A Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife

VICTOR ZAMMIT, A Lawyer Answers The Catholic Church’s Attack On Spiritualism

Introductory statement

Father Herbert Thurston, S.J., a Jesuit scholar who on behalf of the Catholic Church, authored a major document reflecting the Catholic Church’s view on Spiritism (or Spiritualism as is known in the English speaking countries). The article is listed in the official Catholic Answers in the Classic Apologetics. Read his full article. The attack against the religion of Spiritualism by this Jesuit priest is very similar to the anti- Spiritualism article to be found in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

As someone who was brought up as a Catholic I feel I should speak out without any fear or favor against what I consider to be a most dangersous article written allegedly on behalf of the Catholic Chuch.

Fr Thurston's article is NOT consistent with the article published in Osservatore Romano by Father Gino Concentti - one of the most competent theologians in the Vatican- who takes a more favourable view of the religion of Spiritualism. As a matter of fact, Fr Concetti says, "According to the modern catechism, God allows our dear departed persons ... to send messassges to guide us ...The Church has decided NOT to forbid any more dialogue with the deceased ... (providing these contacts are done for serious religious and scientific studies ..).

The fact the Fr Thurstan and the Catholic Encyclopedia articles are still on the Internet means they have to be answered because in these articles there are many errors of fact. The reader uninformed, untrained or uneducated in empirical Spiritualism may be grossly misled by these errors. I will be concentrating on Fr Herbert Thurston's article because it is the more aggressively anti-Spiritualism.

Father Thurston’s authority comes from Catholic theology – which is a personal belief in his religious teachings. My authority comes from empiricism– the use of scientific method to measure phenomena. In our investigations as empiricists, we do not have the luxury of beliefs.

In assessing the validity of the Fr Thurston’s article I rely on my professional training in what is admissible evidence at Supreme Court level and my university training in scientific method.

I also rely on my sixteen years of empirical research into the afterlife where I was able to make contact with intelligences from the afterlife from at least three afterlife levels.

The empiricist does not cherish any particular beliefs because history shows that many bitter lessons have been learnt when cherished beliefs were subsequently shown to be fundamentally wrong – the Church’s wrongful geocentric view of the universe otherwise known as the Galileo’s principle is a classic example.

Note carefully: it is universally accepted that people tend to accept the personal religious beliefs of the country and culture into which they were born. This means that Fr Thurston’s beliefs would inevitably be linked with the beliefs of the country of his birth: if he were born in India, he’s very likely to be a staunch believer in Hinduism; if born in North Africa a Moslem; if born in China either a Maoist or an atheist. But his Western birth made him a Christian.

But because empiricism uses scientific method to validate phenomena- and scientific method has been used for decades and is being used to test afterlife phenomena- being born in a different country would NOT change the argument one iota. If something can be repeated over time and space and yields the same result, keeping variables constant, we are dealing with ‘truth’. For example, who is going to argue anywhere in the world that 7+5 do not equal 12? Religion can NEVER do that.

My professional training as a lawyer taught me that in ALL circumstances, without exception, NEVER to believe anyone, anything, anywhere, anytime and anyplace unless I am presented with irrefutable, hard core evidence that what is being stated can be independently substantiated. This is the kind of admissible empirical evidence we must have in order that we do not delude ourselves with irrelevant and erroneous traditional and historical man-made unsubstantiated beliefs. Especially if the religous beliefs were written by writers about whom we nothing. (It must be remembered that we do not have the original, authentic Biblical texts and there is evidence that the relevant religious texts were changed a number of times.)

Fr Thurston, as a Catholic theologian, measures everything in terms of his own subjective, personal Catholic beliefs. So he rejects any information which is inconsistent with his beliefs– even if the information has been empirically elicited.

