Beyond Space and Time

Beyond Space and Time


North Pacific Publishers
Portland, Oregon

First Printing
Published by Tuček & Tuček
by arrangement with NPP

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 95-68293



This volume is a continuation and extension of the subject matter of my previous scientific publications. In those earlier works, I demonstrated that a true and accurate representation of the entire physical universe can be deduced from two simple postulates as to the nature of space and time. With the aid of this complete and correct theoretical system, I was able to organize and systematize the previously existing knowledge derived from physical observation and measurement, and to clarify the physical relationships applicable to the far-out regions that are partially or totally inaccessible to observation. The present volume extends the scope of that work by examining the information about the existences outside (that is, independent of) the physical space-time universe, and the local manifestations of the outside existence that can be derived from the new and more complete knowledge of the space-time universe itself.

For purposes of convenient references in this presentation, the term “metaphysical” will be applied to the region outside space and time. This word has acquired a wide diversity of meanings since its original application to one of Aristotle’s works, but as the Encyclopedia Britannica puts it, “Whatever may be the historical origins of the term, ‘metaphysics’ has always connoted some antithesis between physical and non-physical inquiries,” and this is the significance that is being given to this term in the present work. The previous volumes dealt with the physical universe; this one extends the inquiry to the non-physical. A few additional physical subjects are given some consideration, particularly in the biological field, but these are only developed to the extent that is necessary in order to prepare the way for the metaphysical discussion.

The entire new development—that presented in this volume—is based on the premise that the conclusions reached in the previous physical study are correct. Without any assurance that the new concept of the nature of space and time developed in that study is valid, the present findings would be nothing more than an interesting new philosophical point of view to be added to the many already existing—a more logical and consistent system of thought than has heretofore been available—but otherwise not essentially different from previous philosophical works. Since the theoretical system presented in my previous books is still in the early stages of consideration by the scientific community, and is a long way from general acceptance, there will no doubt be those who contend that extending the scope of the work into the metaphysical field is premature, and that a more prolonged scrutiny of the original findings should precede any such extension. However, the results of the present extension of the investigation are, in a sense, an urgent message, in that they have an immediate and crucial application to all human life. In view of their extraordinary importance, it is scarcely appropriate to insist that their consideration be deferred until after the leisurely processes of the scientific community have had time to operate.

I have accompanied the development of the new system of physical theory by a proof that it gives a picture of the actual physical universe that is (or can be) correct in every detail. Ultimately, therefore, the validity of this new system will have to be conceded, however painful the necessary adjustments in thinking may be. In the meantime, there is no good reason why those individuals who are already fully or partially convinced of the authenticity of the new development, or those who have no intention of trying to pass judgment upon it, should have to wait for the slow-moving verification mechanisms of the scientific community to arrive at firm conclusions. Those who are interested in the subject matter are entitled to see what further information can be developed from an extension of the same lines of thought, if they so desire, even though such a departure from conventional patterns of thinking does not yet have the approval of the scientific Establishment.

Furthermore, even though non-scientists ordinarily accept the verdict of scientists on scientific questions, and scientists-in-general usually accept the verdict of the specialists in the particular field involved, there is no adequate reason why they must do so. Of course, if the subject matter is complex and highly technical, so that a thorough knowledge of the field is a prerequisite for an understanding, the layman is effectively ruled out in most instances, but this is not the case here. The essence of my new physical system, the Reciprocal System of physical theory, as I call it, is simple enough to be within the comprehension of anyone who has a reasonably good understanding of high school physics. Indeed, a worker in an allied field—chemistry or engineering, for instance—has some advantage over the professional physicist, as he is less committed to orthodox lines of thought. The individual who finds the results of this metaphysical investigation rational and reasonable is therefore in a position to exercise his own judgment as to the validity of the claims that I have made with respect to the underlying physical theory, or to accept the judgment of the small, but growing, minority of physicists who agree with my conclusions.

Some comments about the wide field of coverage of the work may be in order in view of the prevailing parochial attitude that only the philosopher is qualified to talk about philosophy, only the biologist is qualified to talk about biology, and so on. Of course, it must be conceded that the vast amount of detailed knowledge that is now available makes some degree of specialization on the part of anyone who attempts to push back the frontiers of that knowledge absolutely essential. It does not necessarily follow, however, that the slice out of the body of knowledge which constitutes the field of specialization must be taken vertically in this usual manner, beginning with the fundamentals of a particular subject and following it down into more and more detail. It is equally logical, even though much less common, to take the slice horizontally, dealing only with fundamentals, but with the fundamentals of many subjects. This is what I have done. My previous publications dealt with the basic aspects of physics, chemistry, astronomy, economics, and the philosophy of science. This volume extends the consideration to the fundamentals of biology, religion, and philosophy in general. As the text shows very clearly, the relations between the fundamentals of these different disciplines are just as close, in their own way, as the relations between the various phenomena included in the vertical slices that constitute the usual fields of specialization.

It is not uncommon to find two or more sets of specialists studying the same accumulation of facts from different viewpoints. For example, the chemist explores the area along the borderline between chemistry and physics and publishes his results in the Journal of Physical Chemistry. The physicist works in the same area and publishes his results in the Journal of Chemical Physics. The same kind of a situation exists here. I am examining some of the fundamentals of biology, for instance, not as a specialist in biology but as a specialist in fundamentals; a “fundamentalist,” we might appropriately say, even though the term has been preempted for use in a different connotation. All of the conclusions that I have reached are the conclusions of a specialist in a distinct, well-defined field, notwithstanding the fact that the area included within this field has been carved out of the general realm of knowledge in a somewhat unusual manner.

It should be understood that this work is not a treatise on metaphysics in general; it is simply a report of a pioneer expedition into this hitherto scientifically uncharted region. Subjects that are not covered herein simply represent territory that was not explored. Perhaps some of this unexplored territory will remain permanently inaccessible to science. Other areas may be penetrated by future explorations. In any event, there is no special significance in the absence of any particular subject from these pages.

It is in fact obvious that science should be pressed to say all it can about any problem which is at all susceptible to scientific treatment.1 (Henry Margenau)

We probably have no very good idea today of the range of problems that will be accessible to science.2 (J. Robert Oppenheimer)

There is no field that will always remain the special province of metaphysics and into which scientific research can never carry any light; there are no “eternally unexplorable” areas.3 (Richard von Mises)

01 Introduction

Chapter 1


To the present-day scientist, in his capacity as a scientist, the universe is simply a mechanism, a large-scale replica of the mechanical marvels that are such prominent features of our modern life, and he accords nothing but a summary dismissal to those ideas and those things which cannot be accommodated within his mechanistic framework. As expressed by Herbert J. Muller, “men of science, men given to ‘realism,’ are likely to make a clean sweep of old interests and sentiments as so much rubbish. They regard religion as superstition, metaphysics as moonshine, art as primitive pastime, and all ritual as monkey-business.” 4 It must be conceded that this disparagement of the non-scientific is not without some element of justification in view of the striking contrast between the spectacular progress of science and the relative backwardness of the non-scientific fields. Vannevar Bush states the case in this manner

The enthusiasm, the exuberance, that properly accompanies the great achievements of science, the thrill of at last beginning to understand nature and the universe about us, in all their awesome magnificence, continues to lead many men all over the world, especially young men, on to this new materialism. 5

Furthermore, the materialistically inclined scientist is actively supported and encouraged in this attitude by various modern philosophies that emphasize scientific findings and deny or belittle all claims that knowledge can be acquired by other means. Speaking particularly of logical positivism, one of the recent philosophies of this nature, C. E. M. Joad makes this comment:

Under its influence young men and women confidently affirm that there are no absolutes, that metaphysics is nonsense, that the scientific is the only method which reaches valid results and that the order of reality which science studies is the only order that there is.6

Of course, not all scientists go to these extremes, and even those who do share the definitely mechanistic viewpoint are seldom able to maintain this attitude twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. Most of them lead a double life, thinking and reasoning scientifically in their offices, classrooms, and laboratories; and then, as the working day draws to a close, laying aside science and all that it implies. “At one hour scientists, at another they are Christians or common men,” says William James, “and, holding thus the two ends of the chain, they are careless of the intermediate connection.”

This divorce of the scientist’s working credo from the beliefs that govern his personal life is his way of escaping the dilemma that faces him because of the long-standing conflict between science and religion: a conflict which, in spite of all of the valiant efforts to downgrade it that have been, and are being, made by those who are distressed by the thought of having to choose between the two, grows ever sharper as the two viewpoints come more clearly into focus. “Ever since the seventeenth century,” reports Bertrand Russell, “those whom William James described as the ‘tender-minded’ have been engaged in a desperate struggle with the mechanical view of the course of nature which physical science seems to impose.”8 A. C. Benjamin expresses the same thought in these words: “One of the oldest conflicts in the history of thought is that between science and religion… the struggle… has been long and bitter.”9

The initial advantages in this long and bitter conflict were all on the side of the ecclesiastics. Thousands of years of undisputed sway over the minds of mankind had put them in an almost impregnable position, and in addition they had the enormous advantage of promulgating a doctrine which the human race wants to believe. Even the present-day scientists, with relatively few exceptions, prefer the non-scientific viewpoint, and this accounts for the fact that so many of them, not being able to reconcile religion with the scientific principles in accordance with which they carry on their daily work, evade the issue by keeping the two locked up in separate compartments of their lives.

Notwithstanding the strongly entrenched position occupied by the religious forces, the opposing scientific viewpoint has made, and is continuing to make, important gains. Like many another Great Power, the religions have overextended their positions and have come into conflict with science on the scientists’ own ground. As a result, the ecclesiastics have been forced into making a series of embarrassing—in some cases even humiliating—retreats. Even the most inflexible adherent of religious doctrine now admits that many of the religious pronouncements concerning the physical world that only a few centuries ago brought torture or death to those who dared to question them are totally false. On some other issues, such as the validity of the evolutionary theories, for example, the religious forces are themselves divided, and the viewpoint of science is rapidly gaining ground. Even more significant is the fact that there is a growing movement within religious circles to abandon the metaphysical aspects of religious doctrine and to define religious objectives in terms of human relationships.

A substantial segment of present-day theological thinking has even gone so far as to abandon reason to the scientists and to base religious doctrine on irrationality. “Religious faith,” contends Reinhold Niebuhr, “cannot be simply subordinated to reason or made to stand under its judgment,”10 and Hurlbutt reports

Wherever one looks in modern theology, there is found the constant rejection of the methods of science, of reason, whether inductive or deductive, as pathways… to the solution of man’s problems.11

Such a retreat from reason comes close to conceding defeat. Yet it would be rash to assert that the victories which science has gained in these initial skirmishes presage complete dominance in the long run. If we compare the ground that has been gained thus far with the extent of the metaphysical field as a whole, it is evident that science has thus far captured only a few outlying positions. The main bastions of religious strength have not yet been touched. There are aspects of existence which, so far as we can tell, are altogether irreconcilable with the well-disciplined universal mechanism that the scientist visualizes. As expressed by Richard Schlegel, “much of what is closest and most important to man’s interests is outside of science.” 12 The mere fact that the rank-and-file scientist still tends to leave his scientific convictions behind when he closes the door of his laboratory is sufficient evidence that the “official” position which science takes with respect to these matters is far from satisfactory even within its own ranks.

Of course, the scientist who thinks seriously about these problems is not satisfied with the religious answers either, particularly because religion furnishes none of the logical and mathematical proof that is so dear to his heart, but demands that its assertions be accepted on faith. Men of science have a strong distrust of any claim to validity that rests upon faith alone. Many of them are inclined to agree with the schoolboy quoted by William James, who defined the term in this fashion: “Faith is when you believe something that you know ain’t true.”13 Bertrand Russell is merely speaking a little more diplomatically when he defines faith as “a conviction which cannot be shaken by contrary evidence.”14 But when we dig a little deeper, we find that the scientific repudiation of faith is not nearly so definite and uncompromising as would appear on the surface.

The doctrines of the world’s great religions all rest upon a proposition which we may express in this fashion: There is an existence outside the physical universe. (This is true even where the religion is not theistic.) No proof of this assertion is offered—at least, no proof of a character acceptable to science—and we are told that it must be accepted on faith. Scientists look upon this very skeptically, and those who hold to the strictly scientific point of view reject the thesis on the ground that there is no competent evidence of such an outside existence. Every fact to which we have access, these dissenters say, can reasonably be explained in terms of the physical universe of science.

This conclusion is debatable, and will be discussed further in the subsequent pages, but in any event, even if the scientific skeptics were correct, this would not, in itself, constitute a refutation of the religious thesis. To complete the negative argument, the scientist must go a step farther and assert that there is no existence outside the physical universe. This is no more susceptible to proof than the converse proposition. The mere fact that the scientist sees nothing which he is willing to accept as evidence of such an existence does not prove anything. Hence the scientist’s acceptance of this negative proposition is another act of faith, not essentially different from the act of faith that religious belief requires.

A negative assumption has exactly the same logical standing as a positive assumption; it is only an assumption, nothing more. Thus, so far as the basic premises are concerned, the position of science with respect to metaphysical existence is not in any degree superior to that of religion. Science claims to have superior methods and procedures for treating factual matter, and has achieved some very impressive successes which tend to substantiate these claims, but these scientific methods and procedures cannot be put to use until there are some facts on which to operate, and in this instance, there has been nothing of a metaphysical nature that science would recognize as factual. It follows that no conclusion which science has heretofore reached in this area is actually scientific in the accepted sense of that term. The orthodox scientist’s conclusion that there is no metaphysical existence does not rest upon any scientific grounds; it rests solely upon the assumption that what science has not thus far been able to do—to find any factual evidence of such an existence—cannot be done: a highly presumptuous assertion that cannot be justified either on empirical or on theoretical grounds. If we look at this situation from a detached point of view, without any bias or prejudice, we can hardly avoid the conclusion that, as matters now stand, there is a stalemate. Religion cannot prove that there is a metaphysical existence, and science cannot disprove that existence.

When we pass from the general proposition of metaphysical existence to the details of that existence, the position of science becomes much stronger, in that even though it cannot prove that there is no such existence, or that such existence is improbable, it can prove that some of the specific contentions of the opposition are not valid. One serious weakness in religious dogma is that it portrays all of its tenets as emanations from the Supreme Authority and hence equally authoritative. The great multiplicity of religious beliefs with their bewildering variety of conflicting doctrines thus throws a dark cloud over religion in general. Where there is a definite conflict between two contentions, at least one of the contenders must be wrong, in part if not in total, and it is thus evident that the great majority of the world’s religions are wrong in many particulars. If all of their doctrines are equally authoritative, as most religious groups contend, then the obvious fact that errors exist in some of these doctrines leads to the conclusion that none of them is valid, at least for the reasons given.

However logical the foregoing analysis may be, it makes little impression on religious leaders or their dedicated followers, as they are not much interested in religion in general. Their vital interest is in their own particular doctrines, and here they have an invulnerable position. Each religious group simply contends that its tenets are correct and that the existence of conflicts merely shows that the beliefs held by others are wrong. As long as it is merely a question of one man’s faith against another’s, this confidence that it is everyone else who is out of step is sufficient to insulate religion against any shock due to the clash of discordant doctrines. For thousands of years, religions have assailed each other by every means at their command without in any way lessening the general conviction that some religion must be preaching the eternal truth.

The advent of science in the midst of this picture has introduced an altogether new element. Science does not say that certain religious assertions are wrong because they conflict with scientific principles; it says they are wrong because they conflict with the facts, and it is prepared to prove that point. The religious establishments have fought this proof every inch of the way, and more than one scientific “heretic” has lost his life in the combat; but neither force nor persuasion can hold the human mind captive forever, and the churches have had to concede defeat on one scientific issue after another. The claim of divine authority for all ecclesiastical pronouncements has now become a boomerang. As Whitehead puts it, “The result of the continued repetition of this undignified retreat, during many generations, has at last almost entirely destroyed the intellectual authority of religious thinkers.”15 If the most cherished tenets of religious belief have no more backing than these now discredited religious contentions, what credence can be given to any of them? Thus runs the thinking of an important segment of present-day thought, particularly among the youth who have been taught to draw their own conclusions rather than blindly accepting the word of authority.

But on sober reflection, we must recognize that there is a flaw in this argument. Religious doctrines do not emanate directly from the Higher Authority; they are promulgated by the ecclesiastical establishment ostensibly on the basis of written documents or oral traditions handed down from earlier times. Thus, all that the scientists have demonstrated by their iconoclastic victories is that the religious hierarchy was wrong in these specific instances and hence is not infallible, a point that the more “liberal” religious leaders are quite willing to concede. This being true, the hierarchy may likewise be wrong when they assert that all of the tenets of their faith emanate from the Deity and are therefore equally authoritative. Indeed, a very elementary knowledge of human nature is sufficient to suggest that the original religious doctrine, whatever it may be and however it may have originated, is likely to be liberally embroidered with additions and interpretations by the priesthood by the time it is officially promulgated to the laity.

The findings of science in this area, limited as they are to a relatively few rather peripheral sectors of religious thought, therefore do not preclude the existence of genuine metaphysical principles that are as authentic and as authoritative as the religious organizations claim. This is another of the many cases where the general tendency to find “guilt by association” is wholly unjustified. The scientist, or the college student, or the man-in-the-street who finds much of the religious doctrine with which he comes in contact unbelievable, distasteful, or even absurd, is making a serious mistake if he concludes that this invalidates all religious doctrine.

Summarizing the foregoing discussion, we may say that a careful and unbiased study of the present-day conflict between science and religion leads to the conclusion that, as matters now stand, religion is not able to demonstrate, in any factual way, the reality of any existence outside the physical universe known to the scientist. On the other hand, science is equally unable to prove that there is no such existence. Scientists have disproved some of the contentions of religious organizations, but they have no adequate grounds on which to deny the possibility that other religious assertions may be wholly or partially valid.

The thoughtful individual who tries to evaluate the realities of existence for himself can hardly be satisfied with either of these opposing positions. He cannot be satisfied with ex cathedra assertions that he is asked to accept “on faith,” which, in the present context, merely means “without proof.” But if he is unhappy about being expected to put his trust in unsupported assertions that certain metaphysical entities exist, he is likewise unhappy about being asked to believe the equally unsupported assertion that such entities do not exist—all the more so because he would very much prefer that they did exist.

He is willing to go along with the scientists’ basic premise that the universe is orderly and rational, and is sympathetic with their reluctance to concede the reality of anything of which there is no reliable physical evidence, but, at the same time, he has a strong conviction that there is an underlying purpose in man’s existence. He agrees with Fred Hoyle that “the emergence of intelligent life is not a meaningless accident.”16 He must turn, then, to religion, or at least to some form of metaphysics, as science is completely silent on this score. When we look at the situation from this viewpoint, the seemingly paradoxical behavior of the average scientist, who accepts the scientific thesis in his professional work and the religious thesis in his private life, is quite logical, after all. He does not want to give up either reason or purpose, and pending further clarification, he therefore recognizes each one in that aspect of his life in which it is most clearly applicable. Von Weizsacker, for example, tells us on page 121 of his book The Relevance of Science

Modern scientists in general find it very difficult to think of a religious interpretation of natural law as anything but an additional tenet, probably mythical and certainly not logically connected with the concept of laws of nature.17

Here he is speaking as a scientist, but on page 77 of the same book he lays his scientific convictions aside, disregards for the time being his concept of religious ideas as “probably mythical,” and states simply and unequivocally, “I am a Christian, or I should rather say: I try to be a Christian.”

For some, this has created a very difficult situation. As expressed by du Nouy

It cannot be contested that the heart of many men is the stage of a conflict between the strictly intellectual activity of the brain, based on the progress of science, and the intuitive, religious self. The greater the sincerity of the man, the more violent is the conflict.18

Edwin C. Kemble gives us this personal report

Throughout my life I have been subject to inner tension because science pulls one way, while my basic loyalty to the spirit and aspirations of Christianity pulls another. That tension is still with me.19

Others simply recognize that this is a problem that they will have to live with for the time being:

It is possible to accept the fundamentals both of science, and of religion, as enshrined in the form natural to each man, and wait patiently for time to resolve discrepancies. This attitude, held consciously or sub-consciously by more people than is generally realized, can be defended on logical and on historical grounds.20 (Sir William Dampier)

This is the situation as it stood prior to the development of the Reciprocal System of theory, the new general theory of the physical universe described in the previous scientific publications listed opposite the title page of this volume. The formulation of this comprehensive and far-reaching theory, and the demonstration that it is a true and accurate representation of the physical facts as they exist in the observable universe, now provides a much broader scientific base from which to survey the more general situation of existence as a whole. Space and time, in particular, have previously been beyond the reach of scientific techniques, and questions concerning their nature and relationship have by necessity been relegated to the metaphysical realm, in spite of the fact that they are the foundation stones upon which the physical structure stands. The development of the Reciprocal System has now brought these two basic entities within the boundaries of science. Space and time are as explicitly defined in this new theoretical system as any other physical entity; in fact, it is the explicit definition of space and time that defines the properties and relations of the entire physical universe. Hitherto, a consideration of space and time has been the first step into the great unknown beyond the reach of science. Now the definite and specific knowledge of the nature and properties of these two entities that is supplied by the Reciprocal System constitutes a solid and stable platform from which we can carry out a scientific exploration of some of the more accessible areas in the more distant realm: the regions beyond space and time.

The pages that follow present the results of such an exploration. By taking full advantage of the more advanced point of departure that is now available, it has been possible to apply scientific techniques to the resolution of a large number of metaphysical questions—a surprisingly large number, in fact. Not all of these are directly connected with religion, but previous ideas as to the reality of metaphysical existence, the characteristics of that existence, and the relations between the metaphysical existence and the physical world have come primarily from religious sources, and hence a scientific inquiry into the metaphysical field necessarily involves, among other things, a critical review of some of the most important religious doctrines. Indeed, the drastic modification of the present view of the relation between science and religion that is required by the findings of this investigation can be regarded as the most significant result of the work.

Inasmuch as religion is an emotion-charged subject, it is scarcely possible to subject religious doctrine to scientific scrutiny without arousing some intense antagonism. As James B. Conant puts it, “Any attempt to relate scientific thought to ‘the philosophical and religious ways of seeking truth’ is a perilous undertaking.”21 In order to minimize this emotional impact, at least to some degree, the presentation in this volume will be addressed specifically to scientists, more particularly those scientists who feel the need to reconcile the existing conflict between the scientific and religious influence affecting their daily lives. The conclusions reached in the study are, however, equally applicable to the human race in general.

02 The Nature of Science


The Nature of Science

The primary objective of science is to gain an understanding of the universe in which we live; that is, to acquire knowledge. Other branches of human endeavor share the same objective, but the special feature of science which sets it apart from the others is that it restricts its inquiry to those items which are inherently factual; that is, if they are anything other than observable facts, they are derived initially from a consideration of such facts and are capable of being tested by comparison with other facts. When so verified, these items become part of a permanent and ever-growing body of factual knowledge: scientific knowledge, we may say.

One of the ways in which this permanent store of scientific knowledge is built up is by ascertaining more physical facts through processes of observation and measurement. This is the activity in which the great majority of scientists, aside from the teachers, are engaged, and the facts that are thus discovered are the foundation stones of science. But if scientific knowledge consisted entirely of a vast accumulation of isolated facts, it would be impossible for anyone to achieve more than a tiny fraction of the understanding which is the primary objective of scientific activity. In order to gain a broad understanding, it is necessary to classify these facts and to discover some general relations between the classes, so that we can deal with a reasonable number of items rather than with the enormous mass of separate facts that emerge from the labors of the observers and experimenters.

The process by which these general relations are derived from the individual items is inductive reasoning. Unlike the inverse process, deductive reasoning, which proceeds in a straightforward way from the general to the particular, and arrives at incontrovertible conclusions, providing that both the premises and the reasoning are valid, inductive reasoning is essentially a recourse to probability. An independent verification of the conclusions thus reached is essential. The standard procedure recognized by science consists first of a study of the facts that appear to be relevant to the situation under consideration and an attempt to locate some systematic variation or other indication of a connection between two or more classes of items (Step 1). On the basis of whatever may be found in this study, a theory is devised to account for the findings (Step 2). If it is narrow in scope, or lacking in adequate support, the theory is usually called a hypothesis. The consequences of the theory are then developed in detail (Step 3). Finally the scientist goes back to the accumulated store of scientific knowledge, perhaps augmented by further observations or experiments suggested by the theory, and tests the theory by comparing its consequences with the observed facts (Step 4).

If there is a complete and exact agreement, the validity of the theory is confirmed—in the language of science, the theory is verified—providing that the facts available for comparison are reliable and adequate in scope and number. If verification is not possible, but there is a reasonable degree of agreement between theory and observation, the theory is usable in practical application until something better comes along, and it also constitutes a base from which a more accurate theory may possibly be derived by addition or modification. If there are major disagreements between the theory and the facts, the theory is neither correct nor useful. Some theories are called laws. This term is usually defined in a way which equates it with a verified theory, an item of established scientific knowledge, but in practice, it is applied rather indiscriminately to any of the theories in current use.

The procedure as described is subject to some degree of variation, although the variability is more apparent than real. Many scientists insist that certain theories which they have formulated were the result of “hunches” or accidents rather than being due to a systematic study of the relevant facts. But it is evident that the benefits of serendipity seldom accrue to those who are not qualified to receive them. “Chance favors only the prepared mind,” as Louis Pasteur expressed it. Here the study of the facts has taken place just as surely, even though less obviously, as in the normal situation. Similarly, many scientists omit all or part of the verification procedure. But sooner or later someone has to complete the job, and either supply the verification or demonstrate that the theory is incorrect.

In order to qualify for the status of verified scientific knowledge, an item must be capable of being stated explicitly so that it can be tested by observation or measurement, it must have been so tested in a very large number of individual cases distributed over the region to which the item is applicable, it must agree with observation in a substantial number of these tests, and it must not be inconsistent with observation in any instance. These are rigid rules, to be sure, but an immense number of individual items have already qualified under them, and more are continually being added.

Some philosophers contend that there can be no such verification; that we cannot be absolutely certain of anything in the physical realm, and hence there is nothing that we know with certainty. The best we can do, they say, is to establish a strong probability of being correct. From a strict mathematical point of view, this is quite true. It must be admitted that physical issues cannot be settled with mathematical certainty. But we are not mathematical abstractions existing in a vacuum; we are human beings existing in a physical universe, and our science is an activity aimed at gaining an understanding of that universe. So we are not striving for an unobtainable mathematical certainty, a state in which the probability of error is zero. The objective of science is physical certainty, a state in which the probability of error is negligible.

The individual who applies the principles of science to practical problems, the engineer, is perfectly safe in basing his calculations on Newton’s Laws of Motion, or on Ohm’s Law, or on the conservation laws. Even though the validity of these laws, within the range in which he uses them, may not be mathematically certain from the viewpoint of philosophers, it is physically certain, and there is no need to give the philosophers’ hair-splitting a second thought. Our permanent store of scientific knowledge consists of an accumulation of items of this kind, the validity of which is physically certain.

Even those philosophers and philosophically oriented scientists who stress the lack of mathematical certainty in science are compelled by the weight of circumstances to admit that mathematical certainty is not an essential factor in human knowledge. Bertrand Russell, for example, tells us very explicitly that there is no certainty outside mathematics:

The inferences upon which we implicitly rely in this [scientific] investigation… differ from those of deductive logic and mathematics in being not demonstrative… . Except in mathematics, almost all of the inferences upon which we actually rely are of this sort.22

But having made this point, he immediately draws the teeth out of it by admitting that “In some cases the inference is so strong as to amount to practical certainty.” This practical certainty is, of course, the same thing that we have called physical certainty. The terms “physical certainty” and “mathematical certainty” have been used in this work in preference to any of the alternatives that are available primarily as a means of emphasizing the fact that these are the kinds of certainty that apply in the physical and mathematical fields respectively. It should be recognized, however, that, as here used, these terms specify only the nature of the certainty, not the nature of the knowledge. The validity of a logical proposition, for instance, may be a matter of mathematical certainty, whereas it is possible, as will be shown in the pages that follow, to establish the validity of certain metaphysical propositions with physical certainty, as herein defined.

Physical certainty should not be regarded as an inferior kind of certainty. It is not only all that we need for physical purposes; it is all that we can use. The task of science is to identify and accumulate physically certain items of knowledge and to assemble them into a systematic and orderly structure. Of course, the subject matter with which science is concerned cannot all be classified as scientific knowledge. Many of the items with which scientists are currently dealing have not yet been verified, and these are merely “work in progress” for the present. In the course of further processing of these items, many of them will be found defective and must be discarded, just as is true in the fabrication of physical goods. But inclusion of such items within the scientific field is justified on the ground that the processing which they are undergoing is directed toward qualifying them as scientific knowledge. Any item which is inherently incapable of being factually tested in some manner is not scientific, irrespective of whether or not it may be regarded as knowledge on the basis of some other criterion, but those items which can be so tested, at least in principle, and are now in the process of clarification and development, are scientific even though they are not yet knowledge. When and if they are verified, they become scientific knowledge and are added to the growing accumulation.

Many scientists and philosophers deny the existence of permanent and certain scientific knowledge, even when certainty is defined in a manner similar to that in which the term is used in this work. For instance, Marshall Walker, a physicist, tells us that “The notion that scientific knowledge is certain is an illusion,” and in support of this assertion he says that “new models are often quite radically different from their predecessors and often require the abandonment of ideas that have long been considered obvious and axiomatic.”23 Max Black, a philosopher, has this to say: “We want to stress particularly the fact that all scientific generalizations, laws, and principles are approximations.”24

Walker’s comment is an illustration of one of the common errors in thinking that underlies this denial of scientific certainty. He bases his conclusion on the fact that many “models” and presumably “obvious and axiomatic” ideas ultimately had to be abandoned. But the truth is that few models ever qualify as scientific knowledge, since they rarely attempt to cover all aspects of the phenomenon with which they deal, and consequently they are inherently erroneous in part or in their entirety. As Walker himself points out, “Scientists have learned by humiliating experience that their model is not reality.”25 The failure of models to stand the test of time has no relevance to the status of firmly established knowledge. Likewise, if an assertedly “obvious and axiomatic” idea can be definitely verified, then it constitutes scientific knowledge and it is both certain and permanent. If it cannot be so verified, then it is not, in fact, “obvious and axiomatic,” nor is it scientific knowledge, and the necessity of discarding it has no significance in the present context.

The statement by Black is equally erroneous. In many areas, observation and experiment yield results that are physically certain. “Science does possess a consolidated corpus, much of which does not change,”26 says Alvin M. Weinberg. L. L. Whyte is similarly explicit, and goes into more detail:

Physical results which do not depend on measurement can be precise; some numerical conclusions are final, being free from possible sources of ambiguity or error; many aspects of the universe are of finite complexity; various forms of equilibrium ordering, once identified, are wholly objective; in many realms the scope for discovery may be finite.27

Generalizations based on these physically certain facts are themselves physically certain if properly derived and verified. Furthermore, the results of other less accurate observations or measurements are equally certain if properly expressed. The point that often leads to a misunderstanding of the true situation is that generalizations based on such results can usually be verified only to a certain degree of accuracy and within certain limits. Thus we cannot ordinarily verify a statement in the form of y = 3x, where x and y are physical variables. In order to be verifiable, the statement will usually have to be put in the form: Within the limits x - a and x = b, y = 3x to an accuracy of one part in 10Z. When thus expressed and verified, this statement constitutes exact and permanent knowledge, regardless of whether some future findings may show that the relationship is invalid somewhere outside the limits specified, or that there is a deviation of less than one part in 10Z under some circumstances. As du Nouy points out, “Science has never had to retract an affirmation based on facts that are well established within accurately defined limits.”28

The essential difference between science and the non-scientific branches of human thought is that, instead of deriving all of his conclusions from factual foundations and verifying them by checking them against the facts in the manner described in the preceding paragraphs, the non-scientist bases many of his most significant conclusions on assumed premises of some kind: principles, forces, or existences postulated for specific purposes and not capable of any independent factual verification. In earlier days, these ad hoc assumptions were made in terms of “demons”—supernatural beings of one kind or another who took care of whatever could not be explained on the basis of available factual information. Today the language is different, but otherwise there is no change. The demons are still with us under other names.

A corollary of the foregoing which is of particular significance in connection with the objective of this present work is that there is no inherently scientific field or inherently non-scientific field. The essence of science is not in the subject matter but in the factual treatment. Science has left certain fields to the philosopher or to the theologian, not because the subject matter is necessarily non-scientific but because it has not heretofore been possible to assemble enough facts in these areas to make scientific treatment possible. What this present work has done is to take advantage of an opportunity to obtain some new factual knowledge about these matters, and thus to surmount the obstacle that has hitherto stood in the way of the application of scientific techniques. Metaphysical subjects have previously been non-scientific, not because they are metaphysical, but because no one has been able to see any way in which they could be connected with facts susceptible to observation. Such subjects became scientific work-in-progress just as soon as a possible means of connecting them with observed facts was discovered, and all of the relations derived through exploitation of this connection became scientific knowledge just as soon as they were firmly established.

The concept of science and the scientific method that has been described in the foregoing paragraphs, and will be used in the exploration of the metaphysical field in this work, is what may be called the traditional concept: the viewpoint of Galileo, Newton, and the other great pioneers of science, and the concept to which most rank-and-file scientists, in both the pure and applied branches of science, still subscribe (usually without realizing that there is any option). But in order to understand why a major overhauling of scientific theory was necessary before the physical situation could be clarified to the extent required to make an advance into the metaphysical region possible, it must be realized that science is no longer following the traditional practices and procedures. Theoretical physics, generally regarded as the science par excellence, so much so that the term “modern science” more often than not refers to physics alone, is now dominated by a group of individuals who have repudiated almost all of the items included in the traditional concept of scientific practice.

The individuals, the inventive scientists we may call them, reject the traditional view that the results of scientific activity take the form of a permanent and ever growing store of scientific knowledge. “Scientific truth is necessarily tentative, subject to correction,”29 asserts Margenau, while Bronowski tells us that “Scientists know what the layman seldom grasps, that a scientific law is not permanent.”30 Max Black, looking at the situation from a position farther over on the philosophical side, puts it in this fashion:

Scientists can never hope to be in a position to know the truth, nor would they have any means of recognizing it if it came into their possession.31

The great gulf between this pattern of thinking and the traditional viewpoint of science is well illustrated by comparing the foregoing statements with the following quotations from two of the foremost scientists of modern times:

It is the characteristic mark of every true science that the general and objective knowledge which it arrives at has a universal validity. Therefore the definite results which it obtains demand an unqualified acknowledgment and must always hold good.32 (Max Planck)

It must be remembered that in the sphere of exact natural science conclusive solutions have repeatedly been found for certain limited fields of experience. The questions, for instance, which can be formulated with the concepts of Newton’s mechanics also found their eternally conclusive answers in Newton’s laws and their mathematical inferences.33 (Werner Heisenberg)

Some of the inventive scientists go a step farther and not only contend that we cannot know the truth, but that the rational external world which the traditional scientists have attempted, and are attempting, to explore in search of that truth does not actually exist, and that scientific concepts and theories are merely inventions of the human mind, useful for dealing with relationships between physical phenomena, but having no deeper significance. R. B. Lindsay points out that the essence of the difference between the two viewpoints is contained in the question as to whether the task of physical science is discovery or invention:

Application of the term “discovery” implies that there is an external world “out there,” wholly independent of the observer and with built-in regularities and laws waiting to be uncovered and revealed. They have always been there and presumably always will be; our task is by diligent search to find out what they are.34

This is the traditional viewpoint on which the present work is predicated. For his part, Lindsay rejects this concept and sets forth his creed in these words:

We are essentially viewing the purpose of physics as a scientific discipline as invention rather than discovery… . The term “invention” implies that the physicist uses not only his observations but his imaginative powers to construct points of view that identify with experience.

The most significant result of this substitution of “invention” for “discovery” by a large and influential segment of the scientific community has been the introduction of demons into physical theory on a wholesale scale. “Arbitrary abstract constructs and postulates are freely used in the building of physical theories,” Lindsay admits, and many of these “abstract” inventions—probably most of them—are simply demons, ad hoc assumptions no different, except in their semantic dress, from the demons of the non-scientific disciplines. Inventive science, the science of these modern theorists, therefore differs from traditional science in exactly the same way in which non-science differs from traditional science. Most of the fundamental concepts of so-called “modern science” (that is, present-day theoretical physics) are demons, not essentially different in their logical status from the demons of primitive human thought.

There is no significant difference, for instance, between the “rain god” that brings a much-needed shower for the benefit of the crops of the primitive tiller of the soil and the “nuclear force” that holds the hypothetical nucleus of the atom together for the benefit of the modern theoretical physicist. In each case, some kind of an explanation of a phenomenon is wanted, and in the absence of anything concrete, the expedient adopted is to invent a demon, a hypothetical entity designed specifically for the purpose, which has no other function and whose existence cannot be substantiated by any independent evidence. Strictly speaking, the “nuclear force” is even less scientific than the “rain god,” since it is what we might call a double demon; that is, the nucleus itself is a demon, an ad hoc invention totally lacking in any independent confirmation, and the “nuclear force” is thus hypothesis piled upon hypothesis.

Each cultural or professional group has its own jargon, and this makes the explanations sound different, but their essential character would remain unchanged if the primitive man propitiated the “rain force” and the physicist invoked the aid of the “god of the nucleus.” A demon is a demon, whatever linguistic clothes he may wear. The occupational status of the individual who invents him and the field of thought in which he is located are both irrelevant. A purely factual conclusion reached by a philosopher or a theologian, or in the field of philosophy or the field of religion, is just as scientific as a factual conclusion reached by a scientist in the physical field. On the other hand, non-factual conclusions derived on the basis of a demon are just as non-scientific if they are reached by a scientist in the field of physics as they are if they are reached by a theologian in the field of religion.

Another familiar demon of modern science is Einstein’s “curved space.” Here, again, there is no independent evidence of the postulated phenomenon: no evidence that space is, or can be, curved or distorted in any way. The postulated curvature is purely an ad hoc construction, designed for this particular purpose and not applicable to anything else: a typical demon. A comparison of this theory of Einstein’s with Newton’s views of the gravitational phenomenon illustrates the difference between a purely scientific approach and one fortified with demonology. Newton utilized only observable physical entities and relationships derived from them. Mass, acceleration, and distance are all capable of observation and measurement. Force is defined as the product of mass and acceleration. Thus Newton’s gravitational force, unlike the “nuclear force” previously discussed, was not an unknown force—a purely hypothetical creation—it was a known force of unknown origin, a genuinely scientific concept.

If Newton had attempted to explain the origin of the gravitational force, he would have had no option but to resort to a demon, as he was unable to find any scientific explanation. But he resisted the temptation to indulge in speculation on this point, and confined his theories to factual matters. Einstein, however, belonged to the inventive school of science, and to him the proper procedure was to devise a demon, “a free invention of the human mind,” as he called it, to account for the gravitational phenomenon. He specifically condemned Newton’s factual approach. Newton, he points out, “believed that the basic concepts and laws of his system could be derived from experience.” But, says Einstein, the foundations of theory derived in this manner are “fictitious,”35 and he lays down the dictum that “the axiomatic basis of theoretical physics cannot be an inference from experience, but must be free invention.”36 In other words, theoretical physics, according to Einstein’s viewpoint, must be based on demons. In the theories developed by Einstein, Bohr, and others of the inventive school of scientists, this is just the course that has been followed. Quantum mechanics, the second of the two principal developments of modern physical theory, relies even more heavily on demons than Einstein’s relativity.

The retreat of the inventive scientists from the purely factual concepts and relations of traditional science back to the demons of the non-scientific disciplines has been due to identically the same factors that cause the non-scientists to adopt these tactics; that is, a strong desire to produce answers to important problems, coupled with an inability to find any logical and factual approach to these problems. At one time it was thought that conventional science would provide such an approach. The so-called “classical” laws of physics had scored some very impressive successes, and it seemed altogether possible that with a few additions and refinements these laws would ultimately encompass the whole of existence. Then, almost overnight, a series of new discoveries demolished this expectation, bringing to light new facts and new phenomena with which the classical laws were unable to cope. The most strenuous efforts to fit these discoveries into the classical system or to construct a new system of theory along traditional lines that would be applicable in the areas outside the scope of the classical laws have been completely unsuccessful.

As a result, those scientists closest to the problem, the theoretical physicists, have swung all the way from their original overoptimistic viewpoint, attributing almost unlimited capabilities to the theories then current, to the other extreme: an overpessimistic viewpoint which doubts the rationality of nature and denies the possibility of formulating clear and unequivocal theories to account for the new phenomena. In the bitterness of their disillusionment, these theorists have turned their backs on the traditional goals and methods of science, and like those of their predecessors who were confronted with similar difficult situations—primitive men, the philosophers, the theologians, and others—they have resorted to “free inventions,” calling upon demons to supply the theoretical foundations that they were unable to construct from facts.

For the last fifty years, our leading physicists have been engaged in ruthlessly discarding previously sacrosanct “laws of Nature” (or “rules of logic”), and replacing them with obscure mental constructs whose quasi-mystical implications are hidden in technical jargon and mathematical formalism.37 (Arthur Koestler)

The almost incredible extent to which the practitioners of “modern science” have jettisoned not only the traditional methods and goals of science, but established processes of reasoning and logic as well, is largely hidden from the general public because the current literature of the theoretical physicists employs a jargon that is incomprehensible not only to the layman but to the rank-and-file scientist as well. But a good idea of the true state of affairs can be gained from an examination of the statements of those scientific writers who are bold enough, or incautious enough, to comment on these matters in plain language.

Warren Weaver, for example, tells us that the close observer “finds that logic, so generally supposed to be infallible and unassailable, is, in fact, shaky and incomplete. He finds that the whole concept of objective truth is a will-o’-the-wisp.”38 Now where does this remarkable conclusion come from? A few pages later in the same work, Weaver answers this question. “A major consequence of the developments in relativity and quantum theory over the past half century,” he says, has been the destruction of “both ultimate precision and ultimate objectivity,” and he goes on to assert that “presuppositions which have neither a factual nor a logical-analytical basis… enter into the structure of all theories and into the selection of the group of ‘facts’ to be dealt with.”39 These words, which express the attitude of the present-day scientific Establishment, define the issue specifically. The most cherished products of modern science, including relativity and the quantum theories, are in conflict with logic, with the concept of “objective truth,” with the concept of causality, and with other basic concepts of traditional science. Something must therefore be discarded. To the modern theorist, sacrifice of relativity and the quantum theories is unthinkable; hence, he throws objective reality, logic, and causality to the wolves.

One might naturally assume, on the strength of this otherwise inexplicable procedure, that these two products of modern scientific ingenuity are so firmly established and incontrovertible that their scientific validity is beyond question. But this is not at all true. On the contrary, the leaders in the scientific profession freely admit that these theories are open to serious question. Many put the case in much harsher terms. Norwood R. Hanson, for instance, describes quantum theory as “riddled with formal inelegancies and inconsistencies.”40 Bryce DeWitt, a prominent investigator in the gravitational field, has this to say about general relativity, which purports to explain gravitation:

As a fundamental physical theory general relativity is a failure. It is a failure because it predicts that, under very general conditions, singularities must occur in space-time, beyond which the theory is incapable of saying anything. That is, the theory predicts that it cannot predict. It is not fundamental enough. It must eventually be superseded by something more universal.41

Furthermore, these scientific leaders are almost unanimously agreed that some totally new physical theory is essential for continuation of scientific progress, a conclusion that is equivalent to an admission that there are incurable weaknesses in current theories. Even Weaver, who gives these currently accepted theories precedence over logic and objectivity in arriving at his judgments, asks this significant question:

Will we ever have the courage and imagination to … construct a theory which starts at the right place and with the right conception? … If and when such a theory is available, certain presently unsatisfactory aspects of the explanation of physical events will have disappeared.42

The principal objective of the discussion in the preceding pages is to bring out the fact that the “right place to start” in developing a sound and truly scientific physical theory is the place where the trouble started: the point at which the theorists abandoned the traditional scientific methods and resorted to the demons of “free invention.” The “right conception” of how to go about such a development is not to discard the classical physical theories, but to examine the foundations of these theories carefully and painstakingly to locate the conceptual error that is responsible for the difficulties which have been encountered. The mere existence of difficulties of this nature is prima facie evidence of such an error. As Fred Hoyle comments:

It is almost a matter of principle that in any difficult unsolved problem the right method of attack has not been found; failure to solve important problems is rarely due to inadequacy in the handling of technical details.43

The necessary first step is to locate and correct the basic error. Extension of the existing theories into the newly discovered areas can then be carried out by standard scientific methods. This is the policy that has been followed in the development of the Reciprocal System of theory. That theory employs no demons. No ad hoc assumptions are utilized anywhere in the theoretical development; in fact, no assumptions of any kind are introduced other than those included in the fundamental postulates of the system. Every step that is taken, and every conclusion that is reached, results from the application of logical and mathematical processes to the basic postulates alone. This is a theory that meets the most exacting requirements, and it clearly qualifies as scientific knowledge.

03 The Reciprocal System


The Reciprocal System

As explained in Chapter 2, modern physical theory has abandoned the traditional methods and practices of science, and has reverted to the use of what the present-day theorists call invention, or ad hoc assumptions, but which are simply the demons of earlier days equipped with new names. The results of such a policy could easily be predicted, but since the activities of the front line theorists are behind the scenes, so far as the general public or ordinary scientists are concerned, it will be advisable, before we begin a description of the major features of the Reciprocal System of theory, to point out that the results of this policy have been right in line with expectations. Those who turned to demons to solve their problems are now calling for something new to get them out of the morass into which they have been led by the demons.

To most laymen, and to the rank and file of the scientific profession as well, it will probably come as quite a surprise to find that the world picture painted by so-called “modern physics” is far from being either complete or accurate, and makes no pretense of being reasonable or rational. Spectacular practical achievements in the application of physical knowledge, much of it gained only very recently and still quite mysterious to the man-in-the-street, have raised the present-day physicist to a pinnacle of prestige and have surrounded him with an aura of omniscience that makes any questioning of his pronouncements practically a case of lese majeste. It must be conceded, of course, that the physicists have indeed achieved a great deal (mainly by the use of the traditional scientific methods and principles that have been discarded by the modern theorists) and they are entitled to view their record with pride and self-satisfaction. In recent years, however, serious theoretical difficulties have been encountered in one major physical field after another, and the theorists, finding their most strenuous efforts frustrated, have abandoned the search for a truly scientific basic theory, branding it as unattainable, and have reverted to the methods of the non-scientific disciplines, as discussed in the preceding chapter. But even the help of a multitude of demons has not solved the problems and, as W. F. G. Swann points out, “theoretical physics is at present in a rather messy state.”44 Warren Weaver describes the situation in this manner:

With the extremely small or the extremely large, with inconceivably brief or extended phenomena, science has a difficult time. It is by no means clear that our present concepts or even our existing language is suitable for these ranges.38

The principal theories of “modern” physical science, the nuclear theory of the atom, relativity, and the quantum theories, in the words of E. N. da C. Andrade, “admittedly are makeshifts.”45 Dirac is merely saying the same thing in milder language when he calls them “steppingstones to the better theories of the future.”46 In order to maintain some semblance of legitimacy for these theories, so that they can continue to be presented to the rank and file as the equivalent of established facts, extraordinary measures have to be taken. Toulmin and Goodfield express this caution against attributing any permanence to current ideas:

As an emergency measure, physicists have resorted to mathematical fudges of an arbitrary kind ... to accept them with any complacency, and call off the search for a more satisfactory physical explanation would be going against the principles of strategy on which the whole scientific tradition has been built up.47

Almost all of the qualified observers who have studied this situation in detail—even some of those who have played an important part in the construction of the theories that will be superseded by the new, more satisfactory, developments—agree with this assessment of the problem and concede that major changes must and will take place. Here are some typical statements:

Let us hope that in a decade or two, or, at least, just before the beginning of the twenty-first century, the present meager years of theoretical physics will come to an end in a burst of entirely new revolutionary ideas similar to those which heralded the beginning of the twentieth century.48 (George Gamow)

We await a big theoretical advance which will clarify our understanding of the many puzzling features which have been revealed in recent years.49 (Sir Harrie Massey)

What we badly need is a greater synthesis.50 (Abraham Pais)

There will have to be some new development that is quite unexpected, that we cannot even make a guess about.46 (P.A.M. Dirac)

We hope that the present fluctuations of thinking are only indications of an upheaval of old beliefs which in the end will lead to something better than the mess of formulas which today surrounds our subject.51 (Erwin Schrodinger)

For the last ten years it has been clear to most physicists that a basic conceptual innovation will be needed in order to come to grips with the properties of elementary particles.52 (Freeman J. Dyson)

Physics is due for a breakthrough. The conditions are there: a large number of well-ordered facts, with no present way of explaining them, and a large body of frustrated scientists. (Science News, Feb. 17, 1968)

The development of the Reciprocal System of theory has now fulfilled these predictions (even though the scientific community is still only dimly beginning to recognize that fact). It has produced the “basic conceptual innovation” that Dyson saw was needed, and this innovation, a totally new concept of the nature of space and time, a modification of existing thought that, as Dirac predicted, was “quite unexpected,” has brought unity and coherence to physical science. This new system of theory is just the kind of product that the theorists tried for centuries to construct, until they finally lost heart and gave up the effort. It is not a model; it is a complete and comprehensive theory applicable to the entire universe: the “greater synthesis” that Pais asked for. It is not work-in-progress; the details can be developed much farther, of course, but those portions of the theory that have already been developed, including the basic phenomena and relations of the major fields of physical science, have been verified by the standard scientific methods and are now part of the permanent store of scientific knowledge. As expressed on page one of New Light on Space and Time:


In all essential respects this new theory is just the kind of a product that the scientific world would like to have. It is a unified theory; all of the principles governing all sub-divisions of physical activity are deduced from the same premises: two fundamental postulates as to the nature of space and time. It is a self-consistent theory; there are no internal contradictions or inconsistencies. It is an accurate theory; all of the deductions from the postulates are in full agreement with the results of observation and measurement, within the margin of accuracy of the latter or, at least, are not inconsistent with any of these results. It is an unequivocal theory; the consequences of the postulates are specific and definite and at no point is there any recourse to a “postulate of impotence” or other evasive device to avoid admitting a discrepancy. It is a rational theory; it provides definite and specific explanations for everything that happens, without calling upon ad hoc forces or transcendental agencies. It is a complete theory; the logical and unavoidable consequences of the postulates describe, both qualitatively and quantitatively, a complete theoretical universe, and it is not necessary to utilize any supplementary or auxiliary assumptions, nor is it necessary to introduce the results of observation as a foundation for the theoretical structure, because the theoretical deductions from the postulates provide for the existence of the various physical phenomena—matter, radiation, electrical and magnetic phenomena, gravitation, etc.—as well as establishing the relations between these entities.53


Development of this new theoretical structure was carried out strictly in accordance with the standard scientific procedure described in Chapter 2. It began with a careful, critical, and systematic reexamination of basic physical relations, a project extending over a long period of years (Step 1). Although originally undertaken with a much more limited objective in mind, this study ultimately culminated in the formulation of a general theory of the universe, expressed in the form of two postulates as to the nature and properties of space and time—45 words in all (Step 2). Another long period of years was then spent in developing the consequences of the postulates in great detail (Step 3), and finally verifying the theory by comparing these consequences with the corresponding results of observation and measurement (Step 4).

In order to formulate this complete and correct theoretical system, it was, of course, necessary to identify the basic error in previous thought and to make the required correction. The careful and critical reexamination of basic physical theory which constituted the initial phase of the present investigation located this basic error in the prevailing concept of the fundamental nature of the universe. To our earliest ancestors, the world in which they lived was a world of spirits. As they saw the situation, the ultimate realities were the spirits that inhabited and controlled the various physical objects, and the observable events and phenomena were merely the outward manifestations of the actions and emotions of these spirits. This view is not entirely dead even yet—the more primitive people of the earth still hold to it as tenaciously as ever—but over the last three thousand years or so, it has gradually been replaced by the concept of a universe of matter: one in which the basic entities are elementary units of matter existing in a framework provided by space and time. Prior to the development of the Reciprocal System, all modern physical theory was based on the “matter” concept.

It is obvious, however, that recent discoveries have completely demolished this concept. The finding that matter could be converted to radiation is enough, in itself, to show that matter cannot be the basic constituent of the universe. The demonstrated interconvertibility clearly indicates that there must be some common denominator underlying both matter and non-matter. Some of the leading scientific investigators have recognized this point and have tried to identify the true basic entity. Werner Heisenberg, for instance, suggested that it might be energy. “One might say that the elementary particles are simply different forms which energy can assume in order to become matter.”54 But he conceded that he was unable to explain how energy could take these different forms. The truth is that since energy is a scalar quantity it is totally incapable of assuming the variety of forms that are required; the basic entity must be something that has the property of direction. What the development of the Reciprocal System has accomplished is to demonstrate that the common denominator of matter and non-matter is motion. The universe in which we live is a universe of motion.

This “motion” concept itself is by no means new. It has been clear for hundreds of years that motion would have some very definite advantages over matter as the basis of a physical theory, and a great many scientists and philosophers, including such prominent men as Eddington, Descartes, and Hobbes, have tried to construct a theory on this basis. All of these attempts ended in failure, and so the matter stood until the present studies revealed the nature of the obstacle that blocked the path. The reason for the failure of the previous investigators to reach their goal, we now find, was a lack of recognition of the fact that switching from the concept of a universe of matter to that of a universe of motion requires a redefinition of space and time.

For more than three thousand years, ever since man first began to speculate systematically about the nature of the entities that surround him, space has been regarded as a kind of setting in which the action of the universe takes place: a container for the material objects that participate in this action. Many differences of opinion have arisen with respect to the details—whether or not space is absolute and immovable, whether such a thing as empty space is possible, whether or not space and time are interconnected, and so on—but throughout all of the development of thought, the basic concept of space as a setting or container has remained intact. J. D. North summarizes the “setting” or “container” concept of space in this manner:

Most people would accept the following: Space is that in which material objects are situated and through which they move. It is a background for objects of which it is independent. Any measure of the distances between objects within it may be regarded as a measure of the distances between its corresponding parts.55


Here matters stood until the beginning of the great expansion of scientific knowledge in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In this era, many new discoveries were made that were incompatible with the existing structure of theory, and it therefore became necessary to modify the ideas inherited from the Greek thinkers. The proposal that won general approval at the time was to postulate that the container space of the Greek atomists was filled with a substance having the properties of a connecting medium, through which the various influences originating at one spatial location could be transmitted to distant locations. But in 1887, an experiment by Michelson and Morley produced seemingly conclusive proof that this hypothetical substance, the “ether,” was non-existent, and the scientific world was thrown into confusion.

Some twenty years later, Einstein offered a way out of this awkward situation by proposing a theory in which the assumed properties of the ether were assigned to space itself, thus investing space with the ability to act as a transmitting medium. Einstein’s hypothesis, the basis of his relativity theory, involves a drastic change in the idea of the nature of space, one which gives space a far more active role in physical phenomena than had ever been attributed to it before. But his space is still a container, a much more flexible container than the space of the Greeks, to be sure, but definitely a container, nevertheless.

Nor was the container concept disturbed by the further development of the relativity theories which led to the conclusion that space is one component of a combination space-time structure, in which time plays a similar role. Time has always been more elusive than space, and the theorists have encountered great difficulty in formulating any clear-cut concept of its essential nature. It has been taken for granted, however, that time, as well as space, is a part of the setting in which the action of the universe takes place; that is, physical phenomena exist in space and in time. But just wherein time differs from space has been difficult to specify. In fact, the distinction between the two has become increasingly blurred and indefinite during the last half century, and as matters now stand, time is generally regarded as a sort of quasi-space, the boundary between space and time being indefinite and dependent upon the circumstances under which it is observed. The modern physicist has thus added another dimension to the spatial setting, and instead of visualizing physical phenomena as being located in a three-dimensional spatial container, he places them in a four-dimensional space-time container.

In all of this ebb and flow of scientific thought, the basic concept has remained unchanged: space and time, it is assumed, are the containers, or the container, in which physical entities exist, the setting in which the drama of the universe unfolds—“a vast world-room, a perfection of emptiness, within which all the world-show plays itself away forever.”56 This is the way in which scientists, and laymen as well, now think, and this is the way in which they have always thought. It is probably correct to say that this is the only way in which many of them can think.

Whatever changes are proposed from time to time in the theories of space and time, they are expressed in, and considered in, “container” terms. Thus, Einstein’s “space” is not regarded as something new that replaces Democritus’ “space,” the container in which physical activity occurs, but rather as a modification of the earlier concept in which space is assigned the properties that were formerly attributed to the hypothetical “ether.” When an explanation of Einstein’s theory of gravitation refers to space as being “warped” or “distorted” in the vicinity of a massive aggregate of matter, it is the container that is visualized as being distorted.

Similarly, Minkowski’s concept of a four-dimensional space-time continuum, which Einstein accepted and utilized in his general theory, is simple three-dimensional container space joined to an additional space-like dimension. Thus the entire Einstein-Minkowski development can easily be fitted into the previously existing conceptual framework without difficulty. Some individuals may—and indeed do—refuse to accept the idea that space is curved or subject to distortion, or the idea that time is a dimension of a combination space-time structure, but it is not difficult for them to understand what is meant by these ideas. In fact, it is understanding that leads to their rejection of the theories. Detailed development of the consequences of the Einstein theories has led to mathematical and conceptual complications that are nearly, if not totally, incomprehensible, and the arguments that are used to justify these theories are admittedly difficult to follow, but the meaning of the basic concepts upon which they have been erected can easily be understood in terms of existing patterns of thought with no more than a few minor adjustments.

In the Reciprocal System, for the first time in scientific history, a totally new concept of the nature of space and time makes its appearance, one in which space is not a setting or a container, or anything resembling a container. The change of viewpoint here was not an arbitrary one. On the contrary, the significant conceptual advance that overcame the obstacle which blocked all previous attempts to construct a theory of a universe of motion was a recognition of the fact that space and time cannot be defined arbitrarily in such a universe because a specific definition of space and time is implicit in the concept of a universe composed entirely of motion.


