Sir Oliver Lodge FRS. The Mode of Future Existence. 1933
(Linking survival after death with sub atomic
physics is censored in Great Britain).
Introduction by Michael Roll.
This article by Sir Oliver Lodge was published
in The Queen's Hospital Annual in 1933 (Birmingham). It
is because this great scientist wrote articles and published
books along these lines that he has been vilified by obscurantists
who have taken control of scientific teaching throughout
Sir Oliver Lodge was the first person to send a radio message,
one year before Marconi! His great contribution to science
has been deliberately played down solely because the powerful
materialists are terrified that millions may find out he
was correct in saying that we all survive death.
The same treatment has been meted out to Sir William Crookes
who actually proved by repeatable experiments under laboratory
conditions that the subject of survival after death is a
branch of physics - natural philosophy. Crookes was a President
of the Royal Society, inventor of the Cathode-ray tube.
Look up x-rays in the encyclopaedia, Crookes was the pioneer
of subatomic physics - proving that reality exists beyond
our five physical senses.
Censorship and character assassination are the only weapons
that those with a great deal to lose from the truth have
in their armoury. The attack on Sir William Crookes has
been so vicious that he now carries the emotive labels of
liar, cheat, crank, fraud, gullible idiot, Spiritualist,
and they have also tagged on that he was a heterosexual
sex maniac, just in case the other labels are not enough.
This Sir Oliver Lodge article will be censored by every
large circulation paper and magazine in the world. People
will only begin to find out just how badly they are being
deceived by their leaders and teachers if this pamphlet
is passed from hand to hand.
'There is not a crime, there is not a dodge,
there is not a trick, there is not a swindle,
there is not a vice which does not live by secrecy.
Get these things out in the open, describe them,
attack them, ridicule them in the press, and sooner
or later public opinion will sweep them away.'
Sir Oliver Lodge FRS.
The Mode of Future Existence.
When we consider the question or Survival from the physical
point of view we are up against the ancient problem of the
connection between mind and body. The body is certainly
made of matter, but matter is inert, it never does anything,
it is completely controlled by the forces acting upon it,
which forces exist in the empty space surrounding the atoms.
Left to itself, matter merely continues in whatever state
it was last made to accept. If it was spinning, it continues
to spin with constant angular momentum. It has no power
of changing its state or of stopping. If it was in a state
of locomotion, that motion also continues unaltered. This
is called the law of inertia, and to it all material atoms
are absolutely obedient, whether they form part of an engine
or of a clockwork mechanism or of an animated body. There
is no exception. All matter is inert.
If any change is observed in atomic or material behaviour,
it is a sign of some activity, some energy apart from matter,
demonstrating its existence by acting upon matter, and causing
some acceleration or retardation proportionate to the force
exerted. This is called the second law of motion. Furthermore,
every kind of energy known to us exists in the empty space
between the atoms and exerts equal force upon the boundary
atoms at either end of that space, so that every action
is accompanied by an equal opposite reaction. This is called
the third law of motion, or it might be called the law of
Energy only makes itself manifest by its effect on material
bodies, but its main existence is in space. We have no sense
organ for perceiving energy itself, our senses tell us of
nothing but matter. We can see the results of energy as
expended upon matter, but we have no direct apprehension
of the energy. We are not acquainted with anything in the
Universe save by its effect upon matter, and that is the
origin of our tendency to philosophic materialism; we are
liable to doubt whether things not apparent to the senses
can have a real existence, though there is no justification
for such a doubt.
The physical Universe does not consist of matter alone.
If it did, it would be absolutely inert, no change would
ever occur. Experience shows us constant change, constant
activity, and, when analysed, the source of this activity
is always found in the field or space between the atoms.
That is where the energy exists, that is where it is stored;
and we can gradually realise that it is through interaction
between the void and the material particles that every change
or activity is accomplished.
A field of force always exists in what we call vacuum or
Ether, what the Ancients called 'void'; never does it exist
in matter. Yet force is only made manifest by matter. It
is only by observing the behaviour of material bodies that
we can become aware of the existence of a field of force
or of a seat of energy.
Energy is constant in amount, but it takes various forms.
The form with which we are best acquainted is the form of
motion, and that is the only form ever associated with matter.
All the other forms are hidden and make no impression upon
us, save when they encounter material particles and thus
display their existence. No one, for instance, could experience
a magnetic field without a bit of iron to test it with.
