Can you "make contact: with dead relatives and friends? Here is an eye-opening look at a topic that has intrigued millions!
RECENTLY, we received a curious tape recording from a Plain Truth reader. The unusual recording purports to contain excerpts from 'actual voice conversations with persons who have died and "passed into the higher planes." This two-way, telephone-like communication was reputedly accomplished by means of an electronic instrument invented by a group of American scientists and psychic investigators. Many of you have probably seen newspaper or magazine articles about this alleged "breakthrough." Some may have heard the actual recordings. A few have written to The Plain Truth asking about this extraordinary device. Is this — at last — concrete evidence of the continuance of conscious personality after death? Are these really the voices of the dead? If not, what are they? And what about "mediums" and "séances"? Can they really provide us with a link to the dead?
Few questions are as vitally important as that of man's ultimate destiny. Is there a life beyond the grave? If so, is it possible to communicate with those who have "passed over"? Virtually all civilizations since the beginning of history have possessed some form of belief in an afterlife. And not surprisingly, attempts to communicate with the dead go back to earliest antiquity. The belief that the spirits of those who have "passed over" can make contact with the living is known today as spiritualism or spiritism. Modern spiritism had its birth in Hydesville, New York, in the middle of the last century specifically, March 31, 1848. It is an interesting story. For several nights, mysterious rappings and strange noises had kept the Fox family awake. As far as John Fox could determine, the disturbing sounds could not be attributed to mice, rats or the wind. History is full of "haunted houses" of this type. But in this case, events took a unique turn. On March 31, John Fox's two young daughters playfully issued a challenge to the noises — a challenge to repeat their own patterns of raps. Remarkably, their exact patterns were repeated — seemingly tapped out by invisible hands! The Fox sisters had established a dialogue with the unseen presence causing the noises! They then asked the presence questions that could be answered "yes" (one rap) or "no" (two raps). The presence willingly supplied answers. Painstaking sessions employing various types of codes enabled the Fox sisters to acquire detailed information about the presence. Amazingly, it claimed to be the spirit of a dead peddler, Charles B. Rosma, murdered many years earlier in the basement of the cottage now occupied by the Fox family! For one reason or another, he had apparently been delayed in his progress into the "next world." News of the goings — on in the Fox house spread rapidly, creating considerable stir. Neighbors were invited in to hear the "conversations." Many became convinced that the Fox sisters were in actual contact with the dead. Modern spiritism was born. Within a few decades, the controversial movement had gained millions of followers around the globe. Among them were many famous personages, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — creator of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes — and Sir William Crookes, the English physicist.
Messages from the "Other Side"
Death, the spiritists declared, is merely a door to continuing life in the "spirit world." Moreover, they said, we can establish communication with those on the "other side." This contact is usually made through the agency of a medium at a séance. A séance (French for "a sitting") is a meeting for the purpose of obtaining spiritistic phenomena. The medium (usually a woman) is the focal point of a séance and acts as the organ of communication with "departed spirits." Séances became the rage in fashionable society throughout Europe and America in the last century. In brief, a séance is conducted as follows: A small group of people sit in a circle around a table, usually holding or at least touching hands. The room is quiet and dark. The medium then goes into a trance or semitrance, a state resembling deep hypnosis. While in the trance, the medium purports to convey messages from the spirit world to those around the table. The messages often come by way of a "control," a departed spirit that associates itself with the medium and passes on messages from other spirits. Sometimes the medium simply repeats to the participants around the table what she is told by her "control" — or describes what she sees in the spirit world. At other times, the control spirit or another spirit speaks directly through the medium. On occasion, the participants themselves hear spirit voices coming from outside the medium, often from somewhere overhead. In rare instances, a spirit creates a vague visible form for itself and partially materializes — creating a ghostly apparition for all to see! Many have come away from séances convinced of the authenticity of the phenomena. Others have suspected fraud. What is the truth? Is communication between the "two worlds" possible? The famous stage magician Harry Houdini (1874-1926) sought an answer to this question. He threw out challenges to mediums to prove to his satisfaction the authenticity of their activities. He claimed he could duplicate by purely physical means any effect they produced in the course of a séance. During the course of 30 years of witnessing alleged examples of communications with the "next world," Houdini declared he had not "found one incident that savored of the genuine." What Houdini often did uncover were extremely clever frauds and skillful illusions perpetrated by charlatans and unscrupulous mediums on' trusting victims. Darkened rooms provided the perfect setting for fraud. Concealed microphones, wires, mirrors, projectors, ventriloquism, sleight of hand and other ingenious techniques combined to produce a variety of spectacular effects convincing to the gullible. Houdini caught scores of embarrassed mediums red-handed in such frauds. Based on his investigations, Houdini concluded that spiritism was riddled with trickery, deceit and fraud. Other investigators have agreed that the percentage of fraud is high. But are all mediums fakes? By no means! There are many serious mediums who have stood up under the most rigorous scrutiny of investigators. Despite meticulous testing, they have given no evidence of any type of fraud. Are these mediums, then, really in contact — as they believe — with the dead?