Motion is defined as a relation between space and time, and is measured as speed or velocity. In its simplest form, the equation of motion, the mathematical representation of the phenomenon, is v = sit. As this equation shows, in motion, space and time are the two reciprocal aspects of that motion, and nothing else. In a universe of matter, the fact that space and time have only this limited significance in motion would not preclude them from having some other significance elsewhere, but in a universe composed entirely of motion, where everything that exists is a manifestation of motion, space and time cannot have any significance anywhere that they do not have in motion. The basic concept underlying the new theoretical system, the only concept of the nature of space and time that is consistent with a universe of motion, and hence replaces all of the hypotheses that have heretofore been proposed, all of the numerous variations of the “setting” or “container” concept, can be expressed as follows:

Space and time are simply the two reciprocal aspects of motion. They have no other significance.

Space is not the Euclidean setting for physical phenomena that is most commonly visualized by the layman; neither is it the modified type of container subject to distortion by various forces and highly dependent on the location and movement of the observer, as seen by the present-day physicist. In fact, it is not even a physical entity in its own right at all; it is simply and solely an aspect of motion. Time is not an order of succession, or a dimension of a quasi-space; neither is it a physical entity in its own right. It, too, is simply and solely an aspect of motion, similar in all respects to space, except that it is the reciprocal aspect.

The simplest way of defining the status of space and time is to say that space is the numerator in the expression sit, which is the speed or velocity, the measure of motion, and time is the denominator. If there is no fraction, there is no numerator or denominator; where there is no motion there is no space or time. Space does not exist alone, nor does time exist alone; neither exists except in association with the other as motion. A very rough analogy would compare motion to a box, and space and time to the inside and outside of the box. We cannot have either an inside or an outside unless we have a box, but if the box exists then we have both an inside and an outside, never just one alone. Similarly, we do not have either space or time unless there is motion, but if there is motion then both space and time exist in association with each other to constitute the motion.

We can, of course, focus our attention on the space aspect and deal with it as if the time aspect, the denominator of the fraction, remains constant. This is the familiar process known as abstraction, one of the useful tools of scientific inquiry. But any results obtained in this manner are valid only where the time aspect does, in fact, remain constant, or where the proper adjustment is made for whatever changes in this factor do take place.

One of the very important consequences that follows directly from the new space-time concept is that the reciprocal relation between space and time expressed by the equation of motion is a general relation; that is, space and time are reciprocally related everywhere in the physical universe. This is the kind of a thing that is totally incomprehensible on the basis of previous thinking. As long as space is looked upon as a container, the idea of the reciprocal of space is an absurdity, too ridiculous to be given any serious consideration. We might as well talk about the reciprocal of an apple or the reciprocal of a load of hay. But the new theory does not suggest anything of this nature. On the contrary, it says specifically that space is not a container, or anything resembling a container. In fact, it is not a physical entity at all; it has no existence other than as the numerator in the expression sit, which is the magnitude of the motion. The gist of the reciprocal statement is therefore an assertion that the denominator of a particular fractional expression stands in a reciprocal relation to the numerator: an assertion which is not only logical and rational, but is obviously correct.

In setting up any theory or theoretical system, it is necessary to begin with certain assumptions or postulates. The details of the theory are then derived by developing the consequences of the postulates. The new space-time concept is expressed in the Reciprocal System by postulating the general reciprocal relation between space and time. This is the only innovation that the new system of theory introduces into scientific thought. A few other assumptions must be made to complete the foundations of the theoretical structure, but these are familiar items. None of them is at all new, and they are all obtained by extrapolation of empirical findings, one of the standard inductive methods.

Even the one real innovation in the new system, the reciprocal postulate, can be obtained by a simple extrapolation of observed facts. The only relation between space and time of which we have any direct knowledge is motion, and in motion, space and time are already known to be reciprocally related from the scalar standpoint; that is, more time has exactly the same effect on the speed, the scalar measure of the motion, as less space, and vice versa. It makes no difference whether we go twice as far in the same time or cover the same distance in half the time; the speed doubles in either case. All that the reciprocal postulate does is to generalize this observed relation and to say that it is universally valid. Combining the reciprocal relation with the other assumptions derived by extrapolation, we arrive at the following basic postulates:

FIRST FUNDAMENTAL POSTULATE: The physical universe is composed entirely of one component, motion, existing in three dimensions, in discrete units, and with two reciprocal aspects, space and time.

SECOND FUNDAMENTAL POSTULATE: The physical universe conforms to the relations of ordinary commutative mathematics, its magnitudes are absolute and its geometry is Euclidean.

Most of the assumptions included in these postulates have been generally accepted throughout scientific history, and are still regarded as valid by almost all laymen and by the rank-and-file scientists as well, although their validity is denied by present-day physical theorists, who have found it necessary to resort to some bizarre substitutes to accommodate aspects of their theories that could not be fitted into the traditional framework. Included are Euclidean geometry, three-dimensional space, absolute magnitudes, and ordinary commutative mathematics. In all probability, these assumptions would never have been questioned by anyone if the difficulties encountered by the theorists had not become so serious that they were practically desperate for some way of escape.

Extension of three-dimensionality to time as well as space may cause some lifting of eyebrows, but this extension is obviously required by the reciprocal postulate, which implies that all properties of either space or time are properties of both space and time. It should also be noted that there is no actual evidence to support the prevailing belief that time is one-dimensional. To be sure, we have a vague impression that we are traveling along a path that leads unidirectionally from the past to the present and on into the future, but this is not the kind of a thing on which we can base scientific reasoning. The physicists do not draw their conclusions from this, but from the behavior of time in the mathematical equations that represent physical processes.

In the velocity equation, v = sit, for example, the quantities v and s are vectorial, that is, they have direction as well as magnitude. But the quantity t is scalar; it has magnitude only. From this it has been concluded that time is one-dimensional. But the investigations carried out during the development of the Reciprocal System of theory have disclosed that this conclusion does not follow from the observed facts. What has been overlooked is that “direction” in the context of the velocity equation means “direction in space,” and time has no spatial direction. The time term in a space-velocity equation is scalar not because it is one-dimensional but because it has no spatial dimensions at all. Whatever dimensions it may have are dimensions of time, not dimensions of space. Thus the status of the time terms in the various physical equations tells us nothing at all about the dimensions of time. There is no physical evidence to contradict the assertion of the Reciprocal System that time is three-dimensional.

Because of the nature of the scientific enterprise, the scientist must necessarily accept certain assumptions of a philosophical nature in order that his activities may be meaningful. If what is learned today is inapplicable tomorrow, attempts to accumulate a store of scientific knowledge are futile; if the course of physical events, and the results thereof, are haphazard, there is nothing to be gained by attempts to formulate laws and principles governing those events; and so on. As a condition of becoming a scientist, it is therefore necessary to assume that the universe is logical, orderly, and rational. Since acceptance of these premises is a prerequisite for scientific activity, they are not ordinarily mentioned in scientific discourse. In effect, they constitute the starting point from which scientific work begins. But when we undertake an exploration of a hitherto unknown area, as we are now intending to do, we must recognize that, in addition to the two postulates that are set forth in the published accounts of the Reciprocal System of theory and were reproduced earlier in this chapter, there is an implied third postulate incorporating the assumption that the universe is logical, orderly, and rational.

All of the conclusions of the Reciprocal System, from broad general principles down to the most minute detail, have been derived entirely by developing the consequences of the fundamental postulates, without making any supplementary or subsidiary assumptions and without introducing anything from observation or from any other source outside the postulates. The mere existence of space and time with the postulated properties gives rise to certain primary consequences. Interaction of these consequences with each other and with the postulates then results in a large number and variety of secondary consequences, which, in turn, involve further consequences, and so on until a whole theoretical universe has been defined. Because of the nature of this process by which the theoretical universe of the Reciprocal System has been derived, it is possible to prove that the theoretical structure is an accurate representation of the actual physical universe.

Two general methods of verifying a theory are available. Both involve making a large number of comparisons between the assertions of the theory and the corresponding observed facts, so that the probability of the existence of any error can be reduced to the negligible level that is required in order that the theory may qualify as scientific knowledge, but the procedures and the results of the two methods are quite different. In the first method of verification, the only one that is usually available, and hence the one with which scientists are most familiar, verification of the whole is merely a summation of verification of the individual items. Here an individual agreement is a step toward proof, an inconclusive result means nothing at all, and a disagreement invalidates the theory in its existing form. This disagreement is not necessarily fatal, however, as the theory can usually be modified to secure agreement in the recalcitrant case. The verification process can then be resumed on the new basis until adequate verification is secured or until a new disagreement arises, in which case further modifications of the theory may be made. Long series of modifications of this kind are not at all exceptional. The quantum theories, for instance, have experienced an almost continuous series of modifications ever since Niels Bohr formulated the first crude form of this kind of theory in 1913.

The second method of verification is applicable only where no modifications of the theory are possible; that is, where all theoretical conclusions are derived from the same basic premises, without the use of supplementary assumptions, and the entire structure is therefore one unit which must stand or fall as a whole. An analogy that was used in the original presentation of the Reciprocal System compares the construction of a physical theory to the preparation of a map, the usual process of theory construction being compared to the traditional method of map making, and the development of a fully integrated system being compared to the production of a map by aerial photography. In testing a product of either the traditional map making or the usual theory construction process, we must employ the first of the methods of verification discussed in the preceding paragraph, verifying each and every feature of the map or theory individually, as there is little or no connection between the individual features, and with relatively few exceptions, verification of any one feature does not guarantee the accuracy of any other. But in testing an aerial map or an analogous theoretical product such as the Reciprocal System, where the entire map or theory is produced in one operation by a single process, every test that is made by comparing the product with the observed facts is a test of the process itself, verification of the individual features selected for the test being merely incidental.

In this case, if anything that can definitely be seen on the map conflicts with anything that is positively known from direct observation of the terrain, then the map-making process itself is not accurate, and the map is not reliable. Likewise, if any of the consequences of a completely integrated theory conflict with facts that are definitely known, then the theory as a whole is invalid. Here no modifications to fit the recalcitrant facts—ad hoc modifications, in the jargon of science—are possible. The basic postulates of the theory can be changed, of course, but a major change of this kind can hardly be considered a modification; it leaves us with an entirely new theory. The original theory must be verified or disproved as a unit.

Since each check against the observed facts is a test of the theory as a whole, every additional test that is made without finding a discrepancy reduces the mathematical probability that any discrepancy exists anywhere. By making a sufficiently large number of such correlations in many different areas, this probability can be reduced to any specified level. The theoretical conclusions of the Reciprocal System have been checked against the results of observation and measurement in thousands of different applications throughout an extremely wide range of physical phenomena, and no contradiction or inconsistency has been found. This means, then, that the mathematical probability of any error in the basic structure of the system has been reduced to the point where it is negligible. The validity of this system of theory is thus a physical certainty. The Reciprocal System provides a true and accurate representation of the physical facts.


An important point in this connection is that proof of the validity of the theoretical structure as a whole carries with it a proof of the validity of every pan of that structure. Many of the individual conclusions of the theory cannot be confirmed by direct observation, as matters now stand, but the status of the unconfirmed conclusions is identical with that of the conclusions that can be tested against experience. If we confirm the accuracy of our aerial map in the areas where we are able to check it against direct observation and measurement, then we know that it is also accurate in the areas that are not accessible to direct observation. In total, the conclusions derived from the basic postulates of the Reciprocal System constitute a theoretical universe, and our proof of the validity of the system as a whole proves that each and every feature of the physical universe exists exactly as portrayed by the theoretical development.

A recognition of this point is particularly important as we move outward from the well-known phenomena of our everyday environment into the less familiar fields. Most of the theoretical conclusions pertaining to the local environment can be verified individually by direct observation. As we proceed outward, we encounter areas where many of the intermediate steps are unobservable and only the ultimate results are available for check. Finally we reach the outlying regions where nothing is observable except an isolated fact here and there. But the status of the theoretical conclusions is the same everywhere. Whether it can be individually verified or not, each of these conclusions participates in the proof of the validity of the system as a whole.

This is the factor that has made the present investigation of the metaphysical region possible. No longer are we limited to exploring the regions that are clearly visible, and leaving all else to speculation and fantasy. By extending the development of a theoretical system whose validity we have already verified as a whole, we are able to explore not only the regions that are dimly visible but also regions that are totally invisible. The demonstrated identity of the theoretical and actual physical universes has enabled us to make our inquiries in the clear light of the theoretical system, and then, when the appropriate answers have been obtained, to apply these to the actual universe with full confidence in their validity. By this means, we have arrived at a comprehensive and accurate knowledge of the physical universe.

Now we propose to utilize these findings of the Reciprocal System with respect to the physical universe as a base, and to extend the same procedure and the same investigative policies to a region hitherto beyond the reach of scientific methods, one in which demons have thus far held full sway. In so doing, we are following the great tradition of science, focusing the light of factual inquiry on whatever we can bring within its reach without regard to conventional lines of demarcation between disciplines. Margenau appropriately defines the policy governing this untrammeled course of inquiry in his “creed for scientists”:

I recognize no subjects and no facts which are alleged to be forever closed to inquiry or understanding: a mystery is but a challenge.57


04 Reaching Outward


Reaching Outward

The Reciprocal System calls for relatively little change in current scientific thinking about the phenomena and relations of everyday life. Almost all of the generally accepted physical relations applying to our immediate environment that have been derived from previous theories and are now in practical use are retained in the new system in essentially the same form in which they are commonly expressed—not because these relations happen to meet with the approval of the originator of the new system, but because the development of the consequences of the postulates of this system leads to these same expressions. There is nothing remarkable about this. The validity of most of these expressions, within their proper limits of applicability, has already been proved in the standard scientific manner, and they constitute portions of the permanent body of scientific knowledge. Any new theory of a more general nature must arrive at the same results in these particular areas; otherwise it could not be correct.

In some of the fields which science has entered in relatively recent years—high velocity phenomena, events at the atomic level, etc.—the new system of theory takes issue with previous scientific thought in certain important respects. The most prominent theories that have recently emerged in these fields, such as relativity, the nuclear theory of the atom, and the quantum theories, are now found to be erroneous, either in whole or in part, primarily because the true nature of time was never clearly understood prior to the development of the Reciprocal System. In the phenomena of everyday life, the error due to this misunderstanding is negligible, and no significant modification of previous results is therefore necessary; but in the realms of the very large, the very small, and the very fast, the new concept of the nature of time leads to a drastic reconstruction of the relevant theory.

In general, it can be said that the new physical picture indicates that previous scientific findings with respect to motion in space, particularly the “classical” laws of physics, are valid with respect to all motion in space, but that changes of position in time also take place in the far-out regions. It is the effect of this hitherto unrecognized motion in time that is responsible for the discrepancies which have led present-day physicists to conclude that the classical laws are only approximations to the true relationships, and are not valid in those regions. The new development shows that when the effects of motion in time are recognized and evaluated in accordance with the principles applying to this type of motion, the weaknesses and “paradoxes” of modern physics are eliminated, and all physical theory assumes the simple, understandable, and wholly rational aspect that is characteristic of classical theory.

One of the features of this new development that has much significance for philosophy as well as for science is that it verifies the existence of an external world independent of our observations. Although this may seem self-evident to the layman, it is a thesis that has been difficult to substantiate on the strength of the information heretofore available, and both scientists and philosophers have been engaged in a running battle over the question in recent years. Einstein expresses the affirmative point of view in these words:

The belief in an external world independent of the perceiving subject is the basis of all natural science.58

To this, McVittie replies:

A preferable alternative to the doctrine of the rational External World is to regard science as a method of correlating sense-data…. On this view, the corpus of sense-data may, or may not, form a rational whole, but the human mind by selecting classes of data succeeds in grouping them into rational systems…. Unobservables such as light, atoms, electromagnetic and gravitational fields, etc., are not constituents of an independently existing rational External World; they are but concepts useful in the manufacture of the systems of correlation…. The notions of truth and falsehood, of cause and effect, of discovery and explanation may now either be discarded or looked upon as arbitrary; the only important question is: How can we construct a rational scheme of thought—a theory—which shall include within its grasp as many apparently disconnected sense-data as possible.59

The crucial point here is the status of what McVittie calls “sense-data,” the information which we receive by way of our senses. He and the school of thought with which he is aligned point out (correctly) that we do not perceive physical objects directly; that we have direct knowledge only of the sense data, and that our concepts of the physical objects are mental constructs based on these data. The conclusion they have drawn from this is that only the sense data have actual reality, and that all else is a creation of the human mind.

Other observers have adopted an intermediate position, conceding reality to some features of the universe, primarily macroscopic objects, but denying the reality, in this same sense, of other features: atoms and electrons, for example. Heisenberg cautions us specifically that we must not regard the smallest parts of matter as being objectively real in the same sense as rocks and trees are real.60 “Atoms are neither things nor objects,” he says, “atoms are parts of observational situations.”61 In another attempt to describe this strange half-world in which the “official” school of modern physics places the basic units of matter, he characterizes the atom as “in a way, only a symbol.”62

The Reciprocal System of theory now provides a definitive answer to the question that has inspired this difference of opinion. There is an external universe independent of man and independent of any observations that he may make. The physical universe is a universe of motion; that is, motion is the reality of which the universe is composed. Motions and combinations thereof are therefore “real” in any ordinary sense of the word. The relations between these motions have a somewhat different status, and whether they can be considered real depends on how that term is defined. In any event, some of the “unobservables” of modern physics, the nucleus of the atom, for example, are wholly non-existent. Some, such as electromagnetic or gravitational fields, are merely special ways of looking at physical situations—that is, describing the relations between motions—and belong in the same category in which we place such concepts as the center of gravity of an object, or the poles of the earth. But the smallest subdivisions of matter, the atoms and the subatomic particles, have exactly the same claim to reality as the largest aggregates of matter; the smallest subdivisions of electricity, the electrons, have the same claim to reality as the heaviest electric currents, and so on. Whether or not the entity in question is observable, as matters now stand, is irrelevant.

The senses are facilities for obtaining information about this external world, and sense data are merely messages conveying this information, not basic realities in their own right. Indeed, they are not the only sources of such information. Communications from other individuals, for example, cannot legitimately be classed with ordinary sense data, even though they arrive through the same channels. A description of a physical event is something quite different from the sights, sounds, and other sensations by means of which an event is apprehended directly. As we will find in the subsequent pages, there are still other important sources of information, and the picture of reality which ultimately forms in the human mind is a composite, the result of correlating and analyzing (consciously or unconsciously; thoroughly or superficially) information from all of these sources, and further processing it through the application of reason.

In exploring this external physical universe by developing the theoretical consequences of the postulates of the Reciprocal System, the most surprising, and in some respects, the most significant discovery that was made was that the material universe with which we are in direct contact is not the entire physical universe, as has always been thought heretofore. It is only half of the physical universe as a whole; one of two separate, but interrelated, sectors. There is another half identical in all respects to the material sector except that space and time are interchanged. The opportunities available for direct verification of the conclusions of the Reciprocal System with respect to this second half, the cosmic sector, as we are calling it, by comparison with observed facts are quite limited, but here, again, the general proof of the validity of the system as a whole establishes the validity of the individual conclusions. The instances in which the phenomena of the cosmic sector do impinge upon the material sector in some manner add some significant additional confirmation, as most of these effects have resisted attempts at explanation on the basis of conventional theories, while they are in full agreement with the conclusions reached by the new theoretical system.

The theoretical development reveals that, for every physical entity or phenomenon that exists in our familiar material sector of the universe, there is an analogous entity or phenomenon in the cosmic sector, identical in every respect except for the reversal of the roles of space and time. Corresponding to matter there is cosmic matter, or antimatter, as it is usually called. Corresponding to the gravitation in the material sector that moves aggregates of matter toward each other in space there is an inverse gravitation in the cosmic sector that moves aggregates of cosmic matter toward each other in time, and so on. Each of the almost innumerable items of knowledge that are available about the entities and phenomena of the material sector thus becomes, by extension, an item of knowledge about the cosmic sector. Here, then, is a situation in which we have a very comprehensive and detailed theoretical knowledge of a region which is almost entirely outside our observational range. This is a striking demonstration of the power and versatility of the theoretical approach to the problem of exploring such inaccessible regions when the correct theoretical foundations have been laid. It gives us an indication of the potential value of an application of the same powerful technique to the problem we are attacking in this work: an exploration of the region outside the physical universe.

Heretofore it has been thought that defining the nature and properties of space and time was a task beyond the capabilities of science, but the Reciprocal System has given us such a definition and has established its validity. Heretofore it has been thought that, if anything exists outside our material universe, it is impossible to verify that existence or to deal with it by scientific methods; but the development of the Reciprocal System has revealed the existence of a whole new sector of the physical universe, separate and distinct from the material sector, and has given us a detailed description of its phenomena and relations. The objective of this present investigation would also be nothing but a hopeless undertaking on the basis of previous scientific thought, but it was clear from the beginning that this adverse opinion should not be given any weight, since the accomplishments of the new theoretical system in penetrating so far into the previously inaccessible regions augured well for the possibility of advancing still farther.

As we will see in the subsequent pages, there are many items of evidence indicating that the observed physical universe is not the whole of existence. Some of these are so definite and specific that they would be considered conclusive in any ordinary scientific evaluation. Nevertheless, this evidence has been rejected by the scientific community on the ground that it is known that all existence is in space and in time. On this basis, existence outside (that is, independent of) space and time is impossible, and the physical universe that is the subject of scientific investigation is the sum total of all that exists.

However, all this is predicated on the traditional viewpoint as to the nature of space and time, and it is clear that the new concept of their nature that has been introduced by the Reciprocal System of theory and verified in application to the observed physical phenomena has completely revolutionized this situation. Now that it has been established that space and time are aspects of the motion of which the physical universe is composed—that is, contents of that universe, instead of a setting or location in which the contents exist—the metaphysical question is drastically modified. Instead of asking, Can anything exist outside space and time? what we now want to know is, Can anything exist other than the motion that constitutes the physical universe?

This is not only a very different question; it is a different kind of a question. On the basis of the previous understanding of the nature of space and time, the question, Can anything exist outside space and time? could be answered explicitly by deductive reasoning. But the basic metaphysical question as it now stands in the light of the new knowledge contributed by the Reciprocal System requires the use of the inverse process: inductive reasoning. What we now want to do is to determine what our knowledge with respect to a special type of existence, that in the physical universe, can tell us about existence in general.

The logical status of induction has long been a philosophical issue. As expressed by Whitehead, “The theory of induction is the despair of philosophy—and yet all of our activities are based upon it.”63 In recent years, however, it has increasingly been realized that these philosophical difficulties are the result of an attempt to equate the results of induction to those of deduction, whereas, in fact, their status is quite different. The deductive process is complete in itself, and if sound reasoning is applied to valid premises, this process arrives at conclusions that are physically certain. The product of induction, on the other hand, is a probability. Induction is therefore an incomplete process, and the inductive conclusions must be verified. Thus the equivalent of deduction is not induction alone, but induction plus verification. Like the sound deductive conclusions, the verified inductive conclusions are physically certain.

There are many different kinds of inductive processes, and they arrive at answers which have widely different degrees of a priori probability of being valid. The basic process is simple enumeration, in which it is assumed that, where all known units of entity A have property x, all units of entity A have property x. If only a few units of this entity A have been observed, the probability that the conclusion is valid is low, but if the number of observed units is immense, as is often the case, the probability is so great that it is equivalent to physical certainty without any further verification. A somewhat less reliable form of extrapolation that does require verification reaches this same conclusion that all units of entity A have property x from the observed facts that (1) some units of this entity have property x, and (2) no such units are definitely known to be without this property. A process that arrives at a still lower degree of probability is analogy, in which it is reasoned that since entity A has property x, some entity B that resembles A in certain respects also has property x. A process that is widely utilized in the initial analysis of a mass of observational data is the method of concomitant variations, in which a connection between x and y is inferred from the fact that the analysis shows that factors which cause a change in x also cause a change of a related nature in y. Regardless of whether the inductive conclusions are reached by one of these common methods, or in some other way, these conclusions become physically certain, and acquire the status of scientific knowledge, if, and only if, they are verified.

The answer to a difficult problem may be obtained by a process of “invention,” as described by Einstein and Lindsay in the statements quoted in Chapter 2, but because of the wide range of forms which such inventions can take, and the likelihood that there is some error in those portions of current thought that are incorporated into the invention, the probability that the answer is correct will usually be very low. As the investigations in connection with the formulation of the Reciprocal System of theory have demonstrated, most of the inventions of the modern physical theorists are erroneous. Their successes have come in those instances where there were enough empirical facts available to permit arriving at conclusions by induction. The merit of the inductive process is that it is not, like invention, a shot in the dark; it produces a result which has a distinct probability, often a very high probability, of being correct.

With this understanding of the dual process of induction and verification, it can now be seen that the description of the scientific method in Chapter 2 is simply a detailed outline of this dual process. Step 1, as described, is a study of the available empirical data aimed at finding some items to which one of the available inductive processes can be applied. Step 2 is the application of this process to arrive at a conclusion that is probably valid. Step 3 is the preparation for verification, involving the development of consequences of the inductive conclusions that can be checked against observational data. Step 4 is the actual verification of the conclusions by demonstrating agreement with observation.

Individual inductive conclusions of broad scope are seldom verifiable separately, except in the special case of a simple enumeration that extends over a huge number of separate instances. In the usual situation, it is necessary to add collateral items and construct an inductive system of conclusions. As will be brought out in detail in the discussion of emergent properties in Chapter 5, the properties of a system proliferate rapidly as more units are added to that system. Consequently, even though an isolated inductive conclusion is of such a nature that it cannot be verified, it is usually possible, by the expenditure of sufficient time and effort, to incorporate the original simple proposition into a system which has a large enough number and variety of consequences to make a conclusive check against observational data feasible. The verification of the inductive system as a whole that is accomplished in this manner carries with it a verification of the original proposition.

However, the time and effort required to carry out such a program may, in many cases, be monumental. This is why inductive reasoning has the reputation of being very difficult. Induction itself, in its simpler forms, is not complicated, but the construction of a suitable inductive system can be an arduous and frustrating task. For example, the most strenuous efforts of Descartes, Eddington, and all of the other investigators who attempted to construct a theory of a universe of motion prior to the development of the Reciprocal System were fruitless because these investigators were unable to put together a valid inductive system of the necessary scope.

In almost all cases, including the one noted, the principal obstacle standing in the way of constructing such a system is an error of some kind in current thinking on the subject matter. Until this error can be located and corrected, attempts to formulate a usable inductive system are futile, as any one error in the premises of the system invalidates the entire structure. The key to the construction of an inductive system incorporating the concept of a universe of motion was the discovery of the general reciprocal relation between space and time. Once this relation was recognized, it became possible to put together a system of extrapolations—those that constitute the postulates of the Reciprocal System of theory—that could be verified by thousands of comparisons with empirical data.

The inductive answer to the basic metaphysical question was obtained in exactly the same way. Just as many scientists and philosophers long ago concluded that the physical universe is a universe of motion, but were unable to verify this conclusion until the error in the prevailing concept of the nature of space and time was corrected, so most philosophers and theologians long ago concluded that there is an existence outside space and time, but were unable to verify that conclusion. Here, again, it is necessary to construct an inductive system in order to make verification possible, and here again, identification and correction of a serious error in current thought is a prerequisite for such a construction. This error, we find, is the same one that blocked the physical inquiry for such a long time: the misconception as to the nature of space and time. When these entities are seen in their true light as aspects of the “substance” of the universe, rather than as a setting in which that substance exists, the way is cleared for the construction of an inductive system of conclusions about metaphysical existence: a set of postulates similar to the fundamental postulates that define the physical universe.

One significant point that was established in the detailed development of the consequences of the postulates that define the physical universe is that those principles of a general nature that are valid in one physical area are valid in all physical areas. There are, of course, principles and relations whose applicability is confined to certain areas for structural reasons. The principles governing the behavior of gases, for example, are not applicable to liquids or solids. But we were able to formulate the basic postulates of the Reciprocal System by generalizing the principles that are not limited by such structural factors, and the subsequent verification of the validity of the system of theory thus derived shows that the extrapolation was justified. Now that we are going from existence in the physical universe to existence in general, we will carry the extrapolation a step farther and conclude that these principles of a general nature that have been verified in application to the physical universe will continue to be applicable in the wider field.

The First Postulate of the Reciprocal System of theory is a specific definition of the physical universe, and it cannot be extrapolated to existence outside that universe. However, a consideration of the structure of the postulate leads to an important conclusion that is general in nature. In itself, the basic assumption in this postulate, the assumption that the physical universe is a universe of motion, would permit the existence of any conceivable kind of motion, but the other assumptions included in the two postulates of the system act as limitations. The net result of the basic postulate plus the limitations is to permit the existence of any kind of motion that is not in conflict with any of these limitations. Since an enumeration of the limitations to which the motion is subject carries with it an implied assertion that there are no other limitations, there is nothing to prevent the existence of those motions that are not barred, directly or indirectly, by the postulates. This principle can be expressed by the statement: Whatever can exist does exist. The validity of the principle is generally conceded in scientific and philosophical circles. K. W. Ford makes this comment:

One of the elementary rules of nature is that, in the absence of a law prohibiting an event or phenomenon, it is bound to occur with some degree of probability. To put it simply and crudely: Anything that can happen does happen.64

In this statement, the word “happen” is used instead of “exist,” but in a universe of motion there is no significant difference between what happens and what exists. Both are manifestations of motion.

The applicability of this principle to the physical universe has been specifically confirmed in the development of the Reciprocal System of theory. The salient fact here is that all of the primary entities and phenomena of the theoretical universe that fall within our present limits of observation are duplicated item by item in the observed physical universe. In the case of the more complex entities, two or more of the possible structures are often in competition, and if the probability factors are strongly in favor of one of these, the others are not normally observed, a fact that is quite understandable. In any event, whatever uncertainties of this kind do exist are confined to structures in the later stages of development; the entities and phenomena which can be deduced directly from the postulates or their immediate consequences all have easily recognizable counterparts in the observed physical universe. For example, four general types of motion are theoretically possible, and all of them are found in the observed universe. Six different kinds of rotational combinations (elements and particles) are theoretically possible, and all of them are observed. Within the present observational limits, 105 different material elements are predicted by the theory, and all of these have been identified, with no missing numbers and no extras.

A particularly significant point is that some of these physical phenomena predicted by theory and later identified through observation were totally unknown to science—even unsuspected. Motion in time, for instance, was completely foreign to scientific thought before the development of the Reciprocal System made it clear that this is one of the primary physical phenomena, fully coordinate, in the physical universe as a whole, with the more familiar motion in space. In most cases, those motions which were indicated as theoretically possible were readily correlated with known phenomena, but wherever a known counterpart of the theoretical motion could not be located, as in the case of motion in time, a hitherto unknown phenomenon was always found to exist.

In view of the firm standing of the “Whatever can exist does exist” principle in the physical universe, our next concern will be to lay the foundation for extrapolating it to existence in general. As brought out in Chapter 3, it has been definitely established that the physical universe is composed entirely of discrete units of motion. Further development of the consequences of the postulates that define the theoretical system reveals that the large-scale action of the universe is cyclic, the magnitude of the cycles being determined by the finite life of the structures into which the units of motion aggregate. This means that the total number of units of motion existing in the physical universe is finite. Thus we may expand the previous statement about the content of the universe, and say that we have established that the sole constituent of the physical universe is a certain finite quantity of a particular kind of motion.

The conclusion is not assumption or speculation. The validity of the entire Reciprocal System, including the First Postulate and the foregoing extension, has been established with physical certainty. The fact that the physical universe is composed entirely of a finite quantity of a particular kind of motion is therefore scientific knowledge, as defined in Chapter 2. It then follows that there must be other existences—at least other motions. Ordinary common sense is sufficient to tell us that we cannot justify taking the stand that the only thing that can possibly exist is a specific quantity of a particular kind of motion. The process of inductive reasoning merely reaches the same conclusion in a more systematic way. It identifies the physical universe as a special case of motion in general, and enables us to extrapolate the information of the unrestricted type that is available about this special case to the general situation. On the basis of the principle that what can exist does exist, which we can now extrapolate to motion in general, we arrive at these conclusions:

  1. There are other finite quantities of the same kind of motion existing as independent universes.
  2. There are other universes based on motion that is multidimensional, or otherwise different from that which prevails in our physical universe.
  3. There is a general form of existence free from some or all of the limitations that apply to the individual universes.

The possibility that there may be some other entities, distinct from motion, that are capable of generating systems such as the universes, also suggests itself. But when we examine the motion of which the physical universe is constituted, we find that the nature of this motion is not defined, other than by the way it enters into the basic mathematical relation. This is a relation between a quantity x (which we identify as space) and its reciprocal 1/x (which we identify as time). When the quotient x/(1/x) is 1, we say that it is one unit of motion; but in fact, it is one unit of a not otherwise identified quantity. We cannot substitute some identified quantity (that is, one which has properties other than those expressed in the equation) for motion, as those other properties would destroy the pure reciprocal relation that is the basis of the system that we call the physical universe. On the other hand, if we substitute some quantity that does not have any such additional properties, there is no way by which it could be distinguished from motion. It does not appear, therefore, that the concept of other entities capable of generating systems similar to the universes of motion can be entertained.

In the subsequent discussion, we will continue to utilize the designation “metaphysical” in its etymological sense as referring to all that is beyond physics. On this basis, any existence outside our physical universe is metaphysical existence, the region in which it exists is the metaphysical region, and any universes other than our own that exist in this region are metaphysical universes. When we have occasion to refer to existence in general, including that which is inside, as well as that which is outside, the various discrete universes, we will regard it as located in the general metaphysical region. It should be understood that the term “outside,” as used in this connection, means simply “not a part of,” and has no spatial or temporal implications.

The possibility of the existence of other universes is an idea that has intrigued many thinkers. Even without the significant additional information that has led to the conclusions of this present work, many observers have realized that it is quite possible that the physical universe, as we know it, is not the sum total of all existence, as the term “universe” implies, but merely a portion of a larger system, an entity that, as has been suggested, we might well call a “multiverse.”

With all our wide vision we may be looking at only a small part of a grand creation. Our universe with its billions of galaxies may be only one among many.65 (Vannevar Bush)

The advances in theoretical understanding that have been accomplished in the investigation being reported in this work have made the existence of these other universes probable, but definite verification is not possible because, so far as we know, there is no contact between our universe and any of the others. The reverse side of the picture is that, by reason of this lack of contact, the question as to the existence of other universes is purely academic so far as we are concerned. The metaphysical existences that have a bearing on human life are those of the general type, which, by reason of their freedom from the kind of limitations that apply to the separate universes, are located in the whole, of which the individual universes are separate and limited parts. The first of the postulates that define the metaphysical existence with which human life is concerned may therefore be expressed as follows:

FIRST METAPHYSICAL POSTULATE: There are existences in the metaphysical region of a more general and less restricted type than the units of motion that are the basic constituents of the physical universe.

Another general principle established in the physical universe that can be extrapolated to existence in general is the principle that existence is logical, orderly, and rational. This concept, which from the very beginnings of science has been held by scientists “with the fervor of a religious conviction,”66 as Margenau puts it, is the essence of what we have called the “implied third postulate” of the Reciprocal System. It has been definitely confirmed, so far as the physical universe is concerned, by the verification of that new system of theory, and the strong intuitive conviction of the individual scientists has been vindicated (a point which will have some significance in connection with a subject to be discussed later). By extension, in accordance with the general rule that has been stated, we are now able to say that the metaphysical existences are likewise logical, orderly, and rational. These characteristics may then be embodied in a second postulate.

SECOND METAPHYSICAL POSTULATE: The metaphysical existences are logical, orderly, and rational.

The physical investigation has also established that each sector of the physical universe has its own peculiar phenomena governed by laws that are related to, but different from, those applicable to analogous phenomena in the other sector. Thus the gravitational law of the material sector specifies that every aggregate of matter exerts the equivalent of forces of attraction on all other similar aggregates within a certain limiting distance, so that these aggregates tend to draw closer together in space. The cosmic sector, in which there are aggregates composed of an entity analogous to, but different from, ordinary matter is subject to a different law that operates in an analogous manner but causes the aggregates of cosmic matter to draw closer together in time. Here again, we may extrapolate our findings and conclude that the general relation between any two sectors of existence as a whole is similar to that between the two major sectors of the physical universe; that is, both sectors are subject to the same broad general principles and have the same kind of a general framework, but each sector has certain special characteristics that are merely analogous to, rather than identical with, the corresponding characteristics of the other sector. Hence each sector has its own special set of laws related to, but different from, the corresponding laws of the other sector.

This means that there exists a set of general principles governing existence as a whole, and there also exists a system of mutually consistent special laws and principles, similar to the Reciprocal System, for each individual sector of existence. In subsequent chapters, we will encounter phenomena that, as already noted, we will have reason to identify as metaphysical in character, and it will then be important to recognize that these phenomena are subject to a set of laws and principles that are peculiar to the general metaphysical region and are no more than analogous to any of the laws or principles of the physical universe.

THIRD METAPHYSICAL POSTULATE: Metaphysical existence conforms to a specific set of laws and principles different in some respects from those of the physical universe.

A fourth postulate will be derived in Chapter 7 by extrapolation of information that will be developed in the next three chapters. In order to complete the definition of the inductive system that we have constructed as a base for our exploration of the metaphysical region, this postulate will be stated at this time without comment. Its derivation will be explained in the subsequent discussion.

FOURTH METAPHYSICAL POSTULATE: The metaphysical existences of which we have evidence are intelligent.

These four postulates constitute the inductive conclusions that have been derived by standard scientific methods, mainly extrapolation. In the remainder of this work we will carry out the second half of the inductive process, developing the consequences of the postulates, and verifying their validity by showing that these consequences are in full agreement with observation wherever comparisons can be made. It should be emphasized that this is a scientific undertaking, on the basis of the definitions set forth in Chapter 2. The postulates are factual statements that have been derived by inductive processes from factual premises, and they will be verified by comparison with facts derived from observation. On verification, they constitute scientific knowledge, as previously defined. The entire project follows the standard scientific procedure and does so in a strictly scientific manner, without the use of any kind of demon.

It is true that metaphysical subjects have heretofore been regarded as outside the boundaries of science. As pointed out in Chapter 2, however, the true boundaries of science are not defined by the subject matter, but by the possibility of factual treatment. A purely factual conclusion in the metaphysical field, one based in the first instance on established facts, and derived from those facts by exact logical or mathematical processes, is just as scientific as a similar conclusion in a physical field. In the light of the findings of this present work, it is not appropriate to refer to metaphysical existences, or to any metaphysical phenomena, as “supernatural.” The metaphysical region and its phenomena are subject to laws of nature in exactly the same way as physical phenomena, and one of these types of phenomena is no more or no less “natural” than the other.

The general situation involved in this metaphysical investigation is similar to that which was previously encountered in examining the impact of the phenomena of the cosmic sector of the physical universe, the inverse sector, on observable events and relationships. The existence of the cosmic sector was entirely unknown prior to the time that it was discovered theoretically by development of the consequences of the postulates of the Reciprocal System of theory, and there was no known physical phenomenon that seemed to require anything as drastic as doubling the magnitude of the physical universe as then conceived. But once it was demonstrated theoretically that the cosmic sector must exist, it quickly became apparent that the impact of this cosmic sector on the familiar material sector provided simple and logical explanations for a number of phenomena that had never been satisfactorily incorporated into the conventional theories of the material universe. Similarly, metaphysical existence is not recognized by conventional physical theory. But once the reality of such existence has been demonstrated by standard scientific procedures, it becomes clear that here, too, the new knowledge supplies the explanations for many phenomena that have hitherto resisted all attempts at comprehension; some of them so foreign to current scientific thinking that scientists have been driven to the desperate expedient of ignoring the evidence and denying its existence.

In the next chapter, we will begin a consideration of the individual phenomena of this nature. Before so doing, however, it will be advisable to make a few general comments on the situation. There is no doubt but that the finding as to the reality of metaphysical existence is one of the most important conclusions ever reached in a scientific investigation. Nothing can be more meaningful to the human race than the answer to the question as to whether there is something beyond the limits of the physical universe, for once the answer has been positively established as affirmative, if follows practically as a matter of course that the destiny of man transcends the limitations of the physical universe. The great religions of the world have always affirmed the truth of this proposition, and until comparatively recently, most philosophers have agreed. William James, for instance, is positive and unequivocal:

Our science is a drop, our ignorance a sea. Whatever else be certain, this at least is certain—that the world of our present natural knowledge is enveloped in a larger world of some sort of whose residual properties we at present can frame no positive idea.67

But neither religion nor philosophy has heretofore been able to produce any tangible evidence of such an existence. Throughout the whole history of the human race, the status of the metaphysical assertions has remained unchanged while the scope of positive knowledge has expanded tremendously in other fields, particularly in science. Modern religions have no more evidence to offer in support of their contentions as to the reality of an existence outside the physical universe than the medicine men of the nomadic tribes were able to muster thousands of years ago. We are still told that these assertions must be accepted on “faith,” which simply means that no proof is available. Today's beliefs are more plausible than some of those of earlier days, it is true, but they are equally lacking in factual support. The inevitable result of this inability to back up the religious assertions with anything of a tangible nature has been a weakening of the “faith,” not only among those who have few ties with religion, but also in the very citadels of religion itself. As expressed by J. M. Kitagawa:

It is important to note that a radical change has taken place in this respect in the thinking of modern people, in that they no longer take seriously the existence of another realm of reality…. To the modern man, this phenomenal world is the only real order of existence, and life here and now is the center of the world of meaning.68

The findings of this work are thus particularly timely, in that they meet this modern trend of thought squarely and effectively, providing a conclusive refutation of the inferences that the present-day skeptics have drawn from the previous inability to relate the religious assertions to the world of observed phenomena. We are now able to state definitely and positively that “this phenomenal world” is not “the only real order of existence,” and that “life here and now” is only one phase of existence as a whole. Whether or not it is “the center of the world of meaning” is another question; one that we will be better able to consider later in the discussion, after we have explored some of the consequences of the metaphysical existence and their effect on the human situation.

05 Levels of Existence


Levels of Existence

At this point, we will begin consideration of the empirical evidence that confirms the conclusions which were reached in Chapter 4 by inductive reasoning. It has already been emphasized that this is a purely scientific work, in which the development of thought conforms strictly to accepted scientific principles, and the conclusions therefrom constitute scientific knowledge in the same sense in which that term applies to any other product of scientific inquiry. But the influence of established modes of thinking may make it difficult for some readers to free themselves from the belief that there must be some difference between this metaphysical exploration and a purely physical investigation. This is not true. To be sure, the metaphysical existences with which we are dealing are inaccessible to our physical senses, but so are most of the entities along the present-day frontiers of physical science. In both cases, we know the existences only by their effects. The task of science is to arrive at a specific and definite interpretation of those effects, and the standard scientific procedures have been established for this purpose. In order that there may be no misunderstanding as to the significance of the second phase of the metaphysical inquiry that we are now starting, it will be appropriate to review just where we now stand relative to the several steps of the standard scientific procedure.

The development of the Reciprocal System of theory established that, contrary to previous scientific opinion, based on an erroneous conception of the nature of space and time, metaphysical existence is possible. Application of standard methods of inductive reasoning in Chapter 4 then showed that such existence is probable, and it identified some of the characteristics of that probable existence. This completes steps 1 and 2 of the standard scientific procedure. In the pages that follow, we will determine what effects on human life will theoretically result from interaction with such metaphysical existences (step 3), and we will then verify all findings by showing that the theoretical results are in full agreement with actual experience (step 4).

In beginning this process, the first point to be noted is the presence of distinct kinds, or levels, of existence in the physical universe. This is one of the significant physical facts that conventional science cannot explain and therefore refuses to recognize. The predominant scientific opinion at present is that everything in the universe can be placed on one vast evolutionary ladder, the “great chain of being,” as it is sometimes called, beginning with the smallest subatomic particle and terminating (for the present, at least) with Homo sapiens: “one evolutionary track leading from atom to man.”69 As Victor Weisskopf expresses this idea, summarizing a discussion of the subject:

We have seen how life and man evolved from the original hydrogen gas, or better, how we believe today it may have happened. It is a development from the simple to the complicated, from unordered chaos to highly differentiated units, from the unorganized to the organized.70

This kind of a viewpoint is always immensely popular, both inside and outside the scientific profession. The evolutionary hypothesis has proved to be very fruitful in the living world, and the suggestion that this idea which has been so successful in application to biological organisms can be applied with equal force to the physical world as a whole has great appeal to the human mind. At first glance, it seems to be an important step toward that unity of nature which appears so eminently desirable—so fitting and proper—to scientist and layman alike.

But, unfortunately, the human mind is also prone to relax its critical standards when a pleasing hypothesis of this kind comes along, and to accept a superficial appearance of observational agreement with the hypothesis as proof of its validity, without applying the rigorous tests that sound scientific procedure requires. Neither the scientist nor the layman has given this hypothesis the kind of critical scrutiny that each applies to less glamorous ideas. If any serious attempt is made to examine its credibility, the hypothesis collapses. It is obvious almost immediately that there is no evolutionary process in the inanimate world analogous to biological evolution.

It is true that there is a gradual increase in complexity with time. Very young aggregates of matter consist almost entirely of hydrogen, the simplest of the elements; and the giant organic molecules that are the building blocks from which biological entities are constructed make their appearance as the end products of a process that requires billions of years for completion. But this is not a process of evolution, in the sense in which that term is applied to living organisms; it is merely a process of aggregation. Atoms will combine with other atoms whenever they come into contact under appropriate conditions of temperature and pressure, providing that the energy balance is favorable; that is, the combination is energetically more stable than the individual components. The giant organic molecule is simply the product of a series of appropriate combinations of this kind.

In this aggregation process, there is no requirement that the simpler compounds precede the more complex ones. They usually do. For instance, the relatively simple paraffinic or olefinic hydrocarbons usually constitute the raw material from which the more complex hydrocarbons of the aromatic series are produced in industry, and it is probable that the same is true in nature. But the aromatics could be formed directly from carbon and hydrogen atoms. In fact, studies of the pyrolytic process indicate that this is just what happens when aromatics are produced in this manner. One of the primary products in this process is anthracene, a complex triple-ring structure containing 24 atoms. Such a result is impossible in the living world. Biological evolution must build its complexity step by step, and an increase in complexity comparable to the step from carbon and hydrogen atoms to the anthracene molecule would require the formation of intermediate structures and would take a long time for completion. In the inanimate world, on the other hand, there is no physical obstacle to the construction of even the most complex molecule in a fraction of a second, just as the anthracene molecule is formed, if enough atoms of the right kind happen to be available where needed.

This kind of thing does not happen in the ordinary course of events, simply because the right atoms are not available in the right place at the right time, and they are not available because the probability of their being available is almost infinitely small. The aggregation of atoms into giant organic molecules takes a long time for completion only because the probability of the right kind of contact taking place is small and a long time elapses before this small probability produces a reality. It takes place as a step process because the probability of the occurrence of the right conditions for formation of a complex molecule by adding more atoms to a molecule of somewhat less complexity is much greater than the probability of the occurrence of the conditions that would permit the formation of the complex molecule directly. The so-called “evolutionary” process in this field is thus nothing more than a process of aggregation that proceeds slowly because of the very low probability of the right kind of contacts.

In the biological realm, on the contrary, the increase in complexity is inherently cumulative. A protein molecule could form directly from its constituent atoms if the right atoms were available in the right positions at the point of formation, just as the anthracene molecule is known to do, but it is not conceivable that the coalescence of any number of single-celled organisms could produce a polar bear. The evolutionary process as we find it in living organisms is not merely a matter of aggregation, like the formation of a molecule; it is a long process of gradual development by trial and error, in which the new is derived from the old by modification rather than by mere addition.

Another striking point of difference is that in biological evolution the new replaces the old, either partially or completely, whereas in the inanimate process of aggregation, the new and more complex structures are always a tiny minority, the relative proportions of the various structures being determined almost exclusively by the relative probability of their formation. The dinosaurs, which once reigned supreme in their environment, are now extinct, but any chemical compound which ever predominated in a particular environment still predominates in that environment. The sands of the Mesozoic era, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth, were grains of quartz, just as are the sands of today.

Again, we find that living organisms are unique in their ability to utilize food; that is, they can extract from their environment substances that are composed wholly or in part of the materials needed for the growth of the organisms, they can break these substances down into simpler units, and can reconstitute them into the specific forms that can be used by the living bodies. Inanimate structures, on the contrary, can grow only by obtaining from the environment some kind of matter that is capable of being added directly. The most that they can do in the way of adapting existing material to their use is to pull a loosely bound atom or atomic group away from some other structure.

An even more significant difference is connected with the basic physical principle known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Inanimate matter obeys the Second Law implicitly, whereas living matter behaves in a manner that seems to defy the law. By way of illustration, a wooden fence post will burn if any part of it is momentarily exposed to a high temperature. The Second Law says that any naturally occurring process, such as this combustion of the fence post, results in a decrease in the availability of energy, and accordingly, we find that the available energy in the carbon dioxide, water vapor, and ashes, the principal combustion products, is substantially less than that in the original fence post. A naturally occurring reversal of the process would violate the Second Law since recreation of the fence post from the products of combustion would increase the availability of energy. But this is just exactly what happens in the living world. A seedling tree takes the carbon dioxide from the air, extracts the water and the constituents of the ashes from the soil, and within a few years it has recreated the fence post. We cannot take the stand that the growth of a tree is not a natural process, unless we give that term an altogether different meaning than it now possesses, the meaning that is utilized in the statement of the Second Law. It is therefore evident that the living world and the non-living world are not governed by the same set of rules.

Whether or not the living organisms violate the Second Law in a strictly technical sense is still a matter of doubt. Bridgman, who has given the matter intensive study, concludes that there is not sufficient reason to believe that they do, but he concedes that there is no positive evidence to support this conclusion. “Certainly if any successful attempt has been made to examine on rigorous grounds the applicability of the second law to biological systems the result is not generally known,”71 he admits, and he even questions whether the concept of entropy, which is central in the Second Law, is applicable to living systems. He points out that these systems are irreversible in a different sense than the usual irreversible systems in the inanimate world, and goes on to say, “All living systems are of this nature and technically the concept of entropy may not be applied to such systems.”72 Du Nouy expresses the same conclusion: “The application of this concept [entropy] to living phenomena has not yet been realized and raises grave difficulties of principle.”73

In reality, however, all of the debate over this issue is rather pointless, since the biological systems certainly violate the spirit of the Second Law irrespective of whether or not enough hairs can be split to keep them from violating the letter of the law. There is no question but that the biological trend is toward order, whereas the trend in the inanimate realm, the trend dictated by the Second Law, is toward disorder. When we put the case in this manner, Bridgman concurs emphatically:

It springs to the eye that the tendency of living organisms is to organize their surroundings, that is, to produce “order” where formerly there was disorder. Life then appears in some way to oppose the otherwise universal drive to disorder.74

J. H. Rush states the case in somewhat more picturesque language:

Life pushes its way through this fatalistically determined world like a river flowing upstream. It is a system of utterly improbable order, a message in a world of noise.75

The facts brought out in the foregoing paragraphs show that the “evolutionary sequence” that so many present-day scientists think that they see, extending from subatomic particle to man, is not an evolutionary sequence at all; it is merely an arrangement of the various entities of the universe in the order of increasing complexity. Only in the living realm is this increased complexity a result of evolution. There is no evolution, in the sense in which this term is applied to living structures, in the non-living world. Furthermore, this difference between the processes by which greater complexity is attained is only one of the many items of evidence that show the existence of a very definite discontinuity in the order of increasing complexity at the point where life begins. The behavior of the living organism is altogether different from that of non-living matter. Even Weisskopf, whose enthusiastic appraisal of the status of the “continuous chain” hypothesis opened this chapter, admits that “The phenomena of life do not seem to fit at all into the framework of the events which we so far have come to expect from matter composed of atoms and molecules.”76

All of the foregoing adds up to a complete refutation of the “continuous chain” hypothesis, yet this is still not the whole story. The realm of the living is not only very different from the realm of the non-living, in its processes of developing the complex from the simple, in its action upon the environment, and in the basic principles that govern its existence, but is also, in some important respects, the direct opposite of the non-living world. This is a very significant point, and some of its implications with respect to the relation of life to inanimate matter will be discussed in detail in the next chapter.

At this time, we will want to take note of the fact that if we follow the order of increasing complexity still farther, we ultimately arrive at another discontinuity very similar to the discontinuity between the living and the non-living: another point where the governing rules change very drastically, and, as in the transition from non-living to living, are completely reversed in some important respects. Of course, the adherents of the “great chain of being” concept do not concede this point. As in the case of the lower discontinuity, they simply refuse to look at the evidence. Sir Alister Hardy makes this comment:

There are some people who, brandishing “Occam's razor” and fascinated by it, think it right for science to ignore half the properties of living things because they seem to complicate the issue.77

One of the most prominent features of life is that perpetuation of that life, either for the individual or for the species to which he belongs, is the dominant factor in the behavior of living things, the factor to which all else is subordinated. “The over-all and universal goal,” says Simpson, “is simply survival.”78 But if we continue to follow the order of increasing complexity, we eventually encounter a living unit which is outwardly no different in its general aspect from certain other living units lower in the scale of complexity, just as the simplest living unit is outwardly not essentially different from some non-living aggregates, but which reverses the characteristic behavior of living things, and takes many actions that definitely militate against continued existence of the individual and his species. Here again, as in the jump from non-living to living, the behavior beyond the discontinuity is not only different. It follows basic rules which, in important respects, are diametrically opposite from those governing the behavior on the lower side of the line. The most complex living unit, man, is not governed entirely, or even primarily, by the survival motive.

Those who are unable to reconcile this fundamental difference with their basic theories of existence naturally make every effort to explain away the inconvenient facts. Since the evolutionary theories adequately account for those aspects of animal behavior that subordinate survival of the individual to survival of the species, an attempt has been made to extend this explanation to the unique aspects of human behavior. But however attractive such explanations may be to those who want to believe them, they cannot stand up under critical scrutiny. There are many common human actions that are obviously irreconcilable with any survival motivation, direct or indirect. For example, when one man risks his life to protect that of another who is not strong enough to protect himself—an act that is not uncommon in human life—the performance of the act risks the survival of the individual, and the objective of the act is detrimental to the survival of the species, as the species would be better able to survive if its weaker members were eliminated. Human life is full of actions that share this anti-survival, or at least non-survival, character.

The practice of that which is ethically best—what we call goodness or virtue—involves a course of conduct which, in all respects, is opposed to that which leads to success in the cosmic struggle for existence.79 (T. H. Huxley)

Individuals have often cherished values which are not at all conducive to individual survival. Dying for one's ideals, sacrificing life for something that is considered of higher value than life, has been a value attitude frequently found in human history.80 (Walter A. Weisskopf)

Many ways of behavior which are regarded as ethical or praiseworthy enhance neither the chance of survival nor of reproductive success of the persons so behaving…. The origin of human values through natural selection is an oversimplification which can hardly be sustained.81 (Theodosius Dobzhansky)

Von Weizsäcker points out that care of the older members of the community is an outstanding example of this kind:

There is a strong selection pressure—to use this technical term of selection theory—favoring a good protection of the lives of young individuals; thus the love of parents for their children is common among higher animals. There is, however, no selection pressure favoring the survival of old individuals once they have generated and protected a sufficient number of children. On the contrary, they now become useless eaters. Thus love of adult children for their parents is very rarely seen in animals; the far wider and deeper vision of man seems to be needed in order to understand that caring for the old is a meaningful task.82

Such examples could be multiplied almost indefinitely, and it is clear that those who try to account for the distinctively human behavior patterns on a purely survival basis are closing their eyes to the experience of the race. Actually, however, few of those who characterize ethical behavior as an evolutionary product are able to maintain their position consistently. Marshall Walker, for instance, is positive and unequivocal in stating his position:

Ethical behavior for man is that pattern of individual and collective conduct which maximizes the probability of survival of man as individual and species.83

But nine pages later in the same book he tells us that “Nature is concerned with survival, not justice,”84 which is exactly the position taken in this work. Nature, in its biological manifestation, is, indeed, concerned with survival, and only with survival, but man is concerned with justice and other non-survival objectives, even where, as in the case discussed by Walker in the paragraph from which the second quotation was taken, these objectives are in conflict with the survival motive.

It is sometimes argued that there are other goals more important to the human race than mere survival, and that the evolutionary process in human beings may be preferentially directed toward these other objectives rather than toward survival. But this is an argument against the position that it is intended to support. Biological evolution is a survival process, and substitution of some other objective, thus changing the dominant factor underlying the whole course of behavior of the organism, is irreconcilable with the hypothesis of continuity. Hence, such suggestions do not offer any escape from the crucial fact that there is a major discontinuity somewhere between animal behavior and what is usually considered the more advanced types of human behavior. Below this point, survival is the law of life; beyond it, other considerations are controlling.

Once the existence of these two great discontinuities in the order of increasing complexity is recognized, the next question that arises is: What is their significance? As a background for a consideration of this question, let us take a look at the general subject of emergent properties. In a system governed by simple basic laws, complex phenomena are possible only because combinations of simple entities have properties which the entities themselves do not possess; that is, new properties emerge by reason of the combinations.

As a very simple example, let us consider two entities A and B that have no properties other than magnitude, and let us call these magnitudes a and b respectively. As long as each entity remains in isolation, each has but one property. If the two become associated in some manner, however, the system AB has not only the properties a and b, but also a+b, aÐb, bÐa, ab, a/b, and b/a, together with a multitude of more complex properties involving such things as numerical factors or exponents. All but a and b are emergent properties. In the analogous physical situation, the proliferation of properties by means of combinations of different types is still more extensive, as the basic physical entities have more properties to begin with. This is the situation that makes the Reciprocal System of physical theory possible. In this system, space and time are defined in terms of a mere handful of properties, but combination of these properties in different ways and in different proportions produces an immense number and variety of phenomena that in total constitute the physical universe.