No one has any knowledge of the broadcast waves which now
surround us unless he has a suitable detecting apparatus
in the form of a wireless set and a telephone.
And, strange to say, we can only appreciate light when it
impinges upon some piece of matter and thence is deflected
into the eyes. When we see a lighthouse or searchlight beam
tracking its way across space, it is not the beam that we
observe, but the dust particles which are illuminated by
We can only see material objects : we have no sense for
radiation itself, nor for an electric current, only for
its activity in affecting various kinds of matter. These
are only instances of a quite general law.
We cannot understand the activity of the material Universe
without taking energy into account, and this energy exists
in the space between the particles. Matter is discontinuous,
consisting of isolated particles, they are connected only
through space. But inasmuch as this space is impregnated
with energy, it must be something more than mere emptiness.
It makes no impression on our senses, and yet it is full
of energy, and is the reservoir of all activity; hence we
have agreed to call it the Ether. A magnetic field exists
wholly in the Ether, iron fillings are only used to demonstrate
it and map it out. An electric, a gravitational, field is
in the same predicament. Cohesion, too, and indeed every
action between material particles, is an affair of the Ether.
In no other way can one piece of matter act on another.
Every kind of physical action is really transmitted across
space - that is, through the Ether - just as really, though
not so obviously, as electric and magnetic attraction, gravitation,
and light. Atoms and their constituents are never in contact.
Ether forces or Ether strains have to be appealed to, when
we try really to understand the most ordinary activities
in daily life. Even a simple push is exerted through an
infinitesimal layer of Ether. Every variety of potential
energy exists in the Ether : matter has no energy except
kinetic ; and recently an ethereal explanation of even that
kind of energy shows signs of emerging from the theory of
Animated matter differs in no respect from every other kind
of matter, except that it is subject to animation.
So when we say that life only exists in a material organism,
we ought to say that life only manifests itself in association
with such an organism, and that when it is dissociated from
matter we know nothing of its existence. We have no right
to say that it is extinct. All that we know is that it is
no longer manifest it has gone out of our ken. But the same
may be said of every form of energy in itself, it has no
power of becoming known to us but by its effect on material
bodies. A body under the action of life can do many things,
can initiate spontaneous movements, can build up an organism,
can operate on the physical Universe, and leave structures
behind it of interest and beauty, but it is not the material
body that does these things ; they are due to the life or
animation of the body.
If, then, we can adduce any evidence that life or mental
activity exists in space, and only sporadically makes itself
evident by some material activity, the state of our present
knowledge of physics renders our acceptance of the fact
entirely harmonious. We have to do no violence to our physical
conceptions if we admit the fact of survival. Life and mind
never were functions of the material body, they only displayed
themselves by means of the material organism. The organism
was not essential to their existence, but only to their
display - that is, to our apprehension of them. If they
ever find means of operating in a novel or unusual manner
on a physical organism, then they may still manifest their
continued existence ; and that is exactly what they do.
Why should we decline to receive the evidence?
Telepathy shows that mind can act on mind without the use
of any bodily organs, hence certain people may have a faculty
of apprehending a spiritual world direct ; and this may
account for genius and inspiration. This has been well argued
by F.W.H. Myers, and I shall not labour it now.
If you have evidence of the existence of a spiritual world,
a world of help and guidance and sympathy, then you can
hold to it in spite of every denial of the materialists,
who can only base their denial on the absence of any sensory
stimulus to their material organism. Such a world may exist
all round us, and yet can only be spiritually discerned.
The faculty of discernment does exist in some people, and
their positive evidence overweighs a wilderness of negation
from people whose perceptions are limited to the bodily
One of the most elementary forms of discernment is (rather
absurdly) called Psychometry. An object put into their hands
may convey more information than the senses can give : a
psychometrist can tell something of its history, something
of its association, something of its possessor. By special
faculty they can tell far more than could be arrived at
by chemical tests. They can tell, for instance, that a bit
of stone has formed part of a pyramid, or that a ring has
taken part in a scene of slaughter, or that a piece of writing
or drawing has been done by a certain person normally quite
unknown to them, and can even tell what the circumstances
of that person were at the time, and what they were doing.
