire the means for the attainment of which are not somewhere in existence.
Conclusion : Man is necessarily immortal.
Now, if these premises were demonstrably correct, we might safely rely upon the conclusion. But they are not correct. The first may be assumed to be practically true, for the sake of the argument; but the desire for continued life beyond the grave may be explained upon other grounds, namely, upon the instinctive desire to prolong life. This 'nstinct is shared with man by all the animal creation, and pertains, primarily, to the preservation of animal existence. Man soon learns that continued animal existence is impossible. He sees that all must die; but, as " hope springs eternal in the human breast," he conceives the hope that he may, somehow, live after the death of the body. The existence of the desire for immortality is, therefore, traceable directly to the purely animal instinct of self-preservation.
The second premise is intrinsically absurd. It is obvious that the brain of man may conceive of many objects of desire which are manifestly impossible of realization, as well as non-existent. In the Christian mythology of Milton the idea is developed of a rival power Satan in heaven almost, but not quite, equal to God. In the struggle which ensued from a rebellion of Satan he was cast out, and set up a kingdom of his own on this earth. Now, a strictly orthodox person might say that this was merely an allegorical representation of an existent fact. But suppose the poet had gone a step further, and had represented Satan as going outside the universe and siting up a rival universe of his own. Would that