It is important to recognize, however, that all of this multiplication of the consequences of the interaction of the original constituents, whether it be on the scale of the hypothetical system AB or the scale of the universe, is governed by the basic laws that are applicable to these original constituents. For instance, the fundamental unit of ordinary matter, the atom, is subject to the inward-directed force that we call gravitation. This gravitation is inherent in the atom; the same thing that makes it an atom causes it to gravitate. No matter how complex a material aggregate may become or how many different properties may emerge from that complexity, this situation does not change. Each atom is still subject to gravitation, and the gravitational law that applies to the individual atom is equally binding on all combinations of atoms.

It is conceivable that some physical entities may be subject to a gravitational law of a different character—in fact, the Reciprocal System tells us that this is actually true—but if and when we do find any such entities, we know immediately that they are not composed of matter of the type with which we are familiar. The emergence of new properties in a system because of increased complexity does not accomplish any change in the basic patterns of behavior of the system. Anything that does not behave in the characteristic manner of ordinary matter is not ordinary matter.

Actually, when we speak of new properties emerging, we are using the word “new” in a rather restricted sense, as these so-called “new” properties are limited to items which are already implicitly contained in the original entities. As expressed by Walker, they are “latently present in each of the isolated constituents even though such properties are unobservable while the constituent is isolated.”85 The emergent properties a+b, ab, etc., are “new” in a sense, but they are derived specifically from a and b. It is not possible for any properties to emerge in the system AB that are not capable of derivation from a and b. A property c, for example, cannot emerge in this system.

One present-day school of thought, however, is basing its explanation of life and of man on theories of emergent properties that ignore the inherent limitations of emergence. As explained by Muller, “These [theories] are based on the organismic concept of a whole different from the sum of its parts; the gist of them is that a new quality of existence ‘emerges’ from combinations, a quality that is nonadditive and nonpredictable from a knowledge of the original elements.” “The favorite analogy” of the emergent evolution theory, he says, “is the emergence of water: water is qualitatively different from both oxygen and hydrogen and no chemist could have foretold its quality. Just so, on the large scale, did life emerge from matter, mind from life.”86 H. A. Overstreet elaborates this theme:

Water, however, is not simply the sum of hydrogen and oxygen. It is something qualitatively new, something that cannot be found by the most searching examination of the gas, hydrogen, nor of the gas, oxygen. No amount of previous knowledge of the atomic structure of hydrogen and oxygen could, apparently, give a knowledge of this peculiar fluid that results from combining the two gases.87

But these contentions are one hundred percent wrong. The qualitative properties of water can be predicted from the properties of oxygen and hydrogen, even without the new information developed from the postulates of the Reciprocal System. With the benefit of this new knowledge, we can go still farther and calculate the quantitative properties as well. Furthermore, when these authors speak of the properties of water as “qualitatively different” from, or “not related to” the properties of oxygen and hydrogen, the meaning that is given to the word “properties” is definitely misleading, even though technically correct on the basis of popular usage. For instance, water is a liquid at room temperature, whereas hydrogen is a gas. Superficially, this may appear to be a “qualitative difference,” but the truth is that hydrogen is a liquid under certain conditions, whereas water is a gas under certain other conditions. Both substances can exist in either state; the only difference between the two, from this standpoint, is in the boiling temperature. The same situation prevails all along the line. The striking differences between water and hydrogen, as we normally come in contact with them, those differences which the authors that were quoted are calling differences in properties are, strictly speaking, merely differences in the numerical values of certain properties.

All of the properties of water are either the same properties that are possessed by oxygen and by hydrogen—density, specific heat, compressibility, vapor pressure, surface tension, etc.—with different numerical values, or they are properties similar to a+b, ab, etc.; properties of combinations as such. For example, water has the property of dissociation; a hydrogen atom does not. But dissociation is nothing more than a certain kind of process of separating into parts. The only reason why a hydrogen atom cannot dissociate is that it is a single unit and has no parts. A hydrogen molecule, which consists of two atoms, does dissociate under appropriate conditions. Then again, water can act as an acid. Here, it would seem, is a totally new property, something that is quite foreign to hydrogen and oxygen. But when we dig a little deeper, we find that an acid is simply a compound that can transfer a hydrogen atom to some other substance under appropriate conditions. Thus the acidic property is “new” only in the sense that dissociation is new; it is something that a combination can do just because it is a combination.

This matter of emergent properties can be seen in its true light by making use of the concept of the system. For this purpose, we define the system as the original entity or entities together with all entities that can be produced from it or them by processes of combination or rearrangement. The oxygen-hydrogen system which we have been discussing is a relatively small one. In addition to the hydrogen atoms and the oxygen atoms, which are the original entities in this case (by definition), the system includes water (H2O), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), the hydrogen molecule (H2), the oxygen molecule (O2), the ozone molecule (O3), the hydrogen ion (H+), the hydroxyl ion (OH-), and a number of more complex and less stable units such as the hydronium ion (H3O)+, the ice molecule (H2O)x, together with various aggregates of these units. If we substitute carbon for oxygen, the new system is an enormous one, comprising thousands upon thousands of combinations.

Regardless of whether the system is small or large, the properties of the system are defined by the properties of the original entities and the general laws to which these entities are subject. No unit of the system can have any properties other than those which can be logically derived from the properties of the system as thus defined. Anything that cannot be derived in this manner has no legitimate scientific standing. The appeal of the emergent evolution theory to physical analogy is groundless. Notwithstanding the pronouncements to the contrary that were quoted earlier, the properties of water are fully determined, both qualitatively and quantitatively, by the properties of hydrogen and oxygen atoms and the general laws to which these atoms are subject. Furthermore, the system consisting of hydrogen and oxygen atoms and the derivatives thereof is part of a larger system, consisting of all basic units of matter and the derivatives of these units, and the properties of water are fully determined by the properties of matter and the laws to which matter is subject. Nor do we need to stop here. The matter system is part of a still larger system, consisting of units of space, units of time, and the derivatives of these units, and the properties of water are fully determined by the properties of space and time and the general laws to which space and time are subject. All this is brought out in detail in the previous publications describing the Reciprocal System of theory.

The use that is currently being made of the concept of emergent properties, attributing anything new that appears along the route of increasing complexity to “emergence,” is completely unjustified. It has no logical basis, and the empirical support that is claimed for it from such items as the unique properties of water is wholly non-existent. As it is now being used, the concept of emergence is just another demon, a hypothetical agency that is invoked when no logical explanation can be found. “The theory of Emergence is not a working hypothesis,” says du Nouy, “It is not even scientific.”88 In order to get back on the track, scientifically speaking, we need to recognize just what sort of properties can emerge and what kinds cannot. The points developed in the foregoing paragraphs should make this distinction clear. The properties of acidity, of dissociation, of liquidity at room temperatures, etc., can emerge when water is formed from hydrogen and oxygen, because these are properties of the system hydrogen-oxygen; that is, they can be logically derived from the properties of oxygen and hydrogen together with the general laws governing those elements. The property of inverse gravitation, on the other hand, cannot emerge, because the system hydrogen-oxygen is subject to normal gravitation. Similarly, the property of honesty cannot emerge, as such a thing is completely outside the properties of the hydrogen-oxygen system. Like all other areas of existence, the biological realm is subject to the principle that “from nothing nothing comes.” Emergence cannot create something out of nothing. Only those properties can emerge that are properties of the underlying system.

At each of the two points of discontinuity in the order of increasing complexity in the observed universe, new properties appear which are definitely incompatible with the properties of the system previously existing. At the first discontinuity, there is a jump from inanimate matter which moves toward disorder and which is not subject to any evolutionary process, to a living structure which moves toward order and whose entire character is determined primarily by evolutionary processes. At the second discontinuity, there is a similar jump from a form of life in which the basic objective is survival (the evolutionary objective) to a form of life in which the basic objectives are different from, and often in conflict with, the objective of survival. In each case, there is a drastic change in the general pattern of behavior, a definite departure from the properties of the system previously existing. Thus it is clear that there are three separate and distinct levels of existence: three separate systems. Obviously there are relations between the three, but it is equally evident that each has its own set of rules and follows its own course.

Stated most simply, the phenomena of the inorganic, organic, and human levels are subject to different laws peculiar to those levels.89 (Theodosius Dobzhansky)

Since the three levels exist, and since the differences between them are of such a nature that they cannot be due to the emergence of new properties by reason of structural complexity, it follows that, at each discontinuity, some new element must enter into the situation: some factor that is entirely foreign to the level immediately preceding. The fundamental differences between the levels simply demand that such a factor exist.

The two outstanding events or critical turning points [in evolutionary history] were the origin of life and the origin of man…. With the appearance of life, and again with the appearance of man, something quite novel entered the world.90 (Dobzhansky)

The great majority of present-day scientists are inclined to reject this contention summarily, in spite of the fact that it is a prima facie requirement of the existing situation; but when we pin them down specifically, we find that it is not the conclusion itself that they object to, it is the inference that they are afraid will be drawn from it: the inference that the special factor which makes life what it is has a metaphysical origin. For centuries, a conflict has raged between the “mechanists,” who believe that “all living phenomena can be unequivocally explained in physico-chemical terms,”91 and the “vitalists,” who believe that “special ‘principles,’ different from all physical and chemical ones, are… ‘active’ in living organisms, guiding and organizing the vital processes which for that reason can never be resolved into a mere play of physico-chemical forces.”92 While a metaphysical origin of these “special principles” is not necessarily required, the vitalist position obviously opens the door to the development of explanations of this character, and the present generation of scientists, strongly opposed to leaving any loophole for the entry of metaphysics into the field which science has preempted, condemns the entire “special principle” concept in an excess of precaution.

But the facts are undeniable. As expressed by Beckner, “The empirical problems that gave rise to the controversy between ‘vitalists’ and ‘mechanists’ are still with us, though nowadays they are discussed in other terms.”93 In achieving their present ascendancy over the vitalists, the mechanists have not been able to supply a mechanical explanation for the unique behavior characteristics of living organisms. “It is an obvious commonplace,” says Nagel, “but one that must not be ignored if that issue is to be justly appraised, that there are large sectors of biological study in which physico-chemical explanations play no role at present.”94 Von Bertalanffy, who is not an advocate of vitalism, is nevertheless still more emphatic:

We can undoubtedly describe the organism and its processes physico-chemically in principle although we may still be far removed from reaching such a goal. But as vital processes they are not characterized in this way at all, since what is essential in the organism is that the particular physico-chemical processes are organized in it in quite a peculiar manner.95

It is evident that this is another illustration of the point brought out in Chapter 1: that the scientist relies on “faith” in reaching some of his conclusions just as much as the theologian relies on faith in arriving at some of his religious doctrines. In the controversy between the mechanists and the vitalists, neither side has anything concrete to support its position. The mechanists are confronted with an existing situation for which they have no explanation, while the vitalists have an explanation for which they cannot produce any evidence. The mechanist can only rely on his faith that an explanation will be forthcoming at some future time; the vitalist relies on an equally strong faith that no mechanistic explanation will ever be found, and that his “special principle” will have to be accepted in the long run. Sinnott summarizes the existing situation in this manner:

The plain fact is that in the present status of science biological organization remains still unexplained, and that many investigators are doubtful whether we are nearer to the ultimate answer than we were half a century ago.96

As matters now stand, the physical scientists, who are one step removed from the problem, are generally staunch mechanists. “The mechanistic view is supreme,”97 reports Asimov, a biochemist. But the biologists, who are face to face with the dilemma, are less confident. As Von Bertalanffy puts it, “Between physico-chemistry and metaphysics biology pursues a strange and crooked path.”98 A few decades ago, most biologists, probably somewhat overawed by the prestige of the physical sciences, were mechanists, although even in 1931 J. S. Haldane reported that “such support as it [the mechanistic conception of life] still receives is, at least, nearly always half-hearted and depends mainly on the absence of any clear conception of what can take the place of the physico-chemical interpretation.”99 More recently, there has been a return to something which, to the outsider, appears to be nothing more than the doctrines of vitalism dressed up in some new clothes, substituting a “creative potential” for the former “vital force.” As Habgood states the case, the individuals who adhere to this new view “are trying to defend in modern terms what vitalism has always stood for, even though they may reject all the older vitalistic theories.”100

Notwithstanding the strong family resemblance, the supporters of this so-called “organismic” viewpoint contend that there is actually a significant difference between it and vitalism. “At first glance this creative potential may look much like the old élan vital,” concedes Muller, but he stoutly affirms, “Actually, however, the organismic view is a higher synthesis of the vitalism-mechanism controversy, retaining the positive findings of both schools, transcending their artificial problems and their unnecessary exclusions.”101 From the standpoint of our present objectives, the significance of this continuing attempt to reconcile the opposing viewpoints is that it constitutes a recognition that there is a basic problem here which is still unresolved.

Even those philosophers and scientists who hold fast to mechanism occasionally reveal their uneasiness about the situation. Bridgman, for instance, comments that “now that we have quantum phenomena, a proof that vital phenomena are outside thermodynamics would not be so catastrophic as it would have been earlier in scientific history.”102 This statement is particularly interesting, not so much because of what it actually says, but because of what it implies. We may deduce from this statement (1) that Bridgman‘s confidence in the strength of the mechanistic position is by no means unlimited, and (2) that the mechanists’ view of the relation between the living and the non-living is not so much a product of an unbiased appraisal of the evidence as it is a reflection of their fears concerning the “catastrophic” effect which the vitalistic explanation would have on some of their other beliefs.

In this present study, our undertaking is to make a cold-blooded an unbiased study of the facts as they stand, without any concern as to what implications our findings may have on other aspects of human thought, either inside or outside the scientific field, and without any arbitrary preferences for one type of explanation over another. When we examine the situation on this basis, it is clear that there is a definite discontinuity between living and non-living, and that living organisms follow basic laws and principles which are totally different from, and in some important respects directly opposed to, the laws and principles governing inanimate matter. From this it is evident that some new factor is involved in life that is not present, or at least not effective, in inanimate matter: “something quite novel,” as Dobzhansky said in the statement quoted earlier. Heisenberg summarizes the situation:

One learns from simple biological experience that the living organisms display a degree of stability which general complicated structures consisting of many different types of molecules could certainly not have on the basis of the physical and chemical laws alone. Therefore, something has to be added to the laws of physics and chemistry before the biological phenomena can be completely understood.103

There is no observational evidence of the existence of this “something,” the “quite novel” factor that reverses the rules of the inanimate sector of the universe and makes life possible, other than such observations as we may make of its effect on the behavior of organisms, and there is no direct indication of its nature—whether it is material or non-material, physical or non-physical. But there is no escape from the conclusion that such a factor must become effective at the point of discontinuity between non-living and living. “In any case something new has definitely been added in these steps of the origin of life.”104 (George G. Simpson)

Scientists are inclined to lay great stress on minimizing the number of basic assumptions utilized in their theories, and the principle commonly attributed to William of Occam which condemns unnecessary hypotheses is generally accepted as an important guideline for scientific work. But it is even more important to have enough basic elements to work with, and this is something that many men of science are inclined to overlook in those cases where they cannot readily identify all of the elements that are needed.

An example that was discussed at some length in Beyond Newton105 is that of the structure of the huge aggregates of stars known as the globular clusters. In these clusters, tens or hundreds of thousands of stars maintain approximately fixed positions in what is apparently one of the most stable of all astronomical structures. It is quite evident that the cluster as a whole is held together by gravitational forces, but if gravitation were the only force in operation, the stars could not maintain their separations; each cluster would eventually collapse into one single mass. Obviously no one force could account for the existing situation. There must be some other force with which the gravitational forces are in equilibrium, but no adequate force has been identified. Under the circumstances, the logical course would have been to recognize the fact that a second force must exist, and to keep an eye open for some indications of its nature. But present-day science is inclined to take the position that anything which is not within its current range of vision is non-existent, and we can look in vain for any admission by the astronomers that they are short one force of some kind.

In this case, the development of the Reciprocal System has resulted in the identification of the missing force and clarification of the entire problem, but this merely emphasizes the absurdity of refusing to recognize logical necessities just because they are outside the current limits of scientific knowledge. Those limits are constantly being extended, and notwithstanding the reluctance of the scientific “authorities” to concede that there is anything beyond their range of vision, they will be extended again and again. The clear necessity for the entry of something new in the transition from non-living to living is simply a signpost indicating a place where another extension of the limits of scientific knowledge is essential.

The same considerations apply to the discontinuity at the upper end of the evolutionary path:

It has to be noted that there is not a straight line—cosmic development, living evolution, human society. There are critical points, or creaking joints: the first is the transition from non-living to living… the second is the transition from the biological to the human social and cultural…. If it is one process, what do the critical points mean, since they constitute at least a change of direction and the dominance of a new element?106 (Leslie Paul)

Like the lower discontinuity, the upper “creaking joint” is a place where something new enters into the situation; where the rules change, and a new perspective is required in order to understand what is taking place.

If we go beyond biology and include psychology in the discussion, then there can scarcely be any doubt but that the concepts of physics, chemistry, and evolution together will not be sufficient to describe the facts.107 (Werner Heisenberg)

Here, too, the great differences in behavior above and below the point of discontinuity definitely demand the presence of a new factor of some kind. Those who deny its existence are simply refusing to face the issue squarely. The argument that they always offer is that there is no observational evidence of such a factor. As von Weizsäcker puts it:

Where else than in inorganic matter should life have its origin; where else than in animals should man find his ancestors? We see no other possible origin.108

There is no merit in this argument. The fact that von Weizsäcker cannot see any other origin may be interesting, but it is not relevant unless he is omniscient, which presumably he does not claim. On the other hand, the facts cited by Heisenberg—the fact that something has to be added to the concepts of physics and chemistry to make biological phenomena intelligible, and something more has to be added to the concepts of physics, chemistry, and evolution to make human behavior intelligible—do define the situation. They do not tell us the nature of the “something more,” but they make the existence of these additional factors a matter of certainty. There is no justification for refusing to recognize that which, according to the evidence now before us, definitely exists, even though this existence does not fit neatly into the accepted physical pattern.

We must therefore not be discouraged by the difficulty of interpreting life by the ordinary laws of physics. For that is just what is to be expected from the knowledge we have gained of the structure of living matter. We must be prepared to find a new type of physical law prevailing in it.109 (Erwin Schrödinger)

This is the observational picture as it now stands. In the next two chapters, we will develop the theoretical picture, and we will compare the two to see how closely they are in agreement: how strongly the facts of observation support the theoretical conclusions, and how well the theoretical conclusions explain the observed facts.

06 The Second Level


The Second Level

As brought out in Chapter 4, the development of the Reciprocal System of physical theory has revealed that the observed material universe, which has hitherto been looked upon by science as the whole of existence, is actually only one sector of the whole. This theoretical development, the validity of which has been positively confirmed, definitely shows that there is a second sector, the cosmic sector, as we have called it, which is identical with the material sector except that the roles of space and time are reversed. Furthermore, the additional considerations discussed in the same chapter led to the conclusion that there is a third sector of existence completely independent of the space-time system that constitutes the physical universe. Existence as a whole thus consists of three distinct sectors, each with its own set of governing rules.

This does not mean that there are three completely separate sectors of existence. Both the cosmic sector and the material sector exist in space and time, and in the same space and time. Any given point in space-time thus constitutes a location in both the material sector and the cosmic sector. Similarly, this point is also a location in existence as a whole; that is, a location in the general metaphysical region, or sector. It follows that every location in space-time is potentially subject to influences originating in each of the three sectors.

With the benefit of the information that we have developed concerning the characteristics of the different sectors, we thus arrive at the theoretical conclusion that existence as it comes to our attention should have three different aspects (1) a material existence governed by the laws and principles of the material sector, the laws that govern the inanimate world about us; (2) a second aspect of physical existence in which the governing rules are those of the cosmic sector, to a large extent directly opposed to those of the material sector; and (3) a third aspect about which we know very little at this stage of our inquiry, other than that it is independent of Sectors 1 and 2, and has some characteristics that differ significantly from those of the other two sectors.

In Chapter 5, we carried out an analysis of the features of existence that we actually observe in our local environment, and this analysis showed that there are three distinct levels of this existence, each with its own peculiar pattern of behavior. Now we have deduced theoretically that observable existence should have three different aspects by reason of influences emanating from three different sectors of existence as a whole. We are therefore justified in identifying the observed levels of existence with the aspects that should theoretically exist.

This process of identification is a very necessary part of the verification of theoretical findings. Neither physical nor non-physical phenomena come equipped with labels. Consequently, when a certain entity or process emerges from the theoretical development, and we want to apply these findings to actual existence, we must look for an existing entity or process with exactly the same characteristics. The identification is ordinarily a very simple matter; in fact, the identity is usually obvious. But in any event it is self-verifying. If the identification is wrong, contradictions immediately appear as development of theory proceeds. Absence of discrepancies or inconsistencies verifies the identification. As an example, we may take the material particle known as the positron. All current physical theories (including the Reciprocal System) which purport to account for the existence of the negatively charged particle, the electron, predict the existence of a particle that is identical except that it is positively charged. This theoretical particle is called a positron. In order for the theory to be of any practical value, this theoretical particle must be identified with an actual physical particle. But there is no way in which an observed particle can announce, “This is a positron.” What has to be done is to find a particle that has exactly the properties of the theoretical positron. Such a particle has been located, and it is now accepted as the physical equivalent of the theoretical particle. The validity of the identification is confirmed by the fact that it has not led to any inconsistencies in the further development of theoretical and empirical knowledge in the particle field.

The same considerations apply to the identification of the phenomena of non-physical character. From the theory that has been developed (the Reciprocal System of physical theory and the extension of that theory into the metaphysical region), we deduce the existence of certain observable phenomena of metaphysical origin, which have certain specific theoretical characteristics. When we find existing phenomena with observed characteristics that correspond item by item with those of the theoretical phenomena, we can legitimately conclude that these are their counterparts.

This matter of correlating the theoretical and observational aspects of metaphysical phenomena has never required attention before because no systematic metaphysical theory has been available. Science has had nothing at all to say about the metaphysical region, while religion and philosophy have simply made assertions without incorporating them into an organized theoretical structure. Nor has any of these disciplines produced an explanation of the different levels of existence. Conventional science recognizes only the physical. Religion says that there are two levels: the physical and the spiritual. But, as we saw in Chapter 5, there are actually three distinct observable levels of existence. Thus no explanation can be correct unless it provides for three different systems. This is another place where an accurate knowledge of the structure of the physical universe is essential for an understanding of metaphysical phenomena. Without the discovery of the second, or cosmic, sector of the physical universe in the development of the Reciprocal System, there would still be no explanation of the levels of existence as they are actually observed even if the reality of metaphysical existence is recognized.

The accuracy of the identification of the three observed levels of existence with the three theoretical aspects originating in different sectors of existence as a whole will be confirmed in our consideration of the subject in this and the following chapter, not only by the absence of inconsistencies but also by showing how this clarification of the basic situation by means of the information obtained from theoretical sources explains many important details and aspects of existence that have hitherto been clouded in uncertainty. This is one of the great advantages of a theoretical approach, if an accurate theory is available. Observation is strictly limited; there are many areas that are totally or partially inaccessible. Inference can penetrate farther than observation, but it is of doubtful reliability at best, and the farther it reaches the less reliable it becomes. But a theory that has been established as accurate knows no limits, other than those resulting from the finite capacity of the human minds that develop its consequences.

Because of the finite limits to that capacity, it cannot be claimed that all of the details that will be discussed in the pages which follow have been established with certainty. But there is no element of uncertainty in the general conclusions. The theoretical situation in general is clear and unequivocal: the identification of the theoretical with the actual is positive, and the status of the theoretical universe as a true and accurate representation of the actual physical universe was definitely established in the preceding physical portion of the development. We are therefore on firm ground in concluding that the characteristics of a living organism (Level 2) are those theoretically applicable to Sector 2, the inverse, or cosmic, sector of the universe.

This does not mean that the biological organism is a Sector 2 structure. It is not possible for a purely Sector 2 structure (a cosmic motion or combination of motions) to exist more than momentarily in the material sector of the universe, for reasons that were explained in detail in the previous publications. A motion, or combination of motions, of the cosmic type may, however, exist as a minor constituent of a material structure. In such a case, the reaction of the material structure as a whole to environmental conditions may be determined, in whole or in part, by the minor component. In that event, it is appropriate to say that the total structure is under the control of the cosmic component, the term “control” being employed in a purely mechanical sense, as in the control of room temperature by a thermostat. The theoretical analysis thus tells us that a living organism is a compound structure; it is a material (Sector 1) aggregate connected with and under the control of a cosmic (Sector 2) unit. The cosmic unit is the “something new” that we saw in Chapter 5 is essential to account for the differences between the living and the non-living.

One point that is immediately apparent is that the new information does not resolve the controversy between the vitalists and the mechanists in favor of either side; it merely amalgamates the two positions. The new findings confirm the vitalists’ contention that there is a factor present in living organisms that is not present in inanimate matter, and that this new factor is responsible for the great differences in behavior between the living and the non-living. On the other hand, they identify this new factor as an integral part of the physical universe, and thus confirm the mechanists’ contention that the living and the non-living are all part of one vast and extremely complex mechanism.

A particularly significant feature of this new explanation is that it not only produces the kind of a factor that is required to account for the differences between living and non-living entities, but one which is also able to account for the nature of the differences that are observed. As pointed out in Chapter 5, a striking fact about the behavior of the living is that it is not only very different from that of the non-living, but in some respects is diametrically opposite. Indeed, if we were following the lead of those who see all activity as being teleologically controlled, we would have to conclude that the purpose of life is just the reverse of the purpose of the inanimate world. The natural processes of the inanimate world convert the fence post to carbon dioxide, water vapor, and ashes. The natural processes in the realm of the living take the carbon dioxide, water, and ashes, and out of them reconstitute the fence post. Accounting for this reversal of process direction has been a difficult problem for those who adhere to the theory that the living world has developed out of the inanimate world by a gradual increase in complexity—a problem that could only be evaded; it could not be resolved on any logical basis—but we now find that the new theoretical explanation requires just such a reversal.

Sector 2, the cosmic sector, is subject to a law similar to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, but because of the reversal of space and time in this sector, the Cosmic Second Law of Thermodynamics requires that all naturally occurring processes be accompanied by a decrease in available reciprocal energy; that is, by an increase in available energy. To the extent that living matter acts merely as inanimate matter, it obeys the Second Law; to the extent that its behavior is controlled by Sector 2 influences, it obeys the Cosmic Second Law. It is evident that the general behavior of the living unit—that which seems to be its purpose, if we look at the situation from a teleological standpoint—must belong in the latter category. Here, then, we have an explanation as to why the living tree systematically undoes all of the work that the natural forces of the inanimate world accomplished in reducing the fence post to its chemical constituents. Furthermore, the evolutionary process as a whole, the pattern of development in the biological realm, is consistent with the Cosmic Second Law, as it should be on the basis of the Sector 2 explanation. As expressed by Needham: “The law of evolution is a kind of converse of the second law of thermodynamics, equally irreversible, but contrary in tendency.”110

One of the arguments on which the mechanists have relied as a support for their position is that, so far as can be determined, the physical and chemical processes that take place in the living organism are the same kind of processes that are encountered in the inanimate world. The conclusions that we have now reached are in full agreement with this interpretation of the observed facts. The processes within the organism are, indeed, ordinary physical and chemical processes. The unique character of the living system is not due to the kind of processes that take place within it, but to the control that is exercised over these processes.

As an analogy we may consider the operation of a chemical plant. Here, also, the processes are identical with those which take place in nature under appropriate conditions, but the results are altogether different, often reversing the results of the prevailing natural processes, simply because the processes in the plant are under human control and are deliberately directed toward certain ends. Similarly, the processes taking place in the living organism are under Sector 2 control, and consequently they are directed toward Sector 2 ends; toward order rather than toward disorder.

It is clear from theoretical considerations that the inanimate structure with which the Sector 2 unit is associated must be a relatively large and complex compound in order to have the Sector 2 unit as a minor component. This conclusion is corroborated by the observed fact that the polynucleotide, the giant organic molecule which is the basis of life as we know it, is the end product (for the present, at least) of the process of increase of complexity by means of aggregation. There are many larger structures, to be sure, but these are simply aggregates of smaller individual units, and they do not have the structural complexity of the large organic molecules. “DNA is the largest molecule known, containing, in advanced organisms such as man, as many as 10 billion separate atoms.”111 If it were possible to produce the behavior characteristics of life without utilizing the most complex molecules available, we would now have at least a few living organisms based on less complex structures. In fact, the greater probability of the occurrence of simpler units suggests that if simpler living structures were possible they would now predominate. But the evidence indicates that the polynucleotides such as DNA are the very essence of life, so far as its material aspect is concerned, and this means that the development of molecules of this type was a prerequisite for the emergence of life. On this basis, such molecules are not only the most complex units that are available; they are the least complex units that will serve the purpose.

All this implies that there is some feature of the end products of the aggregation process that is not possessed, or is not possessed in the required degree, by earlier products in the series, and the question now arises, What is this feature? The answer that emerges is that the structure of these molecules is such that, under appropriate conditions, they can reproduce themselves. Reproduction is, of course, one of the requirements for the persistence of life. A series of investigations has revealed that a DNA molecule is constructed of two long unbranched chains consisting of repeating units known as nucleotides which are coiled around each other in a double helix. One of the components of the nucleotide, a nitrogenous base, may have any one of four different compositions, and the sequence of these bases is the “code” of the molecule. In the replicating process, the two chains uncoil and separate. Each chain then constructs a duplicate of its former companion from whatever appropriate material is available. Thus each reproduces the original two-chain molecule, and sets the stage for a repetition of the process.

But a further analysis of the situation shows that no material molecule is self-replicating. Almost any molecule can attach others of the same kind if the environment is favorable, and a crystal can grow indefinitely where enough “food” is available. But if the final result is to be two or more duplicates of the original molecule rather than a single larger one, some outside agency must separate the parts of the resulting complex structure. As Barry Commoner has pointed out, this means that “neither DNA nor any other cellular component is, strictly speaking, a ‘self-duplicating molecule.’”112

Here, then, is the point at which the unit from Sector 2 enters into the situation. What is needed is something that comes into play when the double molecule is complete, and reverses the direction of the effective forces so that separation will take place. As brought out in the preceding chapter, such a situation simply demands the entry of a new factor. The governing principle of the inanimate sector, aggregation, causes the formation of a double molecule. But ordinary matter contains no reversing mechanism. There are “reversible reactions” in the material structure, to be sure, but they are not automatically reversing under a static set of conditions, and that is what is necessary in this case. Some agency that opposes the natural tendency of material bodies to aggregate must therefore take hold and cause the two halves to separate. This is just the kind of a thing that a unit from the cosmic sector is qualified to do, since the aggregation process in the cosmic sector is oppositely directed; that is, it moves the masses closer together in time, which is equivalent to increasing the separation in space. Ernest Pollard reports the suggestion “that there is a ‘hypothetical’ spinning apparatus which is at one end of the DNA”113: a clear recognition of the need for something more than can be provided by the material structure of the molecule.

The theoretical conclusion that a living organism is a compound unit in which a material structure is combined with, and under the control of, a cosmic unit is therefore completely in harmony with the behavior of the DNA molecules. Such a combination structure is the only form in which a cosmic unit could manifest itself (other than very fleetingly) in the material structure of the universe. A cosmic aggregate is localized in time, not in space, and it is therefore impossible for such an aggregate to have an independent existence at a specific spatial location, but it can exist in space as one component of a compound structure. Stable structures incorporating cosmic components exist in the chemical elements of the electronegative groups. One of the rotational motions of each of these elements is of the cosmic type—the kind of motion that is normal in the inverse, or cosmic, sector of the universe. It would not be possible for all, or even most, of the motion of a material atom to be of this type, but as long as the larger part of the motion is material in character, a cosmic type of motion may exist as a minor component. These elements are therefore, in a sense, combination material and cosmic structures, and thus roughly analogous to the theoretical biological combination.

As brought out in the previously published descriptions of the Reciprocal System, the cosmic sector of the universe is an exact duplicate of the material sector, except that space and time are interchanged. Every element and every combination of elements that enters into the structure of the DNA molecule is paralleled by an analogous cosmic structure, identical in every respect except for the reversal of the roles of space and time. Furthermore, the elements themselves are nothing more than combinations of several different motions, and any one of these motions may take the cosmic orientation as indicated in the preceding paragraph. Theoretically, therefore, the cosmic unit which alters the behavior of the DNA molecule may be anything from a complete cosmic molecule to a single feature of the structure of a single cosmic atom. Some further theoretical study or experimental work, or both, will be necessary before the exact nature of this unit can be identified. It is probable, however, that the cosmic component of the DNA molecule in a very simple organism is a relatively small unit: something which, like the cosmic type rotation of the electronegative elements, can be derived from sources that are readily available in the material sector. But aside from what bearing it may have on the question as to the origin of life, a subject that will be discussed later, a definite identification of this cosmic unit, the life unit, as we will call it, is not necessary for present purposes.

Just how the life unit accomplishes the control over the material aggregate of the biological organism has not yet been determined. Some idea of the possibilities can, however, be gained from a consideration of the role that motions of the inverse, or cosmic, type play in the formation of chemical compounds. The findings of the Reciprocal System of theory with respect to these compounds, a full account of which is available in previous publications, show that the formation of compounds is possible only if one or more of the component atoms has a motion of the cosmic type as a minor constituent of its motion system. Furthermore, the characteristics of this cosmic motion component are the factors that determine the nature of the resulting compound. In a certain sense, therefore, we can say that this cosmic component controls the compound formation. The manner in which the life unit exercises control over the biological organism is no doubt of this same general nature. The periodic reversal, which alternates the molecule building with the separation into halves, is something that the cosmic unit is capable of causing, as the regularities in the cosmic sector are in time, rather than in space. As seen in the context of the material environment, these regularities are periodic.

This illustration also shows how a purely mechanical, inanimate type of control can produce results which have a superficial appearance of being purposeful. The building of increasingly larger chemical compounds differs from simple aggregation in that it is a selective process. Only those atoms which can add to the existing compound are drawn from the environment, and the end result is the accomplishment of a specific objective: the construction of a larger and more complex molecule. The essential function of the life unit is similarly selective. Here, again, only those atoms or atomic groups that can contribute to the objective of the process, which in this case is the construction of replicas of the original structures, are drawn from the environment.

Inasmuch as the primary combining forces act between like units—material with material, and cosmic with cosmic—the growth of the material structure in size and complexity as evolutionary development proceeds is accompanied by a corresponding increase in the complexity of the life unit. The life unit in the most advanced living structures is the product of billions of years of this kind of development, and it is undoubtedly a very complex structure. Some of the implications of this point will be discussed later in the appropriate context.

One of the important consequences that normally follow discovery of the correct answer to a scientific problem is that much new light is thrown on collateral issues, and very often the answers to long-standing problems in these collateral areas are clearly indicated without the necessity of further study. So it is in this case. Our findings as to the nature of the life unit tell us immediately why living organisms are made up of individual cells, a fundamental fact of life that has hitherto been completely unexplained, and they go a step farther by furnishing an indication of the dimensional limitations to which the cells must conform.

In the previous study of the physical universe, it was found that material atoms and molecules exert certain short-range forces only within a limited region of space that has a radius in the neighborhood of 3×10-8 centimeters. When such atoms or molecules gather in a solid or liquid aggregate, they therefore take up positions in which they are separated by approximately this distance. In effect, each atom or molecule exercises a degree of control over its own small region of space, a region approximately coincident with what the crystallographers call a unit cell. Since a cosmic molecule has the same kind of properties as a material molecule, differing only in the direction of some of the forces, the life unit, too, exercises control over a small region of space, and only over that small region. This region, together with its contents, is a biological cell. The basic situation is the same in both cases: a material aggregate is a composite of cells; a complex biological organism is a composite of cells.

There is no definite boundary between the cells of a material aggregate similar to that between the cells of a biological structure, but this is merely a result of the fact that all of the units that are involved in the material aggregate are units of the same kind; that is, they are all material. Material unit A exerts a force on material unit B, but unit B is at the same time exerting a force of the same nature on unit C, and so on, the result being a continuous aggregate with no definite lines of demarcation. In the biological aggregate, cosmic unit X exerts a force on material unit Y, but unit Y cannot exert a force of this type, a cosmic force, at all, and the cosmic type of action therefore terminates at the distance limit within which the force exerted by X is effective. This limit is the cell boundary.

The biological cell is considerably larger than the unit cell of the material aggregate because of the cosmic nature of the life unit forces, the effective reach of which determines the cell size. The diameter of the cell in both cases is basically related to the natural unit of distance, which has been evaluated from fundamental relationships as approximately 5×10-6 cm, but the nature of the inter-atomic forces has an effect, explained in detail in previous publications, which reduces the radius of the unit cell of solid matter to roughly one 150th of this natural unit of distance, or about 3×10-8 cm. Because of the reversal of directions in the cosmic sector, the range of effectiveness of the cosmic forces is approximately 150 times the natural unit of distance, or about 8×10-4 cm; that is, the maximum diameter of a biological cell is about 0.015 millimeter.

Although this biological cell is an extremely small object, when judged by our everyday standards, it is immense compared to the size of an atom. Since its diameter is about 25,000 times the average inter-atomic distance in a solid or liquid, the volume of a cell is roughly 1.5×1013 times the volume occupied by an atom—15,000 billion times as great. Thus, from the atomic standpoint, there is plenty of room inside a cell, even for DNA molecules of ten billion atoms each. The cell is actually a large and highly organized system, containing billions of molecules, from which are constituted a great variety of cell components, each with its own specific function. The operation of controlling and coordinating these various functions is handled by the nucleus of the cell, a relatively small, but readily identifiable, body existing in the interior of most cells. The nucleus, in turn, is itself a complex structure, and the powers which it exercises probably originate in particular features included in the nuclear composition, rather than from the nucleus as a whole. Its essential component is the life unit that, according to our findings, is necessarily present and in overall control of the cell activities.

At some stage of development, the first joint action or cooperation between cells occurred, and since the opportunities for evolutionary adaptation are greatly enhanced by such an innovation, the multicellular organisms have continued to flourish. While the original combinations were undoubtedly mere aggregates or colonies of cells—and many of them still are—the door was now open for a new advance, cell specialization, which still further widened the evolutionary possibilities. A necessary accompaniment of specialization was the development of a central control whereby the particular activities of the individual cells could be coordinated to meet the requirements of the organism as a whole. The more advanced biological organisms thus consist of a multiplicity of cells, each with its own individual control mechanism, but subject to the direction of a central control system. Many of these organisms even have regional control centers which enable routine or emergency action to be taken without the necessity of a directive from the central unit.

As expressed by Schrödinger, the individual cells “resemble stations of local government dispersed through the body.”114 This analogy is strengthened by the fact that just as local governmental units are able to carry on most of their operations temporarily even if the central authority of the state collapses, so the life units controlling the individual cells are able to keep the cells alive and operative, at least for a time, in the absence of any central control. A number of experiments have been made in which cells have been removed from multicellular organisms and have been kept alive for long periods of time.

Another important contribution which the theoretical findings with respect to the nature of the control over the biological organism make toward clarifying collateral issues is that they enable us to account for some of the aspects of the situation along the borderline between the living and the non-living that have been difficult problems for the biologists: the behavior of viruses, for example. Some of the viruses can be crystallized, and in this form they have no biological activity. From all indications, they are no different from any other organic crystals. But when this apparently inanimate matter is introduced into a living cell, it behaves as a living organism, assimilating food from the environment and producing a multiplicity of replicas of itself. Is the virus, then, living or non-living, or does it occupy some kind of an intermediate position between the two?

On the basis of the theory developed in the preceding discussion, the virus in the crystalline condition is a purely material structure, and as such, has no biological capability. But it has the potential of replication in an appropriate environment, because of its molecular structure, and when it enters a living cell and becomes subject to the cosmic forces that are exerted by the life unit in control of the cell, this potential is activated and the virus behaves as a biological organism. Thus the virus is living within the cell because its behavior is controlled by a life unit, or a number of such units. Outside the cell it is not under such control and therefore is not living. The activities of the virus are detrimental to the cell, but the control exercised by the life unit is purely mechanical and it is unable to distinguish between foreign DNA and its own. It treats the DNA of the virus as if it were indigenous to the cell. Generalizing the foregoing explanation, we arrive at a definition of life:

Life is a condition in which a material aggregate is under the control of one or more life units of a cosmic (inverse) nature.

An idea of the difficulty that has been experienced in formulating a comparable definition on the basis of conventional theories can be gained from an examination of the following recently published wording:

Life is a partial, continuous, progressive, multiform and conditionally inter-active, self-realization of the potentialities of atomic electron states.115

On the foregoing basis, death is a process in which the life units lose control over the material aggregate. Since there is little reason for loss of control in a simple unicellular organism, such units should not die unless they exhaust their food supply, or are physically destroyed—by fire, for instance, or by becoming food for some other organism. This is confirmed by observation. Death from “natural causes” is a phenomenon of the complex organism, and it results from inability of the organism to keep all of its vital parts in good working order indefinitely. Whether or not this is inevitable is still an unanswered question. At any rate, it seems evident that it is the result of an evolutionary development. Clearly, a species in which the earlier and less adapted types of individuals are continually replaced by later types whose adaptation to the environment has been improved by operation of the selection process would have a substantial advantage over an otherwise similar species in which no deaths from “natural causes” occur. So far as the evolutionary mechanism is concerned, “natural” death is in the same class as good vision, a temperature regulating mechanism, etc.; it is a feature which contributes toward adaptation of the species to the environment. Since it was not present in the simple living unit, evolution produced it somewhere along the way.

In plant and animal life, a short remaining life-span of the old ones is favorable for the species. Perhaps the natural process of aging would never have developed without this selection pressure, for I see no biochemical reason why individuals should not be possible that would stay alive indefinitely if not killed by force.82 (C. F. von Weizsäcker)

It should be noted that these conclusions do not necessarily apply to the human situation. While natural death is a human inheritance from the past, it may not continue to be inevitable. Inasmuch as survival is not the sole, or even the principal, controlling factor in human life, it is possible that the role of biological evolution may diminish and eventually terminate, while cultural development becomes more important. Cultural advance would, of course, be favored by longer life.

Death of the constituent cells is not an immediate consequence of death of the organism as a whole, since the cells have a degree of independence, as pointed out earlier in the discussion, but the cells of a complex organism are highly specialized, and when the central control ceases to function, the cells are deprived of essential services and they can continue to live for only a very limited time. Meanwhile, however, some action, either spontaneous or originating from outside sources, may cause the central control to resume exercising its functions, in which case the constituent cells simply carry on without interruption. Under such circumstances, the question is often asked: Was the individual actually dead in the interim? On the basis of the understanding reached in this present investigation, we must answer, Yes, the individual, as such, was dead, since the central life unit no longer had control over the organism as a whole, but the separate cells were still under local control and therefore alive. This made it possible for the central control to be reasserted, and in this way the individual was brought back to life.

Our findings as to the nature of life also give us some understanding of the origin of life on our particular planet. In view of the existing uncertainty as to the exact nature of the primitive life unit, the cosmic unit that enters into combination with the material structure and causes the change in behavior from that of the inanimate world to that of the living organism, there is a substantial range of possibilities to be considered. If this unit amounts to any major portion of the molecule as a whole, then the occurrence of a combination of the right kind depends on the entry of the necessary unit from the cosmic sector and contact with an appropriate material aggregate in the extremely short time available. The probability of such a happening is very small, but it does have a finite value, and although such an event might not take place more often than once in a thousand years, or even once in a million years, yet it is certain to take place sooner or later when there are billions of years available for this small probability to take effect.

Even on the assumption that the primitive life unit is relatively large, therefore, the emergence of life on a planet such as the earth, where suitable conditions exist, is inevitable. If the life unit is a relatively small feature of a molecule, the probability of the right kind of an encounter is greatly increased, and in that case, the origin of life would be practically automatic, once the required giant organic molecules became available. After the first life unit has gained a foothold, an explanation of the spreading of life over the surface of the planet encounters no serious difficulties. The reason why we do not observe life originating in this manner, why life comes only from life, so far as we can see, is that the raw materials from which the forces of nature would build life if they had a chance to operate are so eagerly sought by the myriad of life forms already existing that they are never available. It should theoretically be possible, however, to observe the boundary between living and non-living experimentally by differentiating between a purely material molecule of DNA and a cosmically controlled molecule. The latter should replicate itself in the proper environment, while the purely material molecule should not. An experiment of this kind would distinguish between living and non-living at the lowest possible level. In fact, the viruses may already be trying to give us this information.

These findings as to the origin of life on earth are, of course, in conflict with the currently accepted viewpoint of the scientific community, which regards living organisms as having originated from non-living structures by ordinary material physical and chemical processes. But this current position is based on the “continuity from atom to man” hypothesis which, as demonstrated in the preceding chapter, is completely untenable. We can concede, to be sure, that there is a definite regularity in the course of development which leads from the atom to the complex organic molecule, and we can likewise concede that there is a regular course of development leading from the simplest life form to man. We cannot agree, however, that these two lines of development are segments of one continuous process, as is now claimed. Our findings are that biological evolution is very different from the process of development which takes place in the inanimate world, both in the character of the process and in the nature of the results. There is a major discontinuity between the two lines of development. As du Nouy puts it, “There is an immense gap between the molecular state, subject to disordered thermal agitation, and what we might call the protoplasmic state. Our ignorance on the subject is complete.”116

The more enthusiastic advocates of the currently prevailing view deny the existence of any discontinuity. Marshall Walker, for instance, tells us that “The transition from complex inert molecular aggregates to even more complex living molecular aggregates is a series of almost imperceptible steps.”117 But when we inquire as to the evidence upon which such statements are based, we find that there is no such thing. When they must face the issue, the proponents of this hypothesis have to admit that they are relying on “faith” or “hope” that the evidence will some day be forthcoming. A recent book by Dean E. Wooldridge illustrates this point. This author is about as definite and positive as anyone can be in explaining how life developed from inanimate matter, and he goes into great detail on the subject, yet he ultimately has to admit:

It can certainly not be claimed that the sequence of events just summarized has been documented, in this book or elsewhere, with anything like completeness…. It still appears necessary to invoke an element of faith if any story of the creation [of life] is to carry conviction.118

George G. Simpson reports that “virtually all biochemists agree that life on earth arose spontaneously from non-living matter,”119 but like Wooldridge he characterizes this as an act of faith rather than a scientific conclusion:

In any case, something new has definitely been added in these stages of the origin of life [from macromolecules to living cells]. It requires an attitude of hope if not of faith to assume that the acquisition of organic adaptability was deterministic or inevitable to the same degree or even in the same sense in which that was probably true of the preceding, more simply chemical origin of the necessary macromolecules.104

Simpson also admits that the organization of large organic molecules into living systems “is the step, or rather the great series of steps, about which we now know the least even by inference and extrapolation.”119 Oparin, whose pioneer work in the field constitutes the basis for much of present-day theory, is equally candid with respect to this point. He not only admits that there is a serious gap in the theory, but concedes, as many present-day writers are reluctant to do, that this gap is at the crucial point in the hypothetical course of development. “The most important, as well as the least studied, stage of the evolutionary process under consideration,” he says, “would seem to be the transition from the most complicated organic substances to the most primitive living organisms. This is the most serious gap in our knowledge.”120

This is indeed a “serious gap.” A theory which purports to explain how life originated from inanimate matter gives us a full account of everything except how inanimate matter acquired life. In other words, this theory deals only with collateral matters and does not touch the basic issue at all. Heisenberg's conclusion that “something has to be added to the laws of physics and chemistry” in order to make life processes understandable is not weakened in the least by the arguments of this present-day school of thought.

The findings discussed in this present chapter have now identified Heisenberg‘s “something.” Inanimate matter of an appropriate character acquires life when, and only when, it comes under the control of a life unit from the cosmic (inverse) sector of the physical universe, a sector in which the governing laws and principles are, like the actions of living organisms, the reverse, in many important respects, of those prevailing in the inanimate material sector. It should be noted, however, that this origin of life is just as “deterministic” and “inevitable” as the “preceding chemical origin of the necessary macromolecules,” and Simpson’s “attitude of faith” on this point has been justified, even though the theories which ascribe a purely material origin to life are no longer tenable.

The foregoing explanation of the origin of life on earth implies that life will originate anywhere in the universe where suitable conditions exist. The process which leads to the formation of planetary systems, as described in the previous publications dealing with the Reciprocal System, is of such a nature that a considerable proportion of the total number of stars are accompanied by such systems. Probability considerations then assure us that an appreciable percentage of the planets included in these systems are suitable for life. Since there are billions of stars in our galaxy alone, and billions of other galaxies in the region of space within the range of our giant telescopes, it is clear that there are at least millions, if not billions, of planets capable of supporting life within this region alone, to say nothing of the regions beyond the reach of the telescopes. Our deduction that life is certain to emerge wherever appropriate conditions exist then means that there are millions, probably billions, of other planets on which life exists.

Harlow Shapley has made an interesting calculation in this connection, using figures which he considers very conservative; that is, figures which underestimate rather than overestimate the number of planets on which life exists. Assuming that only one star in a hundred is a single star, that only one in a hundred of these has a system of planets, that only one in a hundred of these systems includes an earth-like planet, that only one in hundred of these earth-like planets is neither too cold nor too hot, and that of them only one in a hundred has a chemical environment similar to ours, he says that “we could still have, after all that elimination, ten billion planets suitable for organic life something like that on earth.”121

Life on these other planets is subject to the same physical laws as life on earth, laws that are universally applicable. Such life must be based on the compounds of carbon, simply because there is no other element capable of forming structures of the size and complexity that are necessary. Our finding that complexity equivalent to that of the DNA molecule is a prerequisite for entering into the kind of a combination that is the basis for life eliminates all possibility of life based on anything other than carbon compounds. There are other elements—silicon, for example—that form compounds of the same general type as some of the organic compounds of carbon, but these are limited to relatively small molecules of the simplest chemical families, and they are totally incapable of meeting the requirements as to size and complexity. A number of complex compounds of a somewhat different structure are formed by boron, and recent investigations have indicated that the range of possible compounds of this element is considerably greater than has heretofore been realized. But here, again, the largest combinations known are insignificant compared to the huge DNA molecule, and there is no indication that a replicating boron molecule is possible.

Aggregation under the influence of gravitation takes place on other planets in the same manner as on earth, and the same kind of complex organic carbon compounds are therefore produced. Similar considerations apply to the compounds of the inverse type that constitute the life units. We can therefore conclude that the simplest living organisms on another earth-like planet are essentially identical with their counterparts on the earth itself. If life has originated on planets that are not earth-like—that is, planets on which the relevant conditions are significantly different—its general characteristics must still be the same. There is sufficient evidence, both theoretical and observational, to show that all material aggregates throughout the universe are composed of the same kind of matter. In order to set the stage for the emergence of life, some giant organic molecule must be produced by aggregation of less complex units of this matter. It does not necessarily have to be DNA, but it must be a compound of an analogous character. Just which of the structures that will serve the purpose is determined by the relative probability of formation, and this may depend on the conditions to which the matter is subject. In any event, the simplest living unit on such a planet is formed by a combination of that giant organic molecule, whatever it may be, with a life unit from the cosmic sector, as in the life with which we are familiar. We thus arrive at the conclusion that the building blocks of the living world, the primitive life forms, like the building blocks of the inanimate world, the chemical elements, are essentially the same throughout the universe.

07 The Third Level


The Third Level

With the benefit of the information developed in our consideration of Level 2 in the preceding chapter, we are now in a position to begin an exploration of the less readily accessible third level. The general situation is the same in both cases. Inanimate matter (Level 1) aggregates into increasingly larger units under the influence of gravitation and the other forces that operate in this inanimate region. Some of this aggregation has the effect of developing structures that are more complex as well as larger, and at a certain point in the order of complexity the behavior of each unit changes radically, in some important respects even reversing the previous pattern. This we have interpreted as indicating that the complex Level 1 structure formed by the aggregation of matter has entered into a combination with a unit from the cosmic sector of the universe—Sector 2—and is now under the control of the latter.

Similarly, the biological structures formed by combinations of this nature gradually increase in complexity by evolutionary processes (not by mere aggregation as in inanimate matter) and when this complexity reaches a certain point, we again see a radical change in behavior, as before reversing the previous pattern in some important respects. Since we have already found that there is a third sector of existence as a whole which is capable of exerting an influence in the local region, we may conclude that the explanation for the observed situation is the same as at the lower discontinuity; that is, a unit from another sector of the universe—in this case Sector 3—has entered into a combination with the biological structure and has taken some degree of control of it. In the pages that follow, it will be demonstrated that there is sufficient evidence to provide a definite confirmation of this conclusion.

The fact that survival is the dominant objective in the living world and the controlling factor in the evolutionary process not only means that all possible developments favorable to survival will eventually take place; it also means that no development unfavorable to survival can take place by means of biological evolution. Because of a subsequent change in the environment, an evolutionary modification may occasionally turn out to be detrimental to survival in the long run, as a purely mechanistic process of this kind cannot anticipate what the future has in store, but a modification which is inherently unfavorable for survival has no chance at any time. Evolution cannot produce a unit with a behavior pattern that relegates survival to a subordinate role; the kind of a pattern that distinguishes Level 3 of observable existence.

As in the transition from non-living to living, there is an immense gap here which the adherents of the “continuity” theory simply ignore. No one has been able to produce any plausible explanation of how man acquired the first ethical ideas; how he was able to transcend the evolutionary limitations even to a very minor degree. Most casual observers simply assume that the transition from animal to man was one which took place in “a series of almost imperceptible steps,” as Walker characterized the transition from non-living to living. But any critical analysis shows that, in both of these cases, the change is a revolutionary one, inherently incapable of being accomplished in steps of any kind. As J. H. Breasted says in his book The Dawn of Conscience, “The marvel is that a creature rising out of animal savagery should have advanced to begin the great transformation at all.”122

This is indeed a “marvel”; not an “imperceptible step” but a momentous change. A biological organism which, not only throughout its own life but throughout its whole evolutionary history all the way up from the most primitive life forms, has been governed by the “tooth and claw” laws of evolution, suddenly changes its course and takes actions contrary to the evolutionary laws of behavior. Like the analogous phenomenon where a giant organic molecule that has hitherto obeyed the Second Law of Thermodynamics implicitly suddenly begins to act in opposition to the Second Law, this rudimentary ethical behavior represents a definite discontinuity in the order of increasing complexity. It is a change that is totally inexplicable other than on the ground that the unit that is involved is now subject to a new directing force: a new set of rules.

The untenable position of those who deny that any new element has entered into the picture, and contend that all human behavior can be explained as a product of evolution, is clearly brought out by the way in which so many of them resort to non-evolutionary explanations of one kind or another if they find it necessary to go beyond a flat statement of their evolutionary position. For example, Kirtley F. Mather makes this positive and unequivocal statement:

The spiritual aspects of the life of man are just as surely a product of the process called evolution as are his brain and nervous system.123

But having said this, he evidently realizes that he cannot maintain such a position, and a few pages later he brings in a demon—an ad hoc force—to take care of the discrepancies:

The inference is valid that man’s awareness of aesthetic values and ethical principles is likewise a response to spiritual forces in the cosmic environment. There may well be a spiritual field, as well as a gravitational field and an electromagnetic field, to which adjustment may be made in accordance with the regulations of the evolutionary process.124

Here we have an individual who is desperately trying to avoid admitting the existence of any metaphysical entities or any non-evolutionary aspects of human life, and before he is through he has, in effect, conceded both. An ad hoc “spiritual field” is indistinguishable from a metaphysical existence, other than semantically, while the idea of a human “adjustment” to that hypothetical field is a direct defiance of evolutionary forces. There is no escape from the fact that much of human behavior involves a drastic change in the governing rules: something that a mechanism, evolutionary or otherwise, is inherently incapable of accomplishing. Later in the discussion we will want to identify and examine some of these new rules.

In the preceding chapter, it was possible to attach names to both Sector 2 of the universe and to the corresponding observed level of existence. Sector 2 has already been given the designation “cosmic” in previously published descriptions of the Reciprocal System, and the name “life” is well established. There are also some terms in common use that might perhaps be adapted to the requirements of the present chapter, but the area we are now entering is one that is subject to extreme differences of opinion and intense partisanship, and any term that we might utilize has implications in current usage that go considerably beyond the meaning that we would want to attach to it. It has seemed advisable, therefore, to avoid the possibility of misunderstanding by continuing to use the expressions Sector 3 and Level 3, without connecting them definitely with any other terms that may currently be applied to concepts in the same areas. Although this introduces a certain stiffness into the presentation, it has the important advantage of not committing ourselves to any specific ideas concerning the phenomena we are investigating until we develop these details one by one in the subsequent discussion.

The Sector 3 units which exercise control over Level 3 existence will be called control units, adding the qualification “Sector 3” only where this appears to be necessary for clarity. The distinction between Sector 3 and Level 3 should be carefully noted. Sector 3 is the existence independent of space and time, the reality of which was inferred from established scientific facts and principles in Chapter 4 and will be confirmed in the ensuing development by standard scientific methods. Level 3 is the stage of existence that we actually observe above the discontinuity at the highest evolutionary stage. On this basis, we arrive at a definition of Level 3 which can be expressed in the same form as the definition of life given in Chapter 6.

Level 3 is a condition in which a living organism is under the control of a unit from Sector 3 of the universe.

Here again, as in the primitive living structure, what we find existing in our observed world is a compound structure. The behavior pattern of a simple living organism is that of the cosmic sector, but the organism itself is not a cosmic structure; it is a material structure under cosmic control. A purely cosmic structure could not exist in the material environment, other than momentarily. At the other end of the scale of complexity of living organisms, we now encounter another type of compound structure. Here the behavior pattern is that of Sector 3, but a structure independent of space and time cannot exist as an observable entity in the space-time universe. Consequently, what we observe is not a Sector 3 structure; it is a living organism under Sector 3 control. It is a material (Sector 1) structure, controlled at the life level by cosmic (Sector 2) influences, and then subject to an overall control by Sector 3 influences.