The existence of a spiritual world throughout the depths
of space is becoming to me a great and fundamental, even
a physical, reality. The manifestation of that world in
connection with material organisms on one or other of the
planets is a comparatively trifling and temporary episode,
of great importance doubtless in the history of evolutionary
development, but our real existence is not dependent on
a material organism. Our spiritual and real home is in the
Ether of space.
Chemists and biochemists are liable to limit themselves
unduly to the purely material aspect of things. A chemist's
business is to deal with matter in its various forms ; that
is his job, and he need not be expected to go beyond it.
A physicist takes into account the Ether as well, though
he may, for a time, prefer to call it space. He is not limited
to material particles, but studies the fields of force which
connect them and make them active. The psychologist goes
further still, and studies the action of the mind. I would
I could say that the biologist is a student of life, but
at present the tendency is for him only to study animated
organisms and their behaviour, limiting his attention to
what is manifested by the material processes brought about
by life, and not thinking that life has any existence apart
from its instrument of manifestation.
We shall never understand the Universe by attending to matter
alone and ignoring everything which makes it active and
interesting. We cannot even understand the bending of a
steel spring or the fall of a raised weight without implicitly
taking the Ether into account. We are continually making
experiments on the Ether and realising the consequences
of its abundant qualities. If we make the assumption that
it is a physical vehicle of life and mind too, we are only
extending our generalisation in the same direction.
A supplementary and semi-physical treatment of Survival
is now becoming possible ; a treatment which is well calculated
to replace the old materialistic view that man had only
a material body, and that when that body died and decayed,
the animation, the personality, and the individual, necessarily
ceased to exist. It is also well calculated to replace the
popular idealistic notion that any spirit which survives
the death of the material body must survive in an entirely
disembodied condition, and be out of relationship with the
Many people suppose that it then belongs to another order
of existence, or, as some would say, of non-existence ;
that it is likely to be free from any relationship even
with Space and Time, and must have departed entirely out
of our ken ; so that communication or intercourse with it
is no longer possible, until perhaps at some future day
when the material body shall have been somehow resuscitated
and restored to its old function, in glorified form, so
that the spirit can resume its active control. That this
superstitious idea has been prevalent is testified to by
popular modes of expression, such as :
'On the Resurrection morning, all their dead the graves
restore. Father, mother, sister, brother meet once more.'
This depressing notion of future existence - if it can be
called existence in the interim - is not a scientific or
psychological view at all ; but it has been the religious,
or at least the ecclesiastical, view through medieval times
; hymns and liturgies are saturated with it, and it continues
to this day the chief representation of what, by strictly
orthodox people, is meant by Survival.
A modern theory which seeks to provide the emancipated spirit
with any kind of organism related to the physical world
might thus be ranked as a return to a modified form of materialism.
For though, when properly understood, the view I advocate
ought to emancipate us from materialistic bugbears, and
although it wholly condemns the idea that flesh and blood
or any particles of terrestrial matter are revivified and
inherit Eternal Life, yet popular ignorance of what is meant
by the Ether, and of the certain fact that the Ether is
a part of the physical Universe and has definite properties
which can be experimented on and ascertained, may well suggest
all manner of difficulties in understanding the hypothesis
I am trying to expound. Wherefore it will probably be considered
unsatisfactory, both by the scientific materialist and by
the theologian; possibly also by some spiritualists.
The necessity for some kind of organ or instrument or habitation
for an emancipated spirit has been intuitively felt by many
inspired writers. The most ancient classical idea was that
of a condition rather melancholy - unhouseled, wistful,
shadowy and sad - but this notion was improved upon even
in later classical times. And towards the end, 'Not unclothed,
but clothed upon,' 'God giveth it a body,' are modes of
expression very familiar to modern ears.
The existence of a spiritual body is an idea, in one form
or another, at least as old as St. Paul. It has been upheld
by some of the Greek Fathers of the Church ; it has been
vaguely in the mind of many modern investigators ; sundry
obscure and super-normal facts seem to lend it strong support.
And recently an etheric version of such a body has been
approved - and if not inculcated, at any rate, regarded
as a step in the right direction - by some of the more thoughtful
and philosophically minded communicators 'on the other side'.