The art of photography — in its infancy when modern spiritism was born — soon came to the aid of spiritists in convincing the public of life beyond the grave. Hundreds of photographs have been taken over the decades purporting to show vaguely materialized spirits actually caught by the camera! Many spiritists consider such photos to be the outstanding proof of their beliefs. A large percentage of these photos, however, have been shown to be bogus — the results of "doctored" or retouched negatives, double exposures, trick lighting effects or other deceptions. But others have stood up to the tests of investigators. I have personally examined scores of these photographs and am satisfied as to their overall genuineness. But again — are these photos proof of life after death?
And now — a spectacular further development in the world of spiritism. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, experimentation has reportedly produced an electronic device enabling the operator to engage in two-way, telephone-like conversations with the dead — a type of Ouija board with a voice! It was the great inventor Thomas Edison who first conceived the possibility of instrumental communication with the dead. But experimenters had to admit failure in establishing an electronic link with the spirit world — until the late 1950s. In 1959, the Swedish filmmaker and painter Friedrich Jurgenson played back tapes of bird calls he had recorded in a Swedish forest. To his astonishment, he heard what he believed to be his dead mother's voice on the tape! This began a series of experiments to record spirit voices. Hundreds of voices have appeared on his tapes. Other researchers have claimed to have recorded the spirit voices of Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Tolstoy and many other famous men and women of history. Many years of such research and experimentation have now produced the two-way machine previously mentioned. The device tunes in on certain radio frequencies that provide a channel over which "those in the higher planes" — the reputed dead — can convey their messages. There is no apparent reason to doubt the sincerity or the integrity of those who have worked on this project or of other researchers in the field of EVP (electronic voice phenomena). It is unlikely that the voices have been faked in any way. There are no indications of fraud or hoax. It is apparent that the researchers are in actual voice contact with spirit entities. By what means does the device work? "It does work," remarks one of its inventors, "but we don't fully know those underlying laws yet." He also admits that mediumship is involved to some degree. "It [the device] requires an operator with a very special type of psychic energy." Are these the voices of the dead? Some investigators have suggested that these reputed "messages from the dead" might actually be coming somehow from the subconscious of the machine's operator himself, and not from the "other side." The same explanation has often been put forward to account for the messages of mediums in séances. Many other explanations have been suggested for this and other spirit phenomena — all of which at times have probably played a role. But again, not all spirit phenomena can be adequately explained away by such theories. There remain certain manifestations for which no entirely satisfactory explanation has been offered — other than actual spirit contact. But has contact been made with the dead? Or might there be another explanation?
No Immortal Soul
At the end of last year The Plain Truth published an article challenging the widely held belief in an "immortal soul." The age-old belief in the separate existences of the body and the soul was proved to be without support in the Bible! That article explained the true scriptural definition of the word soul, demonstrating that "soul" designates man's physical life that a soul is what man is, not something spiritual he has. Man has no inherent immortality. The soul is mortal and can die (Ezek. 18:4, 20). The article showed from the Bible that the dead "sleep" in insensibility in their graves until a future resurrection — a rising from the dead. Many readers wrote in, inquiring how one can explain "ghosts," séances, spirit photography and related phenomena. If these are not the spirits of the dead — what are they? The explanation is found in the Bible!