Observations of human conduct make it clear that complete domination by the Sector 3 control is seldom, if ever, attained at the present stage of the progress of the human race. It is therefore evident that we cannot equate man with the Level 3 structure in the same manner that we were able to equate life with the Level 2 structure. Rather, we will have to identify the Level 3 structure with an idealized kind of human: an ethical man, let us say, giving the term “ethical” a very broad meaning. The boundary line between Level 2 and Level 3, then, is not between animal and man, but between man and ethical man. However, much of the human race is partly across the boundary; that is, each of these many individuals is at some times, and to some degree, under the domination of the Sector 3 control unit rather than the Sector 2 life unit.

Man as a mere member of the animal kingdom… fights out the struggle for existence to the bitter end, like any other animal…. Ethical man… devotes his best energies to the object of setting limits to the struggle.125 (T. H. Huxley)

In this connection, a distinction needs to be drawn between the extent to which control is exercised by the higher sector and the effectiveness of that control. The latter depends to a very substantial degree on the capabilities of the organism that is being controlled. A primitive unicellular organism, for instance, is largely at the mercy of the inanimate forces of nature, even though its life unit has undisputed control, but as the organism evolves toward a higher level of capability, it becomes increasingly able to resist these inanimate forces where they come in conflict with the biological objectives. Similarly, the manner in which a human individual is able to resist the purely biological urges and to make progress toward the Sector 3 objectives depends not only on the degree of control that is exercised by the Sector 3 control unit but also on his general knowledge and the extent to which his ethical personality has been developed.

One of the implications of the foregoing explanations of the Level 3 structure is that behavior in accordance with ethical principles (the laws of Sector 3) will not be found in purely biological organisms, even if these organisms qualify as human, while neither ethical behavior nor evolution (in the biological sense) will occur in the inanimate world. Because it is a composite structure, each of the upper levels retains some of the characteristics of the level or levels below it, but no level has any of the special characteristics of a higher level. Since the conclusions that are being reached in this work are applicable throughout the universe, some of the more radical of the current speculations about extraterrestrial life are definitely ruled out. Fred Hoyle, for instance, regards the range of possibilities as extremely wide.

We must be prepared to find in the larger universe outside the earth… even “inorganic” collections of matter endowed with a sense of “justice,” for example.126

But inorganic matter, we find, is two full steps removed from justice. It cannot even carry on a biological type of evolution, to say nothing of harboring ethical concepts on the order of justice. Ethical behavior appears only when and where a highly developed biological organism combines with a control unit from Sector 3 and as a consequence becomes subject, at least in some degree, to the rules and principles of Sector 3. Even then, the ethical responses may be few and far between, as the degree of Sector 3 control may be minimal. There is a borderline situation in which the human organism may be either in Level 2 (living) or Level 3 (living under Sector 3 control) just as a virus may be either in Level 2 (living) or Level 1 (non-living). However, the boundary lines in the latter case are clear-cut—the virus is living when it is inside a living cell; it is non-living outside—whereas the influences that have a bearing on whether the control of man’s actions rests with Sector 2 or Sector 3 in any particular situation are many and varied.

A significant fact in this connection is that the responses of different individuals to the same situation may be entirely dissimilar, and it is still more significant to find that the same individual makes very different responses to identical situations at different times. From this we must conclude that the central control of the life system (the Level 2 control) and the Sector 3 control unit are competing for dominance, and the response which an individual actually makes under any given set of conditions is determined by the degree to which either one or the other of the contenders gains the upper hand. The relevance of this struggle for control to some of man’s problems will be discussed later.

We are now in a position to make some deductions as to the nature of the control unit, and by extension, the nature of the Sector 3 existence of which the control unit is a local manifestation. In our previous consideration of the nature of life, we noted that the material aggregates—molecules or combinations of molecules—must attain a relatively high degree of complexity before they can join with cosmic units to form living structures. In fact, they must attain the greatest degree of complexity that exists in the inanimate world. Now we find that a correspondingly high degree of complexity of the biological structure is necessary for combination with a control unit: nothing short of the most advanced living organism, the most complex unit that exists in the biological world. The high degree of complexity in the material aggregate, we found, was necessary in order that the molecule might possess a feature which is not present in less complex units: a structure that would be able to reproduce itself when combined with an appropriate cosmic unit. We may deduce that, at the upper transition point, the similarly high degree of complexity is required for the same reason: that is, some particular feature had to be developed before a combination with a control unit from Sector 3 was possible.

Now let us ask, Just what significant characteristic is present at the upper end of the evolutionary scale that is absent in the lower stages? The answer is clear. The significant development at the highest level of evolution is the emergence of intelligence. The name that modern man has chosen to apply to himself, Homo sapiens, is sufficient evidence in itself to demonstrate the general agreement on this point. Intelligence, if we give this term what we may call a minimum definition, is the end product of evolution, the building-up process in the living world, as matters now stand. It is the most recent of the long series of successive developments which have contributed to the ability of the living organism to survive (as a species) in his particular environment, and to increase the range of environments in which the species can exist successfully. Furthermore, it is the principal possessor of this most recently developed ability, man, in whose behavior we can (occasionally, at least) recognize evidence of the presence of Sector 3 control.

It should be emphasized, however, that intelligence does not produce the changes in behavior that mark the transition from Level 2 to Level 3. Intelligence, in a minimum sense, merely increases the ability of the organism to act effectively in the manner dictated by the controls under which the organism operates. It cannot change the laws of the sector that is in control, or the ultimate ends toward which they lead. Intelligent life acts effectively toward increasing the probability of survival. An intelligent individual under Sector 3 control, an ethical man, as we have called him, acts effectively toward entirely different ends, not jeopardizing survival unnecessarily, since survival is desirable from his standpoint too, but subordinating it to other considerations. Although intelligence must exist before Level 3 can be attained, it merely sets the stage and makes control by the Sector 3 unit possible. It does not automatically accomplish the change.

Many of those who recognize that there is a specifically human level of existence, one that is not shared with other animals, do not concede that intelligence is the most advanced attribute of the lower level. From their viewpoint, it is a characteristic of the human level. In explaining this view, Mortimer J. Adler points out that, if man is to have the unique status which the religious dogmas assign to him, he “must be conceived as different in kind from all other terrestrial things… a radical difference in kind, involving a break in the continuity of nature.” As he sees the picture, intelligence is the crucial factor:

That radical difference in kind must be conceived in terms of man’s unique possession of an intellectual power that transcends the properties of matter and the operation of physical causes. In other words, man’s intellect (i.e., his power of conceptual thought) is the immaterial component in his constitution that makes him a person, requires his special creation, gives him the hope of immortality, and endows him with freedom of choice.127

One of the difficulties here is that there is no agreement as to the definition of intelligence. It is often stated, however, that intelligence is “the ability to adapt behavior to new situations.” This carries with it the ability to recognize and evaluate alternatives, the feature that had to be developed before a Sector 3 control could be superimposed on a biological organism. Such a minimum definition, as we have previously called it, is appropriate for present purposes. The point at issue, then, is whether intelligence, as thus defined, can be produced in the ordinary course of the evolutionary process. If so, there is no adequate justification for presuming that the emergence of intelligent life must be the result of some other factor.

Obviously, the ability to adapt to new situations is definitely conducive to survival, both of the individual and of his species, and it is therefore just the kind of thing that evolution will produce if it can do so. In this connection, it cannot be too strongly emphasized that evolution is a survival process. This does not mean that it is a purposeful process aimed at increasing the probability of survival; it is a purely mechanistic process in which survival itself builds greater probability of survival. In order to get a better perspective on this situation, let us take another look at the analogous situation in the inanimate field. As brought out in Chapter 5, the basic process in the inanimate world is aggregation. Here, again, no purposeful motivation is involved. The inanimate matter gathers into larger and larger aggregates by reason of a purely mechanical process in which size builds greater size. Greater complexity may result from the increased size, as in the formation of complex molecules, but this is not a necessary result. Indeed, it is a very infrequent result. Even though the greater part of the matter of the universe has gathered into large aggregates, more than 90 percent of it is in the form of hydrogen, the simplest of all elements. The general principle here is that collateral effects such as increased complexity may be produced under some circumstances, providing that they do not conflict with the primary objective, but the overriding consideration is always aggregation, and the process of aggregation continues as long as matter exists.

In the biological field, however, aggregation—increase in the size of the units—is not a dominant factor. In the earlier evolutionary stages, an increase in size is favorable, as it permits a greater degree of specialization of the constituent cells and the consequent development of more efficient survival mechanisms. But there is an optimum size for each species (varying somewhat with the environment) beyond which further increase in size is unfavorable. Nor does the optimum size increase with progress up the evolutionary scale. The average mammal of today is much smaller than the average dinosaur that he replaced. The aggregation factor, which is all-powerful in the inanimate sector, is thus reduced to the status of a collateral item of relatively minor importance in the realm of the living.

On the other hand, evolution, which is entirely absent from the inanimate world, becomes, in the living world, the dominant factor to which everything else is subordinated. And evolution is not only directed toward survival; it operates by means of survival. Whatever is able to survive does survive, and this means that whatever modifications of living structures are capable of contributing to survival will in due course be produced. Ability to adapt to new situations is clearly favorable to survival, and if there is no basic obstacle to the development of such an ability, the evolutionary process will ultimately produce it.

In considering the question as to whether evolution can accomplish such a result, we will find it helpful to examine the capabilities of the giant computers and other man-made machines that are now taking over so many of the routine tasks of our present-day world. According to the findings of this work, the living organism is simply a mechanism, far more complex than any machine ever devised by our engineers and scientists, but nevertheless equally subject to the general laws governing mechanisms. Neither the computer nor the living organism can do any of those things which mechanisms are inherently incapable of doing, but either can do anything of which mechanisms are capable, providing that the task is within the performance range of the specific unit. The question as to whether evolution can produce an intelligent living organism is thus analogous to the question as to whether it is possible to design a machine that has the ability to adapt its behavior to new situations.

There is no doubt but that such machines can be built, as they already have been built. An error, for instance, creates a new situation whenever it occurs, but there are machines that will detect errors and make the necessary corrections. Some will even identify and discard inconsistent or incongruous results: a still more sophisticated form of adaptation to new situations. Then, again, machines have been devised to play games, such as chess. As long as the game is played according to the rules the machine can adapt itself to whatever situation may develop, and it can recognize and evaluate alternative courses of action. The physical universe is a mechanism, and one of the basic characteristics of a mechanism is that it always plays according to the rules. A living organism that can adapt its behavior to new situations within the boundaries of the physical universe is therefore possible, and since such an ability is favorable to survival it will be produced by evolution in due course. Intelligence, as defined, is thus an evolutionary product, a feature belonging to Level 2.

Adler was quite correct in his contention that there must be a “radical difference in kind” between the human race in general and the rest of the observable universe, one that involves a “break in the continuity of nature.” In the absence of any other likely candidate, it was natural for him to conclude that intelligence, the most striking of man’s exclusive (or almost exclusive) possessions, is the explanation of the difference. But when we inquire more closely, it becomes evident that intelligence, on the basis of a minimum definition, does not involve “a break in the continuity of nature,” whereas if intelligence is defined in a more inclusive manner, it cannot be produced by evolutionary processes and therefore requires the introduction of a hitherto unidentified factor. The distinctive attribute, the “immaterial component in his [man’s] constitution” is not intelligence. It is the Sector 3 control that directs the utilization of that intelligence and other human abilities into channels that lead toward objectives quite different from the goals of the biological organism. Such a modification of objectives would not be possible unless the ability to recognize and evaluate alternatives were already present. Thus intelligence is not a Level 3 characteristic, but a prerequisite for the transition from Level 2 to Level 3.

This fact that intelligence (in the minimum sense) is a Level 2 attribute, a property of the biological organism, tells us something about the nature of the Sector 3 existence. In order to exercise control over an intelligent biological organism, the Sector 3 control must also be intelligent. It takes intelligence to dominate another intelligence to the extent that objectives are modified, or even reversed. Inasmuch as the Sector 3 control unit is a local manifestation of existence in Sector 3, the general metaphysical region, we may then deduce that intelligence is a general characteristic of Sector 3 existence. Thus, by a simple chain of deductions, based on premises derived from experience, we arrive at a factual confirmation of the postulate that the metaphysical existences are intelligent.

A question which may arise here is whether all metaphysical existences are intelligent, or whether the situation might not be something on the order of that existing in the physical universe, where only a relatively small proportion of the existing entities are intelligent. This is a question that we cannot answer on the basis of the information now available. It is one of the many items that will have to be left to future investigations.

Another feature of biological life that will have a bearing on our current inquiry into the nature of the higher level is the fact that the evolution of living structures is a cooperative process in which both the material structure of the organism and the structure of the life unit that controls that organism evolve together in the direction of greater complexity. The changes in the life unit are more difficult to follow than the easily observed growth pattern of the material structure. Nevertheless, we can safely say that no single molecule or small molecular group is capable of controlling the activities of a chimpanzee, for example, even though it may have been adequate to control some primitive unicellular organism. Evolutionary development of the original simple life unit therefore must have taken place to accomplish what we see is being accomplished. The central control of a multicellular organism composed of a variety of specialized cells obviously has a task which is much more complicated than controlling the activities of a single cell, particularly since the central control must exercise a certain degree of authority over the operations that are being carried out under the immediate jurisdiction of the local controls, as well as taking the entire responsibility for coordinating the activities of the individual cells.

Some idea of the nature and extent of the development that has occurred can be gained by observing the vast amount of electrical equipment included in the structure of the higher forms of life and the very important functions that electrical impulses perform in these organisms, particularly in connection with those matters that are presumably under the direction of the central life unit. So far as we can tell, these more advanced functions of the organism—memory, thinking, learning, decision making, etc.—are all electrically operated. If we follow the path of evolution backward from these higher forms, we find that the electrical activities decrease roughly in proportion to the decrease in the complexity of the physical structure, which means that the evolution of the organism has included a parallel evolution of the electrical system within the physical structure. The significance of this lies in the fact that electrical phenomena of the type existing in the local environment are related to the material phenomena in the same inverse manner as the phenomena of the cosmic sector; that is, they are inherently cosmic rather than material. From theoretical considerations, we deduce that the cosmic unit controlling the life processes must increase in complexity as biological evolution proceeds. Now we find that there is, in fact, a very substantial increase in the utilization of electrical processes: phenomena inherently cosmic in character. Most of the details are still obscure, we must admit, but the general conclusions arrived at theoretically are substantiated by these empirical findings.

The interaction of the cosmic and material sectors in Level 2 (the biological level) is a two-way process; the influence of the life unit causes a profound change in the material structure, but at the same time, the association with the developing material structure results in a substantial modification of the life unit. All of the available evidence indicates that the general situation in Level 3 is similar. The biological organism continues to develop in ways which lead to greater effectiveness in reaching its objectives, while coincidentally there is a development of the Sector 3 control unit in ways which lead to a more accurate identification of the Sector 3 objectives and a greater degree of effectiveness in substituting these objectives for the purely biological goals. Here, too, there is a process of growth or evolution of the combination structure, and in this process each component has an effect on the other.

The combined effect on human behavior is easily recognized. In the more advanced societies, the general level of ethical conduct is not only higher than that in the more primitive societies—an indication that the transition to Sector 3 control has progressed farther—but there is also a clearer understanding, at least in the better-educated segments of the population, as to what constitutes ethical behavior, and a gradual raising of ethical standards: an indication of growth or development of the human race along ethical lines.

Analogy with the evolution of the biological organism leads to the conclusion that in the beginning—that is, when man first began to emerge from the purely animal stage—the control units were very simple structures comparable to the simple life units that control the primitive biological organism; and that here, also, the control unit must develop a greater complexity as the human being progresses from the primitive stage of ethical understanding into the more advanced stages. Then we can further deduce, on the same grounds, that the extent to which the Sector 3 control unit is developed in any particular individual depends on how far this cooperative process of ethical growth has been carried.

One further question that we will want to consider at this time, because it will have a significant bearing on some of the issues that will be examined in the subsequent pages, is whether the existence of ethical men on earth is a unique phenomenon, or whether there are similar metaphysically controlled intelligent organisms elsewhere in the universe. We found in Chapter 6 that primitive life forms exist in abundance, and are available wherever the conditions are suitable, probably on billions of planets. The biological laws, like the physical laws, are the same everywhere in the physical universe, and evolution is therefore taking place wherever life exists, directed toward survival just as it is here.

The question as to whether the products of that evolutionary process will be similar to the products of terrestrial evolution, particularly whether intelligent beings can be expected to exist elsewhere in the universe, is one on which there is a great deal of difference of opinion. Basically it is a question as to the fundamental nature of biological evolution. There is one school of thought, especially prevalent among the biologists, which contends that man is the result of a long series of evolutionary accidents, “an almost incredible sequence of highly improbably events,”128 and that in each instance there could have been a different outcome which would have altered the whole course of the subsequent development.

Even if some kind of life has arisen in many places in the universe, it is utterly unlikely that its evolution has followed a course even remotely similar to that followed on earth.90 (Dobzhansky)

We can be quite sure that if the environments of their ancestors had been very different from what they were, the organisms of today would also be very different…. Even slight changes in earlier parts of the history would have profound cumulative effects on all descendant organisms through the succeeding millions of generations.129 (Simpson)

To give point to our argument, let us suppose that in the progress from primitive organic soup to modern industrialized man there were 100 critical steps, and that at each of these steps there were two possibilities. The odds against the final result would be 2<&>100 to 1.130 (H. Sandon)

Simpson points out that, in assessing the likelihood of the existence of “humanoids” on other planets, “There are four successive probabilities to be judged: the probability that suitable planets do exist; the probability that life has arisen on them; the probability that such life has evolved in a predictable way; and the probability that such evolution would lead eventually to humanoids (natural living organisms) with intelligence comparable to man’s in quantity and quality, hence with the possibility of rational communication with us.”131 He then gives his estimate of the probabilities as follows:

1st — Fair.
2nd — Far lower, but appreciable.
3rd — Exceedingly small.
4th — Almost negligible.
Overall — Probably not significantly greater than zero.

The findings of this present work lead to altogether different conclusions. We find that the formation of planetary systems is a normal and frequent event in the physical universe, and it is therefore certain, not merely “fairly probable,” that planets similar to the earth exist in large numbers. We further find that life is certain to develop wherever the conditions are suitable, and hence life will appear in due course on all earth-like planets. There are many planets that are different from the earth in one or more respects—colder or warmer, wetter or drier, larger or smaller, or with more or less of some other property—and life may exist on these planets as well, but this introduces a question as to what effect the different environments have on the evolutionary process, and for present purposes there is no need to complicate matters by bringing in this issue. We will therefore limit our consideration to “earth-like” planets, a term we have defined as planets which resemble the earth in all important respects. The immediate question then becomes: Will the evolution of living organisms on each of these earth-like planets follow a course similar to that which evolution has taken on earth?

The answer that emerges from the present investigation is affirmative, but since this is a controversial issue, it will be advisable to take a look at the arguments that are advanced by the biologists. The extreme position, as stated by Sandon in his assertion that “the evolutionary steps are not really accidental, but the complexity of the factors determining them is so great that for all practical purposes they may be regarded as such,”130 can be dismissed summarily. On this point Simpson agrees. “Evolution is not a random process,” he concedes, “and adaptation cannot be wholly, or indeed to any but a minimum extent, accidental.”132

However, Simpson regards evolution as a historical process and hence not repeatable. “No species or any larger group has ever evolved, or can evolve, twice. Dinosaurs are gone forever. Nothing very like them occurred before them or will occur after them.”133 This is, of course, absolutely correct, but it is a strong point against Simpson’s thesis, not an argument in favor of it. Every such restriction, every one of the many requirements “that place statistical or probabilistic, if not absolute, limitations on evolutionary possibilities”134 has an effect toward confining evolution to specific, even if rather broad, channels. The evolutionary channels pass through an Age of Dinosaurs only once in each evolutionary system, to be sure, but they pass through such an age once in every evolutionary system.

Simpson emphasizes that evolution is “opportunistic,” and takes advantage of all of the opportunities that become available. “Over and over again in the study of the history of life it appears that what can happen does happen,”135 he says. Whatever increases the probability of survival will be produced if it can be produced. This principle establishes the primary goals of evolution— multicellular structure, cell specialization, mobility, sight, temperature regulation, intelligence, to name only a few—and it assures us that all of these goals will be reached in all evolutionary systems, given sufficient time. Furthermore, this evolution will necessarily proceed in a rather specific series of steps, since the more complex objectives cannot be reached until after certain primary and intermediate steps have been taken. Cell specialization must precede the development of sight, and so on.

At every stage of the process there is what amounts to a force—a “selection pressure,” as the biologists call it—keeping the evolutionary developments in the channels leading in the direction of the major evolutionary goals. Local conditions may cause a divergence from the optimum evolutionary path. They may, for instance, result in a development that leads away from good vision rather than toward it. But in the long run this merely increases the selection pressure tending to favor better vision, and makes it all the more probable that the next evolutionary step will be in the direction of improved vision. Similarly, if a species happens to develop its light receiving apparatus in one of the ways that reaches its maximum potential well below the usable level of capacity, this creates a selection pressure favoring the survival of other species with better photoreceptor systems.

The dinosaurs to which Simpson refers were not produced at any earlier evolutionary stage because many preliminary steps were necessary before such animals were possible; they were produced on earth at a particular time because by this time the prerequisite steps had been taken and the dinosaurs were better adapted to the general environment than any available competitors; they will be produced on any earth-like planet at a similar evolutionary stage; they will not be produced on earth or anywhere else after the next major evolutionary goal, a temperature regulating mechanism, has been reached and animals superior to the dinosaurs by reason of the possession of such a mechanism have appeared on the scene.

It is true that all but a tiny fraction of the immense number of evolutionary opportunities lead to dead ends, but this does not alter the fact that some of the opportunities of which evolution takes advantage lead to progress toward the primary evolutionary goals. The opportunistic character of the evolutionary process therefore insures that all of these goals will be reached by some organism in every evolutionary system, even though the great majority of the evolutionary developments either make no progress at all or reach their limits somewhere short of the ultimate objective. A detailed analysis of the situation by Robert Bieri arrives at the following conclusions:

Given the ninety-two known, naturally occurring elements, the forms of energy available, and limited time, the number of alternative solutions to the major steps leading to a conceptual organism are strictly limited. The phenomenon of convergent evolution is so widespread in both the plant and animal kingdoms that it needs no special elucidation here. Suffice it to say that the evidence shows that, again and again, animals and plants have independently evolved not only similar structures but also similar biochemical systems and similar behavioral patterns as solutions to the same fundamental problems…. If we ever succeed in communicating with conceptualizing beings in outer space, they won’t be spheres, pyramids, cubes or pancakes. In all probability they will look an awful lot like us.136

Simpson admits that parallel and convergent evolution are “extremely common,”137 but he discounts the argument based on these phenomena on the ground that there are significant differences between the products of the separate evolutionary lines. He points out that while the Tasmanian “wolf,” which is often cited as an example of convergent evolution, is much like the true wolf in appearance and habits, “in spite of all similarities, any competent student can distinguish a Tasmanian ’wolf’ from a true wolf at… one glance.”138 But no one is suggesting that the inhabitants of the earth-like planets will be indistinguishable from human beings. The contention is that they will resemble human beings. The fact that a “competent student” may be able to detect the difference is irrelevant. Anyone can recognize differences between the various human races, whether he has any special competence as an anthropologist or not. This does not prevent us from asserting that there is a general resemblance between them, or even from including them all in the same species.

We know that intelligence is favorable to survival, and therefore we know that evolution will produce an intelligent organism if it can. We know that evolution can produce an intelligent biological organism under the conditions prevailing on the earth, since it did do so. And since these are, by definition, the same conditions that prevail on any earth-like planet, evolution can and will produce intelligent organisms on these planets. Furthermore, all other earth-like planets are, like the earth itself, located in existence as a whole, and they are therefore subject to the same Sector 3 influences as human beings.

There has been some opposition to the current efforts to open up radio communication with the inhabitants of extraterrestrial abodes of life, if there are any within range, on the ground that these beings may be of a malevolent nature, and capable of doing us harm of some kind if we establish contact. Our findings indicate that these fears are groundless. The Sector 3 influences have more control over some individuals than others, but there is no reason to believe that their average effectiveness in application to any other large group of intelligent beings is any less than it is in application to the human race. If the inhabitants of a distant planet are far enough advanced technologically to enter into communication with us, they are also far enough advanced ethically to constitute no more of a threat to the nations of the earth than those nations are to each other.

On the basis of the foregoing considerations, we can say that Homo sapiens is not unique; he is only one of many: a conclusion that has some very important implications for both science and religion.

Inasmuch as this completes our consideration of the levels of existence, it will be appropriate at this point to summarize the conclusions of Chapters 5, 6, and 7, as follows:

  1. There are three separate levels of existence accessible to our observation: (1) inanimate matter and phenomena, (2) biological organisms, and (3) ethical man.
  2. Inanimate matter and associated phenomena are purely physical, and are constituents of the material sector of the universe (Sector 1).
  3. Biological organisms are material structures under the control of life units originating in the cosmic (inverse) sector of the universe (Sector 2).
  4. Ethical man is a biological organism in which an overriding control by a unit from the sector of the universe outside space and time (Sector 3) is superimposed on the control exercised by the life units.
  5. Each sector of the universe is governed by its own set of natural laws, and each of the three levels of observable existence is subject to the laws and principles of the sector in control.
  6. By reason of the operation of these laws, Level 1 (material) existence is directed toward aggregation. Level 2 (biological) existence is directed toward survival of the individual and his species, and Level 3 (ethical human) existence is directed toward ethical conduct.
  7. The change from Level 1 (no control mechanism) to Level 2 (Sector 2 control) is immediate and complete. The change from Level 2 to Level 3 (Sector 3 control) takes place gradually and irregularly, and human existence normally involves a conflict between the two controls.
  8. The existence of a Sector 3 control over an intelligent biological organism confirms the validity of the postulate that the Sector 3 existences are intelligent.
  9. Intelligent, metaphysically controlled beings resembling human individuals exist on numerous planets distributed throughout the universe.

08 Communication: Local


Communication: Local

One of the essential requirements for the development of multicellular organisms is the existence of some means of transmitting information from one cell to another. Where the cells that need to communicate are in direct contact, as is true in the most primitive of these organisms, the actual mechanism of transmission presents no particular problems, since it is possible to pass substances containing the information from cell to cell through the walls that are in contact. The development of an appropriate language—attaching a particular meaning to each of the information-carrying substances and adaptation of the cells to a recognition of that meaning—is a more difficult task, and it no doubt took a long time to accomplish.

Once such a communication system was established, it lent itself readily to expansion, and in the more complex organisms, “chemical messengers” carry a great variety of information and instructions from place to place within the organism. However, this messenger system is too slow and too limited in capacity to take care of all of the requirements, and a more sophisticated system of internal communication utilizing electrical impulses has therefore been developed. Between this electrical system and the chemical messengers, the internal needs of the organisms are adequately met.

Chemical methods of communication are also capable of being utilized for conveying information from one organism to another, and airborne chemicals (odors) are employed for a number of communication purposes by land-based organisms. The amount of information that can be transmitted by this means is, however, very limited, and the advantages to be gained by having a better communications system are great enough to cause evolution in this direction. Two types of systems have developed, one using the sense of sight and conveying the information by means of appropriate positions or motions; the other utilizing the sense of hearing and conveying the information by generating different sounds. To these systems, in general use by the more advanced living organisms, man has added some more sophisticated techniques.

This is the communication situation as we observe it. Living organisms are communicating with each other by a variety of means. Since the activities of these organisms are under the control of life units, the communication takes place between the central controls. The warning signal of the rattlesnake, for instance, does not emanate from the still inactive material mechanism; it comes from the control, which is warning us that unless the presence which it considers a menace is removed it will order the material mechanism to take action. Thus, communication in the material sector is not between material entities, but between the life units.

The question then arises: Can the life units communicate directly with each other through Sector 2 channels without the necessity of transmitting this information by material means? As the cosmic sector of the universe is identical with the material sector except for the reversal of space and time, it follows that there are cosmic living organisms which communicate with each other by the cosmic equivalents of sight, sound, etc. This, of course, suggests the possibility that the cosmic units present in the living organisms of the material sector may also be able to use these cosmic communication channels.

A theoretical consideration of this question leads, however, to the conclusion that communication in this manner is not possible. The life units, being physical entities, are limited to using physical facilities, and the physical facilities peculiar to the cosmic sector do not exist in the local environment. The cosmic equivalent of sound, for example, cannot be used for communication in the material sector because we live in the cosmic equivalent of a vacuum. It follows that all communication between the life units must utilize the facilities of the material sector. The same conclusion can be reached on empirical grounds. Sector 2 communication signals, even though non-material, are physical phenomena, and if present, could be detected by our physical instruments. Since no physical trace of such communication has ever been found, the physical evidence corroborates the theoretical conclusion that it is not possible.

Turning now to Level 3, we again find that the normal method of communication utilizes physical facilities. Ethical man, under control of Sector 3, communicates with his neighbors in exactly the same manner as a human being who is completely under the domination of Sector 2. But when we examine the possibility of communication through other than normal channels, we find that the situation in Level 3 is quite different from that in Level 2, the purely biological level. The control unit is non-physical, and while it can and usually does utilize the biological mechanisms over which it exercises direction as tools by which to communicate through physical channels, it is not limited to these physical means of communication.

The significant point here is that the control unit exists in a physical location by virtue of its association with a biological organism, and also in a non-physical location, a location in existence as a whole, the general metaphysical region, as we have called it, by virtue of its own inherent nature. We may compare the coincidence of these two locations to the point of intersection of two lines. Such a point is located on both lines, and if these are lines of communication—telephone lines, for example—communication via either line is feasible. We have no direct knowledge of the means of communication that exist in Sector 3, but in view of the multiplicity of communication media that are available in the material and cosmic sectors, there is an ample basis from which to extrapolate the existence of communication facilities to the metaphysical region. Indeed, there is reason to believe that there should be more channels open for communication in Sector 3 than in the space-time universe, as the specific properties of space and time are, in a sense, limitations, and there is greater flexibility where such limitations do not exist.

We have already arrived at the conclusion that Sector 3 existences are intelligent, and since intelligent biological organisms are fully able to communicate with each other by means available in their sector of the universe, the intelligent units from Sector 3 should be able to communicate with each other by means available in their sector of the universe. The inability to detect any physical evidence of such communication is not an argument against its existence, as it was against communication between the Sector 2 units through Sector 2 channels. As noted earlier, the Sector 2 communication, if it existed, would be physical and therefore detectable physically, but the Sector 3 communication is not physical and consequently it cannot be expected that there will be any physical way of detecting it.

On the basis of the considerations outlined in the foregoing paragraphs, we must conclude that direct communication through Sector 3 channels between the control units that direct the activities of ethical man is definitely possible. Then let us ask: Is there any evidence that such communication actually takes place? There can be no question as to the answer. The validity of the evidence of this nature is hotly debated, but its existence is undeniable. This process and associated phenomena are systematically studied in the universities and research institutes, the reports of investigations of these phenomena are published and discussed in various journals, and a considerable body of literature on the subject now exists.

Inasmuch as the conclusions that have been reached as to the ability of the control units to communicate directly with each other through their own channels are based on factual premises and have been derived from these premises by sound scientific reasoning, so that they have a high probability of being correct even if observational evidence were entirely lacking, any supporting evidence from observational or experimental sources is highly significant. Obviously, however, the better the evidence the more support it gives. An appraisal of the validity of the evidence that has been accumulated is therefore in order. It would hardly be feasible to analyze a large volume of original data in detail in a work such as this, but we can accomplish the same result by examining the conclusions that have been reached by other analysts, giving special attention to the arguments that are advanced by those who are not convinced of the authenticity of the evidence.

The particular phenomenon with which we are now concerned has been given the name telepathy, and it is one of several somewhat similar phenomena that are grouped under the designation of extrasensory perception, abbreviated ESP. Closely connected with telepathy is clairvoyance, which is obtaining knowledge of facts or events by direct apprehension, without utilizing physical means. If this information concerns the future, the term precognition is applied. It is rather difficult to draw definite dividing lines and to place observed events definitely in one class or the other, and most of the discussion of the status of the investigations in this field therefore refers simply to the ESP phenomena as a whole, without further classification.

A related phenomenon, psychokinesis, which is non-physical action upon matter, is sometimes classed with the ESP group, but PK is not a communication phenomenon, and hence it is clearly on a different footing. Since the present discussion is concerned only with communication, no consideration will be given to PK at this point, but it will be discussed later in another connection.

The current situation in this ESP area is expressed in the words of Henry Margenau as follows:

Certain problems that were taboo in physics a generation ago, researches in which a physicist indulged at the risk of losing his reputation, such as paranormal perception and clairvoyance, are now more widely regarded as worthy of consideration.139

George R. Price, an outspoken opponent of the ESP concept, puts the case in even stronger language:

Believers in psychic phenomena—such as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition and psychokinesis—appear to have won a decisive victory and virtually silenced opposition… during the last 15 years, scarcely a single scientific paper has appeared attacking the work of the parapsychologists.140

This “victory” is all the more impressive in view of the fact that it is only a relatively short time ago that scientists would not even listen to any talk of extrasensory phenomena. Only a few decades have elapsed since William James commented on the situation in this manner:

Why do so few “scientists” even look at the evidence for telepathy, so-called? Because they think, as a leading biologist, now dead, once said to me, that even if such a thing were true, scientists ought to band together to keep it suppressed and concealed. It would undo the uniformity of nature and all sorts of other things without which scientists cannot carry on their pursuits.141

Such a dramatic reversal of the attitude of the scientific community, which has changed what one author considered as an unjustified refusal to listen to the evidence into what another regards as an unduly friendly reception is a clear indication that substantial progress is being made toward establishing ESP on a firm footing. Just where the issue now stands is, however, subject to considerable difference of opinion. John Mann, for instance, says that “ESP, PK and related phenomena are, at best, tolerated and generally are ridiculed among psychologists.”142 Daniel Cohen, writing in 1967, agrees. “A survey taken among professional psychologists,” he reports, “showed that only a small minority believed in the possibility of ESP and the number who thought the existence of this ability was a proved fact was infinitesimal.”143 Cohen apparently assumed that these findings could be extrapolated to scientists in general, as he goes on to say, “No surveys have ever been taken among physical scientists on the subject, but it is probable that support there would be even more meager.” Just how far this assessment of the situation missed the mark can be seen from the fact that only three percent of nearly 1500 readers surveyed by the New Scientist six years later considered ESP an impossibility. Most of the others held it to be an established fact (25 percent) or a likely possibility (42 percent).144

In beginning an examination of the arguments that are adduced against the reality of ESP, we will first consider the issues raised by Price in the article from which the “victory” quotation was taken. He contends that the ESP results are incompatible with existing science. “These findings,” he says, “challenge our very concepts of space and time.” He then bases his argument on a principle, attributed to David Hume, which asserts that evidence in favor of an incompatible idea should not be accepted unless this evidence outweighs the evidence in favor of the previously accepted laws or principles with which the new idea is in conflict. To support his contention that ESP and accepted science are incompatible, he offers the following list of conflicts:

  1. ESP penetrates into the future even in situations where rational inference is powerless.
  2. ESP is apparently unattenuated by distance.
  3. Psi (the process of ESP) effects are apparently unaffected by shielding. Why do they not interact with matter in the shield?
  4. Dye patterns on cards are read in the dark. How does one detect a trace of dye without shining light on it?
  5. Patterns on cards in the center of a pack are read without interference from other cards.
  6. We have found in the body no structure to associate with the alleged functions.
  7. There is no learning but, instead, a tendency toward complete loss of ability.
  8. Different investigators obtain highly different results. For example, Soal requires a telepathic sender, but Rhine finds this unnecessary.

The usual objections to ESP are vehement but vague. It is therefore helpful to have a detailed statement such as Price’s which we can subject to a critical analysis to see just how much merit the objections actually possess. In this connection, it is significant that even on the basis of the scientific ideas then prevailing, without the benefit of the new information supplied by the Reciprocal System, this attack on the ESP results was not convincing, and the majority of the published comments on the article were wholly or partially unfavorable. If we look at Price’s arguments item by item in the light of conventional scientific thought, it is not difficult to see why this was true.

Item (1) is wholly dependent on the assumption that time is necessarily constant in direction. But this is not in accord with scientific thinking. The fact that the equations of motion are symmetrical with respect to time, and therefore suggest the possibility of time reversal, has long been recognized. Eddington, for instance, pointed this out very specifically. Such a reversal of time is also a feature of many current theories of events at the subatomic level. It is hardly in order to claim that this hypothesis is non-scientific when it is used by non-scientists, but scientific when it is used freely by the scientists themselves.

Item (2) assumes that since physical effects are attenuated by distance, ESP, if it actually exists, must exhibit the same kind of behavior. But there are no valid grounds for assuming that ESP is a physical effect, or that it must conform to the same pattern of behavior as physical phenomena. On the contrary, all of the information that has been developed about ESP suggests that it is non-physical. Items (3), (4), (5), and (6) rest on the same untenable assumption, but the first three of these are even less acceptable than item (2), as the facts cited are not even inconsistent with the existence of a possible physical explanation of the ESP phenomenon. Gravitation is equally as unresponsive to any attempts at shielding as ESP, and there are physical means (X-rays, for example) whereby matter can be penetrated in order to ascertain internal details.

Item (7) is meaningless. Since Price did not know how ESP operates, he was not in a position to say whether the observed loss of ability is consistent with the method of operation or not. J. H. Rush drew the opposite conclusion from the same experience. He listed this item as one of the features of the experimental results which lend credence to the assertion that the ESP phenomena are real.145 Item (8) can hardly be considered as a serious argument; indeed, two of Price’s colleagues who discussed his article in a subsequent issue of the same journal called it a “distressingly irresponsible comment.”146

There are two basic weaknesses in Price’s position. First, he assumes that ESP cannot exist unless it is explicable in terms of existing knowledge. The contention of parapsychologists, on the other hand, is that they are dealing with something new to science. Thus Price is in the position of attempting to prove them wrong by assuming that they are wrong. The second flaw in his arguments is that he is trying to put the whole weight of scientific knowledge into the balance against the weight that can be accorded to the ESP evidence. As pointed out by Meehl and Scriven in their comments on his article, his case is based on the assumption “that modern science is complete and correct,” an assumption which these authors rightly regard as “untenable.” To the extent that any conflict does exist between ESP and conventional scientific ideas, this conflict is merely with some particular aspect, or aspects, of scientific thought, not with science as a whole, and the verdict in the area of controversy is not nearly so automatically favorable to existing scientific ideas as Price assumed. The existence of a conflict merely means that one of the incompatible views is wrong; it does not tell us which one this is. R. H. Thouless saw the same situation from the opposite direction:

I suggest that the discovery of the psi phenomenon has brought us to a… point at which we must question basic theories because they lead us to expectations contradicted by experimental results.147

Now that the development of the Reciprocal System has clarified the basic relationships, it is evident that Thouless was right; some of the basic theories of physical science as they then stood were actually in need of revision. These ESP findings which, according to Price, “challenge our very concepts of space and time” are now seen to have challenged them justifiably. Experiments which show ESP to be independent of time and unattenuated by distance are in complete harmony with the explanation presented in this chapter: an explanation that places the channels which carry this kind of communication in a sector of the universe completely outside space and time.

The conclusions reached in the foregoing analysis of the arguments presented in Price’s article are equally applicable to the great majority of the arguments offered by other critics of ESP, those which, like Price’s, are based on the assumption that “non-physical” is synonymous with “non-existent”: an assumption that was never justified, and in the light of the new information now available is wholly untenable. C. E. M. Hansel, for example, in an extremely critical book entitled ESP—A Scientific Evaluation, makes the same mistake in assuming that there is something adverse about ESP in his observation that “Telepathy therefore… implies properties of matter unknown to physics.”148 As a non-physical phenomenon, telepathy must display characteristics which are unknown to physics.

Then, too, Hansel is indignant about the fact that “Parapsychologists… ask critics to accept ESP as proved and to change the rest of science so that it can include this new phenomenon.”149 But this is always necessary when new phenomena are discovered and the boundaries of science must be extended accordingly. His dictum that “a theory that fails to account for a variety of facts and that cannot predict what will happen in future tests is of no value”150 is another piece cut from the same cloth. Here again, this is always true when science is trying to understand the first scattered and indistinct facts that emerge in a newly discovered field.

These are some of the weakest arguments in Hansel’s book, but they are being cited to show the extreme lengths to which the critics are willing to go in their opposition to ESP. The book also repeats some of the more substantial criticisms which have already been discussed, or will be taken up later, but Hansel’s principal thesis is that the whole ESP investigation is based on deception and trickery, either on the part of the investigators themselves or on the part of their subjects. This is a rather astounding accusation to level at a large body of experimenters. Perhaps about as good an answer as any is the following statement by Vannevar Bush:

The one area in this whole [psychic] field that is at least relatively free of charlatanism and the distorted logic of fanatics is that of extrasensory perception, ESP, telepathy. Here serious, competent scientists are indeed at work.151

As this statement implies, fraudulent practices have been common elsewhere in the psychic field. But this is also true of most other fields of activity that deal directly with intimate aspects of human life. Medicine, for instance, has more than its share of quacks and false “cures,” yet no one suggests that this indicates that all doctors are tricksters. Even the physical sciences are not exempt from this sort of thing. Sir Alister Hardy points to an analogy between ESP and chemistry:

We all know that the great science of chemistry sprang from the cradle of alchemy, some of whose exponents… were as rank impostors as any false mediums or fortune tellers of today. This new branch of knowledge which is now struggling to be born will one day, I believe, look back to this period as the chemists of today look back to their own history.152

As the results of the survey by the New Scientist showed, the great majority of scientists are willing to look upon ESP as a legitimate subject of investigation and to judge it on the basis of the same criteria that they apply in other scientific fields. They do not find arguments of the kind advanced by Price and Hansel very persuasive. However, most of them are somewhat troubled by three points: (1) the lack of any substantial progress toward enlarging the scope of the experiments, (2) the inability to reproduce the experimental results, and (3) the failure of the experimenters to take advantage of sophisticated modern experimental apparatus. Item (3) is applicable only to psychokinesis, which will be discussed later. The other two items are pertinent to the present discussion and warrant some consideration.

Slow progress in a new field of study is not necessarily an indication of lack of reality of the phenomena being investigated. Sometimes it is. The development of the Reciprocal System has revealed, for example, that the current lack of progress in the investigation of such phenomena as gravitational radiation, magnetic monopoles, and black holes is due to the fact that these phenomena are non-existent. But this same development reveals that ESP is a form of communication through non-physical channels. It therefore cannot be expected that progress toward a detailed explanation will be very rapid until some kind of an understanding of non-physical fundamentals is established. This is one of the primary objectives of the present work. It should be noted that there may be more progress under way than is now realized. Some of the seemingly erratic experimental results that are now a source of embarrassment to the experimenters because of the way in which they are pounced upon by the critics may actually prove to be the key pieces in the explanation of the phenomena when they are fully understood. This point will be discussed further in Chapter 25, where we will consider possible ways and means of broadening the investigation of the subject.

The lack of reproducibility of the ESP results, item (2) in the foregoing list, is, in the opinion of many individuals, a very serious defect in the case for the reality of the phenomenon. In the so-called “natural” sciences, a discovery reported in one laboratory or observatory is promptly checked in many others, and whether or not attempts to reproduce the results are successful is an important factor, usually the most important factor, in determining whether the discovery will be accepted as authentic. The critics of the ESP investigations argue that this criterion of reproducibility should be equally applicable to the ESP results, and that, inasmuch as it is generally, perhaps always, true in the ESP field that the original results cannot be reproduced by other investigators, the standard practice of science requires that these results be rejected.

In sum, of course, the greatest weakness of parapsychology has been its unreliability. Experiments can be performed in one laboratory which yield stupendous odds against chance, and yet the same result cannot be found in a different laboratory with another experimenter. Such non-repeatability cuts right across normal scientific theory and practice.153 (Christopher Evans)

The reasoning of these critics is entirely valid, but their premises are erroneous. ESP experiments have never been repeated under identical conditions, unless it has happened by accident. Attempts have been made to reproduce the physical conditions of an experiment as closely as possible, but aside from such effects as they may have on the non-physical situation, these physical conditions are completely irrelevant. In order to repeat an experiment on a non-physical phenomenon such as ESP under “identical” conditions, it is necessary to reproduce the non-physical conditions. The primary obstacle in the way of so doing, as matters now stand, is the fact that, aside from some indication that motivation plays an important part, we do not even know what these non-physical conditions are, to say nothing of being able to duplicate them. All talk of reproducing an ESP experiment at this stage of understanding is meaningless, and application of the reproducibility criterion to the ESP results is impossible. The validity of these results will have to be judged on the basis of other criteria.

Some of those who object to classifying ESP as a scientific field of inquiry do not contest the reality of the phenomenon. John Mann, for instance, concedes that the lack of reproducibility does not invalidate the results of the experiments. He freely admits the existence of ESP. “In exceptional subjects,” he says, “ESP seems to occur in a relatively striking degree.”154 Nevertheless he contends that the results obtained in the ESP experiments “scarcely are acceptable in a scientific sense.” To justify this conclusion he lays down the principle that “any general law in science must be applicable to all things and persons, and capable of replication.” ESP, he asserts, must therefore be rejected, because it “cannot be replicated nor can a subject with a high ESP be selected beforehand.”155

It is quite true that the results obtained in the general run of the ESP experiments are too close to the level of pure chance to have much significance, and it is also true that the reports of spontaneous ESP occurrences cannot be regarded as conclusive per se, because they lack positive verification, but Mann is not raising these issues. “When all is said and done,” he says, “the test results of the high scoring ESP subjects still stand,”156 and he recognizes that there is no justification for denying the existence of ESP in the face of this evidence. He is calling the ESP results scientifically unacceptable on rather arbitrary grounds: (1) because “only a few persons seem to possess this psychic ability,”156 and (2) because of the lack of reproducibility of the results.

Just where the boundary lines of science should be drawn is a matter of opinion, but excluding ESP on these grounds is certainly not consistent with current practice, especially since neither of these characteristics is necessarily permanent. The mere fact that the first crude methods of exploring this field find the ESP ability in only a small proportion of those tested is by no means conclusive. Such a situation is not at all unusual in the early stages of an investigation. Magnetism, for instance, was detected in only a few substances originally, and was long thought to be an unusual phenomenon. Now it is known to be a general property of matter. Likewise, as pointed out earlier, it cannot be expected that the results of the ESP experiments can be satisfactorily reproduced at will until the factors which affect this phenomenon are ascertained, so that the conditions under which the experiments are made can be accurately reproduced.

But in any event, science cannot justify closing its eyes to facts just because some of the details are still obscure or because these facts do not fit comfortably into the currently accepted framework of theory. If ESP exists, as Mann concedes that it does, then the fact of its existence is one of the things that science must recognize and come to terms with. This point was emphasized in the replies to the questionnaire sent out by the New Scientist. The believers (among whom physicists and engineers were very strongly represented) “argue that facts are facts, and that we must accept them whatever they imply for our cherished world models.”144 Hardy expresses the same sentiment:

I feel we are like proverbial ostriches with our heads in the sand if we refuse to consider phenomena which some very good scientists and philosophers regard as having already been demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt.157

There is no question about the place of ESP in the theoretical structure that is being developed in this volume. In Chapter 7 we applied our new knowledge of the physical universe to a study of the interaction of this universe with existence independent of it, and we were led to the theoretical conclusion that the most advanced living organisms—members of the human race—are under the partial or complete control of intelligent units from Sector 3, the sector of the universe outside space and time. Then, when we turned to the information that has been gathered by observation and experiment, we found the situation just as predicted by theory. The behavior of human beings is incompatible in many respects with the behavior of other living organisms and with the basic principles that govern purely biological entities. It is therefore evident that at least some human beings are subject to a different type of control, one which follows a different set of basic principles, just as the theoretical study indicates.

In this present chapter, we further deduced that the Sector 3 units which are combined with the human biological organisms and exercise control over them should theoretically be able to communicate with each other through channels independent of space and time. Now we find that there is evidence from observation and experiment which indicates that human beings are able, under appropriate circumstances, to communicate with each other independently of space and time by a process known as telepathy. The observed facts are thus in agreement with the theoretical conclusions derived by extension of the Reciprocal System of physical theory into the metaphysical region.

But, after all, is there anything surprising about this? Isn’t this just about what we would expect science to say when it finally got around to investigating the subject? Here, for instance, is the way W. F. G. Swann saw the picture in 1966 in an article published in the Smithsonian Treasury of 20th-Century Science:

In contemplating the harmonization of life with what we call the laws of inanimate matter, I expect to find a new set of laws…. I may expect to find the formal recognition of some kind of a new entity differing from those which we have encountered in physics. I do not necessarily expect that this entity will be something which can be described in terms of space and time…. I should expect to find it play a role in those phenomena which for long have lain in the borderland between what is accepted by all and what is accepted by only a few…. I refer to such things as extrasensory perception, the significance of the immortality of man, clairvoyance, and allied phenomena.158

09 Communication: General


Communication: General

In the preceding pages, we established theoretically, and confirmed by observational information, that the control units which exercise full or partial direction of the actions of human beings are intelligent and that they are able to communicate directly with each other, utilizing channels independent of space and time. Since the control unit is a local manifestation of existence in Sector 3, the general metaphysical region, it follows that all existences in Sector 3, or at least all existences of this same type, are intelligent. We may further deduce that the observed ability of the intelligent Sector 3 units which exist within the space-time universe (the control units) to communicate with each other through their own channels indicates that Sector 3 existences can communicate with each other by similar means wherever they are located. Communication between the control units and the Sector 3 existences outside space and time is therefore theoretically possible. The present chapter will begin an exploration of the available information bearing on this point.

If information about entities or events within the physical universe or elsewhere is available to the external Sector 3 existences and is transmitted by them to the control units, the human individuals under the direction of these control units will acquire the information in a manner not capable of physical explanation. An observed phenomenon of this kind is the one known as clairvoyance, one of the group of ESP phenomena. Like telepathy, it has been extensively investigated in recent years, and the conclusions reached in the preceding chapter with respect to the validity of the results obtained in observations and experiments on telepathy are equally applicable to clairvoyance. The difference between the two phenomena is that in telepathy both the transmitter and the receiver are human individuals, whereas in clairvoyance only one human being, the receiver, is involved.

The concept of perceiving facts and events without the aid of physical mechanisms and independently of space and time is a rather difficult one for a person who exists in space and time and whose normal activities are limited to the utilization of physical means. Some discussion of the basic situation is therefore in order. According to the findings of the Reciprocal System of theory, the physical universe is composed entirely of units of motion, combinations of which constitute the various physical entities. In the material sector of this universe, where human life is located, there is a continuous, uniform progression of time. Current physical theory regards this time as one-dimensional, but the new theoretical development shows that it is actually scalar; that is, it has magnitude only, without direction. During this progression of time, change of position due to motion takes place in three dimensions of space. An intelligent human individual can become aware of events anywhere in the three dimensions of space, subject to (1) the physical limitations of the available communication means, and (2) the unidirectional nature of the time progression, which limits the transmitted information to past events.

As stated earlier, one of the most significant results of the development of this new and more accurate physical theory is the discovery that the material sector of the universe, which has heretofore been believed to constitute the whole of the physical universe, is actually only half of the total. There is another half, the cosmic sector, as we are calling it, which is identical with the material sector in every respect except that space and time are interchanged. In this cosmic sector, there is a continuous, uniform scalar progression of space. During this spatial progression, changes of position due to motion take place in three dimensions of time. Here an intelligent existence can become aware of events anywhere in the three dimensions of time, subject to the same limitations that apply in the material sector, except that instead of being limited to events in past time (that is, events that have been passed in the time progression), the transmitted information in the cosmic sector is limited to events at locations that have been passed in the space progression.

Inasmuch as we have found that the limitations applicable to the physical universe do not apply to the general metaphysical region, it follows that an intelligent Sector 3 existence can become aware of events anywhere in space or anywhere in time, with equal clarity everywhere. Furthermore, the limitation of the speed of transmission that applies to the physical universe is likewise inapplicable to Sector 3, where space and time do not exist, and speed, the ratio of space to time, therefore has no meaning. We can also deduce that the Sector 3 existences are aware of whatever exists within the general metaphysical region itself. All of the information at their command is then available for transmission to qualified human receivers. One of the transmission processes is clairvoyance.

The Sector 3 aspects of the human personality, the control units, are of the same nature as the Sector 3 existences in the general metaphysical region, and consequently, there is a possibility that the human control units may be able to perceive these facts directly without having to depend on transmission of the information from Sector 3. However, our analysis of the third level of human life indicates that the control units, as they exist at the present stage of the development of the human race, are relatively primitive, occupying a position in their field comparable to that of a single-celled organism in the biological field. It therefore appears more likely that clairvoyance is a manifestation of the inter-sector communication that we have found theoretically possible. This conclusion is supported by the fact that some of the related phenomena that will be discussed later clearly belong in the communication category.

The independence from space and time demonstrated in the ESP experiments and confirmed by the theoretical analysis is one of the principal targets of the minority of scientists who still regard such phenomena as impossible. Price, for example, lists this independence as the first, and apparently the most serious of his objections to the acceptance of the validity of the ESP results. C. W. Churchman calls ESP a “termite hypothesis.” If such hypotheses turned out to be true, they “would ruin or at least seriously tear the fine fabric of science’s theoretical structure,”159 he insists. If that “fine fabric” correctly represented the physical universe, he might have a valid point. However, the conventional theoretical structure that men such as Price and Churchman are so stoutly defending is not only full of contradictions and inconsistencies, but far too limited in its scope to serve as a basis for conclusions of a general nature. As the development of the Reciprocal System has revealed, conventional physical theory does not even account for all of the primary features of the physical universe. It tells us nothing at all about existence in general.

In the light of the new information that is now available, ESP is completely in harmony with physical existence and it is a normal feature of human life. It is contrary to the rules of the game in the biological world, to be sure, just as the development of complex biological organisms through evolutionary processes is contrary to the rules of the game in the inanimate world. But the inanimate and the biological do not constitute the whole of existence. We will find in the course of our investigation that many aspects of human behavior are just as foreign to the principles that govern physical activity—both living and non-living—as clairvoyance. They seem less foreign only because they are more familiar.

An interesting application of ESP takes place in gambling. It is not generally appreciated that gambling is an experiment in clairvoyance, specifically the anticipatory, or precognition, type of clairvoyance. The gambler is trying to anticipate what will happen on the next turn of the wheel, the next flip of a card, or the next roll of the dice, in just as real a sense as the subject in the parapsychology laboratory who is specifically being tested for ESP ability. The striking fact about these unintentional ESP experiments in the gambling establishments is that they arrive at essentially the same results, from the qualitative standpoint, as the experiments that are deliberately aimed at one aspect or another of the ESP phenomena.

The action at a roulette table, for instance, has a close resemblance to the conventional ESP experiments. The general run of the results in both cases is close to that which would be expected on the basis of pure chance. But occasionally a player has a run of phenomenal “luck” in which the normal principles of probability seem to be totally inoperative. Such an occurrence is rare, but still frequent enough to make it necessary for the management to impose some special limits or other rules to prevent undue losses. Like the successes in the analogous ESP experiments, the “run of luck” in gambling generally tapers off after a time, and at the end of a session, the results are usually less favorable than at the start. Furthermore, as in the ESP tests, the favorable run cannot be deliberately repeated, no matter how much of an effort is made to duplicate the original conditions.

The general conclusions that can be drawn from both kinds of experiment are:


  1. No evidence of a general ESP capability has been found.
  2. There is some evidence of uncertain validity suggesting that a substantial number of individuals may have a small ESP ability.
  3. A few persons are spectacularly successful in demonstrating ESP on some occasions.
  4. This high-level ESP capability is erratic and not subject to voluntary control by any methods now known.


The success ratio is substantially lower in the gambling establishments than in the planned ESP experiments. This does not affect the significance of the results so far as the existence of the ESP phenomena is concerned. As long as some persons are able to demonstrate ESP capability at some times, this confirms the existence of ESP just as definitely as if the success ratio had been higher. But the reasons for the difference in this ratio are worth giving some consideration because of the light that they may throw on the requirements that must be met in order to accomplish ESP reception or transmission. These issues will be discussed in Chapter 25.

The fact that the results achieved in gambling practically duplicate the results of the more conventional ESP experiments, qualitatively if not quantitatively, has a particular significance in that these results are not open to the charge of trickery that plays such an important part in the objections raised to the ESP experiments by Hansel and other critics. There is a long history of trickery and dishonesty in gambling houses, to be sure, but where anything of this kind exists, it favors the management, not the customer.

In order to lay the groundwork for consideration of the next phenomenon on our schedule, let us return to the question of the capabilities of a mechanism. In Chapter 7 we approached this issue from the positive direction, as we were primarily concerned with the question as to what a machine can do. Now we are interested in the negative side of the same issue: the question as to what a machine cannot do. The giant strides that have been taken in the design and manufacture of computers and allied types of machines in recent years have generated a great deal of loose talk regarding the potentialities of such equipment. In approaching such a subject as the one now under consideration, it is therefore necessary to recognize that those who use the term “intelligence” in connection with these machines are giving this term the minimum definition that we employed in Chapter 7.

For instance, Marvin L. Minsky introduces an article on Artificial Intelligence with the statement: “In this article I shall describe some programs that enable a computer to behave in ways that probably everyone would agree seem to show intelligence,” but before he comes to the end of the article, he is forced to concede that “No [computer] program today, however, can work any genuinely important change in its own basic structure.”160 In other words, it can do only those things which it was specifically designed to do. Similarly, D. A. Bell has published a book with the intriguing title Intelligent Machines, but when we look at page one of this book we find this qualification:


This corresponds roughly with that aspect of intelligence which is concerned with deduction of incontrovertible conclusions from specified data, leaving aside the more creative aspect of intelligence which is seen in the processes of induction and association.161


The significant point here is that the machine can only work with “specified data”—that is the kind of data that it is specifically designed to handle—and it must come to “incontrovertible conclusions,” which means that it can operate only in accordance with rigid rules. These are characteristics, not of any particular class of machines, but of machines in general. Norbert Wiener makes the same point in a discussion of machines devised to play games. “In general,” he says, “a game playing machine may be used to secure the automatic performance of any function if the performance of this function is subject to a clear-cut objective criterion of merit.”162 In the words of the conclusion that we reached in Chapter 7, a mechanism can adapt its behavior to new situations as long as the game is played according to the rules, but it cannot cope with any deviation from the rules, nor can it initiate any change in the rules. “The computer can systematize knowledge at lightning speeds, but it is still the dumb servant that disgorges only that which man puts into it,”163 observes Arthur Bronwell. The same point is made, somewhat inelegantly, but forcibly, in one of the favorite aphorisms of the computer industry itself: “Garbage in, garbage out.”