What they know by experience is that, though discarnate,
they are certainly not disembodied ; they feel no more disembodied
than we do. They tell us that they still have substantial
instruments of manifestation which serve for intercourse
among each other, and that it is through this permanent
instrument that they are able, occasionally and under certain
conditions, to operate indirectly, through our organisms,
on the matter of this planet. They operate with more difficulty
than in the old days, partly because they have to make use
of other people's mechanism; but still, subject to many
restrictions, they exert influence in a somewhat similar
way, and thereby are able occasionally to know what we are
doing ; and they claim sometimes to succeed in helping and
stimulating us, not only mentally but physically.
Now, although the departed may not understand fully and
completely of what their present body is composed, or how
they operate on it so as to produce the results they desire
and aim at, they are still only in the same predicament
as they were when here, and as we are now. For we do not
know how we control our bodies of matter, nor what the nature
of the connection between mind and matter is. We know that
we have muscles and nerves and brain centres. We can dissect
and describe this part of the mechanism.
But how a physiological instrument - how any kind of mechanism
- can think and feel and plan and will and remember and
hope and love, we certainly cannot explain. And probably
we shall never be able to explain how such a thing can happen
; for the thing to be explained does not happen, it is only
imagined to happen through a misapprehension. The truth
is that it is we ourselves who really do all the psychical
things ; we employ our bodies only as instruments for recording
and transmitting our thoughts and for exercising muscular
action on matter. The body itself neither thinks nor wills
nor sees nor feels. It is an instrument, a channel, a medium.
Although full explanations about our method of controlling
of a body are not yet forthcoming - either on this side
or on that - yet those 'on the other side' are quite willing
to accept the suggestion that their bodies, which to them
feel so substantial, and all the surroundings in which they
exist, are related to the thing which we here call the Ether,
very much in the same way as they used to be related to
the familiar thing known as Matter.
That Ether is a very substantial entity, far denser than
any form of matter, has been gradually becoming clear to
physicists. At first, we only said that it must be denser
than lead or gold or platinum, but now we find that it must
be out of all proportion denser. I have made an estimate
of its density, in the light of electromagnetic theory,
and it comes out inevitably huge. Every cubic millimetre
contains as much substance as what, if it were matter, we
should call a thousand tons.
As the Ether is not matter in the ordinary sense of the
term, our ordinary units of measurement are inappropriate
; but on the analogy of matter, the Ether is of the order
a million million times as dense as water. All its properties
are of supernormal magnitude. Its rate of vibration which
enables us to see any ordinary object is five hundred million
million per second : a number so great that to try to conceive
such a number of vibrations per second simply dizzies us.
The number of seconds which have passed since ancient geological
periods of twenty million years ago is about this number.
Yet we familiarly make use of these vibrations. Our wonderful
organ, the eye, is constructed so as to cope with them,
in the easiest possible manner. And most people are ignorant
- as ignorant as are the animals - of the strange ethereal
environment amid which we all live, and of which the vibrations
convey to us so much information, and awaken so keenly our
sense of beauty.
Until instructed, we can hardly help thinking of matter
as dense, and of Ether as tenuous, but that is a poetic
illusion associated with the term 'ethereal'. It is an illusion
based on the testimony of our senses, which, as so often
happens, have to be corrected by deeper insight into the
real nature of things. Matter appeals to us so strongly,
not because it is anything but a gossamer-like or milky-way
existence in the vast continuity of Ether, but because our
obvious bodies are made of matter, and because our animal
sense organs are specially adapted to existence in association
with matter, and give us information about nothing else.
Even light, which we know is an Ether vibration, tells us
nothing about itself without study ; what it tells us familiarly
is - not about light , but - about the material objects
which have emitted or scattered or differentially absorbed
We get this information by lifelong, indeed age-long, inherited
and instinctive experience. We interpret the luminous indications
without difficulty, and we forget the strangely complex
nature of the processes which underlie all our channels
of information ; we only find their true nature out when
phenomena are fundamentally analysed and seriously cross-questioned.
When we have pursued this line of investigation for many
years, we find that the important thing in the physical
Universe is Ether, and that matter is trivial in comparison.
Yet we can freely admit that matter takes such splendid
and beautiful forms that it is worthy of the continued study
of generations of scientific men ; and we need not wonder
that they become so enthusiastic over its properties that
they are able to imagine it the sole reality in existence.
That, however, is a mistake ; it constitutes a mechanism
actuated and wielded by mental and spiritual power, which
is dominant and supreme.