Note very carefully: for the record, the Church is definitively wrong to assume as it did for many centuries that the Church’s authority overrides science or empiricism.This belief has been entrenched in Catholic countries and became part of the tradition, history and culture of all Catholic countries. In many countries, the Catholic Church claims it is a mortal sin to accept the empirical instead of the theological and it is a sin to question the Church's dogmas and beliefs. That was drummed into me in my early years.

Just because a personal subjective religious belief has been around for some 2,000 years – it is not changed, transformed or modified by the passage of time from a personal belief into objective evidence. The Church’s authority is inevitably subjective authority. And if there is inconsistency, the objective authority of empiricism will always prevail over the Church’s personal subjective authority. This critical principle is not in dispute – but its consequences are enormous.

Whilst Fr. Thurston occasionally admits that in some instances communication from those who crossed over to us is possible, his overall tone throughout his article is definitively aggressively negative. His underlying premise is that the religion of Spiritualism is negative, unproductive, misleading and should be left alone.

The Church of England formally investigated Spiritualism and in its very important report under the auspices of Archbishops Lang and Temple the appointed committee – all very highly qualified including experts in evidence – found that whilst there has to be procedural caution, communicating with intelligences – included our loved ones – from the other side is possible.

Later this conclusion was supported by a Vatican theologian Fr Gino Concetti who stated in the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano, “According to modern catechism, God allows our dear departed persons who live in an ultra-terrestrial dimension, to send messages to guide us in certain difficult moment of our lives. The Church as decided NOT to forbid any more the dialogue with the deceased with the condition that these contacts are carried out with a serious religious and scientific purpose.” (American EVP Inc. Newsletter vol 16 No.2 1997)

Fr Thurston’s major conclusions:
– all of which are fundamentally inconsistent with what has been empirically discovered and with the above report of the Church of England and with the Vatican theologian quoted above- are:
1) that the only valid authority for afterlife matters is the “living Supreme Pontiff";
2) that spirit communication is full of ‘contradictions’ transmitted by ‘evil spirits;’
3) that any afterlife messages (supposedly) from loved ones is a belief built on very ‘insecure foundations’;
4) that people on earth are fooled by evil spirits who ‘constantly pretend to be what they are not’;
5) ‘that it is impossible for any spirit to give any convincing proof of his identity’;
6) that ‘direct voice’ sitting ‘cannot proceed from the larynx which has long since crumbled to dust’;
7) that spiritualism has certainly not been associated with progress – no new fact has come to light through this source which as added to the world’s knowledge or has led to seek higher ideals.”

Rebuttals and refutations

1. Just for the record, Fr Thurston wrongly labels spiritualists as ‘believers.’ Spiritualism is now supported by empirical methodology. Empirical Spiritualists do not believe but accept the existence of the afterlife as a matter of evidence. Whilst there may be some minor interpretations of Spiritualism, its primary objective has been to provide evidence for survival. Since the birth of modern Spiritualism in 1848, there has been continuous refinement of that evidence and over the last 100 years it has become more empirical. Accordingly, there is a distinction to be made between being a ‘believer’ in religion and accepting admissible evidence for the existence of the afterlife.

He states that “… it must be a little difficult to explain why any effective intervention of the spirit world in human affairs (contact between the living and spirits) should have been so long delayed" …(and) “…be that as it may, no one can dispute that modern Spiritualism only dates from the year 1848.” First, there is no dispute at all that the Catholic Inquisition started in 1172AD and continued until the 1840’s. During that time anyone in any place dominated by the Christian church who stated she/he was contacting spirits would have been burnt at the stake. Whilst historians agree that a significant number of people who claimed to be receiving messages from the afterlife were burnt at the stake – including the famous St Joan of Arc, there is some difference as to the number of victims. It was only after the Church lost its political power and dominance that there was relative freedom to talk about spirit communication. The Vatican’s Office of Inquisition was not disbanded until 1910. The horror of the Inquisition, I submit, is the real reason why spirit communication was not discussed openly and the reason why European mediums only came out in the open AFTER the 1850’s. Indigenous cultures had an unbroken history of spirit contact until it was suppressed by European missionaries.Spirit communication has always existed and has been the major source of all religions. Experts would agree that the Bible is full of paranormal activity: channeling, hearing voices in the head; teleportation; materialization; spiritual healing; apparitions. These paranormal activities are now being demonstrated publicly.