As Bell indicates, a mechanism must operate deductively, following the principles that are embodied in its construction, the rules of the game, as we have called them. Only the most rudimentary inductive processes, such as simple enumeration, can be handled mechanically, and then only to the extent that the objectives of these processes can be approached by predetermined procedures. The more complex processes by which we arrive at genuinely new ideas are inherently beyond the capacity of a mechanism, no matter how complex and sophisticated it may be, and regardless of whether that mechanism is physical or biological. The problems that require new concepts and new understandings will never by solved by animals or by computers. A machine would not be able, for instance, to observe a falling rock, a lightning flash, a lump of coal, and a pool of water in the high mountains; to abstract from these the feature that they share in common; and to formulate the concept of energy. Nor would a machine be able to see that a falling apple points the way to an explanation of the motions of the planets in their orbits. Outstanding achievements such as these are rare, to be sure, but less spectacular results of the same general nature are being produced regularly, and they are all totally beyond the capacity of human beings as biological mechanisms. They necessarily have to be produced in some other way.

What, then, is this other way? The most striking feature of the process by which new ideas are derived is that no one can explain how it operates. “Nobody has ever been able to discover a procedure guaranteed to produce insight,” reports Max Black, and he goes on to say, “even the greatest scientists have been able to do little more than marvel at the apparently miraculous source of their most fruitful notions.”31 Similar comments have been made by a great many observers. The particular words in which these comments have been expressed have a significance that is very pertinent to the present inquiry, and the exact wording of the statement by Black and the following additional quotations selected from current scientific and philosophical literature should therefore be considered carefully.


We know neither what takes place in this movement of discovery, nor how to control it and foster it. We recognize our failure by calling it a “mystery.”164 (A. Cornelius Benjamin)

An entirely different order of image-forming is involved in creative imagination, the most profound of human activities. It provides the illumination that gives a new insight or understanding… . The illumination often has the suddenness of a flash, as with Kekule and the benzene ring, Darwin and the theory of evolution, Hamilton and his equations.165 (John C. Eccles)

My view may be expressed by saying that every discovery contains “an irrational element,” or a “creative intuition” in Bergson’s sense.166 (Karl Popper)

The person having cultivated this remarkable faculty, however, is capable of performing what has been called the “inductive leap,” a passage which seems to soar over the intervening gap between abstractions and facts with an ease not given to the ordinary mortal… . There is something striking, incomprehensible, psychologically miraculous about this leap, something akin to revelation in religion.167 (Henry Margenau)

Man’s intellectual history has been marked by many moments of sudden revelation, both in science and in philosophy.168 (Harlow Shapley)

Poets and prophets are not alone in their visions; a young scientist—it happens mostly to the young—may in a flash glimpse a distant peak that no one else has seen.169 (James R. Newman)

Instead of going from step to step with conscious certainty, as some do, these men [such as Einstein] make large intellectual jumps as though borne by a guiding necessity. Sometimes they reveal that such solutions occur to them “in a sudden flash of insight” after long, even feverish, study.170 (Holton and Roller)

The new paradigm, or a sufficient hint to permit later articulation, emerges all at once, sometimes in the middle of the night, in the mind of a man deeply immersed in crisis. What the nature of that final stage is—how an individual invents (or finds he has invented) a new way of giving order to data now all assembled—must here remain inscrutable and may be permanently so.171 (Thomas S. Kuhn)


The first point to which these authors testify is that the knowledge comes suddenly. Three of them use the word “sudden,” a like number speak of a “flash,” Margenau calls it a “leap,” to Holton and Roller it is a “jump.” The second point that they stress is that the manner in which it comes is spontaneous and wholly unexplainable—miraculous, say two of the writers (a term that is all the more significant because it comes from men who do not believe in miracles). The origin is incomprehensible, inscrutable, irrational, others assert.

Now where have we encountered this kind of a phenomenon before? These are exactly the characteristics of clairvoyance: the knowledge comes suddenly, in a physically unexplainable manner, and every one of the descriptive words listed in the preceding paragraph would be equally as applicable to the clairvoyance phenomenon as to inductive insight. These two phenomena are simply two manifestations of the same thing: communication of information from Sector 3 existences to the control units that exercise direction over the human organisms.

We have deduced theoretically that such communication should exist; now we find two phenomena in which it does exist. This existence is evident, not only because the manner in which the information is received is exactly what it should be on the basis of this explanation, but also because in the case of inductive insight (and sometimes also in clairvoyance) there is no physical way in which the information could have been received. It could not have come through any mechanistic channels—any method of reception available to man as a biological mechanism—because a mechanism can only work with what Bell called “specified data”; it cannot reach any new conclusions. As Coulson remarks, “It seems as if the inner truths of our concepts and our brilliant imagination are not really our own at all.”172

Of course, this means that a great many of the ideas that occur to human individuals come through these Sector 3 channels. The spectacular achievements of great scientists to which the adjective “miraculous” is so freely applied are basically no different from the innumerable “flashes of insight” that are occurring every day to individuals in all walks of life. Margenau points out specifically that the “miraculous” inductive leap “akin to revelation in religion” which he mentions in the quotation above is equally present in many occurrences of ordinary life. “Less spectacular instances of intuition in this sense,” he says, “also occur in ordinary cognition, where they are called instinctive guesses or successful conjectures.”167 A. C. Benjamin makes a similar comment:


In fact such sudden appearances of novel ideas occur to all of us in much less pretentious situations. We say that the ideas “pop” into our heads, that we have “flashes of insight,” often in the middle of the night.173


The difference between these minor flashes of insight and the outstanding scientific achievements is merely one of degree. The human mechanism (Level 2) is no more capable of formulating an inconsequential new idea than it is of formulating a revolutionary new scientific concept. It is the novelty that is beyond the capacity of a mechanism; the nature of the novelty and its degree of importance or unimportance are entirely irrelevant. Furthermore, the need for a metaphysical source is not eliminated if the idea is familiar to someone else. Unless the individual himself has physical access to the idea, or to the basic information from which he can derive it by physical processes, he can get it only from non-physical sources by non-physical means.

The term “intuition” is commonly used in a broad sense to include the entire range from the major flashes of insight down to trivial items of everyday experience. One dictionary defines intuition as “the power of knowing without recourse to inference or reasoning.” Another says it is “the direct or immediate perception of truths, facts, etc., without reasoning.” All such definitions, specifying, as they do, what intuition is not rather than what it is, merely emphasize the fact that the nature of this process is physically inexplicable. As Max Black says in the statement previously quoted, the intuitive ideas come from an “apparently miraculous source,” which means a non-physical source. Our finding is that intuition is, indeed, a non-physical process, but it is nevertheless a strictly natural process, not a miraculous one. It is direct communication between Sector 3 and the control units through Sector 3 channels.

Quite obviously, much of the information obtained through flashes of insight or other forms of intuition is erroneous, either in whole or in part. In the opinion of most philosophers, this unreliability of the information invalidates the entire concept of intuitive knowledge. “How can the intuitionist defend himself in the face of the notoriously conflicting beliefs which different persons, societies, and civilizations hold about what is good, what is right, what is our duty?”174 asks John Hospers. But this criticism only applies to intuition as a source of information, as Hospers, in effect, concedes in saying, “One can make a strong case, then, for holding that the whole idea of knowing by intuition is a mistake.”175 The finding of this present work is that intuition is not a source of information; it is a means of transmitting information. It is, we have reason to believe, a reliable transmitter. The unreliability of the messages, as they are received, is due to the inadequacy of the receiving equipment. Paraphrasing Pasteur’s comment with respect to the results of chance, we may say that true insight comes only to the prepared mind.

Unless the receiver is adequately prepared to handle the information which he receives, it will not be intelligible either to him or to anyone else to whom he attempts to communicate it, no matter how accurate the information may have been at the source, or how faithfully it was transmitted. For example, Aristotle, who lived about 350 B.C., could not have received the insight that would have enabled him to formulate a theory of electromagnetic induction. A long series of mental leaps by many different individuals over more than two thousand years was necessary before the proper conceptual background could even be established to permit discovery of the phenomenon. Michael Faraday finally made this leap in 1831, but a satisfactory theory that would explain his discovery was still a long way off. As this experience indicates, the quality of the reception depends on the general level of knowledge as well as on the receptive capability of the particular individual concerned, not because this general level has any particular significance in itself, but because it determines the level of knowledge which the individual can attain by study of the existing body of information. Some individuals will be able to leap farther than others, but the height of the platform from which the leap is taken is a very important factor in determining the extent of the ultimate accomplishment.

It is this need for a body of knowledge from which to operate that has misled some investigators into believing that it is the study of the problem that brings forth the answer. For example, Mario Bunge asserts that “Creative scientists do have ’natural revelations’ or ’illuminations,’ but never before finding, stating, and studying a problem,”176 and he cites this as evidence against intuitionism. But the study is done by the human machine, and machines are inherently incapable of arriving at anything that is genuinely new. Intensive study of the subject is essential, but it is only preparatory. The “natural revelation” has to come later by means of an intuitive process.

When the platform provided by the established body of knowledge has reached a level within striking distance of the actual truth, some individual who is well prepared with a thorough understanding of this established knowledge, and also has a greater than normal degree of insight—that is, ability to receive information from Sector 3—will grasp that truth fully and accurately. In the meantime, individuals who are less gifted in this respect, or who are handicapped by having a less adequate store of knowledge to which the intuitive information can be related, or both, will also be receiving the message, but not being well enough equipped to receive it clearly, will get it in an incomplete or erroneous version. This spurious “insight” will arrive in the same way as the genuine information, and to the recipient, it will be indistinguishable from the genuine.

Since only a relatively small number of individuals are qualified to receive full and complete insight in any relatively advanced field of knowledge, and then only in a limited segment of that field, the incomplete and erroneous intuitions greatly outnumber the genuine. In the scientific areas, where testing of new ideas by comparison with the facts of observation and experiment is standard practice, most of the erroneous matter is identified as such sooner or later, and then discarded; but in other branches of human activity where objective standards of this kind are lacking, the spurious items usually coexist with the genuine, and are championed just as strongly by those who believe that they have been given a glimpse of the truth. Even in science there is a large amount of misinformation masquerading as genuine knowledge. Basically this is chargeable to a characteristically human, but definitely unscientific, reluctance to admit ignorance: a strong tendency to say, “We know… ,” when the correct statement would be, “We think… .”

The lack of certainty in the products of intuition, ESP, or insight (the same process under different names) also has an effect in the opposite direction, in that genuine items of information received through such channels often remain unrecognized as such because they are not distinguished from the mass of misinformation with which they are associated. The statement by W. F. G. Swann from which the quotation at the end of Chapter 8 was taken is a good example. This is actually a most remarkable anticipation of the results of the present work. Every word that is quoted is strictly in accord with the findings of our investigation. In existence as a whole, which we are exploring in these pages, there is “a new set of laws,” the laws of Sector 3. There is a “new kind of entity,” the Sector 3 control unit. This entity “cannot be described in terms of space and time,” as it is independent of space and time. It “plays a role,” a very significant role, in ESP and the other “borderline phenomena” that Swann mentions. In fact, this statement is so accurate that it is, in itself, a phenomenon that requires an explanation. Quite clearly, it is a genuine insight, or intuitive understanding, that did not receive its just due at the time of publication because the scientific community was not able to distinguish it from the many inaccurate pronouncements on the same subject.

In view of the questionable nature of so much of the information obtained by intuition or insight, it may legitimately be asked what justification there is for giving any weight to the products of these processes. The answer can be found in what has been said about the capabilities of mechanisms. Some of the kinds of information that we need cannot be obtained in any other way. For instance, in order that the advance of human knowledge may continue, we are constantly in need of new ideas, and, as has been brought out in the previous discussion, the physical mechanism of which the human mind is a part is subject to the same limitations as any other mechanism. It cannot produce anything that is genuinely new. The innovations that are required must come from a non-physical source through some form of intuition.

Furthermore, there are aspects of human existence about which nothing can be learned from experience. Philosophers have never been able, for example, to find any empirical basis from which ethical standards can be derived. The strict empiricist therefore denies the validity of ethical judgments. “In every case in which one would commonly be said to be making an ethical judgement,” says Ayer, “the function of the relevant ethical word is purely ’emotive.’ It is used to express feeling about certain objects, but not to make any assertion about them.”177 But all this rests on the empiricists’ assumption that there are no non-physical sources of information. “There is no criterion by which one can test the validity of the judgements in which they [the fundamental ethical concepts] occur,” contends Ayer. Our findings now show that this assumption is incorrect, and that the lack of an empirical basis for ethics does not mean that there is no basis anywhere; it merely means that ethics is inherently non-physical, and the ethical standards therefore have to be obtained from a non-physical source by some intuitive process: the non-physical means of communication.

The inability of the philosophers to find any empirical—that is, physical—basis for ethics is actually a significant addition to the many items of evidence confirming the validity of the inductive conclusion reached in Chapter 4: the conclusion as to the reality of non-physical existence, independent of space and time. The empiricists take their stand on the premise that the physical universe is the whole of existence. Since ethical principles cannot be derived from physical experience, they then deduce that there is no meaning in ethics. As expressed by Ayer, “sentences which simply express moral judgements do not say anything.”177 This reasoning is valid, but it arrives at a conclusion that is manifestly false. Moral judgments do say something to us. The empiricists have thus given us a reductio ad absurdum: a proof of the falsity of the premise that the physical universe is the whole of existence. When we recognize that moral judgments do have meaning, and take this fact as our premise, we turn the empiricists’ logic upside down. Since there are moral (ethical) principles, and, as the empiricists insist, there is no physical basis from which such principles can be derived, it necessarily follows that they originate from a non-physical source. The reality of non-physical existence is thus confirmed.

Neither scientific insight nor intuition gives us positive and certain answers to all of our questions. In some cases, there is virtual certainty. In others, we obtain answers that have only some degree of probability of being correct; but in these instances, whatever uncertainty may exist can be eliminated by a process of verification. In this respect, intuition is similar to inductive reasoning. Indeed, it is often combined with the inductive process. Induction is usually carried out by means of some expedient such as extrapolation which enables working from an established base; but in many cases this is not feasible, and the investigator must rely on what he generally characterizes as his “imagination.” If the problem is one which requires some new insight, imagination is not likely to take him very far unless it is accompanied by an intuitive grasp of the general features of the correct answer. In any event, the basis for the use of both intuition and inductive reasoning is that, by combining a process whose results are subject to a degree of uncertainty with a verification process, we arrive at results that are just as reliable as those that would be obtained from an inherently accurate single process in many important areas where no such single process can be applied.

The question now naturally arises: Since all of the intuitive applications that have been discussed thus far are essentially nothing but variations of the same basic process, why are there such extreme differences in their ability to produce results? The answer lies in the kind of information that is sought. It appears that correct intuitive answers to simple questions of right and wrong are readily accessible to almost everyone, and nearly everyone arrives at the same judgment on these simple issues. Agreement among the recipients of intuitive information, as we will see later, is one of the criteria of the validity of that information. Scientific insight, on the contrary, is eagerly sought, but rarely attained. It is not only difficult to get an intuitive answer to a scientific problem; it is even more difficult to get the right answer in a clear enough form to make it usable. The experiments on clairvoyance involve a still more difficult situation. In this case, clear-cut results are so seldom obtained that the very existence of the phenomenon is questioned by some observers.

Two general principles derived from experience are sufficient to explain the observed situation. First, broad generalizations are more easily obtained intuitively than specific details, particularly inconsequential details. It is easier, for example, to obtain an intuitive answer to the question, Is it wrong to steal?, than it is to get an intuitive judgment on some of the specific activities of Robin Hood. Second, information indigenous to the habitat of the inquirer is more easily obtained than that which must come from sources that are in any way “foreign.” In the case of simple questions of right and wrong, both factors are favorable. The inquirer, the Sector 3 unit that is part of the human personality, is asking for information of a very general nature from a source of his (or its) own nature. It is therefore easily obtained and has a high probability of being correct. In seeking scientific insight, he is asking for information of a much more specific nature that must be obtained from a source, the physical universe, that to him is foreign. (It is not foreign to the Sector 2 aspect of the human being, but the Sector 2 life unit is not in communication with the metaphysical region from which the intuitive information must come.) The conditions in this case are therefore much less favorable. It is more difficult to establish the intuitive contact, and the probability of error in the reception of the information is much greater. In the usual experiment on clairvoyance, both factors are highly unfavorable. The information that is being sought is not only foreign (that is, physical); it is also highly specific and usually trivial.

A significant point here is that the accuracy of the intuitive results obtained by these different processes is also definitely correlated with the kind of information that is being sought and the ease of obtaining it. As already noted, there are adequate grounds for concluding that simple ethical judgments are generally valid. The same considerations also indicate that there is a high probability that any other simple intuitive conclusion of a general nature about ethical or other non-physical matters is also valid. Of course, this does not eliminate the necessity of verification in order to reach certainty, but it does mean that the verification requirements can be somewhat less rigorous. Furthermore, in those cases where verification is not immediately feasible, it is sound practice to accord tentative acceptance to an intuitive conclusion with a high probability of being correct, pending the time that a definitive test becomes possible. This makes the relation between the kind of information sought and the accuracy of the results very important in some applications.

The two general principles that were used in the preceding discussion to explain the differences in the reliability of the results obtained by means of the various intuitive processes can equally well be used in the inverse manner; that is, by noting what kind of information a particular intuitive process is seeking, we can arrive at an indication of the extent and probable accuracy of the information that can be obtained by this means. This availability of a method of assessing the scope and reliability of an intuitive process will be especially significant in connection with the subject matter of the next chapter, where we will consider one of the most important of these processes. It will also be of assistance in evaluating the possibility of mind reading, an application of ESP that intrigues many persons in this modern era where the line of demarcation between science fact and science fiction is indistinct and hard to locate.

Hansel sees no difference between mind reading and telepathy. “Telepathy,” he says, “is a new name for mind reading.”178 But telepathy involves both transmission and reception, and it is impossible without the active participation of the individual on the transmitting end of the process. This is not what is meant by mind reading. The mind readers in the science fiction books read one’s thoughts as they would a book. Those with the most highly developed capabilities do so even if the subject tries to resist the penetration of his mind. Such a phenomenon belongs in the clairvoyance class. Clairvoyance is normally regarded as a means of obtaining information about objects or events, but it should be equally capable of producing information about processes such as mental activity, since the physical status of processes is no different from that of objects or events. We may therefore conclude that mind reading is possible in principle. On the basis of the considerations outlined in the preceding pages, we may further conclude that the reliability of the process under the conditions now prevailing will be comparable to that of clairvoyance in general.

But mind reading which has no more reliability than this is useless. The situation here is much different from that with respect to scientific insight. If the products of such insight are valid in only one case out of a hundred, the process is still extremely valuable, as the verification procedures that are available eliminate the erroneous results and identify the one that is valid. Here the intuitive process enables us to get needed information that cannot be obtained in any other way. On the other hand, mind reading that is able to determine only one thought out of a hundred, or even one in ten, correctly, and cannot even be sure which of the “readings” is the correct one, is of no practical value. As matters stand in the world today, we can therefore say that while some direct perception of another person’s thought no doubt occurs spontaneously in isolated instances, in much the same way that spontaneous telepathic transmission apparently occurs, intentional reading of minds is not feasible.

10 Revelation



In our discussion of the wording of the descriptions of inductive insight that were quoted in Chapter 9, one word was intentionally passed over without particular emphasis, as its significance can be more fully appreciated in connection with the subject we are now about to consider. Let us take another look at the quotation from Shapley and a portion of the statement by Margenau.

Man’s intellectual history has been marked by many moments of sudden revelation, both in science and in philosophy. (Harlow Shapley)

There is something striking, incomprehensible, psychologically miraculous about this [inductive] leap, something akin to revelation in religion. (Henry Margenau)

Accounts of sudden illumination of scientific issues under intense study frequently stress this resemblance to religious revelation. For example, Henri Poincaré, the great French mathematician, was particularly interested in phenomena of this kind because of a striking experience of his own, often cited in scientific literature. He had been engaged in studying a certain problem with little success.

Some time later, as Poincaré was boarding an omnibus with a friend, the solution of the problem came to him instantly. It was as though he were standing on a mountain overlooking the dark valley, which was illuminated for an instant by a flash of lightning. In that instant the whole problem became clear to him, although it took him many weeks to write down and derive all the relations. If Poincaré had been a mystic, he would have regarded the event as a revelation; actually, he ascribed the occurrence to his subconscious mind, which he believed had continued to work on the problem after the conscious mind was otherwise engaged… . It later developed that men involved in creative work in many fields had encountered the same sort of event… . Many of them compared the occurrence to a blinding flash of light.179

This account, quoted by Marshall J. Walker from an original French source, not only corroborates the statements in Chapter 9 as to the manner in which insight is attained, but again brings out the striking resemblance to religious revelation. In the light of our finding that scientific insight, ESP, and intuition are merely different manifestations of the same process—communication between Sector 3 and the control units—it is now clear that the “miraculous” flashes of insight in science, in philosophy, and in other fields, are not only “akin to revelation in religion,” they are identical with revelation in religion. Shapley’s statement should read, “Man’s intellectual history has been marked by many moments of sudden revelation, in science, in philosophy, and in religion.” In all of these cases, a prepared mind under the control of a Sector 3 unit has been able to receive a communication from the outside sector of the universe: Sector 3. It is not only in science that someone “in a flash glimpses a distant peak that no else has seen,” as Newman put it. This happens in all branches of thought, including religion. Wherever and whenever it occurs, the intuitive event is a result of the same kind of a process. Recognition of this fact has not been lacking. R. B. Lindsay, for example, has this to say:

Ethical theory, like scientific theory, seems to have originated in the minds of profound thinkers, who fell back for justification not merely on experience but on their own imaginative powers. In the case of ethics, the latter has often been termed illumination or revelation. It can hardly be considered essentially different from the stroke of inspiration at the basis of the invention of a new scientific theory.180

Lindsay is calling attention to the similarity mainly as a means of downgrading religious revelation. He and other scientists who have made similar comments are assuming that inductive insight is a purely human ability and that its similarity to revelation is evidence that the latter has no different standing. In fact, many scientists specifically condemn the idea of revelation, in the usual sense, as an untenable hypothesis. Speaking on their behalf, and also, he asserts, for “liberal thinkers within the churches,” Julian Huxley says, “we reject the idea of direct revelation as merely the crude symbolism of an earlier age.”181 But Huxley himself testifies to having had experiences which he admits had the characteristics of revelation. Of one such incident, he gives this report:

Suddenly, for no particular reason, without apparent connection with other thoughts, a problem and its solution flashed across my mind… . It also had that definite quality of being thrown into consciousness, implied in the term revelation, which has been described for purely intellectual discovery by many mathematicians and men of science, notably Poincaré in his essays on scientific method.182

Huxley here admits that problems and their solutions “flash” into his mind from an unknown source and by an unknown process, “thrown into consciousness,” as he says. He can hardly deny that the same thing may happen to others; that deeply religious men may find solutions to religious problems thrown into their consciousness in the same mysterious manner, hence his words are a tacit admission of the reality of the phenomenon of revelation. His objection thus reduces to nothing more than an unwillingness to accept the religious claims as to the source of the revelations. Such skepticism may have had a certain amount of justification when no evidence of the reality of metaphysical existence was available, but the findings of this work have now demonstrated that revelation definitely is a process of obtaining information from metaphysical sources, as the religious community has always claimed.

It is true that there are a host of contradictions between the revelations which the various religions claim to have received, while many more of these purported revelations contradict observed facts, but such contradictions are the rule rather than the exception in human testimony. Experience in courts of law shows that even eyewitness accounts by different individuals often give totally different versions of the same event. A little serious reflection over the history of the nuclear atom concept, as set forth in detail in The Case Against the Nuclear Atom,183 should help to give the scientist a better understanding of why contradictions exist, how easy it is to misread the message from Sector 3 when it first arrives—whether by scientific insight or by revelation—and how tenaciously the human mind, be it scientific or non-scientific, clings to a misinterpretation once it has achieved general acceptance in the community where it originates. As this atomic experience shows, the “priests” of the scientific establishment are just as dogmatic in their adherence to current doctrine, and just as prone to close their eyes to unwelcome facts that disturb that doctrine, as the priests of the religious establishment.

A scientific analysis, based on a more complete knowledge of the physical universe than that which was available to either Lindsay or Huxley, now shows that religious revelation can and does take place, and that the “purely intellectual” flashes of insight of the kind that Huxley reports experiencing are simply other manifestations of the same phenomenon: communications originating in Sector 3. Lindsay was right in asserting that revelation is not essentially different from a scientific “stroke of inspiration,” but he drew the wrong conclusion from this. The similarity between them does not downgrade religious revelation; it upgrades inductive insight. A new scientific idea is just as much a revelation as a new ethical idea, and it comes from the same source. Now that the reality of metaphysical existence has been demonstrated in this work, if one’s religious beliefs lead to a definite identification of that existence (something that this work does not do), so that he attributes moral revelation to that specifically defined source, then the new scientific idea also comes from the same source. Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn recognizes the logic of this position in the following statement:

Whenever or wherever a human being reaches out to grasp a truth that has never been comprehended before… or to create or appreciate a higher dimension of beauty… or to achieve a loftier level of ethical conduct… then and there God has revealed Himself to man again. Divine revelation is just as apt to take place in a laboratory or studio, on a concert platform or counting-board, as it is in a pulpit.184

On the foregoing basis, revelation is a source of information coequal with experience. Although this is the traditional religious viewpoint, and is strongly emphasized in most of the Eastern religions, it is contrary to some present-day theological views. “Human thought,” says John Hick, “can only deal with material which has been given in experience. Just as our knowledge of the physical world is ultimately based on sense perception, so any religious knowledge must ultimately be based upon aspects of human experience which are received as revelatory.”185 This is a good example of the religious retreat toward naturalism that has been taking place because of the growing prestige of science. Under pressure from science, those who share this “non-propositional” view, as Hick calls it, have abandoned the concept of direct communication from a source outside the space-time universe, on which all of the major Western religions were originally based, and have fallen back to the position that any communication from such a source must take place indirectly by means of some kind of an effect on “the events of history.”

Ironically, our present investigation demonstrates that this retreat was wholly unnecessary. Scientists never did have any actual evidence to indicate that there are no metaphysical sources of information. But they have forced the ecclesiastics to retreat from one untenable position to another, and by this time, have succeeded in intimidating the theologians to the point where essential religious positions are being abandoned. Once it is conceded that nothing can be communicated to the human race except through human experience, it is only one short step to the naturalistic conclusion that there is no source other than human experience. But now a further extension of scientific knowledge has shown that the previous scientific assumption that the whole of existence is encompassed within the physical universe is wrong, and that the original religious concept of revelation from an outside source is correct.

On the basis of the new and accurate knowledge of the physical universe, the universe of space and time, we have been able, by standard methods of inductive reasoning, to arrive at the conclusion that there is existence outside space and time, or more accurately, independent of space and time. Certain consequences of such an existence, which are highly characteristic and wholly incapable of explanation on a physical basis, have then been developed by logical means, and the existence of these consequences, in the exact forms predicted theoretically, has been verified observationally in exactly the same manner in which all other scientific findings are confirmed. The scientific verification is thus complete and positive. It is now physically certain that there is existence independent of space and time.

The reality of such an outside existence is the most essential element in religious doctrine, the most important item which religion claims to have ascertained through revelation. Our scientific study, utilizing up-to-the-minute scientific knowledge, thus verifies the accuracy of religious revelation in this respect. The most basic assertions of the transcendental religions, (1) that there is existence independent of space and time, (2) that there is an aspect of human life related to that outside existence, and (3) that there is communication between the outside existence and human beings, have now been verified by the standard methods of science. The development of thought in the preceding pages that has led to this highly significant result was carried out strictly in accordance with scientific principles and procedures, and all of the conclusions reached along the way are scientific conclusions, even though they pertain to fields which science has heretofore been unable to penetrate, and which have therefore been thought to be beyond the reach of science. The present study has been able to deal with these hitherto inaccessible subjects because it has what has previously been lacking: a complete and comprehensive general theory of the physical universe that provides a solid base from which to extend scientific inquiry into the metaphysical region.

Verification of these three basic religious assertions does not confirm the validity of other religious revelations. Even though our analysis shows that revelation is a powerful, and potentially accurate, means of obtaining metaphysical information, this does not guarantee the authenticity of any specific revelation. Nor can purported revelations be accepted on the strength of religious authority. Religious revelation is subject to the same weakness that applies to scientific revelation, or insight, as it is more commonly called; that is, much of it, perhaps most of it, is wrong. Before we can accept any of the specific items claimed to have been received through revelation, or any other intuitive process, it is therefore necessary to verify that item just as we would if it were a purported scientific discovery.

We need to subject our philosophical and religious views to the recognized tests of truth. They should be open to criticism, to remolding, and to replacement by more adequate views whenever the evidence warrants such revision.186 (H. H. Titus)

As brought out in Chapter 9, the nature of the subject matter has an important bearing on the a priori probability of validity, and therefore on the amount of corroborative evidence that is required. From the general considerations previously discussed, it is clear that those purported revelations which apply to relatively simple metaphysical subjects, such as the three general items already mentioned (simple moral concepts, etc.), have a high probability of being correct. This probability decreases rapidly as the subjects become more complex, not because the correct information is less available, but because the recipients are less adequately prepared to receive the more complicated messages. Purported revelations about matters pertaining to the physical universe—“foreign” subjects, in the terms used in the discussion in Chapter 9—are quite likely to be wrong.

So far as possible, we will want to apply the same tests to the purported revelations that science utilizes in the physical field. As explained in Chapter 2, the standard method of scientific verification is based upon comparisons with empirical data. In the first instance, this must be a direct correlation between the theoretical conclusions and the facts of observation or measurement. After the validity of certain principles has been established with physical certainty, further extension of knowledge involves a more complex process of verification in which the manner of derivation of the proposition under consideration plays an important part. In those cases where it can be demonstrated that the proposition is a necessary and unavoidable consequence of some other proposition or propositions whose validity has previously been established with physical certainty, no further confirmation is necessary. If the derivation merely establishes a probability that the proposition is correct, rather than a certainty, factual correlations are necessary to complete the verification, but the greater the initial probability the less factual corroboration is needed.

The nature of the material with which religious revelations deal is such that definite verification by the method of direct comparison with observational data is not feasible in most instances. Such correlations can be made only where there are physical effects that can be observed. They cannot be utilized where the subject of the revelation is a totally non-physical item such as the intuitive recognition of ethical standards. There are, however, other criteria whereby the validity of revealed non-physical information can be judged, and if enough support of this nature can be assembled, the possibility that the revealed item may be incorrect can be reduced to a negligible level, thus accomplishing the same result as the correlation with experience, and arriving at what we have called “physical certainty.” As noted in Chapter 2, this is the most that we can do in any case, physical or non-physical.

One important criterion in the non-physical area is the extent of agreement among those who claim to have received revelations on the particular subject. It is true that in those instances where one religion has developed out of, or has been strongly influenced by, another, agreement is not very significant. For example, Christianity developed out of Judaism, and Judaism, in turn, was influenced to a major degree by Egyptian religious thinking. Points of resemblance between these three systems of religious thought are therefore more likely to be a result of ideas passed on from one to the other than a result of parallel revelations. On the other hand, points of resemblance between religions originating independently in different parts of the world can be regarded as good—though not necessarily conclusive—evidence that the claims of revelation are well-founded.

Where there is general agreement on a particular item, the case in its favor is strengthened if those who agree have strong convictions about the matter. Strength of conviction is not of much significance by itself, as many individuals tend to develop a strong attachment to any idea of importance that they may happen to hold. But when we find strong convictions combined with general agreement, particularly when we find, as we occasionally do, that almost the entire human race is firmly convinced of the validity of a certain proposition in the absence of any adequate evidence to support such a belief, it is highly probable that this is a genuine item of revealed truth. Such revelations do not necessarily come through religious channels. The scientist’s belief in a definite purpose underlying human existence, which was the subject of comment in an earlier chapter, is not normally derived from religion; on the contrary, his firm commitment to this belief is one of the principal reasons why he maintains his religious connections in spite of the conflicts between the existing religious and scientific viewpoints. Similarly, the belief in an orderly and rational universe, which all the scientists share—indeed must share in order to be scientists—is not a religious doctrine. In fact, it is in direct conflict with the prevailing religious concepts of miracles and other divine interventions. Neither is it derived from experience; instead it is utilized as a guide for interpreting experience.

He [the scientist] holds with the fervor of a religious conviction that his task is meaningful, that the history of science does converge in the limit upon a set of knowledge, laws and principles that are unique, categorical, and all inclusive. This conviction again is not subject to logical and empirical proof; yet it inspires his researches, gives him a feeling of participation in a meaningful universal process; for example it sustains the nuclear physicist during periods like the present, when he sees little but chaos in the realm of elementary particles.66 (Henry Margenau)

Special significance attaches to those revelations which clearly had an anticipatory character when originally received; that is, they possessed some significance that was not realized until additional information was obtained long afterward. This feature is not of much assistance in the evaluation of individual items of revelation, since the additional information, when it finally becomes available, provides a more direct verification of the assertions contained in the revelation, and the revelation itself then becomes superfluous. Such cases are, however, striking demonstrations of the reality of the revelation process in general. An example of a revelation of this character will be discussed later in this chapter.

In legal proceedings, considerable weight is attached to what are called admissions against interest: statements which the witness knows will be detrimental to him in one way or another, but which he nevertheless feels constrained to make. The inference here, of course, is that such a statement is not likely to be made unless it is true. This same concept has a wide field of application in appraising the validity of purported revelations in the ethical area, as many of the ethical principles and judgments obtained from such sources are directly opposed to the governing principles of Level 2, the principles which govern man as a biological organism.

One of the conclusions about the metaphysical, or Sector 3, existence that we reached in Chapter 4 is that this sector of existence as a whole has a set of governing rules and principles that differ in some respects from those of the two physical sectors. In our consideration of the observed levels of existence in Chapter 5, we then found that the behavior of individuals in Level 3, the level of ethical man, is in many respects directly opposed to that in Level 2, the level of biological organisms. We therefore deduce that the rules and principles of Sector 3 are in these respects contrary to those of the biological sector, just as we previously found the principles governing the biological sector to be, in some respects, the direct opposite of those in the inanimate sector. It then follows that those items of information obtained through the revelation process which are contrary to the interests and desires of man as an animal—a mere biological organism—but are intuitively regarded as valid by most human individuals, are probably correct statements of the Sector 3 laws. In this case, however, there is a tendency on the part of some extremists to generalize the conflict between the two sets of governing principles, and to assume that all biological desires conflict with Sector 3 principles and are morally wrong. The proponents of such views—various forms of asceticism—frequently claim to have received them by revelation, but such claims do not pass the test defined above, as they are not intuitively regarded as valid by most persons.

An important criterion of validity is furnished by what scientists would call a differential effect: the extent to which the item in question receives greater or less support and acceptance as the development of human society proceeds. Although progress toward conformity to ethical standards is discouragingly slow, there can be no doubt but that over the long pull there is a significant advance. All too often, the human race seems to revert to savagery in some respects and in some areas of the globe, but it should be remembered that only a few thousand years ago men were savages in all respects and in all areas. Most of the aspects of present-day life that we condemn so strongly were commonplace in the “civilizations” of earlier days.

On first consideration, there may appear to be an element of circularity in the use of this criterion. Purported revelations are to be judged, in part, by the manner in which they receive greater or less acceptance by the more advanced societies. On the other hand, the extent to which a society conforms to the ethical standards of revealed religion is an important factor in judging the stage to which a society has advanced. The circularity is avoided, however, by the fact that there are other criteria of the degree of progress that has been made. Human life is advancing all along a broad front, and the relative status of any society can be judged by consideration of the progress that has been made in many areas that have no ethical significance.

Even though the status of a particular item might look favorable on the basis of the criteria that have been discussed thus far, there are some other factors that may outweigh the favorable ones, or at least create enough doubt to prevent acceptance of the purported revelation unless some additional corroboration can be obtained. It will be necessary, for instance, to be wary of any purported revelation which contains an element of anthropomorphism. The disqualifying factor here is the tendency of human beings to see human characteristics and human motives in whatever phenomena they observe, and to formulate their ideas, including those derived from insight or revelation, in human terms. Agreement between different revelations in matters of this kind therefore does not have the usual implications with respect to their validity; it merely indicates that all men receiving revelations receive them as men.

We must also be on guard against accepting the results of wishful thinking. When an individual strongly desires that certain things be true, he may easily get the impression, quite sincerely, that it has been revealed to him that they are true. The hope for survival after death, for instance, is so strong in the human race that no testimony from revelation or intuitive sources can be given much weight. Our conclusions with respect to this question will have to be based on other considerations.

Another factor that may be involved in a claim of revelation is authoritarian bias. The recipient of the revelation is usually fully convinced of its authority. As many observers have noted, sudden insight is commonly accompanied by feelings of certainty. But this recipient may not be quite so sure that his certainty will be shared by those to whom he communicates the information, and there is a definite tendency, whether intentional or not, to lend more weight to the revelation by enhancing the authority behind it. There is also a tendency to allow, or encourage, some of this authority to be transferred to the recipient of the revelation and to his successors as custodians of the revealed truth, thus investing their pronouncements with some of the force of the original revelation. Those items of revelation which confer such authority, either explicitly or by implication, should therefore be received somewhat skeptically.

It should be understood, however, that none of these negative considerations is conclusive in the manner of a conflict with observed facts. A revelation that invests the recipient or his successors with a suspiciously large degree of authority may nevertheless be entirely valid: a revelation that leads to conclusions which are eminently gratifying to the human race may be the literal truth; and a revelation expressed in anthropomorphic terms may be painting the picture in its true light. But purported revelations of this nature will need substantial support from outside sources before we are justified in accepting them.

When a revealed general principle of some kind has been established as valid by means of primary criteria, such as those discussed in the foregoing paragraphs, this principle becomes a secondary criterion of validity that can be applied to subsequent revelations, or intuitive conclusions, to which it is relevant. One of the requirements that these new items of information must then meet is that they must be consistent with the previously established principles. Even though the number of items that can be fully confirmed by direct application of the primary criteria at present may be relatively small, the interrelations between these and the less adequately supported items of non-physical information should eventually enable constructing a general framework of Sector 3 laws and principles comparable to that which now exists in the scientific field.

Application of the foregoing criteria to an evaluation of purported revelations is subject to different factors in different portions of the total field covered by religious revelations. It will therefore be helpful to begin our consideration of the kind of results that are obtained in this process by setting up a general classification of the areas that will be discussed here or in subsequent chapters, or will be omitted from the discussion for specific reasons.

Scope of Religious Revelation
  1. Existence and attributes of Deity.
  2. Nature and origin of existence.
    1. Physical.
    2. Metaphysical.
  3. Purpose of existence.
  4. Moral code.
  5. Survival beyond physical death.

The first item is one of those that we will not be able to discuss in this work, as no pertinent information with respect to the subject has been developed in our investigation, nor has it been possible to verify any of the revelations that are claimed to have been received. These alleged revelations are plentiful, but they are so conflicting that it is not possible, as matters now stand, to apply the criteria of validity that we have derived.

Turning to item 2a, we find that most organized religions have explanations of the origin and nature of the physical universe which are claimed to have been received through revelation. These, and many other religious assertions about physical matters, are generally wrong, in whole or in part, and the manner in which the advance of scientific knowledge has demolished one after another of these “revealed truths” has been a major factor in weakening the influence of religion on our present-day society. In the words of Henry Margenau:

Now, if science can show that the cosmological claims of religion are wrong, religion’s case in the moral field is greatly weakened. This is precisely what has happened in our time.187

But the position of religion with respect to scientific knowledge and its position with respect to moral principles and other matters of a non-physical nature are altogether different. It could not be expected that the revelations which religion claims to have received concerning any but relatively simple scientific matters would be correct, since the individuals who presumably received the revelations did not have the background of scientific knowledge that would have enabled them to understand what was being received and to express it in comprehensible terms, even if the revelations were complete and accurate. The knowledge required for this purpose was not even in existence, from the human standpoint, at the time the revelations that underlie the major religions were said to have been received. No doubt many of the individuals concerned were wholly sincere in their accounts of what they thought had been revealed to them, but it is obvious that they could not have understood the message no matter how complete or how distinct it may have been, nor did they have any language in which they could have expressed this knowledge intelligibly if they had somehow acquired an understanding of it.

For these reasons, it is unlikely that religious revelations have had, or will have, anything of consequence to contribute either in the inanimate realm (Level 1) or the biological world (Level 2). These levels are readily accessible to scientific investigation, and the methods of science—methods that are indigenous to the physical universe—can be more effectively used by the human beings who are inhabitants of that universe for the purpose of investigating it than the methods of Sector 3 which are, at least for the present, imperfectly understood and not subject to conscious direction. Much of the information about these two lower levels coming from religious sources is, like the revelations regarding the nature and origin of the universe, erroneous, and that which is correct can, in most instances, be found in more complete form in the results of scientific investigations.

Indeed, the real meaning of revelations concerning the physical universe often comes to light only after science has discovered the truth, simply because the human race was not prepared to understand this real meaning without the help of additional information. In the terms of the discussion in the preceding chapter, the platform provided by the then existing store of knowledge was not yet high enough. For example, the account of the “creation” in the first chapter of Genesis has not received its just due as a physical revelation even to this day, primarily because of a misunderstanding as to the subject of its message; a misunderstanding that has resulted from concentrating attention on the manner of presentation rather than on the information that is given. Each statement in the account is made in the form, “And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.” Superficially, therefore, the story seems to be one of direct creation of the universe ex nihilo in a manner that is either miraculous or fanciful, depending on the viewpoint.

But in order to understand the true meaning of the revelation, we must realize that primitive people, who went about their daily tasks without the benefit of the vast store of factual knowledge that exists today, found it necessary to attribute all unexplainable natural processes to direct action of supernatural beings, and in translating their statements into the modern idiom, we must take this fact into account. For instance, if we read an account of the death of a chief among the ancient Greeks in the legendary history of the race, we may find it stated that the unfortunate man incurred the wrath of the gods and was slain by one of Jove’s arrows. But this is just primitive man’s way of expressing the simple, but to him mysterious, fact of a death by lightning, and that is the way we interpret the account. We strip away all of the personification of forces and look only at the underlying facts.

In order to arrive at the real meaning of the Genesis story, we must recognize that it, too, is expressed in symbolic language, and to put that meaning into our own terms, we must remove the symbolism and get down to the real significance of each statement that is made. When we do this, we find that the Genesis story is not an account of a creation; it is an account of the formation of the solar system and the evolution of man. Furthermore, it is astonishingly similar to the most up-to-date scientific accounts of these phenomena. The close correlation between the two can be seen very clearly in the tabular comparison that follows. Here, the first column gives the Genesis text, omitting redundant wording and items not relevant to the principle theme. The second column is a rendition of this text in modern terms, deleting the personification of forces and other primitive symbolism. In the third column, the corresponding conclusions of modern science are briefly stated.


As written The same with the primitive symbolism removed The scientific version
1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. [Neither conventional science nor the Reciprocal System has developed any information as to whether or not there was a creation. Comparison with the scripture text therefore begins with verse 2.]
2. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

In the beginning, the earth was formless and featureless, and darkness prevailed.

The forces of nature were at work.

About 4 billion years ago, the present substance of the solar system was a vas cloud of cold and widely dispersed matter. Gravitation acted upon the particles of matter, pulling them together and heating them in the process.
3. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And in time, light appeared. Continuation of this process caused the interior portions of the cloud to condense into a luminous body: the sun.
6. And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

7. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.

And then the earth separated from its surroundings. Later, the earth and the other planets were formed by coalescence of other portions of the original material.
9. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear. And then distinct land and water areas appeared on the earth. And then distinct land and water areas appeared on the earth.
11. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind. And then plant life appeared on the land areas. About a billion years ago, life appeared on earth. About 300 or 400 million years ago, land plants appeared.
20. And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And then animal life appeared, first in the sea and in the air. Fish also appeared during this same period.
24. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind. And then on land. Land animals and insects appeared 250 to 300 million yeas ago. Mammals and birds appeared 150 to 200 million years ago.
26. And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Finally, man made his appearance. Just recently, on this time scale, man appeared.

The most remarkable feature of this story is, of course, its portrayal of these events as an evolutionary sequence. Beginning with a formless and featureless aggregate of matter, the author carries his account step by step through a logical and sequential process, terminating with the appearance of man, and aside from placing fish and fowl at the same point in the evolutionary order, a very understandable mistake, he has listed the developments in the proper succession. The idea that the advent of man on earth came about as the last act in an orderly and sequential process of evolution is quite familiar to us, but the author of this account in Genesis was thousands of years in advance of his time in bringing forth a concept of this kind.

As pointed out earlier, such physical revelations are of little practical effect, other than as striking demonstrations of the reality of the revelation process. By the time we have enlarged our knowledge of the physical world enough to understand the revelatory message, the increase in physical knowledge is itself able to supply the same information. However, when we take up a consideration of the next item on our list, metaphysical existence, the situation is much different, as religious revelation and similar types of contact with Sector 3 are the principle sources of information about the metaphysical region. Direct physical observations tell us nothing about the Sector 3 existence. We can make a few deductions by extrapolating our knowledge of the characteristics of the Level 2 structures at the upper end of the path of biological evolution, together with our empirical knowledge of the kind of changes that take place at the discontinuities in the order of increasing complexity. Beyond this, information about the metaphysical region comes only from revelation (the religious term) or from intuition or insight (non-religious names for the same thing). We can be sure that most of the information claimed to be received from these sources is either incomplete or erroneous, and the question as to how to test the validity of the revelations and insights thus becomes a crucial issue.

Application of the first of the criteria discussed in this chapter, the extent of agreement between the purported revelations, produces some very significant results. When examined from the standpoint of their basic principles, without regard for the imagery employed in the language in which these principles are expressed, or the organizational structure of the religious community, all of the world’s great religions are very much alike. As expressed by George R. Harrison, “Each was started by a great leader who had an unusual vision of basic spiritual truth… . Each when it began was remarkably similar to what the others were at their beginnings.”188 Du Nouy points out that the similarity is so striking that it demands an adequate explanation. “All of these forms [of mystical religion],” he says, “apparently imbibed their inspiration at the same source. Their teachings were almost identical and this identity constitutes an astounding problem.”189

The findings of this work now provide the required explanation: the answer to the “astounding problem.” The essential elements of the different religions actually were obtained from the same source, the metaphysical sector of existence, and they are a product of inspiration, or revelation; that is, communication from that metaphysical region. It should be understood, however, that this statement does not refer to all religions, but only to those few (Harrison gives the number as eleven; Arnold Toynbee recognizes only seven) which have stood the test of time with a reasonable degree of success. Erroneous and incomplete revelations are just as plentiful in religious areas as erroneous and incomplete inductive insights elsewhere in human life, and thousands of religions have come and gone without leaving any permanent mark on human thought. But on the basis of the general information that we have developed about revelation and associated processes, a few individuals, at least, should have been able to receive the basic facts clearly and accurately, and we are therefore justified in concluding, subject to individual review, that the fundamental items on which most of the leading religions agree are genuine additions to knowledge.

Unfortunately for our understanding of metaphysical existence, however, the amount of agreement in this area is much more limited than that with respect to moral issues. Each religion has its own version of ultimate reality and its own ideas as to where its revelations originated. This does not necessarily mean that firm conclusions are unattainable, since agreement between purported revelations is only one of the available criteria of validity, but it does mean that a thorough and detailed study of the situation will be required in order to arrive at reliable conclusions. Such a study is beyond the scope of the present work, but it certainly should be carried out. Now that this present investigation has demonstrated the reality of the revelation process and has provided the tools, or at least some of the tools, whereby evaluation of the purported revelations can be accomplished, there is no longer any serious technical obstacle to bringing the revealed information up to a status which will approximate, if not equal, the status of scientific knowledge. Whether or not human obstacles will prevent the accomplishment of that which is technically feasible is another question, and several aspects of this issue will be discussed in subsequent chapters.

11 Information



The function of the communication processes that were discussed in the three preceding chapters is to transfer information from a source to a recipient. Much of the confusion and controversy that exists in certain philosophical fields is the result of a failure to distinguish clearly between these several aspects of the process, or between them and the process itself. We have already seen in Chapter 9 how many of the criticisms of the concept of intuitive knowledge are based on a misunderstanding of the nature of intuition, in which this phenomenon is viewed as a source of information, rather than in its true status as a transmission, or communication, process.

The point of view which denies the reality of an external world, as expressed in the statement by McVittie quoted in Chapter 4, rests on a similar misunderstanding. Only the sense data—the items of information received by means of the senses—are real, according to the school of thought with which McVittie aligns himself. But once it is realized that the senses are receiving mechanisms of a communication system, this contention becomes untenable. Communication necessarily involves a source as well as a receiver. If the messages (the sense data) are real, then the communication system that handles them must also be real. Thus, the reality of the external world as an aggregate of sources of information is established as soon as the true nature of the sense organs is recognized.

It is true that what we apprehend mentally is something different from the information that is brought in by the communication process, the raw sense data. When we see a tree, for instance, the information received by our sense of sight is not that a tree exists at a certain location; it is actually nothing more than a pattern of electromagnetic radiation. But all information that we receive through the senses is put through a further process in which it is correlated with other, previously acquired, information. Our conclusion that we see a tree is not based on the radiation pattern alone, but on the significance of that pattern after it has been subjected to the correlation process.

It is possible, of course, that the message, as we receive it, may be wrong. In semidarkness, for instance, what we see as a tree may be something else altogether. Furthermore, even though the sense data may be received accurately, they may not be adequate to support the conclusion that we ultimately reach. This is not very likely in the case of objects such as trees, but it is a very real issue when we are dealing with objects of atomic size, or at astronomical distances, or in other circumstances unfavorable for accurate observation. We will give this question as to the accuracy of the information some further consideration later in the discussion.

It is even suggested by some philosophers that the entire universe, as we observe it, may be nothing but an illusion. This assertion is one that cannot be disproved, inasmuch as any evidence that might be adduced against it is itself an illusion, on the basis of this hypothesis. In that case, however, all of the characteristics that define the physical universe and existence in general, according to our findings, are characteristics of the illusion, and there is no detectable difference between illusion and reality. There may be a philosophical question here, but so far as this present work is concerned, it makes no difference whether we are investigating a reality or something that cannot be distinguished from a reality.

A more sophisticated viewpoint of a somewhat similar nature is that the external world that an individual thinks he observes is a creation of his own mind. The outside world exists only as it is experienced, and the experience is the reality. The adherent of this point of view “holds that there can be no object, as well as no perception of it, without a knower; that the subject (mind or knower) in some way creates its object… and that all that is real is a conscious mind or a perception by such a mind.”190 (H. H. Titus) To the man-in-the-street this is utter nonsense, but it has been a respectable position in philosophy, under the name of subjective idealism, ever since the arguments in its favor were first put into supportable form by George Berkeley in the eighteenth century. A modification known as objective idealism, which concedes the existence of an outside world, has largely supplanted the subjective form of the idealist position, but in either version, the essence of this position is the primacy of mind over matter. “Idealism,” says Hocking, “is the philosophy which holds that reality is of the nature of mind… . It is primarily a metaphysics, a world-view which may be reached by various ways of knowing.”191

The basic alternative to idealism, in philosophical thought, is naturalism, in which matter has primacy over mind. Again we may use a definition from Hocking: “In a literal sense, we may define nature as the sum of things and events in a single space and time, subject to a single system of causal laws. Naturalism is the type of philosophy which takes nature, in this sense, as the whole of reality.”192 The findings of this work are, of course, in direct conflict with the idea that the universe of space and time is the whole of reality, and we must therefore reject naturalism. But our findings give no support to idealism either, as they show that the entire universe of space and time, including the human mind, is purely physical. We find that there is an existence independent of space and time, but it is also independent of the human mind.

According to the Reciprocal System of theory, the physical universe, the universe of space and time, is a universe of motion, one in which everything that exists is a motion, a combination of motions, or a relation between motions. Motion is the reality of this universe. Any motion is just as real as any other motion. Ordinary matter consists of motions that are spatially related to each other. We may therefore define an aggregate of such matter as a system of regularities in space. Once such a system is in existence, it may acquire motions of a different kind, motions which are related in time rather than in space. Some of these motions are commonly called processes, and for present purposes, we may use this term as a general designation for the whole class of motions. An aggregate of processes is then a system of regularities in time.

For example, the earth is an aggregate of matter. It is also an aggregate of processes. It rotates; it revolves about the sun; it accompanies the sun in a revolution around the center of the Galaxy; it participates in whatever random motion the Galaxy may be undergoing; it participates in the recession of the Galaxy from all distant galaxies; and it has various minor motions such as the precession of the axis. In conventional thinking, these motions are not regarded as part of the earth; they are looked upon as something that the earth does. Our findings are that what an object such as the earth is and what it does are both systems of motions, and they are equally entitled to be considered as part of what the earth is. However, we will need to distinguish, in certain contexts, between these two aspects of the totality of the earth, or any other object, and for convenience we will therefore continue to use the terms “is” and “does” in the conventional way, and we will designate the entire aggregate of motions of an object as what that object “consists of.” On this basis, the earth as a whole consists of what it is and what it does.

If the earth could be separated from its environment and turned over to a group of scientists for examination as an aggregate of matter, these investigators would find nothing at all that would account for many of the conspicuous phenomena that are observed when the earth is in its usual condition: the alternation of light and darkness, the tides, the seasonal variations of temperature, and so on. These are all products of the processes that determine the manner in which the earth, in its normal environment, reacts to external stimuli, such as radiation from the sun.

One of the long-standing puzzles of philosophy is the so-called mind-body problem, the question as to the relation of the mind to the corresponding body structure, the brain. “An interpretation and understanding of the relation between the human mind and the human body is one of the most important issues philosophy has to consider—and one of the most complex and baffling.”193 (H. H. Titus) A little reflection about what has been said concerning the motions that collectively constitute the earth should make it clear that we have here a rather close analogy that points the way to a resolution of this “complex and baffling” problem. There is in the human body a material structure, the brain, which has the capacity to undergo certain processes, just as the material structure called the earth can undergo certain processes; that is, move in certain ways. In the living brain, such a system of processes is in operation, a system which we call the mind. The brain is an aggregate of matter. The mind is an aggregate of processes. Both are aggregates of motion, and one is just as real as the other. As in the case of the earth, the nature of the reaction to external stimuli is determined primarily by the processes that are in operation.

The mind-body problem, as it has heretofore been conceived, is the result of viewing mind and body as separates entities. “How are these separate entities, mind and body, related?” asks Hall. In answering this question, he reports, there has been a running battle between parallelism, which holds that mind and body “run parallel to each other like watches that keep the same time,”194 and interactionism, which holds that mind and body interact on each other. Our finding is that neither of these views is correct. There is one single aggregate of motions, the mind-brain, we might call it. Using the terminology previously defined, we may say that this mind-brain consists of a brain, which is what the mind-brain is, and a mind, which what the mind-brain does. If we compare this mind-brain to a computer, the brain is analogous to the “hardware” of the computer, the aggregate of physical parts of which it is constructed. The mind is an aggregate of processes, analogous to the computer operating programs—not the written descriptions of those programs, but the actual operating processes that the programs describe.

Most of the force of the analogy between the mind-brain and the earth is lost for those persons who are not familiar with the Reciprocal System of physical theory. It may be difficult for them to see the resemblance between the earth, which is moving, and the brain, which, in the context of the local environment, is not moving. However, the activities of the mind are carried on by means of electrical processes, and one of the consequences of the fundamental postulates of the Reciprocal System is that electrical activity in an aggregate of matter is equivalent to motion of that aggregate. The units of electricity, the electrons, move through matter, not between the atoms of matter, and, as the previous publications which describe the theory have shown, the mathematical relations applicable to the motion of matter through space are equally applicable, under comparable conditions, to motion of electrons through matter. The physical status of what the mind-brain does is therefore identical with that of what the earth does. The existence of so many cases of this kind, where conventional science fails to provide an adequate explanation of the physical situation, is one of the primary reasons why an accurate and comprehensive physical theory had to be developed before any exploration of the metaphysical region could be undertaken.

On the foregoing basis, the effect of mind and brain on each other, strongly emphasized by the supporters of interactionism, is easily understood. If a portion of the brain is damaged, the processes that require the use of that part of the brain can no longer be carried out. Similarly, if the mind is damaged—that is, one or more of the processes is subjected to some detrimental change—the output from the intact brain will be wrong because it is the result of a defective process. The reason for the inability to find any evidence of existence of the mind when the brain is dissected is also clear. When life ends, the processes that have been taking place in the brain cease, and since these processes are the mind, that mind no longer exists. Where did it go? some may ask. The motions of which the mind is constituted follow the same course as any other motions that can no longer exist in the previous form. They are converted into other types of motion such as heat or radiation.

The concept of mind and brain as two aspects of one reality is by no means new. It has been included in the thought of many philosophers, including such prominent figures as Kant and Spinoza. But it has not heretofore been realized that mind and brain together constitute that reality, and the nature of the underlying reality has therefore been left essentially undefined. “The approach uses an unknown, X, to explain a difficult problem,”195 says Titus. What is needed is to recognize that there is no unknown entity involved. The mind-brain, like the earth in the analogy, is a combination of matter (what it is) and processes (what it does). The philosophical problem that has existed is a result of what Bergson called intellectual “spatialization”: a failure to take the functions of time in physical situations into account. Mind and intelligence, a feature of mind, are entities of the cosmic type. They are not material, but they are wholly physical.

