Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/639

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ATHEISM AND THE CHURCH.

reading without the use of the eyes. The subject who made the claim was a lady of education, culture, and social position, universally and justly respected. In answer to the request, I stated that by deductive reasoning it was established as firmly as the Copernican theory, or the law of the persistence of force, that no human creature could have any such power, and that therefore it would be unscientific to investigate any such claim; but as an amusement, and for the sake of determining whether the deception was intentional or unintentional, I would suggest and prepare some tests in which all the six sources of error would be excluded. This was done. The tests were of course not taken, but the result of the investigation was to demonstrate the interesting psychological fact that for years a graceful and agreeable lady had been deceiving not only strangers and friends, but even her own husband, by means of the very old and familiar "ballot-trick," and a not especially adroit method of performing it. The puzzling cases of starving girls, of invalid clairvoyants, of mediumship, that are constantly infesting and astonishing civilized society, are in many instances to be similarly explained. The "mind-readers" were originally self-deceived, since the physiological interpretation of that phenomenon is too complex and profound to be suggested, not to say comprehended, by the mass of those who are accustomed to practice that art. But at the present time the public performers probably understand, in a general way, the philosophy of their success, at least enough to know that their claims of a sixth sense are baseless.

Lying, like stealing, may become a passion, and, in like manner also, may concentrate all its force in some one direction, for folly as well as wisdom has its specialties and hobbies: there is a monomania for deceiving, where naught is gained save its own gratification; one who is in all other directions honorable and just may become an inebriate of falsifying, and be half his days intoxicated thereby.

 

ATHEISM AND THE CHURCH.
By Rev. G. H. CURTEIS.

OMNIA EXEUNT IN—THEOLOGIAM.[1] No branch of science appears to consider itself complete, nowadays, until it has issued at last into the vexed ocean of theology. Thus, Biology writes "Lay Sermons" in Professor Huxley; Physics acknowledges itself almost Christian in Professor Tyndall; Anthropology claims to be religious in Mr. Darwin; and Logic, in Mr. Spencer, confesses that "a religious system is a normal and essential factor in every evolving society."[2]

  1. Everything issues into theology.
  2. Spencer, "Sociology" (seventh edition, 1878), p. 313.