3. Fr Thurston states, “We are told that many of these intelligences (spirits) who passed on thousands of years ago are supremely wise. But then these spirits turn out not to be so wise!" This statement shows that Fr Thurston did not do his homework. No informed spiritualist would make that statement because he/she knows that afterlife information does not come from just the one level. Spiritualists take seriously the biblical injuction “ test the spirits”. In the afterlife, spiritualists accept that there are a number of levels with different vibrations (from the coarsest lower dark realms ascending in the speed of vibrations to the refined highest). Transmission from the astral level has less accuracy than information from a higher realm.

4. “But while we may admit that the Fox sisters were genuine mediums … both came to a very sad end.” The argument imputes that if Spiritualism is to have any value, its founders would not end up ignominiously as alcoholics. Father Thurston quotes an alleged message to the Fox sisters that spirit promised them protection ‘while you do your duty’ but appeared to have completely abandoned the Fox sisters during the last years of their lives. His implication is that if people come to “a sad end” it means they are not talking to the right spirits! Religion aside, being spiritual means that we must have free will. The Fox sisters could NOT have had their free will taken away from them. Spiritualism teaches us about ‘self-responsibility’ and that we co-create difficult circumstances for our own growth. For this reason alone, we have to allow the Fox sisters their way of living and their way of making decisions. Fr Thurston conveniently forgets that Jesus also “came to a very sad end” and on the Cross was asking God why he had been abandoned.

5. “... in my judgment investigation will have to be carried on for … centuries before it will be possible to pronounce confidently upon the nature of the strange occurrences of which we have incontrovertible evidence.” To-day in the twenty first century we have experienced exponential growth in understanding the afterlife. Spirit contact with afterlife intelligences has been subject to numerous empirical studies over time and space and Spiritualists certainly know more about what is going on in the afterlife than what any religious book, any Bible or any dogma state. These days we even have the testimony of Catholic priests who crossed over – such as Mons. Hugh Benson who through the medium Anthony Borgia transmitted some four books. Mons Benson eloquently and brilliantly relates to us not only what the afterlife is like, but how what he taught when he was on earth was all wrong. Read his books for the most impressive details. One stunning revelation is that what we have in the Bible is only some 5% of what Jesus stated. There is also Fr Johannes Greber who independently made his own investigation into mediumship and was absolute stunned by the wisdom which came through. He took down volumes of most valuable information transmitted through the medium about specifically where the Bible has been changed, interpolated and illegitimately interfered with. Fr Thurston has to do his homework first before he negligently makes fundamental erroneous statements. We do have the information now – not in centuries to come.
6. “How can we expect guidance or the regeneration of mankind from powers that have shown themselves both blind to foresee the future … (Sir Oliver Lodge’s RAYMOND: “Spiritualism will make a most stupendous effect”… at a Mrs Leonard’s séance Mr Myers states that, “… in ten years’ time the world will be a different place.” All these did not happen argues Fr Thurston. One would have to see the messages in detail – not just take a line or two just to suit the argument stating – see what the spirits said did not come about, how then can you have confidence in these spirits? Myers would have meant that given certain contingencies, the acceptance of Spiritualism will be accelerated. This is no different to the Biblical statements when Jesus was expected to return to earth after his death. That is why nothing was written down at the time. That did NOT happen. So it is a matter of interpretation and context. We are repeatedly told that what seems a very short time in the spirit world is a long time on earth and vice versa. But critical to all this, just because things did not happen the way they were predicted if they were really predicted, this does not reduce, negate or invalidate spirit contact which has given mankind highly persuasive evidence of the existence and conditions of the afterlife no religious writings have ever told us.