This fact that the mind is a purely physical entity is very significant. Much of the present-day thinking on the subject is influenced by the views of Descartes, who regarded the universe as consisting of two “substances”—matter and a non-material entity, mind, which is indestructible and in which the spiritual aspects of a human being, as well as his rational aspects, reside. Our findings are that both mind and matter consist of the same “substance”; that is, both are manifestations of motion, the sole constituent of the physical universe. We find that there is also another aspect of the human personality which has some of the characteristics attributed to the mind by Descartes, including those that are generally classified as spiritual. But this aspect, we find, is non-physical, whereas mind is merely non-material, and is as definitely a part of the physical universe as the brain, or any other part of the body.

With the foregoing understanding of the nature of the receiving apparatus of the communication process, we are now ready to examine the transmission aspect of the process. Inasmuch as the objective of this work is an exploration of the metaphysical region, neither the mind, which is physical, nor the physical transmission of information is within the area of coverage, and no comprehensive treatment of either of these subjects will be undertaken. However, a general understanding of the manner in which physical information is handled in the communication systems is essential for a full appreciation of the manner in which the information from intuitive sources fits into the picture. In order that physical messages of some particular kind may be received, there must be a structure in the body, a sense, which is capable of transforming the motions that constitute the incoming signal into the kind of motion that will affect the processes of the mind. Evolution has produced senses that receive messages which satisfy two criteria: (1) they are present in the environment in significant amounts, and (2) they are useful to the organism.

One of the reasons most frequently advanced for the rejection of the concept of intuitive processes such as ESP is that there is no evidence of any physical structure in the human body for receiving information of this kind. The obvious answer is that since the intuitive mode of transmission is not physical there is no need for a physical type of receiving apparatus. The information is received by the non-physical control unit. At the present stage of our knowledge of the subject, we do not know just how the control unit exercises direction of the activities of the biological organism. From the information developed in Chapter 7, it is clear that such direction is being exercised, and it follows that some means must exist whereby this is accomplished. One possibility that naturally suggests itself is that, inasmuch as the effect of chance plays a large part in the interaction of electrical and material motions, the metaphysical influence may supersede the operation of the normal probability principles and thereby modify the results of the individual’s mental processes without violating any physical laws. In any event, the answer to the question as to how the intuitive information is received is that the communication is direct from Sector 3 to the control unit through Sector 3 channels, and the effect on the mental processes is then exerted in the same manner as the control functions, whatever that manner may be.

Aside from this matter of the means of reception, the most common reason given by those who deny the reality of intuition is the unreliability of the intuitive information. The skeptics are fond of pointing out that the intuitions of different individuals with respect to the same subject often vary over a wide range. Clearly there is a great deal of error in the information that is received by way of intuition. To put this fact into the proper perspective, however, we need to recognize that there is a great deal of error in all of the information that we receive, irrespective of the channels through which it arrives. For example, a large part of our information, particularly that which is of lasting significance, comes in the form of communications from other individuals: the written and spoken word. The contradictions that we find in this material are no less numerous or significant than those between different intuitions. Even the philosopher who condemns intuition because of the presence of contradictions is, in that condemnation itself, contradicting the considered opinions, and the corresponding statements, of other philosophers. Here, too, a large part of the information that we receive is wrong.

Direct sense data have a reputation for accuracy. About the most positive statement that one can make is “I saw it.” As noted in Chapter 10, however, when a number of those who “saw it” are put on the witness stand in a court proceeding, the differences in their testimony are often very substantial, not only with respect to minor details but also with respect to the essential elements of the incidents that were witnessed. Since the transmission by means of light is not likely to be at fault, the differences between the observations were in the interpretation of the transmitted messages. What needs to be realized is that the raw sense data have little significance in themselves. In order to arrive at any real meaning, the recipient has to interpret these data in the light of whatever other knowledge he may possess with respect to the phenomena under observation. Where there are significant differences in the knowledge, or purported knowledge, on which the interpretations are based, the conclusions reached by different individuals may differ widely.

The point of all this is that every message which we receive from physical sources is subject to error, regardless of whether it is a direct transmission from an original source or a communication from another individual. Every item of information that is received through these physical channels must therefore be verified in some manner before we are justified in accepting it as an established fact. In the ordinary course of everyday life, the uncertainties in most sense data are minor and of little consequence. Verification of these data is therefore perfunctory, and mainly carried out unconsciously. But if we are viewing something in the distance or in dim light, or if we hear an indistinct sound or detect a faint odor, we make a conscious effort to determine the validity of the message that arrives by way of the senses. Was this actually what we saw, heard, or smelled? we ask our reasoning processes. Then, after checking the incoming information against whatever pertinent knowledge we may possess, we eventually arrive at some conclusions as to the probability that this information is correct. If action is called for, we act accordingly.

Exactly the same considerations apply to intuitive information. The true status of the information received through the various forms of intuition discussed in the three preceding chapters—revelation, ESP, scientific insight, and intuition in general—can be understood only if it is recognized that intuition is not a source of information; it is a means of transmission. It cannot be expected that the reception of the transmitted information by the human recipients will always be accurate. On the contrary, there are good reasons to believe that human ability to receive non-physical messages accurately is even more limited than the capability of accurate reception of physical messages. Like physical information, therefore, non-physical (intuitive) information must be verified before it can be accepted as valid.

Consideration of the foregoing points should make it clear that the metaphysical (non-physical) communication system is a parallel of the physical communication system. Each has its own source of information, each has its own method of transmission, and each has its own kind of receiving equipment for converting the transmitted messages into mental processes. This parallelism can be illustrated as follows:


Character Physical Metaphysical
Source Experience Sector 3
Transmission Physical processes Intuitive processes
Reception Physical to mental Metaphysical to mental

The reliability of the information depends, in both cases, on the extent to which it can be verified. Physical information is customarily verified by showing that it is consistent with the other relevant information derived from experience. Specialists in this field distinguish between the specific comparisons of the individual items with the corresponding data from observation, which they call the test of correspondence, and examination of the extent of agreement between these individual items and all other relevant items of information that are accepted as valid, which they call the test of coherence.

The Reciprocal System of physical theory is necessarily coherent, inasmuch as it is derived in its entirety from a single set of basic premises. It has also passed the test of correspondence in thousands of separate correlations. The validity of this system is therefore physically certain. The metaphysical theory derived in this volume by extension of the verified physical findings is likewise coherent as it, too, is derived entirely from a single set of postulates. Certain consequences of these postulates, particularly those concerned with the reality of metaphysical existence, have been checked against observation and have passed the test of correspondence. For example, the basic assertion that there is a metaphysical aspect of human existence was verified by showing that there are certain features of human behavior, such as taking actions that are contrary to the principles that govern purely biological organisms, that are beyond the capacity of any entities that are wholly physical; and other features, such as the ability to do something totally new, that are beyond he capacity of mechanisms in general. This and the other theoretically derived conclusions that have been verified by the correspondence test are physically certain and have the full status of scientific knowledge.

As indicated in Chapter 10, there are other metaphysical areas, such as ethics, which do not have the kind of an impact on the physical world that makes direct correspondence tests feasible, as matters now stand. Perhaps some tests of this nature can be devised later, after additional investigations have developed more information; but for the present, we will have to rely on the test of coherence, supplemented by a modified form of the correspondence test, in which we apply a number of different criteria, such as those described in the earlier discussion, each of which increases or decreases the probability that the item under consideration is correct. By summing up the positive and negative contributions of this kind, we arrive at a net evaluation of the probability that this item is a valid addition to knowledge.

In some cases, as we will see later, this procedure arrives at what may be considered physical certainty. The degree of confidence that can be placed in the other results is variable, but their standing as knowledge can be appreciated if it is recognized that this standing is comparable to that of a large part of what is accepted as established knowledge in the frontier areas of science. There is a tendency to regard scientific knowledge as consisting of items which can be counted, weighed, measured, or otherwise subjected to positive physical operations, and it is easy to overlook the fact that this is not true of many of the results of modern science.

For instance, the evidence from which the astronomers deduce the existence of some of the classes of objects which they are currently studying, such as the “X-ray stars,” is of essentially the same character as the evidence for the reality of non-physical existence. In both cases, the method of transmission of the information is such that it cannot be detected by the human senses, and must be recognized by means of some physical effects that can be observed. Likewise, in both cases, these physical effects merely identify the means of transmission, not the originating entity. Obviously, that entity must be something of such a nature that it is capable of producing whatever is transmitted. Beyond this, any conclusions with respect to the originating entities have to be based, in both cases, on inferences from the magnitude and other characteristics of the physical effects, and on whatever collateral evidence can be obtained.

As can be seen from this comparison, there is no significant difference between the physical and the non-physical items of information so far as certainty is concerned. Ordinarily, the physical information can be more easily checked against observed facts, but the ultimate result depends on what is actually verified in each case. Where the overall probability of error has been reduced to a negligible level, physical certainty has been established, irrespective of the nature of the criteria that were employed. Where something less than certainty is reached, a given probability derived non-physically is fully equivalent to the same probability derived physically. Thus, there is no legitimate reason why verified non-physical information should be regarded as in any way inferior to verified physical information, or verified information from intuitive sources as any less reliable than verified information from experience.

Recognition of the authenticity of properly verified intuitive information is essential before full advantage can be taken of the new knowledge as to the reality of existence independent of space and time in straightening out the present confused and illogical situation in the non-physical fields of human activity. As matters now stand, those who recognize the existence of such things as moral standards, ESP, religious revelation, non-evolutionary goals, and the like, are compelled to make their stand on unsupported assertions; while those who are impressed with the lack of acceptable evidence find it necessary to deny the existence of such items: some of the most significant features of human life. The availability of a large supply of additional information of a reliable nature derived from intuitive sources now makes it possible to reconcile these conflicting viewpoints. In the pages that follow, we will examine some of the important non-physical aspects of life as they appear in the new light that is thrown upon them by the intuitive information.

12 Miracles



Having established the general nature of the various kinds of information that are received by the human organism through the facilities that are available for reception, our next undertaking will be to examine those features of the organism’s equipment and processes for handling that information which are relevant to the primary objective of this work: the exploration of metaphysical existence and its effect on human life. However, there is one special item that needs some consideration before we take up the new subject matter, as it has a significant bearing on all of the conclusions that will be reached in the pages that follow. This is the question as to whether the laws and principles that govern the physical universe are inviolable, or whether they are subject to modification or abrogation by influences from the metaphysical region.

From the earliest times of which we have knowledge, religions, both organized and unorganized, have placed a great deal of reliance upon miracles as evidence supporting their claims as to the existence of supernatural beings or powers.

For religion, “miracle” is a responsible and natural feature of the world-view, meaning by miracle a special suspension of the usual physical order or law by a higher and spiritual control for a significant purpose.196 (W. E. Hocking)

Scientists, on the other hand, are inclined to believe in the inviolability of natural laws, and this belief has been strongly reinforced by the fact that the advance of knowledge through the centuries has provided purely natural explanations for one after another of the phenomena that were previously thought to be manifestations of supernatural power. As a result, the general tendency in scientific circles today is to deny the possibility of miracles, and to assert that those phenomena claimed to be miraculous are either wholly fictitious or are susceptible to explanation on the basis of the laws of nature.

The findings of this present work are that both scientists and non-scientists have been wrong in classifying metaphysical phenomena as supernatural; that is, in restricting the term “natural” to phenomena of the physical universe. The metaphysical region, we find, is governed by laws analogous to those of the physical universe, and these are “natural” laws in the same sense as the physical laws. Thus, even though a phenomenon may be inexplicable on the basis of the physical laws alone, it may still have a perfectly rational explanation in terms of other natural laws. The remarkable instances of scientific insight, ESP, and other phenomena of a similar nature that were discussed in previous chapters are examples.

This is the background against which a scientific appraisal of the possibility of miracles should take place. It is apparent, to begin with, that our knowledge of the laws and principles of the metaphysical region is still too meager to justify taking a definite and positive stand on either side of the miracle question. The most that can be done is to draw some conclusions as to the probability of various types of allegedly miraculous occurrences. Here we must recognize that the probability of any “special suspension” of physical laws has been greatly reduced by the discovery in the course of development of the Reciprocal System of theory that the physical universe is constructed and governed by a mere handful of general principles. Suspension of any one of these for the purpose of accomplishing a miracle would not be merely a local event; it would have wide repercussions. While this does not necessarily rule out such a suspension, it does make it much less likely, and it undermines the credibility of the reports of minor miracles. We will have to conclude that the probability of the occurrence of physical miracles is very low. The available information suggests that the metaphysical agencies either cannot transcend the physical laws or do not choose to do so. It will be difficult for a scientist to place any credence in unsubstantiated reports to the contrary. Many of those who look at the situation from the religious point of view agree. John Hick, for example, says unequivocally, “If miracle is defined as a breach of natural law, one can declare a priori that there are no miracles.”197

It should be noted, however, that there are at least two avenues by which a modification of physical relationships through metaphysical action could take place without violating the physical laws. The physical system contains no mechanism whereby the total amount of motion in the universe can be altered. Individual units of motion may combine or separate, and one kind of motion may be transformed into another, but motion cannot be created or destroyed by any means within the physical universe. A change in the total amount of motion can take place only if motion is injected into the system or withdrawn from it by some metaphysical agency. The possibility of such an occurrence is not precluded by anything that we now know, but if something of this kind does happen, it is almost certain that the motion enters or leaves in a very simple form—radiation, perhaps—and although we cannot rule it out altogether, we must be very skeptical with respect to the possibility that anything resembling a miracle may be produced by this means.

Another possibility that cannot be excluded on the basis of present knowledge is that, as suggested in Chapter 11, there may be some intervention in those processes where the result is normally determined by pure chance. For example, when light is emitted from a source, the direction of emission of each individual photon is indeterminate. From the standpoint of pure chance, all directions are equally probable, and in our ordinary experience, the operation of the probability principles results in a uniform three-dimensional distribution of the light. But it is conceivable that an outside influence might overrule the effect of chance and cause the light to be emitted preferentially in certain directions. This would not violate any physical law or principle. It would conflict with the mathematical laws of probability, but in view of the somewhat anomalous position of chance in the physical picture, we are not justified in asserting that intervention of this kind is impossible. Here, again, however, such intervention, if it exists at all, would seem to be limited to relatively simple physical processes.

No doubt some will contend that the negative conclusion with respect to the possibility of physical miracles is inconsistent with the previous findings as to the reality of the ESP phenomena, inasmuch as psychokinesis (PK), the direct action of mind upon matter, is commonly regarded, both by the workers in the field of parapsychology and by those who are most critical of the results that are produced in this field, as a closely allied subject. But there is no adequate justification for thus bracketing the two phenomena together. ESP is a communication process, as the theoretical development in the preceding pages demonstrates, and as most observers have recognized. “Fundamentally, extrasensory perception may be viewed as a form of communication,”198 says John Mann. PK, on the other hand, has no communication aspect at all. We cannot communicate with non-living matter. Aside from the fact that, if PK exists, it (like ESP) is non-physical, ESP and PK are totally different processes. The available experimental and observational evidence should therefore be appraised separately, with each of the alleged phenomena standing on its own feet.

As brought out in the discussion of ESP in Chapter 8, most of the evidence that has been produced by those who have investigated this phenomenon is of a rather dubious character. The dramatic episodes which would be conclusive in themselves if they could be authenticated occur spontaneously and unexpectedly, and cannot be subjected to critical examination or to experimental controls, while the general run of results from controlled experimental work deviates from chance by such a small amount that there is a question as to whether these results are actually significant. But a few of the experimental subjects respond in an unequivocal manner, and it is these unusual individuals who establish the reality of the ESP phenomena.

The most noteworthy psychic phenomenon has been the ESP “star” who performs at a high level of improbability over a long period of time. At the present time these extra-ordinary individuals provide the best evidence for the existence of ESP since the probabilities associated with their performance are so astronomical as to defy refutation.156 (John Mann)

When we turn to PK, we find that here, too, there are reports of spontaneous occurrences. These reports, however, are neither as numerous nor as well supported by testimony and circumstantial evidence as the analogous ESP reports. Furthermore, they do not have the same significance. Many of the alleged ESP occurrences are of such a nature that they would constitute conclusive verification of the ESP phenomenon if all of the features of the events, as reported, could be substantiated beyond question. If it could be definitely shown, for instance, that an individual acquired a detailed knowledge of a far distant event at or before the time that event occurred, under such conditions that transmission of the information by means of any physical communication medium is definitely precluded—probably the most commonly reported type of spontaneous ESP occurrence—there could no longer be any doubt as to the reality of ESP, even though this would not answer the question as to the nature of the phenomenon. But this is not at all true of the alleged PK events. The general nature of the spontaneous events attributed to PK is described by Mrs. Rhine as follows:

Clocks stopped, started, chimed, or chimed aberrantly, and like pictures, fell from walls or shelves. Dishes fell and broke. Doors opened, shut, locked, unlocked, lights came on or went off, chairs rocked or moved.199

A typical instance cited by Mrs. Rhine is “that of a clock that stopped in the home of a devout Catholic family at the very time of the death of Pope John.”200 But there is nothing here that is physically inexplicable; nothing at all comparable to the spontaneous ESP events. We cannot produce a physical explanation of how anyone could know what was happening in a location thousands of miles distant, in the absence of any physical means of communicating with that location. We cannot produce a physical explanation of how anyone could know what was going to happen anywhere or at any time. But we can easily produce a physical explanation of how a clock might stop or a picture might fall off a wall. Unlike the ESP occurrences, these alleged PK events would not constitute evidence in favor of the reality of the PK phenomenon even if all of the reported facts were positively verified.

The results of the PK experiments in the laboratories are similar to those produced by the general run of ESP experiments; that is, the deviations of the results from the chance expectation are so small that their significance is doubtful. The important point to be noted is that the PK experiments have not developed the equivalent of the extraordinary performances that are the most striking and most conclusive feature of the ESP tests. Again quoting from John Mann, “In general, it does not appear that”stars“as in the ESP experiments, exist in relation to PK with the same degree of clarity and predictability.”201 We thus find that PK, which has no theoretical support, also lacks both of the kinds of evidence that constitute the principal empirical support for ESP.

It is unfortunate that these two phenomena have been tied together so closely in current thought, as the very obvious weaknesses in the case for PK tend to be charged against ESP as well. As noted in Chapter 8, one of the items that has considerable influence on the attitude of scientists is that the PK experimenters rely almost entirely on very crude methods in a field where highly sophisticated equipment capable of measuring extremely small effects with a high degree of precision is readily available. The fact that this criticism is not at all applicable to ESP is very commonly overlooked.

The existence of ESP is definitely in conflict with some of the theories and concepts of present-day physics, particularly the widespread belief that the subjects currently within the purview of science constitute the whole of reality. As Dobzhansky puts it, “A common foible of scientists is to suppose that the little truths which they discover explain everything rather than only something.”202 But contrary to the oft-repeated assertions of the critics, there is no conflict between the ESP phenomena and the established physical laws. When an individual suddenly becomes aware of another’s thought, as in telepathy, or of some fact or event, as in clairvoyance, there is no physical action involved, and physical laws cannot be violated unless there is physical action. These laws are simply statements as to what will happen in the event that certain kinds of actions take place. On the other hand, PK, if it exists on a macroscopic scale, does involve physical action, and produces that action in violation of the conservation laws.

Some experiments designed to utilize modern sophisticated equipment to overcome the criticisms directed against previous PK investigations because of the crude nature of the investigative tools that have been utilized were carried out by Helmut Schmidt, who reported some significant deviations from chance results.203 Schmidt concedes, however, that the results attributed to PK could have been due to precognition instead. Consequently, they cannot be regarded as firm evidence in support of the existence of PK. Furthermore, the objective at which the experimental subjects were aiming was to influence the results of certain theoretically unpredictable subatomic (radioactive) processes. Unlike the macroscopic “mind over matter” PK effects, modification of the results of these microscopic processes would not necessarily require the application of energy. The PK influence might simply interfere with the operation of the normal laws of chance, a possibility that, as noted earlier, is not excluded by anything that we now know. Thus, even if Schmidt’s results are actually attributable to PK, they do not constitute evidence of a PK capability of exerting a force on a physical object.

While we cannot completely exclude the possibility that the Sector 3 existences can intervene in physical events, and must rely to a large extent on evidence indicating that they do not intervene, at least in macroscopic events, the situation in reverse is clear. Purely physical objects or existences cannot exert metaphysical influences, as they have no Sector 3 components and there is no direct connection between the inanimate physical world and the metaphysical region. The belief that some objects, numbers, or days are “lucky,” whereas others are “unlucky,” has no basis in fact. A rabbit’s foot is equally as ineffective in the dark of the moon as in broad daylight. The events of Friday the 13th are no different from those of any other day, nor will these events be modified by the discovery of a four-leaf clover, or by nailing a horseshoe above one’s door.

The idea that the stars can influence human life, a concept held over from the days when the “celestial” was thought to be a totally different order of existence from the “terrestrial,” is likewise groundless. As expressed by Harlow Shapley, the astrology column carried by many newspapers is “one of the most remarkably persistent frauds to be perpetrated on a rather intelligent and partly-educated society.”204 We may hope, however, that most of those who read these columns will recognize them for what they are—nonsense dressed up in entertaining form—and will class the astrological predictions where they belong, with reading tea leaves, numerology, magic, and other amusements fashioned from the fabric of ancient superstitions and occult beliefs. Shapley takes the sting out of his criticism by conceding the entertainment value. He goes on to say:

This can be taken all in fun. “Nonsense” is here the right word, not non-science; and this world of ours is so grim at times that we should welcome a bit of nonsense now and then.205

No physical object, religious or secular, celestial or terrestrial, common or unique, has any metaphysical power or influence. The kind of “luck” attributed to a horseshoe or a rabbit’s foot is essentially equivalent to a miracle—a miracle, junior grade, we may say—and like any other miracle that involves a deviation from the physical laws, it is ruled out by our findings. However, the term “luck” is not only applied to influencing the course of physical events, the objective of a talisman, which we find impossible. It is also applied to success in anticipating the course of events, particularly where these events are determined by chance, as in gambling. This is precognition, one of the forms of ESP, and the considerations applicable to the ESP phenomena in general, as detailed in Chapter 8, are also applicable to this form of “luck.”

Even though metaphysical intervention in purely physical situations does not take place, if the conclusions of the foregoing analysis are correct, intervention in human thought and action is not only possible, but clearly occurs. As brought out in the previous discussion, human behavior, to the extent that it has been emancipated from the animal type of control, is subject to a control of metaphysical origin, and there is direct contact between the metaphysical region and the control unit. Where conditions are such that the human individual is receptive to the metaphysical influences, these influences may well constitute the decisive factor in determining the course of action which he will take. The religious concept of the metaphysical existence as a source from which human beings can obtain assistance and guidance is therefore entirely in accord with our findings. However, most religions also regard the metaphysical region as an actual or potential source of harmful influences. N. F. S. Ferre, for instance, incorporates this idea into his definition of religion:

By religion I mean the conviction that there are realities and powers beyond ordinary experience that can help and harm man.206

When viewed in the perspective of human life, this dual concept of good and evil metaphysical influences seems quite logical. Here on earth, those who possess power have the option of using it for good or for evil, and it is natural to assume that the same would be true of any outside agencies that are capable of exerting some influence on human affairs. But the application of this concept to relations between man and the metaphysical region encounters some serious difficulties, and the trend of thinking on this subject has followed a strange and tortuous path.

Primitive man found no problem here. He applied the original concept of the supernatural, the same idea expressed by Ferre, in a straightforward way by expecting his gods to protect and assist him and the members of his tribe, and at the same time to inflict hardship on their enemies. The development of the “universal” religions erased this distinction between “we” and “they” in religious thinking and led to a new concept in which the separation between good and evil is at the source rather than at the receiving end. Instead of a single power, or a single group of powers, dealing out benefits to some and harm to others, these more advanced religions envisioned a spirit of good and a spirit of evil contending for mastery over the affairs of men.

But the human race has too much pride and self-esteem to be content with a doctrine of this nature which reduces it to the status of a pawn in the game of life, and there has been a gradual reinterpretation of the original ideas that has reduced the once powerful Spirit of Evil to a mere shadow of his former self. Ahriman, Prince of Darkness, who once contended on even terms with Ahura Mazda, Prince of the Light, has become nothing more than a vague and even somewhat ludicrous Devil, who no longer acts on his own authority and for his own ends, but exists merely for some obscure reason connected with the long range purposes of the Powers of Good. Even the status of Warden of the Celestial Penitentiary, which has been traditionally assigned to him, is becoming meaningless as the doctrine of eternal punishment for the evildoer becomes less and less acceptable to the modern mind. If the present trend continues, as seems altogether probable, it will not be so very long before the whole concept of a metaphysical Spirit of Evil has disappeared from human thinking.

What this development will accomplish will simply be to bring the general thinking on the subject into harmony with the findings of this present study. As will be brought out in more detail later, our conclusion, derived from a logical analysis based on factual premises, is that the external metaphysical region, Sector 3, is “good” by definition, inasmuch as it is in conformity with the laws and principles of Sector 3 that constitute “good” behavior. Hence there cannot be any evil in Sector 3, and whatever influences may originate in that sector are good influences. We get only help, not harm, from this metaphysical source.

Evil, as we know it, is a product of our physical universe. It is action in accord with the governing principles of that universe in those cases where these principles are in conflict with the principles of Sector 3, and it is confined to that physical universe. If there are other universes similar to ours, as our findings indicate that there are, then these other universes also have their evils, analogous to ours, confined to their particular universes. If there are still other universes of a different kind—multidimensional, perhaps—as our findings also indicate, these universes may or may not have evils, so far as our present information is able to tell us. But Sector 3, the general metaphysical region, is the home of good, not evil.

At this point, it may be asked whether it might not be possible for influences, evil or otherwise, originating in these foreign universes to have an effect on our own. This question must be answered in the negative. Sector 3, existence as a whole, can have an influence on human life because every location in the physical universe is also a location in existence as a whole, but it is not a location in any other universe, and consequently there is no point of contact through which an influence could be exerted.

On the basis of the findings of this work, all assertions concerning evil or harmful influences exerted by metaphysical agencies will have to be identified as superstition, even when they emanate from religious sources of the highest standing. There are no “evil spirits” to be exorcised; no “powers of darkness” to be defied or placated. Whatever evil there may be in an individual’s thoughts or action comes from the inside—from his inheritance as a biological organism—not from the outside. Strangely enough, most Christian denominations regard the present state of the human race, with its still sizeable remnant of the ancient evils, as the result of a fall, rather than in its true light as a state in a long upward climb. “Biblical symbolism describes this crucial event of evolutionary development [the emergence of human characteristics] as the Fall.”207 (T. Dobzhansky)

The effects of strong religious beliefs and firm philosophical convictions in aiding individuals to meet the crises of life, and in sustaining them through periods of adversity, are commonly recognized. As expressed by William James, “something ideal, which in one sense is part of ourselves, and in another sense is not ourselves, actually exerts an influence, raises our centre of personal energy, and produces regenerative effects unattainable in other ways.”208 Ordinarily, such effects are not called miracles, inasmuch as that term is reserved for identifiable events, but the difference is only a matter of degree. In either case, Sector 3 influences which, we find, play no part in purely physical phenomena, do intervene, through the Sector 3 component of the human personality, in human affairs.

Throughout the ages, one of the important functions of religion has been to assist human beings in obtaining the benefit of this metaphysical power. Even those who deny the reality of metaphysical existence, and who therefore cannot admit that the help which is received is metaphysical, generally concede that religion does, in fact, meet a definite human need for support that is not available elsewhere. “A religion,” says Julian Huxley, “is an organ of man in society which helps him cope with the problems of nature and his destiny—his place and role in the universe.”209 Most of the effects of this religious influence are subjective and difficult to identify, but there is one area in which events that meet the present-day religious definition of miracles—“unusual and striking events which have religious significance”197—are not uncommon. This is the so-called “ministry of healing.”

Healing has been an accompaniment of religion throughout all religious history. But the religious communities have never been quite sure just how the healing mission fits in with other religious objectives, an uncertainty that has been accentuated by the existence of non-religious or quasi-religious agencies devoted primarily to healing. Even before the establishment of religions in the present-day sense there were witch doctors, medicine men, and practitioners of magic who occasionally achieved notable results, and the modern scene is full of “healers” of all kinds, ranging from the equivalent of the witch doctors to full-fledged religions of healing. Because of their disapproval of the methods of some of these more aggressive healers, the established religious organizations have vacillated between active participation in the healing activities and rejection of the whole faith-healing concept.

The witch doctors interpreted sickness as the result of demons, or evil spirits, prompted in their malevolent activities by enemies, human or other, and the objective of the remedial procedures was to get rid of the demons. The early religions took over both the theory and the practice. “The basis for healings was generally a demonological interpretation of sickness; healing was frequently carried out as an exorcism.”210 The concept of evil spirits has little attraction for the modern mind, even though the rites of exorcism are still part of the official doctrine of some of the world’s largest religious bodies. Nor does the alternative hypothesis, favored by the medieval churches, that sickness is a punishment, strike any responsive chord today. Since most of the Western religious organizations have abandoned these outmoded doctrines without providing any substitute, they have left the door wide open to the professional faith healers, organized and unorganized. A realization of this fact has been growing, and within the last few years a number of the leading Protestant denominations have initiated studies aimed at determining the extent to which faith healing is compatible with their religious beliefs.

After the basic connection between healing of the body and healing of the soul and the psychogenic origin of many illnesses was acknowledged theologically and medically, different older churches… have re-instituted healing services.210 (Ernst W. Benz)

The metaphysical aspects of faith healing are relevant to the subject matter of this present work. It is evident, however, from the findings described in the preceding pages, that faith healing is not inherently a metaphysical process. Evolution has not only produced bacteria, viruses, and other parasites to attack the human body; it has also produced defense mechanisms that are capable of repelling these invaders if the mechanisms are operating properly. Furthermore, even though some of the regenerative powers of the lower animals have been lost as the biological structure of the organisms has become more complex, so that man cannot, like the starfish, grow a new limb to replace one that he has lost, nevertheless the ability of the human (or animal) body to heal its wounds and cure its ailments, when that ability is employed to its fullest extent, is so remarkable that describing its results as “miraculous” is not very much of an exaggeration. These healing processes are purely physical, and no intervention by metaphysical agencies is necessary. All of the healing that is accomplished, including those spectacular instances that are classified as miracles, could be accomplished without any kind of outside assistance, metaphysical or otherwise, if the individual were able to mobilize his full powers for the task.

However, the mere existence of a curable affliction is definite evidence that the afflicted individual is not capable of applying his full powers to the healing task as long as he is left to his own resources. It is commonly recognized among the members of the medical profession that a patient’s state of mind has a significant effect on the course of his illness. One of the functions of that mind is the control over the bodily activities, and it is not unlikely that a weakening or loss of control over certain cells plays an important part in many diseases. In fact, the available information indicates that this loss of control is the most significant feature of cancer, one of the diseases against which modern medicine has made relatively little headway. A recent (1978) research report is an example of the kind of evidence that is emerging:

Based on a study of 117 randomly selected college students, Boston University researcher Steven Locke reports that persons who cope poorly with stress appear to suffer deficits in cell-mediated immunity against certain diseases. Those who cope well with stress display comparatively active Natural Killer Cell Activity (NKCA) when the body is threatened by disease or by abnormal cells.211

Inability to cope with stress is, of course, a symptom of lack of full control over the biological system; that is, it is a type of mental illness. Such illness is not at all uncommon. “Mental disease,” says F. M. Berger, “is more common than other illnesses… . It has been estimated that more than 50 percent of patients who visit a doctor suffer from mental disturbances.”212 This is the background of individual weakness that makes faith healing possible. The inner strength, the power of control, that the afflicted person cannot generate for himself can be attained with the help of someone in whom, or even some idea in which, he has confidence.

Whether or not that confidence has any solid basis is immaterial. There is a great deal of chicanery in the faith healing field, but since the essential element is the confidence, it makes no significant difference whether the credentials of the healer are imaginary, or whether the saint ever came within a hundred miles of the shrine from which his healing powers are supposed to emanate. The distrust and antagonism that faith healing has often generated have not been due to any lack of validity in the faith healing idea itself, or to a lack of competence on the part of the healers, generally speaking. Rather it has resulted from a failure on the part of those healers to recognize, or at least to admit, the limitations to which this type of healing is subject. Obviously, there are many kinds of physical difficulties that the mechanism of the body is not capable of dealing with, even when all of its processes are operating normally and under full control. As expressed by Weatherhead, “No amount of love, or positive-thinking, or denial of the existence of evil will take a splinter out of an eye.”213 Furthermore, there are equally definite, even though less visible, limitations on the extent to which outside assistance can compensate for internal deficiencies. The tendency on the part of the faith healers to overestimate the capabilities of their technique has therefore led to a high percentage of failures that has had a tendency to discredit the entire undertaking.

As some of the religious organizations are now beginning to realize, medicine, psychiatry, and faith healing all have their places in the total picture, and the best results will be obtained when each is used where it is appropriate. The contribution that religion can make is to help enlist the aid of the metaphysical influences, those sources of support to which the human individual has access because there is an aspect of his personality which transcends the limitations of the physical universe. Even though the objective to be accomplished is purely physical, and therefore, in principle, within the capability of purely physical agencies, the help that can be obtained from metaphysical sources is often essential for establishment of the control that makes full use of those physical agencies possible. With the benefit of this assistance, healing “miracles” can take place, whether or not they are recognized as such. To this extent, therefore, the present study confirms the religious assertions as to the existence of biological (healing) miracles. It does not agree, however, that these so-called “miracles” involve any suspension of the laws of nature. The healing processes, including those features that depend on “faith” of some kind, are wholly natural.

13 Emotions



Information received by an individual from Sector 3 through the processes of revelation, intuition, or insight discussed in the previous chapters joins with information communicated to him by other persons or received directly through his own senses, and the entire combination of material is then subjected to that individual’s internal processes. In the next four chapters, we will examine the aspects of these internal processes that are relevant to the general subject matter under consideration.

One of the first reactions may be an emotional response to the incoming information. “All of us know from experience what an emotion is,”214 says one psychology textbook. But that is a very vague kind of knowledge, and as another text admits, the tangible scientific knowledge of emotion “is neither very exact nor very extensive.”215 Furthermore, most of the systematic consideration of the subject has been centered on the physiological changes and behavior patterns that result from the emotions. One theory even contends that the physiological changes constitute the emotion. “My theory,” says William James, “is that the bodily changes follow directly the perception of the exciting fact, and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur is the emotion.”216 For our present purposes, the important points to be noted are that the emotion is initiated by incoming information, and that it results in action.

McDougall (1923) was one of the first to stress the close integration of emotion and action (which he believed to be instinctive in origin), pointing out that fear and flight, anger and attack, maternal feeling and protective action, naturally go together as parts of unitary behavior.217 (Krech and Crutchfield)

Let us consider one of the so-called “primary” emotions. Fear is a good example. When a situation arises that produces fear in a man or animal, the first result is physiological. Pulse rate, blood pressure, respiration, and many other body functions are altered to produce a state of physical readiness for action. The next result is action itself. If no deterring factor intervenes, the individual, whether he be man or animal, takes to his heels.

Now let us ask, what benefit does a human being derive from this fear emotion? The answer clearly has to be: Nothing at all. Human intelligence is quite capable of initiating the flight if such action seems to be advisable. In fact, the currently favored theory is that the intelligence must authorize the flight even if fear is present. On that basis, there is no time saved, and in any case the difference in time is not likely to be significant. Nor is fear necessary for the physiological preparation. When a situation that calls for emergency action is perceived, the body gets the shot of adrenaline that facilitates quick action whether or not fear is present. There is no good reason to believe that the further physiological changes induced by fear will improve this situation. On the contrary, experience shows that fear often results in ineffective action, or even prevents taking any action at all. “Paralyzed by fear” is a description commonly applied in such cases. Thus, on balance, fear is definitely detrimental to survival, so far as the human race is concerned. This is not generally recognized in current thought. On the contrary, a representative statement from a current psychology textbook reads as follows:

When Darwin revolutionized scientific theory in biology by classifying man as only one of many species that evolved from other animals, he pointed out that emotion would not exist unless it was adaptive, that is useful for the survival of humans as well as other animals.218

This assertion rests on the premise that all evolutionary developments continue to be useful after the evolution has passed on to a more advanced stage—an untenable proposition. The human race has found it advantageous to get along without the prehensile tail that was so important to its tree-dwelling ancestors. On balance, the case in favor of retention of the fear emotion would seem no better than that in favor of retaining the prehensile tail. But it is true that unless this emotion had a survival value for some species, it could not have been produced in the course of biological evolution, which operates entirely on a survival basis. It follows, therefore, that the emotion of fear, like the prehensile tail, must have had a survival value for the organisms in which it developed. The explanation clearly lies in the inferior mental capacity of the lower forms of life. Their brains are not capable of recognizing the threat, analyzing the situation, and originating flight, if flight is required, within the time that is available. For such organisms, it is advantageous to have a mechanism that initiates flight almost automatically. A threatening situation causes fear, and fear results in flight without further ado.

According to Spinoza, our emotions are the product of a lack of understanding of the situation which confronts us.219 But the difficulty that the primitive type of animal faces is something more fundamental. He does not possess the capability of clear understanding, nor the capability of exercising judgment as to the appropriate action even if he did have a clear understanding. What he needs (and has) is a process that requires only a general recognition of the threat, and on recognition initiates action directly, without the necessity of going through a complex mental process.

On this basis, the primary emotions are precursors of intelligence. They enable non-intelligent animals, or animals of very limited intelligence, to react to certain classes of situations in a quasi-intelligent manner. But now that evolutionary development has produced a greater degree of intelligence, that intelligence arrives at better results in the great majority of cases because it not only takes into consideration the unique characteristics of each individual situation rather than evoking a standardized response in each situation of a broad general class, but is also capable of initiating a wider variety of responses. It would therefore be beneficial to man, and perhaps to the higher animals as well, if the fear emotion could be suppressed.

The principal reason why the emotions have not been entirely superseded by thought in human activity is that these are separate processes that have evidently evolved independently. Where one physiological feature evolves from another, as in the evolution of eyes from light-sensitive skin areas, the change is gradual, and at each stage the new replaces the old. But although emotion and thinking serve essentially the same purposes, within the more limited range of the emotions, they operate on entirely different principles. In thinking, a given situation is perceived as a combination of a number of factors, possible means of manipulating or responding to these factors are envisioned, and a decision, or judgment, is reached as to the most desirable course of action. In the emotional process, the situation in its entirety is perceived as being one of a certain class. The action appropriate to that class of situation then follows automatically.

As this description indicates, emotion is a very simple process, so far as its essential elements are concerned. It is therefore easy to see how emotions could have originated at a relatively early evolutionary stage. Indeed, such behavior as that of plants which respond to light by turning toward the source is not fundamentally different from resorting to flight as a response to a threatening situation. Just how, and at what stage of evolutionary development, thinking first made its appearance is not yet known, but it clearly plays no significant role in any biological species other than the higher animals. Thus, emotion was already highly developed before thinking had any real impact, and the thinking apparatus originated from a separate line of development. As a result, the human brain is not a single organ, but a complex structure, in which the evidence of a new mechanism superimposed on an older brain is clear enough, in spite of some integration of functions that has resulted from further evolution after the original combination, to give rise to designations such as the “old” or “reptilian” brain, and the “new” or “mammalian” brain (which is itself a double structure). Arthur Koestler has this to say:

If the evidence had not taught us the contrary, we would expect an evolutionary development which gradually transformed the primitive old brain into a more sophisticated instrument—as it transformed claw into hand, gill into lung. Instead, evolution superimposed a new superior structure on an old one, with partly overlapping functions, and without providing the new with a clear-cut, hierarchic control over the old, thus inviting confusion and conflict.220

The availability of a more efficient and versatile apparatus can be expected to lead to a gradual decrease in the utilization of the emotional mechanism; perhaps to its eventual disappearance. This process is already under way, but the clear superiority of the thinking process over the emotional mechanism was achieved only a relatively short time ago, on the evolutionary scale, and not enough time has elapsed to accomplish a major evolutionary change. Furthermore, the availability of a simple process that can handle some routine situations lightens the load on the thinking apparatus, and this useful function that the emotional mechanism is able to perform no doubt tends to make the phasing out of the emotions still slower.

This is not likely to change the ultimate result. Because of the major role that the availability of accurate information plays in determining the validity of the conclusions reached through the reasoning process, the position of reason vis-à-vis emotion continually improves as the amount of information at the disposal of the individual increases. The new and better mechanism will no doubt take over the entire job, or at least assume full control, sooner or later. In the meantime, however, both intelligence and emotion are endeavoring to control the response to perceived situations, and as Koestler pointed out, conflicts are inevitable. This has long been recognized by students of human behavior.

Men have often believed themselves victims of the force of their feelings… [They] have been led to think of their psyche as divided into two conflicting parts—reason on one side and emotion on the other… to believe that reason and emotion are locked in continuous warfare, with self as host and victim.221 (Evelyn Shirk)

There is a general recognition, says this author, that emotion is the undesirable and dangerous force. “Our culture has long harbored a deeply rooted conviction that the part of the psyche most likely to cause mischief and least worthy of trust is the capacity for feeling and emotion.” There is an element of truth in this view of the situation, to be sure, but it is overdramatized. Emotion is not some mysterious, inimical “force” by which we are victimized. It is simply an automatic reaction of man’s primitive brain; a reaction that cannot be prevented as long as that brain continues to be operative, but can be overruled by intelligence. The substantial degree of progress that has already been achieved toward suppression of the emotional reactions is illustrated in the human response to the emotion of anger.

Inasmuch as the survival of an individual in the animal world not only requires quick retreat from danger but also promptness in seizing opportunities to gain, or to preserve, an advantage over the other animals with which it competes for food and other necessities, evolution has produced an emotion analogous to fear that initiates attack rather than retreat. This emotion, anger, is, in a sense, the direct opposite of fear. In the lower animals, the response to anger is purely situation-oriented. An intruder is attacked simply because he intrudes. In the more intelligent species, particularly man, an objectionable situation is not, in itself, sufficient to produce an angry reaction. Human anger is aroused mainly where the affected individual objects to the reasons, or what he believes to be the reasons, for the situation. An injury resulting from the actions of another person will usually be accepted unemotionally if it is judged to be unavoidable, or, in most cases, even if it is merely unintentional. But if the injury results from carelessness, the victim is likely to become angry, and if it is intentional, some degree of anger is inevitable. Furthermore, that which is judged to be intentional may produce anger even if the injury is trivial, or is actually avoided. As the psychologists point out, anger is typically correlated with the impulse to attack, and in the lower animals, attack is essentially automatic. But in man, it is the exception rather than the rule. Ordinarily the attack response to anger is vetoed by reason, either on the ground that it would be counterproductive, in that it would provoke the antagonist to inflict still further injury, or on the ground that retaliation under the existing circumstances would be contrary to accepted standards of conduct and would impair the individual’s standing in the community.

This overruling of the emotional response by intelligent thought is not always accomplished easily, and often generates internal conflicts of a disturbing nature. In human beings, where the rational response is the normal one, the conflicts are more frequent and more violent in the case of those individuals who are in the habit of giving relatively free rein to their emotions. Thus the type of difficulty known as “emotional disturbance” is correlated with the relative strength of the emotions. On the other hand, in animals, where emotion predominates, a higher degree of intelligence, and the resultant greater ability to recognize deviations from the standard pattern to which the emotional response is geared, means more occasion for conflict and consequently more emotional disturbance. “An animal’s susceptibility to emotional disturbance is directly related to the level of its intelligence”222 reports Hebb. According to this author, such a disturbance may be regarded as a breakdown of equipment. Our findings indicate, however, that it is merely a natural result of the presence of two different mechanisms developed by evolution to handle the same kind of situations. In many cases, the two will act in parallel, but since they operate on different principles, some conflicts are inevitable.

The great increase in intelligence in the evolutionary step from ape to man has not been paralleled by a corresponding increase in emotional disturbances. As Hebb goes on to say, “The great apes show their kinship with him [man] more clearly in their emotional characteristics than in their capacity for learning and solving problems.” This is entirely in line with what can be expected on the basis of a clash between a primitive brain and a new one of a continually improving character. The emotional disturbances were caused initially by the development of intelligence, the operating process of the new brain, and the resulting introduction of conflicts with emotion. As intelligence continued to increase, the number of points of conflict also increased. In the meantime, reason has achieved complete domination over an increasing number of situations, thus eliminating conflicts in these respects. Eventually, as intelligence continued to improve in the course of evolution, the effect of the increasing dominance of reason exceeded the effect of the generation of new points of conflict, and the total amount of conflict began to decrease. Thus, while the emotional level of the great apes is somewhat near that of man, the apes are still on the ascending branch of the curve of emotional disturbances, while the human race is on the descending branch.

Thus far, we have been considering only the primary emotions, the “crude” emotions, as William James called them, more specifically fear and anger. In dealing with the emotions of the lower animals, this is as far as we can go. There is no reliable indication that these creatures are subject to any other emotions. They are subject to internal disturbances due to inability to achieve strongly desired objectives, and the resulting state of frustration is frequently called an emotion. Unlike fear and anger, however, frustration is a consequence of the existing situation rather than a mechanism for initiating the proper response to that situation. It is therefore something of a different basic nature. But in the higher animals there are signs of certain other physiological states that have enough resemblance to the states induced by fear and anger to justify considering them as related to the primary emotions, and in human individuals, these physiological states of a more complex character and more recent evolutionary origin are many and varied.

Some of these are merely modifications or extensions of fear and anger. Hate, for example, is a less acute form of anger that is maintained over a long period of time. Jealousy is another emotion of similar nature that may be only a very mild reaction, or may have an intensity anywhere up to a murderous rage. There are, however, a number of other states usually classified as emotions which have quite different characteristics. The members of one pair, joy and sadness, are so easily recognizable and so widely experienced that they are often included among the primary emotions.

But the difference between joy and sadness on the one hand, and fear and anger on the other, are differences in kind rather than merely differences in details. Fear and anger initiate action; that is, they are related to what will happen. Joy and sadness are related to what has happened. They do not call for action of any kind, and apparently involve nothing more than a physiological reaction to events that have occurred. Looking at the situation from another direction, fear and anger, like intelligence, for which they are very limited substitutes, are tools for attaining human (or animal) objectives. Joy and sadness are reactions of the organism to the achievement, or failure to achieve, those objectives. In reality, they are merely relatively intense forms of pleasure and pain respectively (if pain is taken in the broad sense in which it is the converse of pleasure). For present purposes, we will call these results of actions that have taken place, or are taking place, sensations, to distinguish them from emotions, the reactions to stimuli that determine the actions that the individual will take if not overruled by reason.

Inasmuch as this present work is a scientific investigation of the metaphysical region and the effect of influences from that region on human life, we are concerned with emotions and sensations only insofar as they have some bearing on the relations between man and Sector 3. Fear and anger come within our field of study because they, like intelligence, are tools that can be applied to the furtherance or hindrance of objectives that are in harmony with the principles of Sector 3. Sensations such as joy or sorrow, on the other hand, have no Sector 3 significance. If an individual experiences anything that could be called a sensation just because he does the morally right thing in a given set of circumstances, it is not joy. Joy results from the successful accomplishment of some Sector 2 objective—biological, social, economic, etc. Similarly, sadness, sorrow, or grief, the sensations that are aroused by failure to reach Sector 2 objectives, or loss of some source of enjoyment, are not relevant to the matters now under consideration.

“As the word is commonly used,” says Hall, “emotion refers to a consciously-felt state.”223 Most of the physiological states included under this definition are neither pure emotions, comparable to fear, nor pure sensations, comparable to joy, but combinations of the two, together with various elements of what the psychologists call “drives.” For example, finality, or a close approximation thereto, is a prerequisite for evoking objective-related states such as joy. The prize must be won, or the battle lost. If the outcome is still uncertain, the physiological state will be more complex. Perhaps it will be anxiety, a rather vague form of fear mixed with various sensations.

From the standpoint of the present investigation, the physiological results of taking actions that have moral significance are of particular interest. As already noted, doing the morally right thing does not evoke joy, in the ordinary sense of that term. It may foster some kind of a feeling of being in harmony with the better aspects of human life, and this could be considered a sensation. The results of taking an action that is morally wrong depend on two factors: (1) the ultimate outcome of the action, and (2) whether or not the individual remains convinced that he made a sound decision. That decision was reached because of his belief that it would produce a net total of desirable results. Unless there was some miscalculation, the action should have produced some kind of satisfaction, perhaps even enough to arouse joy. The successful criminal may be quite elated over his accomplishment.

In actual practice, miscalculation is very common, and the person who finds himself in prison or otherwise penalized for his action is likely to be subject to regret. For our purposes, regret will have to be classed with sensations such as joy and sorrow, since it has no Sector 3 implications. But if the individual now realizes, either because a reconsideration of the situation has been forced upon him by the troubles in which he is now enmeshed, or for some other reason, that his decision with respect to taking the action was contrary to his own moral standards, he may experience remorse, which is a strong, often overpowering, emotion that calls for expiatory action.

A prerequisite for remorse is a feeling of guilt. But the existence of the guilt sensation is not necessarily accompanied by remorse. All that is necessary to arouse the guilt sensation is a recognition that the act is morally wrong. Such a recognition usually exists at the time of the original decision to take the action, and it is one of the factors that entered into that decision. Since the decision was taken in spite of whatever feeling of guilt may have existed, the emotion of remorse follows only if there is a reconsideration of that decision, and if, at the time of the reconsideration, the desire to conform to the moral code is strong enough to outweigh whatever non-moral benefits may have accrued from the action.

The conflicts between some of the conclusions reached in the preceding pages and opinions expressed in current psychological and philosophical literature are due primarily to the fact that we are using the term “emotion” in a limited sense. When it is asserted in the literature that the proper goal “is not to eliminate emotions but to direct them properly,”224 the “emotions” to which this assertion refers are mainly what we have called “sensations.” The “emotion” used as an example in connection with the foregoing quotation was “sorrow.” Such sensations have no relevance to the subject matter of this work, and there is no reason to pass judgment on them here. On the other hand, we are expressly concerned with the physiological states that qualify as emotions on the basis of our definition. These emotions are in active competition with intelligence, and the extent to which any individual is able to overrule them is a criterion of the stage that he has reached in his advance along the evolutionary road leading upward from his animal background. This criterion will be even more significant in application to the next class of emotions that we will consider.

All of the emotions and sensations thus far considered may be classified as personal; that is, they are related to the individual’s own situation. He fears that which may cause harm to him or to his possessions. He experiences joy when something directly or indirectly favorable to him occurs. He knows anxiety when his interests are in jeopardy. He feels remorse when he realizes that he has done wrong. In addition, there are what we may call social emotions, similar states that are related to the situations of others. Inasmuch as an emotion of this kind involves three elements, the individual’s own feelings, his perception of the situations of the other persons involved, and the relations between him and the others, it is a complex phenomenon. Love for example, is practically undefinable. As expressed by Hall, it is “the poet’s delight and the psychologist’s perplexity.”225

For present purposes, the exact nature of these social emotions is immaterial. They are subject to essentially the same considerations as the primary personal emotions. They constitute a biological mechanism whereby an individual’s reaction to a situation involving interpersonal relationships is determined in the same manner as his reaction to a situation that arouses fear or anger; that is, each emotion evokes a standard response. Unlike the personal emotions, they produce little or no observable physiological effects, and for that reason, the psychologists are not inclined to classify them with the personal emotions. “By scientific consensus as well as in popular usage, the words emotion and emotional are reserved for cases in which physiological changes accompany mental activity,”226 says Kagan and Havemann. But this restriction on the usage is far from universal. When a philosopher tells us that “the emotional element has been prominent in religion,”227 he is not talking about anything that can normally be detected physically. Similarly, an action taken out of sympathy for an afflicted person without any rational consideration of the question as to whether the action was justified is ordinarily called an emotional reaction to the situation, although here again, no physiological evidence of the emotion is usually visible. Emotions of this character are social emotions.

The physiological changes accompanying a primary personal emotion are bodily preparations for the action that results from the emotion. Fear, for example, initiates preparations for quick flight. Ordinarily the actions that result from the social emotions (if not prevented by the reasoning process) are not of an urgent nature, nor are they of any great personal concern. No special physiological preparation for such actions is therefore required. Furthermore, the kinds of emotional disturbances that often result when an emotion such as anger is held in check by reason are seldom generated directly by repression of social emotions. They occur only when the individual becomes personally involved in the social situation to the point where emotions such as fear or anger develop.

There is another significant difference between the personal and social emotions that should be noted. Unless some abnormality exists, personal emotions are always intended to serve the interests of the individual. Social emotions, on the other hand, are of two kinds. As in the kind of a situation just mentioned, they may involve sympathy with the person or persons concerned, in which case any actions that they generate will be favorable to those persons. But instead, they may involve some degree of antipathy, in which case the actions, if any, will be unfavorable to those that are affected. Furthermore, unlike the purely personal emotions, which never rank higher than ethically neutral, the social emotions may have positive ethical values. Such values are not inherent in the particular emotions, but depend on the circumstances in each case. Misplaced sympathy, for example, is not ethically commendable.

Here again, the more advanced type of mechanism, reason, that is available to human beings for making personal decisions is also available as an alternate to the social emotions. In the area of personal behavior, where the true nature of the conflicts between reason and emotion is clearly visible, the superiority of reason is not seriously challenged. In the absence of any difference in kind between the decisions to be made in the social areas and those that are made in the personal areas, it necessarily follows that reason is superior in the social areas as well. This, however, is not generally conceded. On the contrary, the decisions in many fields of human activity are routinely made on the basis of emotional reactions rather than as a result of reasoned conclusions.

The reason for this difference in readiness to accept the emotional answers lies in the extent of personal involvement. Where a strictly personal decision is to be made, an individual tends to look at all angles of the problem, including its collateral and long-range aspects. Even though emotion may call for immediate and drastic action, anyone in full possession of his faculties will at least listen to what his reason tells him before he makes his move. On the other hand, if an emotion of sympathy for some person or group calls for some supportive action, the questions that can be answered by reason—whether the action will, in fact, benefit that person or group, whether it has some undesirable secondary or ultimate consequences, and so on—are not of enough personal concern to generate the kind of careful consideration that would be required in order to arrive at a rational evaluation of the situation. Nor is this relatively minor personal involvement any more likely to induce rational thought in those cases where an antagonistic emotion calls for hostile action.

Unfortunately, these social issues which get so little rational consideration are actually much more complex than the personal problems that are so carefully evaluated before action is taken, and the standardized emotional response therefore has a much greater probability of being wrong. An act of “compassion” based on an emotion of sympathy for a criminal may not only be detrimental to that individual in the long run, but may result in serious consequences to other persons, whose interests were given no consideration when the decision was made. A law based on an emotion of sympathy for low-paid workers, and intended to give them higher pay or better working conditions may, in fact, deny them employment. A measure aimed at a corporation against which there is an emotional prejudice may actually accomplish nothing but raise prices for that corporation’s customers. And so on, indefinitely. In these social areas, the best of intentions often lead to the worst of results.

Some of the specific issues involved in the conflicts between reason and emotion in social matters will be discussed at appropriate points in the pages that follow. At this time, however, while we are still examining the general subject of emotions, and before the situation is confused by the introduction of those specific issues, many of which are highly controversial, it should be emphasized that there is nothing creditable or praiseworthy about being emotionally guided. As has been emphasized in the preceding discussion, emotion is merely a tool, a means whereby the response that should be made to a given stimulus is identified. Furthermore, it is the cruder and less reliable of the two mechanisms for this purpose that are at the disposal of a human being. It is evident, therefore, that future progress in the area of social relations will depend very largely on the rate at which the newer and more reliable tool, reason, can be substituted for the more primitive and less efficient tool, emotion, as the instrument for making social decisions.

In the light of present knowledge, the fact that emotional reactions still determine the great majority of social decisions is an indication of the long way that human society has yet to go before it can realize its full potential. The relatively primitive state of the existing social organization is even more clearly brought out by the tendency of those agencies, such as the organized religious bodies, that claim to be working toward improvement of social conditions, to applaud and support emotional responses, while condemning any opposition based on rational grounds. Of course, this is understandable in view of the emotional nature of the present-day approach to religion. But the fact that the antagonism toward the application of reason to social problems is understandable does not make it any more justifiable. An action which is harmful to an individual or group is no less harmful if it is undertaken with the best of intentions and on the basis of a “good” emotional impulse. The prevailing tendency to regard the emotional response, the primitive type of reaction that we share with the higher animals, as “human,” and the application of reason, the distinctive human ability, as “cold-blooded” and “inhuman” is a strange perversion of the truth.

It cannot be denied that reason is often wrong, primarily because the premises on which the reasoning is based are not always correct. But even in the present state of imperfection, reason is far superior to emotion as a means of arriving at the proper course of action. Furthermore, the superiority of reason is continually increasing, as more and more items are added to the existing store of knowledge. One of the primary objectives of the present work is to contribute to that result.

14 Thinking and Memory


Thinking and Memory

The results of the examination of emotional processes in the preceding chapter were mainly negative. What we were particularly interested in ascertaining was the relevance, if any, of the emotions to the Sector 3 aspects of human life, specifically to the efforts of the Sector 3 control units to divert human activities and aspirations away from the purely survival objective of the biological organism and toward the objectives of Sector 3. Our finding was that emotion, as defined for the purposes of this work, is a purely biological mechanism, a function of the primitive reptilian brain. Suppression of the emotions in favor of the responses to stimuli that are dictated by intelligent reasoning, wherever the two are in conflict, is therefore a prerequisite for progress toward specifically human (as distinguished from animal) standards.

