TIME FOR SERIOUS INVESTIGATION.
After all that has been so far said, it would seem reasonable to take the position that the time has come when this whole matter'needs to be looked into. Enough has been discovered to be true to make one thing, at least, clear: If the issue shall not be that we know, or are likely to know, any more about any other world, it has become fairly plain that we are likely to learn some very important things about this world. If we are not able to settle the question as to whether the human mind can exist without the present visible body, we have certainly made some remarkable discoveries as to the powers of the mind as at present em bodied. And while men are spending years in dredging the bottom of the sea, or studying the remains of extinct animals as discovered in the rocks, or photograph ing and classifying the stars, or giving their lives to the investigation of insects (and against all this; of course, no one has anything to say), it would seem to be equally important to know as much as pos sible about ourselves; and up to within the last few years, the brain and the mind have been the darkest of all dark continents.
There is another reason why these mat ters should be studied. There are thou sands of people in the modern world, to speak within limits, who are accepting re ports of these stories as true, and who are shaping their lives by the beliefs which are connected with them. It seems to me clear that the matter involved compels us to choose one of two alternatives. We are here face to face with the great est truth of the universe or else with the most lamentable delusion, - one or the other; and I for one cannot conceive that there is any other problem more import ant to be decided upon. If the world is being deluded, competent investigation ought to settle the matter and help the great wondering masses out of their delu sion. If there is a great truth here which
abolishes death, which wipes away all tears, which heals the broken-hearted, which puts meaning into life, which makes all the long and toilsome process through which we are passing worth while, then surely that is something which ought to be known.
There is another point which religious believers especially may well take to heart. In the minds of thousands of people in the modern world, the Bible stories of what is called"the super natural"have come to be looked upon as a mass of discredited traditions. If these things which we are discussing shall ever be popularly accepted as in the main true, one effect will be to rehabilitate the Bible. By this I do not mean that it will re establish faith in the supernatural. I do not like, and do not use the word"su pernatural." It seems to me that what ever is may be regarded as a part of the great scheme of nature. I prefer to fol low the usage of the Reports of the Society for Psychical Research, and refer to these things as"supernormal." They are different from, and one side of, the ordinary happenings of life, but they are not therefore necessarily out of the sum total of what we express under the word"nature." Neither do I mean that the acceptance of these things as true will establish the infallibility of the Bible. But it will make it more reasonable for us to believe that a large number of these things happened as they are recorded, or that there is at least a kernel of truth at the heart of the traditions, though they may have become exaggerated and distorted in passing from one reporter to another.