7. “… earlier and recent accounts of what was purport to be hauntings or obsessions originating in the spirit world provide plenty of excuse for believing that the agencies concerned are often malicious, deceptive and altogether evil.”

Fr Thurston knowingly focuses on the negative to willfully denigrate without ANY consideration for the many transmissions of information from the afterlife which were highly inspirational. It is most unfair, unreasonable and unethical not to state that there have also been many most positive experiences in spirit contact. In many parts of the world there are now television shows – such as the John Edward, James Van Praagh, Colin Fry and others - showing the world mediums at work. We do not see malice or deception or evil. We see people on earth being reunited with their loved ones from the other side.

8. “Mrs Osborne the medium warned that there are dangers in Spiritualism … goes to illustrate the reasonableness of the biblical veto on dabbling in the occult.” Without doubt, to the untrained, untutored and uninformed, spirit contact can be dangerous. No doubt about that. But that does not mean that with professional caution and leadership the religion of Spiritualism is to be avoided. This is not dissimilar to the analogy that one ought not drive a car because cars can injure you or kill you. Like everything else, extreme caution when dealing with afterlife entities is critical. But the need for extreme caution needs to be balanced against the huge benefits mankind obtains in contacting the higher spirits. Allan Kardec’s The Spirits’ Book for example is a brilliant book with a wealth of information about the afterlife. What is so evil about this book? A closer look shows that many leading Christians associated with Jesus themselves transmitted this critical information. Silver Birch, a most reliable, high teaching about the afterlife is now regarded as classic. The Course in Miracles, allegedly transmitted by Jesus himself has influenced millions to live more positively. I consider them to be works of art – masterpieces from the afterlife because we obtain highly critical, most relevant and vital information the Bible never talked about.

9. “Spiritualists can hardly be surprised that the Catholic Church having good reason to believe that the evocation of the spirits of the dead throughout the ages has produced nothing but evil, refuses resolutely to countenance any attempt at communication with the other world.” There is no evidence whatsoever that throughout history all spirit contact was evil – see 8 above. I see this as an attempt by Fr Thurston to mislead the reader and to impute Catholic justification for the butchering and slaughter of mediums and psychics over some seven hundred years by the Catholic Inquisitors. The fact is that to-day spirit contact has been and is being subject to empirical investigation – and the results are just brilliant. For the first time in history, research into afterlife matters has been taken away from the Churches to accurately report what happens when contact is made. There is nothing in the Bible as it is to-day that will help anyone know what is going to happen to them when they pass on – the greatest, most important event in a person’s life. For this reason, empiricism has taken over the study of the afterlife and no amount of negativity, no amount of bullying, no amount of threats and fear from the Catholic Church or from any of its agents will stop mankind from finding out the truth about the afterlife. Of course, another reason why Fr Thurston wrote a hostile article is because the evidence of contact with our loved ones completely nullifies and negates the Catholic teaching that when we die we stay unconscious ‘six feet under’ until Jesus comes back “to judge the living and the dead.” This is a huge problem for the Church and has to be removed from its theology.

10. “… the majority of those who crowd to the trance addresses of mediums of conversations with the dead … are unbalanced, gullible and badly in need of protection”. Fr Thurston is exceeding his authority as an alleged intelligent spokesperson and is descriptively (not analytically) articulating an emotional negativism consistent with his own anti-psychic, anti-Spiritualist prejudice. The whole world watches these (‘gullible’) people – nearly everyday live on television. We listen to how they respond to their loved ones from the otherside. We see them cry with joy when the television medium - after accurately describing the characteristics and the history of the spirits while alive tells them that their loved ones still love them and are near them to help them. These people come across as decent people; they come across as intelligent, sensitive and level headed. In fact, the television medium John Edward and leading American medium George Anderson attracts a lot of Catholics – the same Catholics who may go to Church on Sunday. John Edward has even written a book on the value of saying the rosary! In South America there are a large percentage who are Catholics and Spiritualists and who see no contradiction between the two.