Victory of reason in this contest for dominance over human actions does not guarantee this kind of progress. On the contrary, intelligence, as a more efficient tool than emotion may simply act more effectively toward the same animal goals. There are actually two battles going on: a struggle between reason and emotion for control of the actions of the human organism, and a struggle between the Sector 2 (biological) and Sector 3 (ethical human) control units for the power to establish the objectives of these actions. The second of these conflicts is the one in which we are primarily interested in this work, and the further discussion of the human information handling equipment in this and the following two chapters will be limited to those items which have, or are currently thought to have, relevance to this struggle over objectives.

On this basis, we will have no occasion to inquire further into the mechanism of thinking, or of the advanced form of thinking known as reasoning. The details of the reasoning process are still far from being fully understood, but for the purposes of this work, the exact nature of the thinking mechanism and its operation is irrelevant. The significant point is that reasoning is the most advanced physiological means that the human individual has available for determining the course of action in response to the information that he receives from various sources. As brought out in Chapter 11, it is an activity of the mind, part of what the combination entity, the mind-brain, does, as distinguished from the brain, that which this entity is. The particular function of thinking is to correlate the incoming stream of messages arriving through the various information channels with the relevant knowledge already available, and to arrive at appropriate conclusions.

In order to enable the thinking mechanism to perform this function, the information previously made available to the individual must be so disposed within the mind that it is available for reference. The mental storehouse for this information is known as memory. The term “memory” is also applied to the process of retrieving information from storage, and to the item of information that is recalled. Memories, the discrete items that are stored, are of many different kinds. Some, such as the motor memories that enable us to take the right muscular actions to accomplish our purposes, do not have any perceptible impact on the conscious thought processes. Those that are perceptible may be classified as visual, verbal, auditory, etc., but for present purposes, the significant point is that the great majority of the memories that are taken into the general storehouse are memories of experiences. Every individual undergoes a succession of experiences during all of the waking hours of every day. What he sees in the visual media is mainly a selection of experiences of others. His reading consists largely of narratives; that is, experiences.

The strong predominance of experience memories is somewhat obscured by the fact that the demands upon the memory are largely for items of knowledge rather than for direct recall of experience. By far the greatest amount of this traffic is concerned with language: calling upon memory for the meaning of words seen or heard, and the inverse process, calling upon memory for the words applying to the entities or concepts with which the mind deals. But this is not the form in which entry into the memory storage occurs. We see an animal of a rather distinctive appearance, and we find that it is called an elephant. Or we read or hear about someone else having such an experience. It is this experience or report of experience of seeing the elephant and learning its name that goes into the memory storage. In the memory process, certain information about the elephant, including the name, is abstracted from the experience and retained in condition for retrieval. Those details of the experience which have no continuing significance are then forgotten. Thus the output from storage is largely bits of information, but as we will see later, it is important to realize that the input is in the form of experiences.

Memory is a relatively early evolutionary development. Even the most rudimentary type of emotional mechanism requires the existence of some kind of a memory to enable identification of the situation which calls for an emotional response. We therefore find evidence of memory even in the lower animals. In fact, memory experiments have been performed on such unlikely subjects as cockroaches.228 The operating principle of the memory process is association. The storage is so organized that each item A is associated with certain other items B, C, D, etc. Because of this association, an attempt to recall A may reach B instead. If it can be recognized that B is incorrect, further effort at direct recall may be made, or A may be reached indirectly by first recognizing an association BC and then an association CA. But if the situation is such that the accuracy of the first recall cannot be tested, then the fact that conscious thought and memory utilize very different criteria of close association is very important in some applications, as we will see in Chapter 15.

From the memory standpoint, an idea and its direct opposite are very closely associated, whereas our thought processes place them far apart. Likewise, memory makes little or no distinction between an event in the past and a similar event in the future, whereas there is a very clear line of demarcation between past and future in rational thinking. The difference between thought and action is often disregarded by memory, but to our consciousness it is very important. Memory identifies some persons as individuals, but tends to group the others. The first result of an attempt to recall one member of the group will often be a memory of another. Members of large families frequently call each other by the wrong name, usually, but not always, correcting it immediately. In these cases, memory accepts the first of the names as being close enough, but conscious thought quickly rejects it.

A type of recall from the memory storage that is widely used in clinical and investigative work is called “free association.” As defined by Hall, “It consists of letting the mind wander in a completely free and apparently aimless manner.”229 Actually, however, completely free recall cannot be obtained as long as the subject is conscious. His thinking mechanism always retains enough control to keep the memory recall rational, to censor objectionable items, and so on. In this present work, we will have occasion to deal with association processes which are free from all control, and which call up memories without the intervention of any thought process. This is the pure memory mechanism, the process that must exist in the lower animals that do not have the ability to think. In order to avoid confusion with psychologists’ “free association,” we will refer to this completely free association process as uncontrolled association.

If goal-oriented thinking is suspended for any significant length of time, the result is daydreaming or fantasy rather than uncontrolled association. Momentary relaxation of the controls does, however, occur frequently. These are the intervals in which sensory or other stimuli of which one may not even be aware trigger unexpected, and in some cases surprising, recollections. In the ordinary affairs of life, the memories called up by association during these interim periods are usually no more than distractions. However, in those kinds of reasoning or problem solving where some thinking along unconventional lines may be advantageous, a partial relaxation of the controls is often helpful, inasmuch as it gives the association process more leeway.

The number and variety of memories called up during such processes as free association or daydreaming is mainly due to the fact that the memory mechanism has some special provisions for handling what we may call a working supply of information. This transient aspect of memory is not given much, if any, attention in current work in this area, and the information that we need for present purposes is not available from the memory studies that have heretofore been made. We can, however, deduce that, in view of the continual interruption of one’s thinking by the stream of messages coming in through the senses, it would not be feasible to carry on any extended program of activity unless there were some special memory mechanism in operation to bring the thought processes back to the task that was under way when an interruption occurred. Otherwise the first foreign thought would divert attention to different channels, and there would be no way of getting back except by accident.

Furthermore, human activities are usually too complex to permit giving undivided attention to one specific line of thought for any extended period of time. Almost always, the task to which thought is being applied has features which require special consideration—safety precautions, for example—and there are always other aspects of life that must be given attention from time to time: personal needs, responsibilities, commitments to other persons, etc. In order to receive attention, these items must have representation in the working memory. Experience indicates that this memory is so organized that each of the items in the working stock returns to the consciousness periodically. For example, if a person has an appointment at a certain time, his working memory periodically reminds him to look at a clock. Meanwhile, this memory will from time to time break in upon his goal-oriented thinking to remind him of other matters that need his attention, either in thought or in action. This observed memory pattern can most appropriately be described by calling it a circulating memory system.

We often hear someone say that he has several things “on his mind.” This does not mean that he is continually thinking about all of them. Indeed, he cannot think about any of them while he is actually engaged in disposing of the minute-by-minute items that demand his attention. What he is really expressing by his statement is that his circulating memory system is interrupting his thought processes periodically to remind him that these matters are still outstanding. Most of those who have occasion to deal with complex problems requiring intensive study and analysis tend to develop an ability to shut out sounds and other sense stimuli so that they can concentrate their full attention on their current task. When this preoccupation with the primary thought objective is carried to an extreme, it results in blocking out some or all of the circulating memory as well as the sense signals, producing the condition known as absent-mindedness.

The circulating memory system is no doubt a later evolutionary development than the primitive memory storage, but it must have been present in very early animals. The first requirement for the survival of the small and weak is vigilance, and to be vigilant while keeping one’s primary attention on the serious business of getting enough to eat requires constant reminding. Nothing complicated is needed. All that is necessary is to call attention periodically to the general idea of “danger.” Once a system capable of accomplishing this purpose was in operation, it was available for extension to other memory items, and in the human mind, the circulating memories cover a wide range of subjects. The evidence which we will examine indicates, however, that the non-specific nature of the circulating memories has been retained, and unlike the memory input into storage, which consists mainly of detailed experiences, most of the circulating memories are merely general ideas or impressions with only a minimum of detail, if any.

The aspects of the thinking and memory processes that we now want to examine are sleep, and the most conspicuous feature of the sleep phenomenon: dreaming. Unlike thinking and memory storage, the functions of which are reasonably well understood, even though many of the details of their operation are still obscure, neither the purpose nor the mechanism of either sleep or dreaming has heretofore been explained on a scientific basis. Where knowledge is lacking, conjecture has free rein, and the number and variety of theories and speculations that have been offered as possible explanations of one or the other of these phenomena have been limited only by the scope of the human imagination. Some of the most widely accepted of these speculative ideas have direct or indirect relevance to the metaphysical subject matter of this volume. “One of the most fascinating questions of all,” says William C. Dement, is this: “Is there a supernatural element that determines what we dream about?”230 This issue and related questions, such as the possibility of the existence of a prophetic significance in dreams, have been matters of concern to the human race from the earliest days of which we have knowledge. Since they are clearly germane to our present inquiry, they must have some attention at this point.

Before we can answer these questions, we must have a reasonably good understanding of the way in which the two major components of the mental mechanism, thinking and memory, enter into the sleep situation. But this is something that is not available from the work of previous investigators. Examination of the literature in this area will show that the works dealing with memory make little reference to sleep, while those on sleep and dreaming contain no significant information on memory. It will therefore be necessary to blaze our own trail in the investigation. This involves giving what may seem a disproportionate amount of attention to some of the less important components of the human information handling processes, but the allocation of space in this work necessarily has to be based on the relevance, or possible relevance, of the various items to the general subject of the work, together with whatever additional emphasis may be warranted where the findings of this investigation are entirely new to the branch of thought involved.

The physiological condition known as sleep is a result of the fact that the information storage and processing equipment of the higher forms of life, memory and thinking, is not capable of continuous operation. It must be periodically taken out of service for an interval, which in the human individual characteristically extends for about half of the time of the previous operating period. When this mental equipment is in operation and in contact with the outside world, the individual is conscious. The regular and normal period of unconsciousness in which the mental contact with the environment is inoperative is sleep.

No satisfactory explanation of the need for sleep has ever been derived from conventional theory. As expressed by Dement, “In spite of many heroic efforts, sleep researchers have failed, to date, to define the function of sleep.”231 One of the aspects of the situation that has been the most puzzling is the high price that is being paid for whatever benefits are gained. A third of our life is essentially lost, so far as our normal aims and purposes are concerned. In a statement quoted by Dement in this same connection, Allan Rechtschaffen raises the question as to why evolution ever produced such an apparently “useless, maladaptive” process. “If sleep does not serve an absolutely vital function, then it is the biggest mistake the evolutionary process ever made,” he contends.

Evolution is a purely mechanical process, and it responds only to existing conditions. It cannot take into account the possibility that those conditions may change. Consequently, when conditions actually do change, some of the forms of life that have evolved may be too specialized to survive in the new environment. In this sense, evolution may be said to make some mistakes. But sleep is not on one of these branches that is susceptible to being lopped off; it is directly in the main line of evolutionary development. It is a behavior characteristic of all of the most advanced forms of life, including the human race, the most adaptable of all biological organisms,232 and it applies under all of the environmental conditions to which these forms of life are subject. It obviously must serve an important and essential purpose. Inverting Rechtschaffen’s reasoning, we may say that inasmuch as sleep clearly is not an evolutionary mistake, and costs us a third of our lives, it must “serve an absolutely vital function.”

The nature of that function is another of the many long-standing problems that have been resolved by the development of the Reciprocal System of physical theory. As explained in Chapter 6, a biological organism is a material (Sector 1) structure associated with, and under the control of, a unit of the cosmic (Sector 2) type. Inasmuch as Sector 2, the cosmic, or inverse, sector of the physical universe, is the sector of motion in time—that is, motion in which location in time deviates from the clock time of the material sector—the time to which the Sector 2 control unit (the life unit) conforms continually diverges from clock time, the time to which the material structure of the living organism conforms. Sleep is simply a condition in which the control mechanism is periodically disconnected and brought back into synchronization with the material structure. In plants and the lower animals, where the control mechanisms are simple and operate only intermittently, this is accomplished by means of frequent adjustment periods of short duration, but in the higher animals, where the control mechanism is complex and operates continuously, the period of readjustment is distinct and much longer.

One of the most significant features of the Reciprocal System of physical theory is that the explanation which it produces as to what any particular physiological entity is also explains why that entity behaves as it does. For example, the theoretical explanation of the nature of matter leads directly to an explanation of why matter exists in discrete units (atoms and particles), why it gravitates, why there are a specific number of different types of atoms, and so on. Now we find the same situation in biology. The theoretical explanation of the nature of life not only tells us why the life unit is an aggregate of processes, and why it opposes the tendency of inanimate matter toward disorder, but also leads directly to simple explanations of some of the most important features of biological structures, such as the reason why they are composed of cells. Here we derive another significant item of information from the same source. We find that the basic explanation of the nature of life likewise reveals why sleep is an essential accompaniment of biological complexity.

Exact synchronization of the life unit with the material structure is not required, as there is a zone of tolerance within which operation of the control mechanism is not impaired. A cycle of sleeping and waking periods is therefore established within the zone of tolerance on some basis that is in harmony with environmental conditions. The principal governing factor, so far as the human race is concerned, is the rotation of the earth, as the most efficient pattern is one in which sleep is relegated to the time that is the least favorable for purposeful activity.

Abstention from sleep beyond the time when it would normally begin, on the basis of the established pattern, creates what we may call a pressure tending to cause sleep. By a deliberate effort, this pressure can be resisted, and the period of wakefulness can be prolonged quite substantially. Ultimately, however, the limit of the zone of tolerance is reached, and further deprivation of sleep results in disruption of the mental processes. If continued, this disruption may become permanent, and experiments with animals show that it can result in death; that is, complete loss of the Sector 2 control. The time divergence simply becomes too great, and the control mechanism loses touch with the physical body.

We can deduce from theoretical premises that the time correction is accomplished by operating the mental processes in reverse during sleep. On the basis of our normal understanding of the effect of reversals, it would appear that a period of sleep equal in length to the preceding waking period would be required in order to complete the synchronization of an apparatus that operates continuously. Development of the Reciprocal System of theory has revealed, however, that the effective magnitude of all primary physical quantities is the amount by which they deviate from unity, rather than from the mathematical zero. Each such quantity has an initial positive level of one unit which has no physical effect. Reversal of the direction of the mental processes during sleep reverses the initial level of each individual time unit, as well as that unit itself, and the total deviation from the positive unit level during one unit of reverse operation is therefore two units. If the mental process is in full operation when the individual is awake, his sleep periods should theoretically amount to one third of the total time. This is roughly in agreement with human experience.

Physical or mental abnormalities may increase or decrease the sleep time. Incipient mental disturbances, for instance, are often correlated with reduced amounts of sleep, as would be expected if there are significant interruptions in the thought processes which reduce the total operating time. It is also true that there seems to be some variation above and below the theoretical eight hours in the individual requirements for sleep even where no abnormalities are present. But it is doubtful if the apparent variations in average sleep time are real. What appears to be a greater amount of sleep may be due to a number of short intervals during which the individual is actually awake—perhaps in the borderline state known as drowsiness. Similarly, a well-known phenomenon called “microsleep,” which involves a succession of short sleep intervals, may well account for the apparently low sleep requirements of other persons.

As already noted, the control mechanism of the higher animals, including man, consists of two distinct parts, the memory apparatus and the thinking apparatus. Both have cosmic (inverse) elements—that is, they operate electrically rather than by means of material forces—and both must therefore undergo periodic synchronization with the material structure. But the memory apparatus is simpler and more primitive than the thinking apparatus. Furthermore, it evidently is not, as a whole, in full operation continuously. It therefore accomplishes the necessary readjustment in less time. In order to allow the synchronization of the thinking apparatus to catch up, the memory apparatus is disconnected from the adjustment process periodically and allowed to operate for a time in its normal manner, except that it remains separated from the motor mechanism and the contact with the outside world. The most striking physiological feature of this phase of the sleep cycle is a rapid movement of the eyes, and for this reason it is called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The phase during which the entire mental mechanism is undergoing the synchronization adjustment is non-REM, or NREM, sleep. The three different physiological conditions that have been discussed may be summarized as follows:

Awake Normal Normal Active
REM sleep Normal Adjusting Inactive
NREM sleep Adjusting Adjusting Inactive

Dement refers to the “difficulty in demonstrating the purpose of REM sleep in adults.”233 Luce and Segal report that “many conjectures about the purpose of the REM state are plausible, yet they are not answers and the purpose of the dream state remains a mystery.”234 On the basis of the foregoing theoretical explanation, the purpose is simply to prevent overcorrection of the time deviation in the memory apparatus. As in the case of the positive deviation that is corrected by the synchronization process, there is a tolerance in the negative direction, and aside from building up the negative equivalent of sleep pressure that results from sleep deprivation, lack of REM sleep has no important effects within the zone of tolerance. Beyond the limit of this zone, adverse physiological effects begin to develop, similar in some respects, but apparently not as severe as those resulting from complete deprivation of sleep. The less severe reaction is understandable inasmuch as lack of REM sleep affects only the memory system, while total deprivation of sleep affects the entire mental apparatus. A report that is of special interest in view of the theoretical findings with respect to the need for synchronization is that one of the effects of REM sleep deprivation is “time sense distortion.”235 When REM sleep is again permitted after a time in which it is inhibited by one means or another, the overcorrection of the time deviation is reversed by a period of abnormally high REM sleep. This is the so-called “rebound.”

The pattern of REM sleep in animals indicates that the structural complexity of the thinking apparatus falls off more rapidly than that of the memory apparatus as we follow the evolutionary scale downward—a relationship that is to be expected since memory necessarily precedes thought. We can have memory without thinking, but thinking without memory is not possible. Mammals, as a class, have well-defined REM periods, but the REM sleep of birds has been reported as minimal, while reptiles apparently have none at all, indicating that their memory synchronization time is ample to take care of the needs of their rudimentary thinking apparatus. Very young infants, on the other hand, go to the other extreme and spend half or more of their sleep time in the REM state. This probably indicates that the thinking mechanism develops more rapidly than the memory mechanism in the early stages of the infant’s growth. The observed gradual decline to the normal adult REM time then naturally follows.

Theoretical considerations indicate that emotional states have a significant effect on the REM sleep. Emotion and memory are both parts of the old mental equipment, and it is probable that an increase in emotional activity has the same effect on the sleep requirements as more use of the memory. This will have the effect of decreasing the need for REM sleep, and may explain some of the results of drugs and other agencies that affect the emotions. It may also explain why deprivation of REM sleep under experimental conditions can be carried far beyond what seems to be the normal limit; so far as to lead to the assertion by David Foulkes that, “Although there is a need for REM sleep, apparently it is not absolute.”236 The REM sleep deprived individuals, both human and animal, are reported to “exhibit undue brain excitement,”237 which may very well be the result of a forced increase in emotional and memory functions to offset the loss of REM sleep time.

During the REM period when the individual is asleep—that is, his thinking mechanism is out of service—but his memory is active, both memory mechanisms (circulating and storage) are operating normally, but have been disconnected from the motor control, and the inflow of sensory stimuli from the environment is almost totally shut off. In the absence of thought and environmental input, the memory apparatus responds only to stimuli from the circulating memory and from internal sensations. If the originating stimulus is physiological, it usually consists only of what we may call a theme—“hunger,” for example—without details. As brought out earlier, such abstract themes are not the kind of input with which the memory storage processes are equipped to deal. In order to fit into these processes, the themes must be put into the form of experiences. Memories that are associated with hunger that are already present in storage are therefore drawn upon, and a synthetic hunger experience is built up. The individual becomes aware of this synthetic experience in a manner similar to that in which he becomes aware of real experiences and, with certain qualifications that we will consider later, it appears to him that he is undergoing a real experience. This process is a dream.

The second, and most prolific, source of dream stimuli is the circulating memory system. This system continues to bring one after another of the items that it contains into the position where it makes contact with both the memory storage and the thinking mechanism (inactive in the REM stage). The same process is also in operation during the waking state, but is subject to suppression by the thinking mechanism, and, in any event, is overshadowed by the much greater flow of direct experiences to the memory storage. As each of the items in the circulating memory makes the appropriate contact, it acts in the same manner as a physiological stimulus; that is, it initiates a dream. These items from the circulating memory system contain only a minimum of detail, as the functions of this system do not require detailed elaboration. In fact, an excessive amount of detail would interfere with the primary purpose of this memory system: the reminding function. Like the sensory stimuli, the circulating memories are mainly in the form of abstract themes, although there is a certain amount of elaboration by means of what might be called subsidiary themes.

In a sense, the content of the circulating memories is intermediate between that of physiological sensations, which are simply “hunger,” “cold,” etc., and the detailed memories of experience that go into the memory storage. We may compare the circulating memory to a language with a limited vocabulary, and the detailed memory of the original experience to a versatile modern language such as English. In the principal memory process, the full account of the experience goes directly to storage. Meanwhile, this account is translated into the limited language of the circulating memory for its purposes. During sleep, when no direct accounts of experience are coming in, the memories in the circulating system are fed one by one into the stream going to storage, and are translated back into the detailed form that is acceptable to the storage facilities. A consideration of the language analogy shows what results can be expected. If a statement made in English is translated into the language of some primitive tribe, and then retranslated back into English by some person who does not have access to the original text, the general idea of the statement will be preserved (if the translators are competent), but there will undoubtedly be significant differences in the details. Similarly, a dream produced by a circulating memory theme will reproduce the theme of the source from which the memory originated, but may alter the details beyond recognition.

On the other hand, there is also a fairly good chance that the details will be reproduced accurately in a certain percentage of the dreams. A memory of the original experience exists in the memory storage, and since, as we will see in Chapter 15, this is usually, perhaps always, a very recent acquisition, it is favorably situated for recall. Thus, the association process may very well reach this memory rather than some other item in storage, and in that case, the result will be that the dream reproduces the original experience with no more than minor variations.

There has been much discussion of what has been interpreted as a “need to dream.” Freud, for instance, regarded the dream as a “safety valve” which “relieves the mind”238 of harmful material by allowing it to be expressed during sleep. Our theoretical findings are that what exists is a need for sleep in order to synchronize the processes of the mind with the structure of the brain, and a further need to separate the memory from the thinking mechanism during a portion of the synchronization process in order to allow the thinking mechanism to continue the adjustment process for a time after the synchronization of the memory is complete. Thus the only need for anything other than sleep itself is for the correct proportion of REM sleep to total sleep. The dreams occur not because they are needed but because they are part of the normal physiological activity during the sleep that is needed.

The general nature of the dream process in the NREM state is the same as in REM sleep, but the thinking mechanism and the memory are connected to each other during the NREM dreaming and both are disconnected from the environment. The NREM dreams are therefore subject to control by the thinking process. This supervision eliminates most of the incongruities of the type that is characteristic of the REM dreams, and makes the NREM dreams more like the mental processes during the waking state. Dement describes them as “more plausible” and “more like thinking and less like [REM] dreaming,”239 attributes which can be expected in view of the participation of the thinking mechanism in shaping the dream experience. He also reports that they are “more concerned with contemporary lives,” but as we will see in the next chapter, the REM dreams are likewise concerned with contemporary experience. The difference is that the connection between the REM dreams and experience is less obvious.

Another reason for the greater plausibility of the NREM dreams is that more of them are direct recall of experiences. The factors that determine the extent to which direct recall occurs during dreams are the same for both kinds of sleep, and consequently there is no difference in the initial probability of such recall. But since the REM dream is not subject to censorship, the original result of the association process, whatever it may be, has to be accepted. Apparently there is about one chance in five that uncontrolled association will retrieve the actual experience from the memory storage, as studies indicate that not more than 20 percent of the REM dreams are of the direct recall type.240 In the NREM dreams, the thinking process censors the memories produced from storage. If a memory called up by association is incongruous, it is rejected, and another association is called for. In most cases, the direct memory is reached somewhere along the line of this trial and rejection process, and the direct memory content of the NREM dreams has been found to be 80 percent or more.

In this respect, the research findings coincide with the theoretical conclusions. There is less agreement, however, between the theory and the views of the investigators with respect to other aspects of the thinking process during sleep. Calvin S. Hall is probably expressing the general opinion when he says, “All forms of thinking from realistic problem solving to unrealistic fantasy may and do occur during dreaming.” The principal difference, he concludes, is that “during sleep the thoughts are projected in the form of images, usually visual in character.”229 The conclusion reached from our theoretical development, however, is that the thinking process during sleep is a very limited form of activity because, aside from some physiological sensations and a few outside stimuli that get through the barriers, it has nothing to work with but memories.

Problem solving, one of the forms of thinking mentioned by Hall, is theoretically possible only if all of the necessary components of the solution are present in memories, and the only requirement is to put them together in the proper manner, or to experience one of those “flashes of insight” discussed in Chapter 9. In most cases, all of the necessary information is not present in the memory storage. Furthermore, the thinking during the dream is not able to make full use of the information that actually is contained in the storage, as the many aids to directed thinking that are available in the waking state, such as tabular and graphic representation, are lacking in dreams.

These theoretical results also throw considerable cold water on the idea of the unconscious mind introduced by Freud. The memory storage is outside our consciousness except when we have occasion to recall some item, or when such an item is called up by the association process. It is no doubt possible for long-buried memories which we would not recall in the ordinary course of events to be brought out by association in dreams or under hypnosis. But the idea that these experiences can affect the life of the individual without being called up from storage is hard to reconcile with the theoretical findings. The theoretical analysis indicates that the emotions (or sensations) which disturb the troubled individual are not generated by the forgotten experiences, but by the experiences, or some aspects of the experiences, which he wants to forget, but cannot.

In general, the various devices that the psychoanalysts use to accomplish what they regard as dredging up items from the unconscious—such things as free association, dream interpretation, and hypnotism—can equally well be regarded as means to circumvent the subject’s unwillingness to reveal his conscious knowledge of these matters. But it may be that the knowledge of which the subject is conscious is so vague and general that he is unable to reveal it. As noted earlier, experiences are not usually retained in the memory storage in such a way that they are subject to recall in their entirety on demand. Ordinarily, certain features—items of information, mainly—are abstracted and kept available for recall, while the remaining details are gradually forgotten. But the retained features are not necessarily useful items. For example, the original experience may have been accompanied by a feeling of anxiety. In the memory process, an association may be set up between this anxiety and some person or object X that played a part in the experience. Future contacts with X, or something associated with X, may then result in recall of the anxiety sensation without the individual being aware of what has happened. He simply feels anxiety without knowing why. If he is emotionally susceptible, he may prolong the memory by frequent recall even without any additional contact with X.

This view of the situation indicates that the analysts’ procedure in attempting to identify the original experience as the first step toward correcting the abnormal mental condition is probably sound. If the association between the anxiety and X can be identified, it can probably be broken by some means, so that the recurring anxiety stimulus is eliminated. But the Freudian belief that the trouble is due to items that are present in an unconscious mind does not agree with our theoretical findings. It is not what has been forgotten, our theory tells us; it is that aspect of the original experience that has not been forgotten. The original circumstances—the experience itself—may have been forgotten, but sensations are remembered as well as experiences, and a certain kind of stimulus may call up a disturbing memory that lingers on as a residue of the forgotten experience.

15 The Stuff of Dreams


The Stuff of Dreams

In Chapter 14, the theoretical findings described in the earlier pages were extended to establish the general nature of the dream process. Our principal concern is with the dream content rather than with the mechanism, which is purely physical and has none of the metaphysical implications that are so freely attributed to dreams in current thinking, the implications that have made it necessary to include a study of dreams in the present work. But an understanding of the dream process, including an identification of the origins of the dream stimuli, is necessary in order to lay the groundwork for arriving at some firm conclusions as to the content of dreams. The purpose of the discussion in Chapter 14 was to provide this information.

As brought out in that discussion, dreams consist of themes, which originate from several sources, and are elaborated into synthetic experiences by means of settings, casts of characters, and other details drawn from memories in storage. Some of these themes, including those of many of the most vivid dreams, are merely reflections of physiological conditions such as hunger or thirst. These are usually easy to identify. The dream action may be erratic or bizarre, but the theme generally stands out conspicuously. The hungry person dreams of food, or of trying to find food.

Dreams stimulated by incoming intuitive information are also theoretically possible. If this is telepathic information—that is, a message which someone is trying to communicate to the dreamer—the situation during sleep should be more favorable than in the waking state because of the elimination of interference from the stream of messages that comes in through the senses while the individual is awake. On the other hand, if the incoming intuitive information is something that this person has been trying to get from metaphysical sources (whether or not he recognizes that this is the true nature of his endeavors), the more related information he can have under active consideration in his mind, the more likely he is to recognize the intuition and fit it into the picture. Here, the uncontrolled association in the dream is a much less effective process than the directed thinking while awake, and the conclusion which we draw from theory therefore is that relatively little of this kind of information will be received in dreams.

There is not much reliable evidence against which we can check these theoretical conclusions as to the likelihood of reception of intuitive information during dreams. Many cases of what is claimed to be telepathic communication have been reported, and a substantial percentage of these involve reception in dreams, but the circumstances surrounding these incidents are such that no verification is possible. It is worth noting, however, that if telepathic communication is possible (as the theory indicates that it is), then it will theoretically take place most readily under the conditions specified in most of the reports, where the originator is highly motivated and the recipient is asleep or otherwise inactive.

A number of instances have also been reported in which problems that have been given intensive study during waking hours have finally been solved in dreams. These episodes are more definitely authenticated than the telepathic incidents, and they have been given a great deal of attention. In considering their significance, however, it should be realized that the number of known cases of this kind is insignificant compared to the multitude of problems that are continually being solved during the waking state by insight or other intuitive means. Indeed, almost all discussions of the subject rely heavily on the same two events: Kekule’s discovery of the ring structure of benzene, and Coleridge’s creation of the poem Kubla Khan (which may not have been accomplished in a dream, as Coleridge was a drug user and an inveterate daydreamer. His ability to distinguish clearly between sleep and the waking state is questionable).

Dement states that “It is likely that artistic creation and problem solving occur in dreams more often than the documentation suggests.”241 This may be true, but the theoretical findings indicate otherwise. They agree that problems can be solved in dreams, but show that the conditions during sleep are unfavorable for so doing. My own experience agrees with this pessimistic assessment of the situation. My principal work is largely concerned with finding new answers to old problems, and since this activity is usually on my mind while I am awake, I frequently continue it in my dreams. Often I arrive at an answer, usually with noticeable feelings of satisfaction at the accomplishment. It is possible that at some time or other one of these answers may have been correct, but I cannot recall any specific example. Certainly the great majority of them failed to stand up under daytime examination. In fact, what I remember most clearly is how quickly the answers with which I was so pleased in the dreams collapsed when I awoke. I suspect that this is the general situation, and that suspicion is reinforced by the reply which Dement reports having received from Niels Bohr (a distinguished problem solver) in response to an inquiry about a reported dream incident. Bohr’s reply was that, as far as he knew, he had never had a useful dream.241

The third, and most common, source of dream themes is experience, either experiences of the dreamer himself or other experiences of which he becomes aware. In this case, the selection of subjects should theoretically be governed by the same factors that determine which experiences are incorporated into the memory storage. The dream themes should originate from among the experiences that are most recent, most vivid, most significant, and of most concern to the individual dreamer. When we undertake to compare the available empirical information with these theoretical conclusions with respect to the content of dreams originating from experience, it will be necessary to have a clear understanding as to just what kind of experiences are incorporated into dreams in actual practice, and how these experiences are represented. Unfortunately, many of the results obtained by previous investigators are contradictory, and all of them are strongly influenced by theories which, according to our theoretical findings, are incorrect, in whole or in part. Under these circumstances, it has seemed advisable to undertake a new investigation aimed specifically at obtaining the answers that we need in order to make a valid comparison between theory and observation.

One of the principal problems in the investigation of dreaming is the high degree of uncertainty as to the reliability of the basic information. This comes mainly from reports by the individual dreamers, and it is susceptible not only to the inaccuracies and omissions that characterize any subjective type of observation, but also to an undisclosed amount of censorship by the participants that may be serious enough to invalidate the entire study. Attempts have been made to diminish these uncertainties by correlating certain aspects of the dreaming process with physiological states, and some useful results have been obtained, but the question as to just what these physiological observations mean in terms of the dreams is still far from having a conclusive answer. Consequently, most investigators rely to a considerable degree on information derived from a study of their own dreams. This forfeits the benefits of having information from a diversity of sources, but it does eliminate most of the uncertainty as to the reliability of the basic data. These considerations apply with equal force to the investigation that is being reported in this present work, and I have therefore followed what has become standard practice, and have made a systematic study of my own dream patterns. The discussion in this chapter will be based on the results of that study.

Inasmuch as the primary purpose was to determine the nature and origin of the dream contents, the only requirement was to record enough dreams to constitute a representative sample. Consequently, no special arrangements were necessary, and I merely kept a notebook at the side of the bed. Whenever I roused enough to remember that I was making a dream study, I made some brief notes as to the subject matter of the dreams from which I had wakened, if any. As soon as possible after rising in the morning, I used these notes, together with whatever memory I had of additional details, to prepare a description of the dreams. During the recording of this information, I tried to avoid speculating as to the origin of the dreams, so that the possibility of influencing the recollection of the details would be minimized, but later in the day, I reviewed the record of each of the night’s dreams to see if I could identify the source of the stimulus that initiated the dream. The records of these reviews, together with the original records of the dreams, are the primary bases of the conclusions that will be reported herein. No means of distinguishing between REM and NREM sleep were available.

Preliminary consideration of the plan of procedure indicated that there would be some advantage in limiting the study to those dreams that involve the entire dream process, including the role of the circulating memory system, and the dreams that were obviously initiated by physiological stimuli were therefore excluded. As noted earlier, these dreams were easily identified. For example, my standard reaction to incipient hunger is a dream in which I am trying to find a restaurant at which I can get a meal, but for one reason or another, I am unable to do so. Similarly, my standard reaction to getting too cold during the night is a dream in which I am lacking some item of clothing (without the feeling of embarrassment that might be expected). Such dreams were not recorded. There is a possibility, of course, that the effect of a physiological stimulus might also appear in a less easily recognizable form, in which case it should show up in the analysis of the written record, but no indications of such effects were found.

The study was carried on for a period of one month, during which fifty separate dreams were recorded. This was a rather quiet month which I spent at home, and in which I engaged in no unusual activities, and was not subject to any emotional complications. Nor was I troubled by any physical ailments, aside from hay fever, which I have in a mild form every spring. The hay fever was, in a way, an asset to the study, as it caused more waking during the night than would ordinarily take place, and thus increased the number of remembered dreams. The conclusions reached from the dream study will have to be interpreted in the light of these conditions; that is, they apply to a specific individual, presumably in normal physical and mental condition, and in a relatively calm and uneventful situation. It is reasonable to conclude that they will also apply to any other normal individual under similar circumstances, but to what extent any specific conclusion is applicable to an individual whose physical or mental condition is abnormal, who is under emotional tension, or whose situation differs in any other significant respect from that prevailing during the study is a question that will have to be left for further investigation.

While the restriction on the scope of the inquiry by reason of the special conditions under which it took place limits the applicability of the results to a corresponding degree, it also eliminates much of the confusion that surrounds the investigation of complicated and highly emotional dreams. Inasmuch as the primary objective of the study was an understanding of the initial phase of the basic dream process, which should be the same in all cases, this simplification of the raw material with which the study is concerned makes the interpretation of the results considerably easier and more conclusive.

The study indicates that each dream, even if it appears to be continuous, actually consists of a succession of different themes. These are taken from experience, but in most instances a theme, as it exists in the circulating memory and is passed on to the dream, is only an idea, a general subject abstracted from the actual experience rather than the experience itself. Thus, a discussion that took place during the day is not contained in the circulating memory as a discussion, but in the form of some aspect of the subject matter of the discussion, perhaps accompanied by a few of the significant details, as subsidiary themes. In about half of the recorded dreams, only one theme was identified, but these were short dream sequences, some of them not much more than fragments, and the remembered dreams were undoubtedly preceded by themes that could not be recalled. For instance, one of the dream reports written immediately after rising in the morning begins, “After some dream sequences which I cannot remember, other than that they existed…” There are other similar items in the record, and unquestionably many more that did not make enough of an impression to get into the record. The longer and more vivid dreams invariably contain more than one theme. In two cases, six separate themes were identified.

The existence of a succession of themes in the dreams explains some of the disorderly and erratic character of the dream action. The sudden changes in the action that are so characteristic of the longer dreams are mainly the results of shifts to new themes. Dreams would seem less bizarre if there were definite discontinuities between the themes so that their true character as components of a series of distinct episodes would be evident, but the discontinuity is masked by the fact that the setting and some or all of the characters are commonly carried forward from one theme to the next. Furthermore, the theme changes are not always distinct, and in some cases, the dream action is reflecting two themes coincidentally or alternately.

Recognition of the theme as the common denominator of the originating source and the synthetic dream experience is the key to the identification of the dream sources. It means that we must look not for the origins of the dreams as such, but for the separate sources of the different themes of each dream; not necessarily for sources in our own experience, but sources in any experience of which we have knowledge; not for experiences involving the dream incidents themselves, but for experiences related to the themes of the dreams. An understanding of the peculiarities of the association process is likewise essential. Some of those applicable to memory in general were discussed in the preceding chapter. These and others of like nature are particularly evident in the dreams that are not subject to control by the thinking process. For instance, taking a particular action and not taking that action are very closely associated in memory, and the dream does not distinguish between the two. Similarly, the distinction between before and after is ignored. Actions which are merely contemplated appear in dreams as if they had already occurred, and vice versa. Individuals who are connected in some way, business associates, for example, are freely substituted for each other. More familiar things, situations, or places are substituted for those that are less familiar, and so on.

The effect of these associative substitutions, as we may call them, toward complicating the identification of the dream sources is to some extent offset by the fact that there is apparently some kind of a memory trace of the movement of the themes from the original source through the memory process to the dream. The identity of the sources for most of the dreams included in my study, if not obvious from the dream record, was evident almost immediately when a review of the experience of the preceding day was undertaken.

There is no need to pay any special attention to the details that are drawn from memory to complete the synthetic experiences. They are simply items which are associated in the memory storage with the subject matter of the dream themes. They are not usually drawn from storage as complete experiences, although they may be. Several of the dream experiences recorded in the study were apparently “drawn from stock,” so to speak, to fit the incoming themes. Most dreams, however, are “made to order”; that is, they are combinations of many separate items from the available supply. These amplifying items that enter into the synthetic experiences are not necessarily memories of experiences of the dreamer himself. They may come from memories of what he has seen, or heard, or read about, or if his imagination is vivid enough, they may be merely memories of his daydreams. But unless there is a “flash of insight,” nothing can appear in the dream unless it was already present in the memory system.

“Perhaps the best established, out of all of the factors that influence our dreams, is the role of events in the preceding day,”242 report Luce and Segal. This connection between dreams and the events of the day is something that I recognized many years ago. This was long before I had any reason for making an actual study of dreams, and I took note of the phenomenon only as a matter of general interest, and because I was somewhat fascinated by the curious, yet in a way logical, nature of the connection between the dream and its origin. For example, one incident that made quite an impression on me involved a dream in which I was driving a car and arrived at the upper end of a steep street with which I was familiar. Just as I was about to begin descending the steep slope, I suddenly realized that I had forgotten how to drive. The problem with which I was confronted was easily solved by one of those sudden changes in theme for which the REM dreams are noted, and I probably would not have given the dream any particular consideration except for the fact that its origin was so very obvious. During the day, I had been giving my daughter a driving lesson, and at one point where she was to make a short turn, she misjudged it and drove over the curb. This was clearly the experience from which the dream originated, and the interesting point was that what was transferred from reality to dream was not the experience itself but the general concept of “inability to drive well enough to meet a difficult situation.”

After the first few clear correlations of this kind that I noticed, I developed a habit of looking for similar connections between the happenings of the day and any dreams that were noteworthy enough to be remembered more than transiently. Eventually I reached the point where I was able not only to identify the origin of almost all of the relatively few dreams that I remembered more than momentarily, but also a large percentage of those reported by my wife. This previous experience in dream identification, even though not pursued in any systematic way, was a good preparation for the identification aspect of the dream study, and together with the information developed in the investigation itself, as described in the preceding paragraphs, it enabled me to identify the sources of all but three of the recorded dreams (excluding two that were too vague and confused to be intelligible).

All of the identified sources, without exception, were found to be events of the preceding day. This is in full agreement with Freud, who says,

I must in the first place express the opinion that in every dream we may find some reference to the experiences of the preceding day. Whatever dream I turn to, whether my own or someone else’s, this experience is always confirmed.243

Freud describes some dreams which were clearly initiated by physiological stimuli such as thirst or hunger, and he evidently includes these contemporaneous sources in the classification “experiences of the preceding day,” as he makes no exception on their account. As stated earlier, dreams of this nature were excluded from my study.

The relatively short time frame in which the origins of the dream themes are located is a consequence of the transient nature of the circulating memory. It is conceivable that an experience may be vivid enough to carry over to a second day, or even longer, if it is mentally reviewed in detail, so that it is, in effect, a repeated experience, but there was no indication of anything of this kind in my study, nor, we may conclude from the statement quoted, in Freud’s experience. I would suspect, however, that if an individual had been involved in some kind of a catastrophic event, the memory would persist in the circulating system for a longer time. The items drawn from the memory storage to expand the dream themes to synthetic experiences were independent of time, except to the extent that any recall from memory is subject to the time factor.

A recapitulation of the identifications shows that direct memory of objective experience is the most prolific source of the dream themes, accounting for 33 of the 79 identified themes, 42 percent of the total. An additional seven themes were derived from subjective experience such as thinking. Personal experience thus accounts for half of the total number of identified dream themes.

Two of the themes in the subjective category were concerned with the dream investigation itself. Dreams of this kind should no doubt be expected, in view of the amount of attention being given to the project during the day. The largest contribution from outside sources came from the subject matter of discussions and conversations, which supplied 18 themes, closely followed by books, from which 14 were derived. Television (other than news) was the source of only one theme. This predominance of books over television is a reflection of personal preference for reading over television viewing, and would no doubt be completely reversed by many, if not most, persons.

The remaining six of the 79 identified themes were derived from news items, either in the newspapers or on television. Hall tells us that “Dreams… have little or nothing to say about current events in the world of affairs.”244 My findings do not support this statement. In view of the dominant role that our own personal affairs play in our thought processes during waking hours, the fact that almost eight percent of my dream themes are derived from the news of the day shows that current events get their full share of attention. Those who do not dream about the developments in the news probably are not much concerned about them during their waking hours either.

Hall also states that “Businessmen ordinarily do not dream about their business affairs.”244 I find this statement wholly incredible. It is incompatible with the basic theory of the dreaming process that has been developed in this present work, and it is in direct conflict with my empirical findings. My current occupation supplied 12 of the 79 identified themes, and five came from my previous work. In addition, some or all of the details drawn from the memory storage to create the synthetic experiences from the dream themes were taken from my earlier work experience in 11 of the other cases and from my present occupation in one. Thus my “business affairs” were involved in more than a third of my dreams.

My findings are likewise in conflict with Freud’s assertion that “The dream never concerns itself with trifles; we do not allow sleep to be disturbed by trivialities.”245 The definition of a “triviality” is somewhat elastic, but the context shows that his distinction was between trivialities and items of evident or disguised “psychic significance.” On this basis, almost all of my recorded dreams were trivial. A large percentage of them were trivial by any definition.

“The content of dreams is notoriously bizarre and illogical,”246 says one psychology textbook. As brought out in the foregoing discussion, this assertion does not apply to the dream themes. They are simply the themes of waking life carried into the sleep period by the memory mechanism. Although 14 of the identified dream themes were drawn from books, none of these was of a far-out nature. All were ordinary matter-of-fact items. While I read a fair amount of science fiction and other highly imaginative works, I do not incorporate the imaginative material into my dreams. I do not travel in space ships or converse with intelligent plants. I may jump a great deal farther than I can in real life, or move heavy objects around in a manner that surpasses anything that I can accomplish when I am awake, but these are merely ordinary activities carried somewhat beyond the normal limits. Apparently a certain amount of discrimination is exercised by the reasoning process on the way from what is seen or heard to the memory storage, so that the plausible items are retained, if they are of any continuing interest, but implausible items are discarded or classified as fictional. This may account for some of the differences between the dreams of different individuals, as some persons are likely to dream of events that others would dismiss as unbelievable.

My experience in this respect is not out of line with the current trend of research results. “Some investigators,” reports W. B. Webb, “have been surprised by reported findings that suggest dreams may be less fantastic or bizarre than generally supposed.”247 The bizarre situations that do occur are the result of the lack of any supervision of the kind normally exercised by the reasoning process. The individual items by means of which the dream themes are expanded into synthetic experiences are actual memories of personal experience, or plausible accounts of experiences of others which can be represented as my own experiences in the dreams, without going beyond what I would consider the bounds of credibility. But since the thinking mechanism is inactive during REM sleep, and the memory process operates only by association, if one of these individual items is inconsistent with another, or with the setting in which it is placed, there is no mechanism in operation that can identify and reject the incongruous item.

In real life, if I am in a forest, and I consult my memory for an identification of an animal I see in the distance, my memory may tell me that it looks like a kangaroo. If so, I send the identification back, and tell my memory to try again, because there are no kangaroos in our Oregon forests. But if a kangaroo appears in a dream forest among the firs, he stays there. Similarly, I have memories of travel on trains and memories of travel on highways. While I am conscious I keep the two separated, but in one of the dreams during the current study, the train on which I was traveling left the tracks and proceeded along the highway. The dream process has no censorship mechanism whereby this can be ruled out.

The sudden changes in theme, which seemingly cause one object to change into another without warning, individuals to appear or disappear equally suddenly, the action to jump from one setting to another, and so on, likewise contribute to the unreal appearance of the dream when it is compared with conscious experience. The non-specific character of the association process is another source of odd features in the dreams. This is illustrated by one dream during the study in which I was engaged in conversation with an unidentified man. I was having some difficulty with my voice, and was unable to speak clearly enough to enable him to understand, so what I said had to be repeated by another person who was sitting between us. This dream very clearly originated from a discussion during the preceding evening in which I had occasion to mention some of the problems that I encountered in working through an interpreter in Brazil, and on that basis, it is a simple memory recall. But without an understanding of the kind of substitutions that occur in the uncontrolled retrieval of stored experiences, this dream would be very difficult to interpret.

“During sleep,” says Hall, “one’s thoughts are represented by vivid pictures and images rather than by words or imageless thoughts.”229 My findings do not confirm this statement. As nearly as I can determine, every kind of a memory that I have in storage in cognizable form can be called forth by association to take part in a dream. Visual images seem to outnumber other forms of expression, but words are plentiful. I argue, I lecture, I compose letters and statements, all of which are done in words. The results of my study indicate that whenever the words are the essence of the experience, as in arguing, the memory of the experience, and consequently the dream, are in words. Memory of an ordinary discussion, in which the topic is the significant item, is usually non-verbal. Imageless thoughts were definitely present in a few of the recorded dreams, probably in many more. The dream themes are generally mere ideas, and where they are not given image form by association they are nothing more than thoughts. For example, the idea of “good fortune” was the theme of one of the sequences of a dream that will be discussed in the next chapter, and it was not elaborated in any way by dream imagery.

One result reported by some of the dream investigators that has always puzzled me is the finding that unpleasant dreams are more numerous than pleasant ones. It did not seem to me that this was consistent with my own experience, as I have never had the impression that there was much of an unpleasant nature in my dreams. I was therefore quite surprised when I examined the recorded dreams in which some kind of a feeling was noted, and classified them, to find that those in which I felt displeasure, apprehension, frustration, etc., outnumbered those in which I felt such sensations as satisfaction or amusement by a ratio of 4 to 1.

On further consideration of the subject matter of these dreams, however, a plausible explanation of the apparent contradiction has emerged, one which probably deserves some extended investigation by those who are engaged in dream study. It appears that the memories of which the dream is constructed distinguish between genuine sensations of my own and those which are merely part of the dream action, even though the latter have to be attributed to me in the dream because of the “personal experience” character of dreaming. In one long and complicated dream, for example, I went through an extended series of annoying and frustrating experiences, including a search of my car by the police, a sudden discovery that the car had no brakes, and so on. However, the dream record, written immediately after waking in the morning, concludes this long recital of troubles with this statement: “The whole dream was free from any anxiety or other emotion. Every experience seemed to be taken in a purely matter-of-fact way.” Evidently the unpleasant features in the dream were not unpleasant to me; they were merely part of the performance I was witnessing, even though I was dreaming “in the first person,” so to speak. This conclusion is substantiated by the identification of the source of the dream. It was not an experience of my own. It came from a book that I had been reading just before retiring.

In another case in which I encountered some definite antagonism in the dream, the record says, “I was not disturbed by the antagonism; in fact, I seemed to be mildly amused throughout the entire dream.” Here, again, the emotional atmosphere held no unpleasant implication for me. Only a few of the dream records contain specific statements of this kind, but the theatrical performance setting is apparently a very common feature of my dreams, and it probably accounts for my general impression that there is little or no unpleasantness in my dream experience. No doubt many people have genuinely unpleasant experiences in dreams, but it would be interesting to find out how prevalent these actually are.

It is possible that this theatrical atmosphere may account for much of the rather uninhibited nature of the dreamer’s behavior during some of the dreams. From the description of the sleep states in Chapter 14, it can be seen that the thinking mechanism is not in a position to exercise any direct control over the REM dream experiences, inasmuch as it is disconnected from the memory process of which the dream is a part. Whatever censorship is accomplished must be exercised by memory of previous decisions with respect to the same or similar issues. Where a firm position on a subject has been taken, and has been impressed on the memory, this is sufficient to bar any action that would be in conflict. A law-abiding citizen will not commit a crime of violence in his dreams even where the dream is merely a reenactment of an episode from a book or performance, and the dreamer is only playing a role.

In general, however, there is much more latitude for unconventional conduct in dreams than in the waking state. There are plenty of memories of unorthodox, intemperate, or reprehensible conduct in every memory storehouse. Even if the individual has no personal memories that fall into these categories, he has been exposed to innumerable accounts of such experiences in the news, in books, and in the broadcast media, all of which are attributed to him if they are called up by association in dreams. Unlike reasoning, memory is unable to relate the permissibility of an action to the existing circumstances. In the absence of a memory of a definite prohibition, an action which will be taken in real life only under very exceptional circumstances is allowed in a dream under any conditions.

16 Dream Interpretation


Dream Interpretation

From the earliest time of which we have any detailed knowledge, dreams have been regarded as repositories of hidden messages, and their interpretation has been a matter of great interest. Hidden information is presumably information that is not available, or at least not readily available, elsewhere, and since the closed door that the human race has always had the greatest desire to penetrate is the one that leads to the future, one of the most popular ideas has been that dreams provide a means of foretelling future events.

In order to discover the hidden meaning, one must find the plan of concealment, and the general belief has been that dreams accomplish this by representing the true meaning in the form of symbols. Most present-day investigators have abandoned the hope of extracting any information about the future from dream analysis, but they have retained the conception that the perceived content of a dream is a symbolic representation of its true meaning. “The dream-content is, as it were, presented in hieroglyphics, whose symbols must be translated, one-by-one, into the language of the dream-thoughts,”248 says Freud. Hall puts it in this manner: “Careful investigators have come to the conclusion that there are some symbols which have pretty much the same meanings or referents for every dreamer.”249

In view of the prevalence of this opinion, one of the most significant aspects of the results obtained from the dream study described in the preceding chapter is that they show no trace of symbolism. Some of the objects or actions currently considered to be symbolic were present in my recorded dreams, but in all cases, it could easily be seen that they were present in their ordinary significance, not as symbols of something else. The snake that I saw in one dream was not a symbol; it was a memory of a rather spectacular snake that I saw in a television program a few hours earlier. The gun that appeared in another dream was not a symbol; it was a direct memory of a gun that played a prominent part in a mystery story that I had just laid down before retiring. In the dream record, “I was holding a rather peculiar long gun. It seemed more like a museum piece than a modern weapon.” In the book, the gun was a collector’s item that could well have had a place in a museum.

It is evident from the results of this study that symbols play no part in my dreams under relatively calm living conditions. This does not guarantee that they are also absent from the dreams of others under similar conditions, but it does create a rather strong presumption to that effect, particularly since much of my work deals with abstractions and symbols, and I would seem to be among those most likely to utilize symbolism in dreams if anyone does. The question as to whether I, or others, employ symbolism under highly emotional conditions also remains open, but here again, it seems quite improbable that operation under stress would change the basic nature of the dream process.

While the results of this dream study actually demonstrate the absence of symbolism only under a limited range of conditions, this amount of negative evidence is highly significant because it is completely in agreement with the conclusions reached in the two preceding chapters with respect to the mechanism of dreaming. These findings, which show that dreams are products of the normal operation of the memory system during sleep, cut the ground out from under the “symbol” hypothesis. The dream is constructed from themes already in the system, and it is elaborated with details drawn from the memory storage by means of the association process. It has some unfamiliar aspects because it is a product of memory only, with none of the participation by the thinking mechanism that characterizes the conscious activities of the mind, but there is no distortion or disguise involved. The dream is an enigma only to the person who is looking for something that is not there.

All of the theories of dream symbolism, from those of the early-day prophets and soothsayers to those of the modern psychologists and psychoanalysts, rest entirely on the assumption that the dreams must have some meaning of consequence. Since no such meaning is manifest in the dreams as they are experienced, it follows from the assumed premises that the meaning must be disguised in some manner, and the use of symbols for this purpose is a hypothesis that has been proposed. It has no factual basis. The present-day theories of dream symbolism have no more empirical support than the prophetic theories that have been abandoned to the pseudo-scientists. The mere fact that someone like Freud arrives at a conclusion as to the meaning of a dream that satisfies him, or that appears plausible to others, does not prove anything. The interpretation is still an untested hypothesis. The symbolic interpretation of dreams is simply assumption piled upon assumption.

Furthermore, the memory mechanism, as we know it from conscious experience, operates by means of straightforward association of items that have some common feature. There is no disguise or distortion involved. In order to account for the concealment of the true meaning of dreams by means of symbolism, it would therefore be necessary to assume the existence of an additional mechanism of some kind. There is no physical indication of any such mechanism. Nor do the proponents of the “concealment” or “symbolism” hypothesis seem to have given any consideration to the question as to what purpose a concealment process would serve if an appropriate mechanism did exist. There is no need for any special means of concealing the existence or the meaning of dreams from other persons. The dreamer has full control over the release of the information in any event. He can withhold any or all of it, or alter it arbitrarily, as he sees fit. In fact, only a tiny fraction of the dreams that occur are ever brought to the attention of others, and many of these are heavily censored by the dreamer. Thus, the only purpose of a concealment process, if it existed, would be to hide the meaning of the dream from the dreamer himself. This is the purpose implied by the prevailing opinion that the significance of the dream can only be ascertained with the aid of an interpreter.

In the days when dreams were thought to be messages in code originating from some metaphysical source, the idea that the code could be deciphered only by specially trained individuals was not unreasonable. But now that this idea has been abandoned, and it is conceded that dreaming is a purely physiological process, it should not take much reflection to dispose of this farfetched concealment hypothesis. It is simply absurd to suggest that evolution would have gone to all the trouble of producing a special mechanism for the purpose of concealing information from the individual himself. Surely there is no selection pressure favoring survival of the ignorant. Even without the new information contributed by this present work, it should be clear that the symbolic interpretation of dreams is too far divorced from reality to be entitled to serious consideration. The findings reported in Chapter 15 merely reinforce this conclusion. The “dream books” that are so popular these days will have to be classified with the “horoscopes” of the astrologers as nonsense—perhaps entertaining nonsense for those who are not taken in by the elaborate manner in which it is packaged. The symbolism envisioned by Freud and the “careful investigators” mentioned by Hall has no more foundation than that of the dream books. It, too, is nonsense.

An equally conspicuous feature of the results that I obtained from my dream study is the absence of any indication of the “wish-fulfillment” which looms so large in the conventional wisdom in this area. “When the work of interpretation has been completed the dream can be recognized as a wish-fulfillment,”250 Freud tells us unequivocally. But even in the example that he cites in beginning his discussion of “The Dream as Wish-Fulfillment” there is no fulfillment. “If I succeed in appeasing my thirst by means of the dream that I am drinking, I need not wake up in order to satisfy that thirst,” he says, and if he could show such an effect, he would have proved his point. But he immediately admits that “the need for water to quench the thirst cannot be satisfied by a dream.”251 His statement that “the dream takes the place of action” is thus contradicted by his own example. But this dream of his is entirely consistent with my finding that a stimulus from the circulating memory, or, as in this case, from the physiological mechanism, calls forth by association, an appropriate memory from storage to create a synthetic experience.

Instead of wish fulfillment, what we have here is a memory of a satisfying experience called forth by a stimulus associated with such an experience. The difference is not particularly striking, but it is nevertheless significant. The dream itself does not satisfy. Freud keeps admitting this, even though at the same time he insists that each dream is wish fulfillment. In reporting “a series of dreams which are based on the longing to go to Rome,” he asserts, “It is obvious that I am trying in vain to see in my dreams a city which I have never seen in my waking life.”252 “Trying in vain” can hardly be equated with “fulfillment.” This, again, is simply a memory theme, elaborated into a synthetic experience. During the day, something reminded Freud of his desire to see Rome. The theme “a visit to Rome” then carried over into his circulating memory and initiated a dream. There is no hidden meaning and no need for an interpretation.

A memory of an experienced event results in a dream in which the desired result is attained, with or without the same setting and personnel as in the actual experience. A memory of an anticipation is likely to initiate the same kind of a dream. But a memory of a frustration, or a wish that, like Freud’s desire to visit Rome, is considered unlikely to be fulfilled, results in a dream in which the desired result is not attained. In each case, the imageless thought of the dream theme includes the sensation either of attaining or not attaining the objective. Those who have no confidence in their ability to reach their objectives during their waking hours will not reach them in their dreams either, unless they can invest their daydreams with enough verisimilitude to deceive their memories into accepting them as real experiences.