World of Spirits
The Bible reveals that there is indeed a world of spirits! But they are not the spirits of the dead though some may masquerade as spirits of the dead! This spirit world is the world of angels — and demons (fallen angels). Angels were created by God eons ago — long before the creation of the earth. The archangel whom we call Lucifer and one third of these created angels ultimately rebelled against God (Isa. 14; Ezek. 28; II Pet. 2:4; Rev. 12:4). The disobedient Lucifer became Satan, "the Adversary." The angels who followed him in rebellion became demons. They remain subject to Satan, the "prince of demons" (Mark 3:22, Moffatt). Satan and his demonic cohorts exert enormous influence on this world. The Bible calls Satan "the god of this world" (II Cor. 4:4). In that role, he has succeeded in deceiving the whole world (Rev. 12:9). Satan and his demons pretend to bring light (II Cor. 11:14-15). Demons have, for millennia, been turning mankind from truth into spiritual darkness, falsely calling that darkness "light." The Bible warns of the dangers of humans dabbling in the world of spirits. Notice just a few of these passages: "Regard not them that have familiar spirits [the "control" or "guide" that associates itself with a witch or medium], neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them..." (Lev. 19:31). "There shall not be found among you anyone … that useth divination [obtaining secret knowledge by supernatural means], or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer [one who enquires of the dead]. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord... " (Deut. 18:10-12). Again: "They have seen vanity and lying divination, saying, The Lord saith: and the Lord hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word. Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination..." (Ezek. 13:6-7). In the New Testament — in Acts 16 — the apostle Paul exorcised a spirit of divination from a young woman. Now notice a biblical example of just how seriously God takes spiritism! In I Samuel 28, we find an account of an ancient "séance" involving king Saul of Israel. Saul desired to know about the outcome of a great battle with the Philistines in which he was about to engage. He inquired of God, but received no answer (verse 6). God refused to listen to Saul because of his rebellious attitude. Saul then defied God's clear commands in the law and ordered his servants: "Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her" (verse 7). Saul was told that there was a woman at Endor that had a familiar spirit. She is referred to as a witch in some translations, as a medium in others. So Saul disguised himself and went to the woman by night and said: "I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee" (verse 8). The practice of "consulting the dead" was rife among ancient Israel's heathen neighbors. Saul had been influenced by their practices. Now notice what happened: The medium asked whom she should bring up. Saul said: "Bring me up Samuel" (verse 11). The woman then saw a form that she believed to be Samuel. Saul himself did not see the spirit, for he asked the woman to describe it to him. As a result of the description, Saul "perceived that it was Samuel" (verse 14). The spirit — still invisible to Saul — then spoke directly to Saul and prophesied of his impending defeat at the hands of the Philistines (verses 18-19). The spirit that appeared was not Samuel. Samuel was dead (verse 3), and "the dead know not any thing" (Eccl. 9:5, 10). At death, one's thoughts perish — as the Bible plainly teaches (Ps. 146:4). Moreover, Scripture tells us that God refused to answer Saul by prophets (I Sam. 28:6). But Samuel was a prophet (Acts 13:20). The spirit that spoke to Saul thus could not have really been Samuel. What had appeared to the medium and spoke to Saul was simply a form that looked like Samuel — a demon impersonating Samuel! It was deception, however sincere the medium may have been. There is no other explanation within the teachings of the Bible! Saul assumed the demon was Samuel — just as spiritists assume they are contacting the spirits of the dead. Spiritists would all do well to ask themselves the question posed by Hamlet in the play by William Shakespeare. Upon encountering a form claiming to be the ghost of his father, Hamlet thought to himself:
"The spirit that I have seen May be a devil, and the devil hath power To assume a pleasing shape."
Saul sinned by seeking a witch. God takes the sin of spiritism very seriously. "So Saul died for his transgression..." (I Chron. 10:13).
Works of Darkness
Demons are spirits of darkness. Spiritism is a work of darkness. Little wonder that it is normal spiritist practice to conduct séances in a darkened room. Strong light, say spiritists, hinders communications with the spirits. This fact in itself should tell them something about what kind of spirits they are dealing with! One might also ask of spiritists why the "afterlife" is apparently so concerned with such trivia as is often manifested in séances and "hauntings": knocks and rappings, eerie noises, screams, table levitating and the like. Is there not more to this alleged afterlife than the playing of childish pranks and usually trivial conversation? The answer should be clear! It is not the dead with whom we are dealing! The dead cannot communicate with the living! The reason? They're DEAD — not alive in some sort of "spirit world." No such survival is taught anywhere in the Bible! (Read our free booklet Lazarus And The Rich Man for the explanation to one of the most misunderstood passages in this regard.) It is the world of demons — seeking to perpetuate the false doctrine of the immortal soul — that is behind spirit manifestations in séances, spirit photographs and electronic voice phenomena. Masquerading as "spirits of the dead," they deceive the biblically unlearned — just as king Saul was deceived at Endor! Such manifestations are accomplished by demon power — not by the Spirit of God! Most spiritists refuse to admit this possibility.
Man's True Destiny
There is only one mediator between God and man — Jesus Christ (I Tim. 2:5-6). Mediums and their familiar spirits are not the source of reliable spiritual knowledge, but rather perpetuate a false concept of man's destiny. The Bible has much to say about eternal life — and how one can receive it as a gift. But this truth is much different than what many have been led to believe! If you would know the TRUTH about man's destiny, go to the TRUE SOURCE of such knowledge — the Bible — and read our free booklets Life After Death and What Will You Be Doing In The Next Life? Do not risk the dangers of dabbling in the spirit world. Follow the example of the Ephesians, who burned their books of sorcery, magic and divination when they heard the truth! (Acts 19:19.) Heed the clear words of the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 8:19-20, Moffatt translation), who declared: "When they tell you to consult mediums and ghosts that cheep and gibber in low murmurs, ask them if a nation should not rather consult its God. Say, 'Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? Consult the Message and the Counsel of God!'"