Further, Fr Thurston unfortunately uses negative adjectives such as 'gullible' and 'unbalanced' and 'in need of protection' to subtly denigrate Spiritualists - yet he asks Catholics to accept that a snake had a human voice box with which to persuade Eve to eat an apple which brought down all of mankind; that the sun was made to stop to help Joshua; and that Jonah was swallowed by a big fish and spat out alive after three days!

11. “… no student of the Spiritualistic movement can fail to observe that there has been for many years a steady trend in a direction hostile to Christianity and contemptuous of religious dogma.” This of course is partially correct (See item 10 above). Many Christians who crossed over find that priests on earth had really no idea at all about the conditions in the afterlife and the lower ones come back to denounce Christianity in their own vulgar way. The higher ones transmit information to give us the correct information about the afterlife – but they are also highly critical of the irrelevance of religious ritual to increase spirituality (attain higher vibrations of the soul), of the bulk of impractical and useless Christian man-made theology. The most substantive criticism to my knowledge has come from those who themselves were Christians when they lived on this earth. For example, Mons. Hugh Benson – books I mentioned above through the medium Anthony Borgia transmitted a number of books specifically outlining what is wrong with the Catholic teaching. Go and obtain a copy of a book called FACTS – a most devastating argument why the Church is on the wrong track about the nature of God and about the afterlife. I found it very convincing because what was written clearly made sense to me. Further, a most devastating spirit transmission exploded the myth of eternal damnation – to many this was world shattering information . This was an afterlife transmission to a Catholic priest Fr Johannes Greber (see his most insightful book about spirit communication called COMMUNICATING WITH THE SPIRIT WORLD OF GOD) by a spirit who was an expert about the Bible. He stated that Jesus NEVER stated words to the effect, “ be cursed into eternal damnation …”. The spirit said that was a willful mistranslation from the original Greek Biblical writing into Latin of the word ‘eon’ which. Eon in fact we were informed by the spirit that at the time of Jesus it meant a period of time – a hundred years. Eon, the spirit stated was deliberately mistranslated into ‘eternity’. The record shows that the priests used this eternal damnation for centuries to bully, frighten and terrify the people around the world.

12. Fr Thurston strongly attacks Arthur Findlay, the ‘psychic historian of the twentieth century’ who is also a strong spiritualist. Fr Thurston misrepresents A Findlay, “… he treats all such doctrines of the Trinity, the Fall of man, The Atonement, everlasting punishment etc, as patent absurdities which can only be a subject for ridicule.” The onus was on Fr Thurston to rebut what Findlay stated about Christianity, to show where, when, how and why Findlay was wrong. That Fr Thurston FAILED to do. It is blatantly NOT true that Findlay is out to ridicule – as Fr Thurston says. Findlay explains how these beliefs originated. And that is a traumatic shock to anyone who like me grew up as a Catholic because The Fall of man, the Trinity, Atonement existed before Judaism, before the events mentioned in the Old Testament. I strongly suggest the reader to obtain a copy of A Findlay’s THE ROCK OF TRUTH because guaranteed, information from this book will be a permanently liberating experience. The book reveals in detail for example, that Catholic rituals of baptism, confession, communion and other rituals PRE-DATE Christian era. I was lied to by the priests when I was growing up being inculcated with Christian theology. With stunning clarity A Findlay’s analysis the New Testament shows that Christianity did not introduce anything new.

13. “Helen Duncan was a fraud … investigation proved beyond doubt that this enveloping sheet was nothing but a roll of very thin cheese-cloth or butter-muslin, which had been swallowed by the medium and regurgitated.” Even Catholics these days agree that this statement is very unfair, very wrong and most misleading. Fr Thurston negligently repeated verbatim the closed minded skeptics’ argument and lies against Helen Duncan that ectoplasm – a vapourish substance which is excreted from the medium’s body does not exist. These skeptics came up with this silly cheese-cloth claim. Yet, no skeptic could demonstrate using cheese cloth or butter muslin to show how Helen Duncan supposedly did it. Professor West relatively recently stated Helen Duncan must have hidden it in her anus! I wrote to this Professor, and promised him a large sum of money if he himself could demonstrate that. There was absolutely NO evidence at all that Helen Duncan swallowed anything. When tested, she was stripped naked by other females, given a body search - she was thoroughly examined. Now Fr Thurston, ought not blindly copy the closed minded skeptics’ erroneous argument because scientists in fact researched ectoplasm. For the documented version about Helen Duncan click click on chapter 11 and more about scientists researching ectoplasm (Baron Von Schrenk-Notzing in Europe and Professor W J Crawford in Ireland) go to chapter 10.

14. “Suggestion has been made that they (the souls communicating through mediums) maybe the some souls of the unbaptised, who died in infancy or without any sufficient knowledge of God, and whom Catholics believe to enjoy some sort of natural beatitude in limbo.” Here, empiricism shows the Catholic Church it is definitively wrong! There have been repeatedly highly professional empirical testing of mediums by some of the most intelligent and professional scientists in this world – and there has been very intense analysis of critical information which was transmitted from the afterlife explaining who was communicating and about the nature of the afterlife. Empiricism states with absolute certainty that baptism, confession, communion and religious ritual are absolutely meaningless in going to the higher realms on crossing over. It is what we do and NOT what we believe that are critical. Why? Because you can indulge in ritual ad infinitum – you can sing hymns on Sundays till your heart burns out – and not positively affect the ‘soul’ of the individual. But doing selfless service with the right motivation you will be immediately positively increasing the vibrations (spirituality) of your soul which will be critical on crossing over. What in fact we are dealing with when the negative spirits try to mislead the uninformed on earth are those people who used to live on this earth who were not spiritually advanced and who were habitually trouble making. On crossing over absolutely nothing changes.

15. “… it is impossible for any spirit to give any convincing proof of his identity … the tones of the voice or tricks of expression which are reproduced in a “direct-voice” sitting cannot proceed from the larynx which has long since crumbled to dust.” Here again Fr Thurston representing the Catholic Church has not done his research as he is expected to do – he expresses colossal ignorance of the process of “direct-voice” from the afterlife. Advanced spirits use ectoplasm from the medium to erect human voice box so that spirits can speak in the same voice they had when they were on earth. More about direct voice mediumship go to chapter 12.

16. “Spiritualism has certainly not been associated with progress. No new fact has come to light through this source which has added to the world’s knowledge …” There has been a wealth of information transmitted from the afterlife which one can find in the objective evidence for the existence of the afterlife in my book mentioned above. I cited some sources from 200 books to substantiate my argument about the objectivity of the evidence which have not been rebutted by any theologian or scientist or philosopher or by any closed minded skeptic or materialist. The Church did NOT have this information – it had to be transmitted from the afterlife. By contrast, to-day in the twentyfirst century we find that Catholics in civilized, advanced countries are voting with their feet and NOT attending Church or listening to priests as they used to. There is a grave crisis in the Catholic Church because the modern man and woman just cannot accept stories which violate human intelligence. Empiricism has in the last few decades taken over the research of the afterlife and has made nugatory, negated and neutralized a number of religious beliefs.

On the other hand, the losers and defeatists of materialism are certainly no help to anyone on this planet earth in these matters.

Spiritualism, backed by hard core empirical evidence is the only way for mankind’s salvation because through it we obtain highly relevant, critical and vital empirically elicited information directly from the afterlife.

My suggestion is for Christian theology to be revised to make it consistent with empirical Spiritualism – because whilst theology is being seen to be redundant and irrelevant, Spiritualism – because it is empirically based - will inexorably survive permanently.

Ist July 2005

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