The role of memory is even more clearly emphasized by the dreams that originate from those items in the circulating system that are concerned with its principal purpose: the reminding function. No less than five of the “personal experience” class of dreams recorded during my study originated from memories that I deliberately impressed on the circulating system in the form “I must remember to do so-and-so the first thing in the morning.” I cannot determine from the available information whether every such command addressed to the memory system before retiring resulted in a dream, as this relationship was not recognized until the dream records were analyzed. I do know, however, that there were only three occasions during the month on which it was necessary for me to rise before my usual hour to take care of such self-imposed responsibilities, and in every one of these “alarm clock” instances, the matter with which I was to deal in the morning became the theme of a dream. This experience is a strong indication that any instructions given to the memory to be retained overnight are reflected in dream themes, as would be expected from the theory developed in the preceding pages.

The wish-fulfillment hypothesis is often extended to include the concept of some kind of an inner dream life free from the restrictions that apply during waking hours. An individual’s dream, says Lewis Mumford, is “an uninhibited expression of his inner self, releasing him from dull constraints and paralyzing compulsions.”253 Karl Menninger expresses the same general idea. “It has long been recognized,” he says, “that dreams represent in some way our forbidden wishes.”254 The results of the dream study give no support to this hypothesis. Indeed, the observed fact that dreams with unpleasant features greatly outnumber those of a pleasant nature is just about enough in itself to demolish such speculations. The dream is merely a replay of experience. The process that might deserve to be called an “uninhibited expression” is daydreaming, in which the individual exercises conscious direction to shape events to his liking.

In Freud’s thirst-initiated dream, the entire situation was simple, and his report, brief as it is, contains enough information to indicate its true character as a simple memory recall. Most dreams, however, cannot be understood without a reasonably detailed knowledge of the events in the life of the dreamer that took place during the preceding day. A good illustration of how essential it is to have this information is provided by one of the dreams recorded during my study. This dream consisted of three quite distinct parts. I had a clear memory of the first and last, while my recollection of the second was rather vague and confused. The original record of the first episode reads as follows:

I had experienced some kind of good fortune, the nature of which was not identified. It was evidently a matter of common knowledge, as just about everyone I passed stopped to talk to me, even those that I did not know. However, they did not seem to be congratulating me, nor did I feel any special satisfaction.

Those who regard dreams as prophetic would have no difficulty in interpreting this dream as a favorable omen. Those of the “wish-fulfillment” school could just as easily see it as a result of my desire for some kind of “good fortune,” although my apparent indifference to the outcome would have to be explained away in some fashion. When I examined the dream report several hours after recording it, in the course of my regular procedure, I could find nothing in the previous day’s events to which it seemed to have any relation. I therefore gave it a tentative classification as unexplained. Negative conclusions of this kind were necessarily only tentative at first, as the different themes of a dream frequently came from the same source. In one of the six-theme dreams, for instance, all six themes originated from separate, and easily identified, incidents in a book that I had been reading during the preceding evening. In other cases, the original dream theme is repeated with some modifications in another dream later in the night. These related dreams frequently furnish clues that clarify the earlier ones. In this instance, I went on to an examination of the second segment of the dream. I found that it was totally unrelated to the first, and was able to connect it with some news events that had made an impression on me. The record of the third segment, to which I then turned, was as follows:

An unidentified friend met me and wanted me to play some kind of a game with him. I agreed to do so. It was not any of the standard games with which I am acquainted, and had some complicated rules which he had to explain to me. While we were busy with the explanation, someone came in and tampered with the lights, causing them to become so dim that we could not continue.

No doubt those who work with symbols and hidden meanings could have a field day with “playing some kind of a game,” but I could easily see that it was a direct memory. The “unidentified friend” was one of the local supermarkets. The “game” they wanted me to play was a promotional feature they were starting that was called the “Cash King Game.” I “agreed to play” in the sense that I accepted one of the cards which were being handed out to purchasers. The “complicated rules” of the game were “explained” to me by that card. The dimming of the lights was the way in which the dream expressed the fact that some parts of the material on the card were in such fine print that I had to stop reading and get a magnifying glass before I could finish. Here we have pure memory, modified only by the generalizing that takes place in passing through the circulating memory system.

The easily found origin of this third theme of the dream then made the origin of the first theme clear. It was also drawn from the same source. The “good fortune” of the dream was the prize money to be distributed to the winners of the “game,” and the reason for my indifference was my realization that the odds against winning anything are astronomical. The reason for the separation between the two themes was that they were separated in time. Several hours elapsed between my first contact with the “game” and my perusal of the rules.

The futility of any attempt to interpret these two dream episodes without having a reasonably good knowledge of my activities during the preceding day is evident. The same can be said about almost all of the dreams included in the study. But when that knowledge is available, the dreams can be understood in a purely matter-of-fact way, without any esoteric or psychic implications. There is no need for symbols or wish-fulfillment hypotheses in the interpretation. Nor is there any deliberate distortion or concealment involved.

“Why is an interpretation necessary at all? Why does not the dream say directly what it means?”255 asks Freud. The conclusion he reaches is that the dreams are distorted “as a means of disguise.”256 But here again, the very dream that he cites as the first example to support his conclusions is readily understandable on the basis that it does “say directly what it means.”

Freud realized that this particular dream was related to a visit from a colleague during the preceding evening. This man, a personal friend, identified as R., informed Freud that he had learned that promotion to a professorship, which he had been actively seeking, was to be denied because of his religion. Freud recognized that his own ambitions for a similar promotion would likewise be frustrated if the same criterion was applied in his case. He records the dream in this manner:

  1. My friend R. is my uncle—I have great affection for him.
  2. I see before me his face somewhat altered. It seems to be elongated; a yellow beard, which surrounds it, is seen with peculiar distinctness.257

Freud says that he never had any feeling of affection for the uncle who was portrayed in the second of the recorded features of the dream, and that, although R. was a friend, the degree of affection in the dream was wholly inappropriate. He therefore concludes that he does not actually feel any affection for R. at all; that the exaggerated show of affection in the dream was a disguise, and that his “dream-thoughts” of R. were actually derogatory. In his dream, he believes, he was trying to portray R. as unworthy of promotion for reasons having nothing to do with religion, thus evading the natural conclusion that the reasons for rejecting R. would apply to him as well. He supports this by the recollection that another colleague N. was likely to be denied promotion because of an unproved criminal accusation. The whole convoluted process of reasoning leads to this conclusion:

If denominational considerations are a determining factor in the postponement of my two friends’ appointment, then my own appointment is likewise in jeopardy. But if I can refer the rejection of my two friends to other causes, which do not apply to my own case, my hopes are unaffected. This is the procedure followed by my dream; it makes one friend, R., a simpleton, and the other, N., a criminal. But since I am neither the one nor the other, there is nothing in common between us. I have a right to enjoy my appointment to the title of professor, and have avoided the distressing application to my own case of the information which the official gave to my friend R.258

In the light of the findings of this present work, what Freud has done is to put together a complicated structure of hypotheses and assumptions to explain what is actually nothing but a simple memory recall. The central theme of the experience, the discussion with friend R., was the role of religion, as Freud concedes. Inasmuch as the theme remains intact throughout the memory process culminating in the dream, the theme of the dream is also religion. Once this fact is recognized, the dream practically shouts its message. The “great affection” demonstrated in the dream was not for the uncle, for whom Freud had no appreciable affection. Nor was it for R., who was no more than a friend. Obviously, that great affection was for the religion. With this understanding, the non-verbal dream can easily be translated into words in this manner:

My friend R. has been denied appointment because of his religion. This is also my religion and that of my relatives, including my uncle Joseph. All of us have a deep affection for it.

Ironically, Freud disparages his own character in a wholly unnecessary manner in his interpretation of the dream. He paints himself as a scoundrel, one who has, in his own words, “degraded two respected colleagues in order to clear my own way to the professorship,” whereas a straightforward reading of the dream does him credit. In this dream, he is simply reaffirming his devotion to an ancient and honorable religion in spite of what it is costing him in the way of a lost promotion.

In this instance, and also in the “game” dream described earlier, the connection between the actual experience and the synthetic experience of the dream was evident because we had knowledge of both. It would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, to determine the origin of either dream from the dream report alone. Yet this is the kind of thing that most dream interpretation tries to do. This is why symbols, distortion, concealment, and the like have to be postulated in order to arrive at any conclusions at all.

The need for interpretation arises only because it is assumed that dreams must have some profound significance. With only minor exceptions, Freud contends that “Whatever one dreams is either plainly recognizable as being psychically significant, or it is distorted and can be judged correctly only after complete interpretation, when it proves after all to be of psychic significance.”245 To the ancient prophets and soothsayers, dreams were phenomena that foretold future events; to the psychoanalysts of today, they are phenomena of “psychic significance.” Since neither of these characteristics is evident in the dream itself, one or the other is put into the dream in the process of interpretation. Whatever “psychic significance” is attributed to the dreams recorded in my study would obviously be spurious, since these dreams are clearly nothing but synthetic experiences initiated by memories carried forward from the events of the day. In direct contradiction to Freud’s assertion, they are primarily trivial items of no continuing significance. The theory of dreaming developed in the preceding pages indicates that this is a general situation; that all, or practically all, of the significance attributed to dreams by the interpreters is fictitious.

Much of the so-called “fantastic” nature of dreams, aside from the results of the abrupt changes of theme and the lack of rational discrimination, likewise results from the fact that the investigator does not know, and the dreamer does not realize, or censors, what has been going on in his mind during the preceding waking interval. Again Freud supplies a very appropriate example. He reports a dream in which the dreamer “reaches a railway station just as a train is coming in. But then the platform moves toward the train, which stands still.”259 This, Freud says, is “an absurd inversion of the real state of affairs.” But it is not absurd to those who are familiar with physical theory. Sir Arthur Eddington, for example, uses this specific situation as an illustration of the application of the relativity theory. “Since velocity is relative,” he contends, “it does not matter whether we say that the train is moving at 60 miles an hour past the station or the station is moving at 60 miles an hour past the train.”260 Some of us do not accept this statement without adding a few qualifications, but when properly qualified, we do not find it absurd.

But since Freud did consider this dream an absurdity, he concluded that the inversion of the roles of train and station “is nothing more than an indication to the effect that something else in the dream must be inverted.” However, anyone who encounters Eddington’s statement, or something similar, for the first time can very well be sufficiently impressed by it to have a dream in just the form reported by Freud. Or such a dream could originate from any discussion of the relativity of motion—either Einstein’s theory or pre-Einstein concepts. I could easily have such a dream myself. The conclusion that there must be an inversion somewhere else in the dream is nothing but pure supposition contrived to account for a supposed incongruity that does not actually exist.

As noted in Chapter 15, I do not dream of things that are inherently absurd or incredible (although they may be combined in absurd ways because of the inability of the memory system to recognize incongruity). It is probable that this is the general rule. But my rejections are based on what I consider absurd, not on the judgment of any one who attempts to interpret my dreams. This, too, must be the general rule. If anyone believes in ghosts, he may very well dream of ghosts, even if I do not. Anyone who thinks, reads, or hears about relativity physics may dream of a station moving to meet a train, regardless of how absurd that may seem to Freud, or to any other dream interpreter.

The rather fortuitous fact that Freud gives us enough information to show that the illustrative examples he uses in three different applications are almost certainly direct memories rather than instances of the symbolism, wish fulfillment, distortion, and concealment that he employs in trying to interpret them lends strong support to the conclusions that I have reached from theory and from the analysis of my own dreams. Normal dreams, I find, are simply memories, altered in their details in most cases because of the nature of the memory process that is involved. In this I concur with what Hall says is now the prevailing opinion: “It is now thought that dreams are not primarily disguises for repressed wishes, but that they represent what is on the dreamer’s mind.”261 Hobson and McCarley, in a recent article, use language that is even closer to the findings of this work when they characterize dreaming as a “synthetic, constructive process, rather than a distorting one.”262

The significance of dreams, as seen in the light of the findings of this present investigation, can best be expressed by comparing the dream state to the idling of the motor of an automobile while the vehicle is stationary. In dreams, the memory apparatus is idling in a similar manner, maintaining continuity of operation without accomplishing any other useful purpose. This is a far cry from both the prophetic role seen by the ancient world and the “safety valve” concept proposed by Freud, but it is all that the evidence will support. This does not mean that there is nothing to be learned from dreams. Most diagnostic work on automobile motors is done under idling conditions, and the reasons for this procedure are applicable, at least in some degree, to the memory mechanism as well. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that those who are diagnosing the ailments of the human mind may find the idling period convenient for some of their investigations.

It might be concluded from what has been said in this and the three preceding chapters that the results of the present investigation are adverse to the essential claims of the psychoanalysts. This is not true, as a general proposition. On the contrary, these new results are entirely in agreement with Freud’s assertion that there is a continuing conflict between different aspects of each individual’s personality. The question as to whether this conflict is the cause of personality disorders, and the further question as to whether such disorders can be cured by exposing and treating the conflict, are outside the scope of this work, but in the light of the present findings, the contentions of the psychiatrists and psychoanalysts in these respects are plausible.

The finding that the individual components of dreams reproduce the original memories without the concealment or distortion envisioned by the psychoanalysts does not preclude departures from reality in the dreams of abnormal or troubled individuals, or in a lesser degree, those of some individuals who could be considered normal. But it points to the original memory as the location of the distortion rather than the dream. It is the memory that is subject to control. There is a certain degree of mental control over the NREM dreams, but most of these dreams have a matter-of-fact character that is not compatible with the “distortion” hypothesis. The distortions that the dream interpreters claim to find are primarily in the REM dreams which, according to theory, cannot be distorted by the dreamer because they are not subject to control. Memories, on the other hand, are notoriously inaccurate, and much of this inaccuracy is a product of the individual’s attitude. To a considerable degree, we see what we want to see and remember what we want to remember. Thus, even though the dreams merely reflect what is contained in the memory system, they do reveal some things about the production of these memories that may be just as useful to the analyst as the distortions for which he has hitherto been searching.

In the foregoing discussion of dream interpretation, we have been treating psychoanalysis merely as one of the prominent schools of psychology, the study of human behavior, and the amount of attention that has been given to the theories of Sigmund Freud is merely a result of the fact that dreams play a much larger part in his theories than in those of other schools of psychology, the behaviorist school, for example. But in formulating their theories, Freud and his followers have made some assumptions that have a bearing on the conflict between science and religion in present-day thought. Since this is one of the principal concerns of the present work, some further consideration of these points is in order before we leave the subject of psychoanalysis.

Personality disorders, according to Freud, are due to conflicts between different aspects of an individual’s psychic mechanisms. He identifies three of these: the id, the primitive animal-like aspect; the ego, the social aspect, developed by contact with the outer world; and the superego, which is commonly equated, somewhat roughly, with conscience. Disorders of certain types originate, he says, from conflicts between the id and the ego; others originate from conflicts between the ego and the superego.

The conclusions derived from theory and reported in the preceding pages are in general agreement with this picture. They differ from Freud’s theories in two significant respects. The lower level conflicts, we find, are not due to differences in objectives, as Freud assumes, but to differences between what the emotions prescribe as the proper actions for reaching the Sector 2 objectives and what reason indicates as the most effective procedures. According to our findings, the social contacts to which Freud attributes the difference in objectives that, in his opinion, are responsible for the conflicts between the id and the ego, do not actually alter the objectives. As pointed out in Chapter 13, they change the factors that enter into the determination of the most effective way of reaching those objectives, and since reason is more capable of reacting to such changes, they increase the likelihood of a conflict between emotion and reason.

Such conflicts are phenomena of the physical universe, and they have no direct relevance to the exploration of the metaphysical region that is being undertaken in this present work. But the upper-level conflicts, those which, in Freud’s terminology, pit the ego against the superego, are within the scope of our inquiry as they cannot be explained in purely physical terms. Unlike the situation at the lower level, where two recognizable physical mechanisms, emotion and reason, are involved, there is no known physical mechanism that can be identified with the superego, to the extent that this entity can be equated with conscience. Furthermore, the considerations discussed in Chapter 7 show that such a mechanism, one that is directed toward objectives other than survival of the individual and his species, cannot be produced by biological evolution, inasmuch as evolution is directed toward, and operates by means of, survival. Conscience and any related phenomena identified with the superego in Freud’s system therefore cannot be biological. As the development of thought in the preceding pages brings out, they are phenomena of Sector 3 associated with the biological structures.

In his capacity as a scientist, Freud was uncompromising. As expressed by Trueblood, “If scientism is a disease, Freud had it badly.”263 Since he did not realize that some of the features he attributed to the superego cannot be produced by evolution, he regarded this aspect of the personality as merely another physical level comparable to those that he designated as the id and the ego. This left no room for religion or metaphysical existence. He therefore repudiated religion, characterizing it as an illusion which impedes critical thinking and is detrimental to the best interests of the human race.264 In a sense, at least, he offered psychoanalysis as a substitute for religion.

But like so many other scientists, Freud was unable to divest himself of his deep-seated religious beliefs, and even though he kept them under cover as much as possible, they were perceptible to his followers. H. Faber notes that “[Erich] Fromm sees a ’religious’ core in Freud which goes back to the Jewish tradition,”265 and that Carl Jung interpreted Freud’s antipathy to mysticism “as meaning that Freud obviously felt himself to be threatened by an eruption of unconscious religious factors.”266 He was particularly interested in matters connected with the Jewish faith, and selected Moses as the subject of his last book. All of which confirms our reading of the dream in which he unintentionally revealed his “great affection” for the religion of his ancestors.

This religious awareness of which even the most rigid adherent of deterministic science cannot completely rid himself is a result of the dual nature of the flow of information into the human mind that was discussed in Chapter 11. While one stream carrying physical information comes in through the senses and gives rise to the understandings and beliefs of everyday life and of physical science, another stream carrying metaphysical information is simultaneously coming in through intuitive channels and giving rise to some degree of recognition of truths of a higher order.

17 Free Will


Free Will

Animal life is not entirely free from the necessity of making decisions as to the course of action to be pursued. When confronted with a powerful enemy, for example, the question as to whether to fight or retreat may be of vital importance. But the basis for such a decision is never in doubt. Survival of the individual and his species is the paramount objective, and whatever uncertainties may exist as to the course of action that should be taken are simply uncertainties as to what action will contribute most effectively to that end.

This constant direction of animal activity is a result of the fact that the biological organism is subject to only one control: that of the life unit. The laws of the inanimate sector of the universe also apply, to be sure, but these laws merely impose certain limitations on the activity of the organism; they do not exercise any actual control functions. Within the physical limitations, all actions of the organism are determined by the controlling life unit, and they follow a single set of laws and principles: the laws of Sector 2.

As we have found in the preceding pages, this constancy of direction does not apply to the activities of the human race. Man is subject not only to control by a Sector 2 entity, the life unit, but also by a Sector 3 control unit. In many areas, the two controls operate harmoniously. An adequate food supply, for instance, is just as essential to the attainment of the Sector 3 objectives as it is to the attainment of the Sector 2 objectives, and hence no conflict arises in this area. But in a great many other cases, the action that is taken if the Sector 2 control prevails is quite different from that which is taken if the Sector 3 control gains the ascendancy. Here man must make the kind of a decision that does not confront any other living organism; he must decide which of two conflicting sets of governing rules he will follow, or he must work out some kind of a compromise between the two. There are also decisions to be made as to the particular actions which will contribute most effectively to the attainment of the objectives that are decided upon, and in this respect, man is in the same position as any other animal, but only man is called upon to decide which set of rules he will follow.

Wherever there is a decision of this kind to be made, the choice between behavior as an animal and behavior as an ethical human being is one which the individual exercises by virtue of his free will. At both extremes of philosophical thought there are those who deny the existence of free will and contend that human actions are predetermined. This is an issue of crucial importance in many areas of human activity.

Probably no other issue in philosophy is more alive today or has more far-reaching consequences. If all events in the world, including a man’s thoughts and actions, are rigidly determined by forces beyond his control, then a man can neither act differently from the way he does nor really guide the course of events even in his own life. If he could not have acted differently, should he be held responsible for his conduct?267 (H. H. Titus)

It is significant that both of the groups that deny the existence of free will base their denials on development of the consequences of their own doctrines, not on interpretation of the evidence. Those who believe that the entire course of events in the universe is foreordained argue from the premise that God is omnipotent, and hence everything that happens must be just as He wants it; otherwise He would change it. Quite aside from the fact that the available evidence is against it, this argument is not very convincing. Even if one were to grant the validity of the major premise, the conclusion does not necessarily follow.

The strict mechanists likewise deny the existence of free will because it conflicts with their doctrines. If the universe in its entirety is nothing but a mechanism, then every part of it, including the biological mechanism known as man, will respond to stimuli in a mechanistic manner. The response of any particular mechanism to any particular stimulus will be a specific action determined by the characteristics of the stimulus and the characteristics of the organism, with no opportunity for variation. In its simplest form, this is the doctrine of determinism. It originated from a consideration of the implications of the classical mechanics of Newton’s era, which indicated that the state of a physical system at any particular time is uniquely determined by its state at any previous time. Laplace, who was the first to put this hypothesis into specific and unequivocal terms, contended that if there existed a being capable of knowing the exact condition of each constituent of the system at any one time, he could determine the exact conditions that will exist at any future time, as well as those that did exist at any specified past time.

In the light of the scientific knowledge of the eighteenth century, Laplacian determinism appeared to be well grounded, but the uneasiness which most scientists felt about the denial of free will that this hypothesis requires was clearly demonstrated by the alacrity with which they accepted the idea that the statistical nature of the quantum theories provides a loophole through which free will can be reinstated. Eddington was one of the first and most articulate of the advocates of this proposition. Before the ink was hardly dry on Heisenberg’s announcement of his Indeterminacy Principle, Eddington was proclaiming that “Science thereby withdraws its moral opposition to free-will.”268 In another work he summarized his position as follows:

We conclude then that the activities of consciousness do not violate the laws of physics, since in the present indeterministic scheme there is freedom to operate within them.269

But this buoyant optimism was short-lived, as powerful voices were soon heard, pointing out that replacing determinism by chance accomplishes nothing toward clearing the way for the exercise of that choice which is the essence of the free-will concept. The following statements are typical:

The physicist who tries to prove freedom on the basis of quantum theory invariably meets misfortune, whether he recognizes it or not… he can prove randomness of action, but never freedom.270 (Henry Margenau)

If these statistics [the statistics which, according to present-day theory, determine the behavior of the atom] are interfered with by any agent, this agent violates the laws of quantum mechanics just as objectionably as if it interfered—in pre-quantum physics—with a strictly causal mechanical law… . The net result is that quantum physics has nothing to do with the free-will problem. If there is such a problem, it is not furthered a whit by the latest developments in physics.271 (Erwin Schrödinger)

In approaching this question from a scientific standpoint, making use of the information developed earlier in this volume and in the prior study of the physical universe, it is desirable first to distinguish clearly between causality and determinism. The two are often equated in scientific and philosophical discussions. As R. B. Lindsay says, “There is some disagreement among scientists about the concept of causality. Among many it is essentially equivalent to the notion of determinism.”272 Some philosophers likewise fail to see the distinction. “Determinism,” says Hospers, “is the view that everything that happens has a cause.”273 But there are two very different concepts here, and each term should be reserved for one of these, so that the issues are not unnecessarily confused by the language that is utilized.

The simple notion of causality is the one implied in the statement that “From nothing, nothing comes.” According to this viewpoint, there must be some thing or some combination of things—a cause or a number of causes—that can be regarded as responsible for any specific physical event. If we then go a step farther and assert that the correlation between the cause and the result is unique, so that a full knowledge of the cause would enable prediction of the result in full detail, we have what will here be called determinism.

Considerable difficulty has heretofore been experienced in arriving at a satisfactory definition of the term “cause.” Most of the definitions that have been proposed reduce to nothing more than a matter of time sequence when they are carefully analyzed. Many observers are therefore inclined to regard “cause” as a meaningless expression. Others have attempted to add further requirements to that of sequence in time, in order to give this term the meaning that seems to be lacking. Bridgman, for instance, gives it a deterministic significance:

I believe that examination will show that we must at least have invariable sequence—the event B must always follow the event A under all sorts of conditions.274

During the era when Newton’s system, the so-called “classical physics,” was the unchallenged basis of physical science, the universe was regarded as being made up of physical objects—particles of matter and combinations of such particles—and physical events were identified as changes in the motions and associations of these particles and their combinations. If such a system is isolated (that is, not subject to outside influences) and is governed by definite laws and principles, causality becomes determinism, and we have the “invariable sequence” that Bridgman envisioned. Not only is each event the result of certain causes, but the nature of the event is completely determined by those causes. Determinism was apparently an inescapable consequence of the classical viewpoint.

In fact, the methods, definitions and conceptions of physical science were so much bound up with the hypothesis of strict causality that the limits (if any) of the scheme of causal law were looked upon as the ultimate limits of physical science. No serious doubt was entertained that this determination covered all inorganic phenomena. How far it applied to living or conscious matter or to consciousness itself was a matter of individual opinion; but there was naturally a reluctance to accept any restriction of an outlook which had proved so successful over a wide domain.275 (A. S. Eddington)

Discovery of phenomena to which the laws of classical physics are not applicable, and the rise of quantum mechanics as the new orthodox scientific doctrine, destroyed the foundations upon which the deterministic theories were erected. Even causality was endangered, as it was found that many of the events taking place at the atomic level, such as the disintegration of a radioactive atom, for example, could not be correlated with any cause. An atom of uranium remains quiescent for years, and then suddenly, for no apparent reason, disintegrates. It is possible to predict quite accurately, by statistical methods, just how many atoms of a particular aggregate will undergo decay in a given period of time, but present-day physics is unable to tell us why the disintegration occurs or when any particular atom will be affected. So far as can be determined on the basis of the modern physical theories, the decay events simply happen without any cause.

While these developments have destroyed what previously seemed to be a prima facie case in favor of both causality and determinism, the new physical picture has been far too vague to establish indeterminism on a firm basis, and causality remains a wide open and hotly debated issue in scientific circles. The difficulty is that although “modern physics” has superseded “classical physics” as the orthodox scientific doctrine, the modern physicist has not been able to place his theories on the same firm footing that classical physics occupied in its day. During the era of Newton, the physical principles then recognized—the classical principles—explained the then known physical facts completely and accurately, with only a few minor exceptions, and it was not unreasonable to expect that they would ultimately furnish similar explanations for all of the phenomena of the physical universe. Modern physics, on the other hand, is neither complete nor accurate in its attempts to account for the physical facts that are now known. Indeed, there is no general agreement even as to the meaning of the existing theories, and the physicist can take his choice from among a number of different “interpretations,” none of which is free from serious weaknesses. “No satisfactory interpretation of quantum mechanics exists today,”276 concludes Hilary Putnam, after a critical examination of the arguments pro and con. Thus, while modern physical theory seems to preclude both determinism and causality, this theory itself is so vague and uncertain that it is not in a position to give authoritative answers to any such questions of a collateral nature.

The reason for this rather nebulous character of modern physical theory has now been clarified by the development of the Reciprocal System. According to the new findings, the “modern” theory cannot be other than vague and controversial because in many respects it is completely wrong. Clarification of the basic nature of the physical universe now reveals that all physical phenomena are motions of one kind or another. A physical event is simply a change of motion. This makes it possible to define the causal relationship specifically. In order that there may be a change in any motion Z, without violating the conservation laws, some other motion Y must be superimposed on motion Z. This motion Y, or the motion X of which Y was a part before the event, is then the cause of the event: the change in motion Z.

If we follow the motions backward in time (in the material system) we find that motion Y (or X) was previously modified in a similar manner by motion W, at an earlier time by motion V, at a still earlier time by motion U, and so on. The motions W, V, and U were themselves modified at earlier times by motions aW, aV, aU, etc. Every event in the physical system is thus the result of the intersection of two or more “causal chains,” as they are called. Causal systems would be a better term, as the interaction of the two motions is more like the junction of two river systems than the intersection of two chains. Much of the difficulty that is experienced in dealing with problems of causality is due to the fact that every event actually has an infinite number of causes, just as the Amazon River, for example, has its origin in an almost infinite number of rivulets. In the case of the Amazon, we can utilize some criterion, presumably size, at each junction point to identify the main stream, and by this process we can arrive at what we regard as the source of the river. In a similar manner, we can often identify something that we call the cause of a physical event, but this identification necessarily involves a somewhat arbitrary exclusion of items that have contributed to the causation. Furthermore, the designated cause is itself the result of other causes.

On this basis, the events at the atomic level to which modern physics is unable to assign any causes originate from the intersection of causal systems in the same manner as the familiar events of our everyday experience. The explanation which the Reciprocal System supplies for the seemingly anomalous atomic events is that physical objects can change their relative positions in time as well as in space, and most of the events that occur at the atomic level are the results of changes of location in time, either in addition to or in lieu of location changes in space. The difficulty that has been experienced in applying the laws of classical physics to atomic and subatomic events is due to the fact that these are laws governing motion in space. The changes of position in time that take place in these events are not governed by the laws of space motion, but by other laws that are different from, although related to, the spatial laws. When these atomic events are viewed in their proper context, they are not random and unpredictable as pictured by quantum theory; they are just as regular and orderly as the macroscopic processes that follow the classical laws. The same causal relationships that apply to ordinary everyday physical processes are therefore applicable to these atomic events as well. Every event at the atomic or subatomic level is the result of the intersection of two or more causal systems.

Determinism, however, is ruled out by another of the findings of the Reciprocal System. Earlier physical theories considered the universe as being made up of “things”: entities possessing a rather vague attribute known as “substance.” The issue of determinism versus indeterminism was simply a question as to whether the laws governing the motions of these “things” were definite and specific enough to enable accurate prediction of the later motions from a knowledge of the earlier ones. But the development of the Reciprocal System now shows that “substance” is motion of a particular kind, and the “things” are therefore nothing but motions. Furthermore, there is a continual interchange between the “things” and other types of motion. In many events, particularly where the dimensions of motion are altered, or where motion in space and motion in time are interchanged, the exact nature of the resultant is a matter of chance. At these points, causality is maintained, as always, but the deterministic chain is broken. The contentions that an “invariable sequence” is essential to causality, and that the same cause must always have the same result, are therefore erroneous. In some classes of events, determinism prevails, and the exact nature of the result can be predicted if we have a full knowledge of the cause or causes, but in other classes of events, the actual result may be any one of a number of potential results. Determinism, as a general physical principle, is thus invalid.

Denial of determinism is not, however, sufficient to establish the existence of free will. The essence of free will is the choice, but physical mechanisms have no choice. A result produced by a chance process is just as specific and definite as if it had been produced by a fully deterministic process. Free will exists only if the result that would have been produced by the normal physical processes—chance or determinate, as the case may be—can be overruled at the option of that will, and such a thing is totally foreign to the physical world. Both living and non-living physical units must follow the rules of their respective sectors; a mechanism has no will of its own. Free will is necessarily metaphysical; that is non-physical.

This is the inescapable fact that has driven the strict mechanist, whether he be scientist or philosopher, into a denial of the reality of free will. The concept of free will is “a logical monstrosity, a contradiction, a fiction,”277 says Vaihinger, with a vehemence born of realization that his statement is a direct contradiction of basic human experience. Those that are inclined toward the mechanistic viewpoint, but are unwilling to take such a radical stand, recognize that we are here confronted with a dilemma.

This is one of man’s oldest riddles. How can the independence of human volition be harmonized with the fact that we are integral parts of a universe which is subject to the rigid order of nature’s laws?278 (Max Planck)

Most scientists would prefer to believe in the existence of free will, but like Planck, they see no way in which this freedom can be reconciled with the physical laws to which man, as well as the rest of the physical universe, is subject. They are not impressed by the arguments advanced by those philosophers who champion free will. A brief examination of some of these philosophical positions will show why they are scientifically unacceptable. For example, Trueblood tells us that “The most powerful argument against determinism is that it utterly destroys any logical basis of responsibility.”279 This is outright circularity. The argument rests entirely on the assumption that man must be responsible for his actions. But he cannot be held responsible unless he has freedom of action. The premise on which this argument for the existence of free will is based is therefore equivalent to assuming freedom of the will.

Other philosophy texts approach the responsibility issue in a different way, contending that human recognition of a sense of personal responsibility is evidence of its existence. Titus lists this, together with three similar items that he offers as additional evidence: (1) we have a consciousness of freedom of choice; (2) we pass moral judgments on conduct, and (3) we deliberate before making a choice.280 Most scientists have considerable sympathy with this point of view as they feel intuitively that our consciousness of freedom of choice has a solid factual foundation. But the scientific world has had too much experience with popular and widely-held beliefs that are completely without merit to give any credence to evidence based solely on what people think is true. And they do not fail to note that the philosophers who advance these arguments of an intuitive nature are not, as a rule, willing to take a definite stand in favor of the reality of intuitive knowledge. So the scientist has been left in an awkward position where that which he intuitively feels to be correct is in direct conflict with the information that he derives by the logical and factual methods of inquiry to which he and his profession are committed.

The question now arises, Is the conflict between the scientific and intuitive viewpoints actually as irreconcilable as it seems? There are those who would cut the Gordian knot by repudiating some of the principles of science. Bergson, for instance, calls the law of conservation of energy a “psychological mistake”281 and proposes throwing it overboard to make room for free will. But the conservation laws are just as firmly grounded in the Reciprocal System as in conventional science, and the new information developed in the course of the present work therefore gives no support to such a suggestion. The whole idea of sacrificing established physical principles as a means of avoiding conflicts is unscientific, and all proposals of this nature will have to be rejected.

It would be feasible, however, for any agency capable of modifying the normal results of chance processes (if such an agency exists) to overrule the purely physical response to a mental stimulus. The mental mechanisms operate electrically, and the exact nature of the interactions between the individual electrical units, the electrons, and the atoms of matter is largely determined by chance. A deliberate modification of these interaction patterns could conceivably make a major change in the ultimate result of a mental process. Such an intervention would conflict with what are called the “laws of probability,” but as noted in the discussion of miracles, these probability laws, or principles, are on a somewhat different footing than the physical laws, in that they are based on a concept that (so far, at least) is indefinable, other than empirically. All definitions of probability, from the original formulation by Laplace to the language of modern texts, depend on the concept of “equally likely” events, and no one has been able to specify what this means, except as a result of observation or experiment. A modification of the factors determining what is “equally likely” by non-physical influences would not conflict with any physical laws, and it cannot be excluded by anything that is now known. We must conclude, therefore, that if an agency capable of modifying the results of chance is in existence, it could produce the results that are generally attributed to free will.

As matters now stand, there is no definite evidence to indicate that free will is actually exercised in this particular manner. However, the major obstacle to general scientific acceptance of the reality of free will has been the prevailing opinion that there is no way in which it could operate without violating established physical laws. The point of the foregoing discussion is that this opinion is wrong. There is at least one way in which free will can be exercised without any conflict with natural law. Whether this is the only means by which the result can be accomplished is a question that is still unresolved, but we can leave this for later consideration. For the present, we are concerned only with the fact that there is no reason why free will should be scientifically unacceptable.

It is true that a mechanism cannot respond with anything other than a mechanistic response, but, as brought out in the preceding pages, man is more than a mechanism. While many of his actions are mechanistically determined in the same manner as those of any other biological organism, the normal mechanistic response to any particular situation may be rejected by the non-physical aspect of his personality in favor of a response dictated by a totally different set of considerations. There is no predetermined result; the nature of the ensuing action depends on whether the Sector 3 control unit, acting in the manner described in the preceding paragraphs, or in some similar way, is strong enough to overrule the animal urges. It depends on one’s willpower, as we say in the vernacular.

This freedom of the will carries with it a responsibility that is not present in the lives of purely biological creatures. Animals have hardships and dangers to contend with, and they have their frustrations and disappointments as well, but their goals are clear; they live under a single set of rules. For man, things are not so simple. Many of his decisions, those that he makes on economic questions, for instance, are also governed by a single set of rules, but where moral questions are involved, man not only can exercise a choice, he must choose which of two conflicting sets of rules he will follow. Some individuals are able to arrive at a general decision: either to put self-interest first, as any non-human living organism would do, or to follow the moral code to the best of his ability, subordinating self-interest where the code requires. But most human beings, in our day, at least, are torn between the two alternatives and are faced with the necessity of making a fresh decision each time a new issue arises. Often the making of this decision has a shattering emotional impact, not only because of the conflicts inherent in the decision-making process itself, but also because taking action in accordance with this decision does not necessarily close the issue, particularly if the choice has been made in favor of the biological code. The internal debate still goes on, and if the decision is reversed when it is too late to reverse the action, the effect on the individual may be devastating. As expressed by Dobzhansky,

Man became, and he still remains, a creature rent by internal contradictions. He stands with one foot in his biological past and with the other in his divine future.207

This is the “human predicament,” which is the chief concern of the group of philosophies collectively known as existentialism. The adherents of this type of philosophy assert that they are “concerned with man’s sense of anxiety, despair, dread, guilt, and loneliness, and with human finitude and death,”282 and they contend that traditional philosophy fails to deal adequately with these problems. But this predicament exists only for the individual who tries to evade the basic issue and refuses to recognize that if he wants to be more than an animal, he must deliberately choose to follow a different code of conduct. The existentialist solution (if it can be called a solution) that proposes to obscure the situation by a reversion to irrationality, will not suffice. To eliminate anxiety, one must face the issue squarely and make his choice.

An important question that arises in the present connection is how free will is exercised, specifically whether there is an entity—a self, an ego, or whatever we may call it—that makes the choice between the code of Sector 3 and the code of Sector 2 where the two are in conflict. On the basis of the conclusions reached in the preceding pages, this question must be answered in the negative. At the point where Sector 2 takes control of the biological organism there is no conflict. The inanimate sector has its governing laws and principles, to be sure, but it has no active control mechanism. The Sector 2 control is unopposed, and the combination structure acts in accordance with the laws of that sector. At some stage of evolution, the emergence of intelligence leads to conflicts with emotion as to the best way of reaching the Sector 2 objectives, but the objectives do not change. The Sector 2 control carries on without opposition, and it is always directed toward survival. There is no free will in operation here. Both intelligence (in the minimum sense) and emotion are purely mechanistic, and the decisions between the two are reached in a mechanical way. If the individual has learned enough from his environment and his associations to give his intelligence a basis from which to operate, the reasoned conclusions will prevail. Otherwise, the emotional course of action will be taken.

Entry of Sector 3 influences into the situation produces a different result because Sector 2 does not automatically relinquish control. The individual is now subject, in some degree, to a Sector 3 control, while he still remains partially subject to the animal type of control, that of Sector 2. In those cases where the Sector 3 objectives are different from those of Sector 2 there is conflict. The theoretical analysis does not lead to the existence of a single “I” or ego, that chooses between the two. Instead, the process of decision is a contest between two aspects of the one personality, and the ultimate decision depends on the relative strength of the two contenders at the particular time and under the particular circumstances.

As an aid in understanding this situation, we will find it useful to compare the human individual to a horse and rider, the latter being regarded for the purposes of the analogy as a single unit: a horse-rider complex, with a horse sector and a rider sector, rather than as two separate individuals. It is evident, to begin with, that the horse sector is equipped with a full set of controls, and the physical movements of the complex are subject to these controls. In the absence of any influence originating in the rider sector, the nature of these movements will be dictated by purely biological considerations. Similarly, the human individual is equipped with a full set of controls of the same Sector 2 character, and in the absence of any influences from Sector 3, his movements will also be dictated by purely biological considerations.

Now let us assume that the rider is ready to take part in the process, and to improve the analogy, let us further assume that he is riding bareback and without reins, so that he cannot impose his will by force; he must utilize persuasion. To the extent that this persuasion is effective, the pattern of movement will now undergo a definite change. Instead of following the biological dictates in all respects, the complex will now begin to take some actions directed toward different objectives. Many of the biological actions—rest, food intake, etc.—will continue without significant change. Others will be modified or eliminated in favor of actions that advance the purposes of the rider. An almost exact parallel exists in human life. Here, too, some of the actions required by the biological rules, the rules of Sector 2, will continue with little or no change, because proper functioning of the biological mechanism is just as important as ever, but to the extent that Sector 3 influence is effective, other actions will be turned away from Sector 2 objectives and directed toward accomplishing the purposes of Sector 3.

The action that is taken in any specific case depends on two factors: (1) the degree of control that the rider has been able to develop over the horse, and (2) the strength of the biological desires. If the horse is very hungry, for instance, the objectives that the rider wishes to pursue will get scant attention. The whole emphasis will be on obtaining food. If the biological needs or desires are less urgent, a well-established control by the rider will result in actions directed toward his objectives, but if the control is weak, the animal reactions will still prevail. Again human life is similar. A starving man has little interest in morality. One whose situation is less acute may or may not follow the moral code, depending on the strength of the Sector 3 control. Of course, even the starving man should do that which is right, giving the proper weight to his moral obligation to stay alive as well as to the other moral considerations that may be involved, and the goal of moral development is to bring everyone to the point where he would so act if the occasion arose, but pending the attainment of that goal, it should be recognized that improvement of economic and social conditions is a powerful aid to moral conduct.

At this point, we will bring the analogy still closer to reality by assuming that the rider originally undertakes his equestrian duties at a very early age, and that, as he matures and the training of the horse proceeds simultaneously, he learns not only how best to get the horse to follow a course in the direction of the objectives that he has selected but also what objectives he ought to pursue. In the analogous human situation, the ethical personality, the Sector 3 unit, similarly grows and matures concurrently with the establishment of a more effective control over the activities of the individual. Here, too, there is not only a strengthening of the will to act according to the moral code, but a growth in understanding of the provisions of the code.

Just how the Sector 3 control exerts its influence is as yet unknown. As explained earlier, one possible way in which such a control could be exercised without violating any physical laws would be to interfere with the operation of the principles of probability in some of the physical phenomena of the mind in which the results are normally determined by chance. The points brought out in the foregoing analogy can be readily understood on this basis. The extent to which the normal results of probability can be overruled will depend on the power of the modifying influence; that is, the extent to which the control unit has been developed. The resistance to this modification will be related to the strength of the Sector 2 (animal) impulses under whatever conditions may exist, and the ultimate result will depend on the net balance of the forces, as indicated in the horse-rider analogy.

An interesting variation of the normal control situation is found in the phenomenon known as hypnotism. Here the subject’s own Sector 2 control is replaced, to some degree, by that of the hypnotist. In the hypnotic state, a person will follow commands, exhibit emotions, etc., apparently independent of his own volition. There are limits, however, to the extent to which this outside control can be carried. “The subject cannot be forced, as a function of hypnosis itself, to do things against his will,”283 says Milton H. Erickson. Our findings indicate that when the subject is completely hypnotized, the veto power is exercised by the Sector 3 control, and only when matters of Sector 3 significance are involved. Inasmuch as this control unit is a metaphysical entity and is independent of physical influences, it retains its full powers in the hypnotic state (a physically induced condition). The suggestions of the hypnotist are therefore rejected in those cases where they are in conflict with any of the provisions of the Sector 3 code to which the subject is committed. A normally law-abiding citizen will refuse to commit a crime of violence while hypnotized, although he may offer little or no resistance to a directive which requires him to do something that will make him look stupid or put him in some embarrassing position, actions that would likewise be very definitely “against his will” if he were not under hypnosis, but which, unlike the commission of a crime, are of no concern to Sector 3.

Now that we have confirmed the existence of free will, and have gained some understanding of the manner in which it is exercised, our next objective will be to examine the nature of the choices that are made. The next four chapters will be devoted to this undertaking.

18 Right and Wrong


Right and Wrong

Perhaps there are certain principles of right and wrong, founded in the nature of things and in human nature, which, changing in their application from age to age, are yet permanent in their central meaning. Nothing would be better worth knowing at the present moment than the answer to this question.284 (William E. Hocking)

If Hocking is correct in his evaluation, we are now ready to formulate one of the most important conclusions of the entire work. A very striking result of the addition of new items of scientific knowledge to those that were previously available is the way in which problems that had seemed hopelessly insoluble clear up as if by magic when they are examined in the light of the new information. So it was with many of the most recalcitrant problems of physical science when the Reciprocal System was first developed. Long-standing questions in physics, in astronomy, in cosmology, some of which had been given up as impossible of solution, were suddenly found to be explainable in simple and logical terms. The same phenomenon is now being encountered in our exploration of the metaphysical realm. In previous chapters, we have seen how the “miraculous” feats of inductive inference and the puzzling aspects of ESP experiments can easily be explained on a logical and purely scientific basis. Now it is clear that the facts brought out in the preceding discussion also furnish an equally logical resolution of the age-old problem of right and wrong.

Here is a problem that has occupied the thoughts of philosophers, of theologians, and of common men, not only for centuries, but for millennia. Distinctions between right and wrong are continually being made by human beings—even by those who have persuaded themselves that such concepts are mere illusions—but the source of the criteria upon which the distinction is based is far from self-evident, and it has been the subject of endless debate and controversy. The words in which John Stuart Mill characterized the state of knowledge in this area a century ago are still just as valid today:

There are few circumstances… more significant of the backward state in which speculation on the most important subjects still lingers, than the little progress which has been made in the decision of the controversy respecting the criterion of right and wrong. From the dawn of philosophy, the question concerning… the foundation of morality has been accounted the main problem in speculative thought, has occupied the most gifted intellects, and divided them into sects and schools, carrying on a vigorous warfare against one another. And after more than two thousand years the same discussions continue, philosophers are still ranged under the same contending banners, and neither thinkers nor mankind at large seem nearer to being unanimous on the subject than when the youth Socrates listened to the old Protagoras.285

Science has hitherto had nothing to offer in this area, as most of the scientists who have considered the matter freely admit. These comments are typical:

The scientific code of behavior needs a background of an ethics which science has not been able to provide.286 (C. F. von Weizsäcker)

The fact that morality cannot be based on experience or on reason leaves open the question what its basis may be. We are still faced with the problem “How shall I choose?” and I have no solution to offer.287 (Herbert Dingle)

Philosophers have been no more successful in finding a solid basis for a system of ethics than scientists, and in order to have anything at all to say on the subject, they have had to resort to some kind of arbitrary assumptions on which to base their reasoning. The following comments by Alasdair MacIntyre in a review of three recent books on ethics could equally well be applied to almost any philosophical discussion of ethical standards:

All three authors present us with arguments which move—usually, although not always validly—from certain premises to certain conclusions; but whence they derive their premises or why the rest of us should have any confidence in these premises, these are matters on which all three authors preserve an elaborate and discreet silence, broken only by hints and allusions.288

This is indeed a most unusual situation. In the ordinary course of events, if we encounter a problem, our first task is to devise a method by which to approach the question at issue. Then we apply this method, which may be nothing more than logical thinking about the problem or may involve some very complicated procedures, and if the method turns out to be adequate for the purpose, we arrive at an answer. In the case of a reasonably simple question of right and wrong, on the other hand, we know the answer to begin with, and the problem with which we are confronted is to identify the means by which we obtained it. Warren Weaver emphasizes the availability of the information in this comment:

I have many times been uncertain which course of action would best serve a certain practical purpose; but I cannot think of a single instance in my life when I asked what was the really right thing to do and the answer was not forthcoming.289

There is little tendency to deny the validity of the answers that are obtained by this unknown process. Even those who reject all of the religious explanations and regard ethical values as byproducts of social and scientific progress generally concede the point. Jacob Bronowski, for example, makes this significant admission, “I think that we all know the essential values when we can think about them abstractly.”290 The controversial issue is where and how this knowledge originates.

The conclusion of this present work is that it is communicated to human beings from Sector 3 by a process variously termed revelation, insight, or intuition. As brought out in Chapter 4, each level of existence has its own governing laws and principles and, although they differ materially in some very important respects, each of these sets of laws and principles constitutes a self-consistent system. The ethical code is simply a portion of the system of rules which govern Sector 3 and the extension of that sector of existence into human life—Level 3, as we have termed it. From this it follows that “right” is merely an abbreviation for “in conformity with Sector 3 laws and principles,” whereas “wrong” is a term that is applicable to anything that is in conflict with these laws and principles.

A significant point in this connection is that those decisions which are commonly regarded as involving moral issues are decisions between only two alternatives. The issue in each case can be expressed as: Is this right or wrong? In non-moral matters there may be many choices. For example, if an individual has a sum of money available for spending, he has many alternatives—choices as to what to purchase, as well as the possibility of saving the funds for future use. On the other hand, the question as to whether a person should take advantage of an opportunity to acquire such a sum of money by dishonest means is recognized by everyone as a moral issue, and here, as in moral issues in general, the choice is specifically between the two alternatives of right and wrong. Here we are dealing with a choice between two codes of conduct, two different sets of rules, not with the kind of a decision that is involved in determining how one’s money should be spent.

The definition of “right” as conformity with the laws and principles of Sector 3 does not necessarily conflict with the religious doctrine that “right” means “according to the will of God.” The will of God, if it exists, can just as logically be expressed in the form of a set of laws and principles applicable to Sector 3 existence in general as in the form of a code by which to judge right and wrong directly. The present investigation does not resolve the issue as to the ultimate origin of the moral code, but it does advance the consideration of the matter by a few important steps. It shows that there is an intelligent existence outside space and time, which may have the characteristics attributed to it by the theologians. It shows that communications from this outside sector of existence can be and are received through the processes variously termed revelation, insight, etc., and it shows that the notions of right and wrong are based on the laws and principles governing the outside sector, transmitted to the human race by intuition and revelation.

In view of this substantial area of agreement, it must be conceded that the religious answer to the question of moral judgment—the question: Upon what principle do we discriminate between right and wrong?—is consistent with the scientific findings herein presented. But this is likewise true of some different explanations. Immanuel Kant, for instance, rejected the religious answer and advanced the contention that the moral code is an inherent endowment of our consciousness, part of a store of a priori knowledge that is available to us simply because we are rational beings. This is correct, but the reason why our status as rational human beings gives us the answers to moral questions is that human beings are in communication, through intuitive channels, with Sector 3, where the moral code originates.

Theories based on ethical relativism, the system of thought which holds that there are no absolute standards of right and wrong, and that the proper criteria for ethical judgments vary with the culture involved and with the individual circumstances, are in direct conflict with the results of this investigation and must be rejected. Support for ethical relativism stems largely from the observation that man’s ideas of right and wrong depend to a considerable extent on the particular culture in which he lives. Religious prohibitions with respect to the eating of certain foods are frequently cited as an example. These prohibitions have the force of moral law for the believer, but they are meaningless to those who do not subscribe to the religious beliefs that are involved. From such items as this, the relativists have concluded that moral principles in general have no objective status but derive their validity from the particular cultural setting in which they exist.

The positivists and allied philosophical groups carry this argument still farther and contend that the existence of so many conflicts and uncertainties in the various moral codes is sufficient evidence to show that there is no such thing as a definite standard of right and wrong. According to A. J. Ayer, “It is impossible to find a criterion for determining the validity of ethical judgments… because they have no objective validity whatever.”177 The following statements by Richard von Mises reflect this same viewpoint:

One can point out in detail innumerable cases in which the uncertainty in the judgment of single ways of behavior contradicts the existence of an inborn norm, common to all people.291

The second, religious, conception of the moral laws is invalidated by the fact that the allegedly revealed commandments are so vague and incomplete that their application requires continually new interpretation which, after all, is a work of the intellect.292

The weakness of the foregoing arguments can easily be seen by reference to the discussion in the earlier chapters. As there brought out, the moral codes promulgated by the religious authorities are by no means confined to the principles which the founders of the various religions formulated as a result of insight or revelation. All religious organizations find it necessary, or at least advisable, to issue numerous edicts and rules for the guidance of their members, and in order to invest these instructions with a maximum of authority, it has been customary to add them to the moral code and to give them the same, or approximately the same, status as the basic moral principles.

Such priestly codes lump together conventional observances, ancient tribal taboos, and moral precepts and attempt to enforce them all indiscriminately.293 (J. H. Randall, Jr.)

The food prohibitions and similar items belong in this category. The original objective of such a prohibition was usually connected with the health of the community, but enforcement of health regulations in a primitive community is a difficult undertaking, and since the civil and religious administrations were either combined or closely associated in these communities, invoking religious authority to facilitate enforcement was a very natural development. Then, as time went on and the origins of the accepted religion receded into the past, the distinction between truly religious doctrine and the secular rules appended to that doctrine for convenience in enforcement was gradually blurred. After a few centuries, all of these pronouncements came to be accepted as essential elements of the religious faith.

Inasmuch as these secular additions to the religious doctrines were aimed at meeting specific environmental and social problems existing at particular times and particular locations, no uniformity between different religions arising in different parts of the world and under different conditions could be expected, nor could it be expected that any justification for these regulations would be found if they are examined critically in the light of the conditions that exist today. The true significance of the “contradictions” that loom so large in the thinking of present-day critics of religion is thus altogether different from that envisioned by these critics. Instead of indicating that the religious directives do not embody any valid moral standards, these contradictions merely emphasize the extent to which secular additions to these directives have accumulated over the centuries and the necessity of getting down to the genuinely religious elements before attempting to draw any conclusions as to the validity of the moral standards.

It is true that, even in the definitely religious areas, the directives are often “vague and incomplete,” as von Mises asserts. But “vague and incomplete” is by no means synonymous with “incorrect,” and the positivists who pin their faith on science and call for less metaphysics and “more scientifically disciplined thinking” should be the last to suggest anything of the kind, as it would be hard to find anything more vague or less complete than some of the current theories in the scientific field that have originated from the “disciplined thinking” which they advocate so strongly.

Of course, the relativists are correct in asserting that the purely secular rules that have been attached to the moral code for the convenience of the civil and ecclesiastical rulers have no moral significance other than whatever obligation an individual may have to conform to the laws and customs of the society in which he lives. But they go far beyond this, and contend that no action has any moral status other than relative to those laws and customs.

Everything in the mores of a time and place must be regarded as justified with regard to that time and place. “Good” mores are those which are well adapted to the situation. “Bad” mores are those which are not so adapted.294 (W. G. Sumner)

This relativist viewpoint provides no explanations at all for the fact that those who are most concerned about moral issues in any society generally condemn some of the mores of that time and place. “There have been men in all ages,” says W. D. Ross, “who have… practiced, or at least preached, a morality in some respects higher than that of their race and age.”295 Nor does the relativist thesis account for the further fact that a society that once changes its judgment on a clear-cut moral issue in response to these dissenting views seldom, if ever, reverses that decision. “Infanticide, slavery, and witchcraft” are cited by Sumner as practices which “must be regarded as justified with regard to that time and place.” But slavery once abandoned is never reinstated. Later generations agree with those who insisted, even when it was sanctioned by the prevailing mores, that it is never morally justified at any time or place. The degree of compliance with the “official” moral code is highly variable; periods of strict enforcement alternate with periods of laxity; but the code itself moves unidirectionally, and this constant direction is inconsistent with the relativist hypothesis. It is difficult to find any logical basis for a viewpoint which interprets this continuing change in the moral climate as anything other than an improvement.

This is an appropriate point at which to make some comments regarding the use of the terms “ethical” and “moral.” Both in their derivation and in customary usage, the two words are practically synonymous, and that is the way in which they have been used in this work. “Ethical” is primarily a philosophical term, while “moral” is more common in religious usage, hence in those instances where there is a definite philosophical or religious context, the corresponding language has been employed. Otherwise, the two terms have been used interchangeably.

Out of all of the theories that have come into prominence in philosophical thinking, the one that comes the nearest to the findings of this work is the “intuitionist” theory of right and wrong, which regards human intuitions as the source of the moral code. Indeed, about all that this present work adds is an identification of the origin of the intuitions. But this is a very important addition, as it remedies the weaknesses of the intuitionist theory as it has heretofore been presented. The principal objection that has been raised against the theory is the subjective and uncertain nature of intuition. The widespread conflicts between the intuitive moral judgments of different individuals are sufficient in themselves, say the critics, to show that intuition is not a reliable source of ethical information. Alexander Macbeath gives us the following assessment of the situation, based on an examination of the beliefs of people of different cultures, particularly primitive populations:

Most of the moral rules, for which self-evidence has been claimed, are not really self-evident in the sense that they are recognized as such by all who understand them and have attended to them. And if we accept the view, as I think we must, that a satisfactory ethical theory must be consistent with the moral judgments of all men everywhere, this means that intuitionism cannot in any of its forms be regarded as a satisfactory ethical theory.296

Another common objection to the intuitionist theory is that on this basis, “An act is supposed to be intuitively certified as right without having to produce further evidence.”297 In the words of Abelson, those who argue that knowledge of right and wrong is intuitive are “placing a logical barrier in the way of rational inquiry into the grounds of our ethical judgments.”298

The results of this present investigation, which have shown that intuition is not a source of information, but a transmission mechanism whereby information is obtained from the Sector 3 source, demolish both of these objections. As brought out in Chapter 11, all incoming information, regardless of whether it arrives through the senses or through intuitive channels, is subject to some degree of uncertainty unless, and until, it is verified, because its reliability is dependent on the capabilities of the receiving equipment. The information derived by revelation, insight, or intuition is, in general, less reliable than that received through the senses simply because the intuitive abilities of the human race are, as yet, in a relatively primitive state of development. Most of the information with respect to complex matters that is received through these channels is wrong, or at least incomplete, as few of the recipients are adequately prepared to receive the message. Reception of relatively simple ethical precepts is, however, within the competence of the great majority of the inhabitants of the modern world, and the general agreement that should exist among these individuals with respect to the right and wrong of uncomplicated situations actually does exist. As Bronowski admitted in the statement quoted earlier in this chapter, “We all know the essential values.”

Where difficult questions are involved, it must be expected that the intuitive answers will differ, not because the source is unreliable, but because the individual capability of receiving the transmitted information is highly variable. Furthermore, the discrepancies between the moral judgments of the members of modern society and those of primitive people, upon which Macbeath and others of similar views base their rejection of intuitionism, are also to be expected on the same grounds. The average individual of the present day is better qualified to receive the intuitive communications than his distant ancestors. Continued progress has taken place in the ethical field as well as in all other aspects of human existence.

The barrier to “rational inquiry” with which Abelson is concerned is likewise removed by the finding that, although the source of the information received through intuition is infallible and the intuitive process is capable of transmitting the information accurately, there is no guarantee that it is received correctly. As pointed out in Chapter 9, all inductive insight—scientific, religious, or other—is subject to the limitations of the mind which receives it. The product of such insight may therefore be complete and accurate, or it may be entirely erroneous, or it may be anywhere in between. In the case of a simple question of right and wrong, the person who feels certain of his intuitive decision can usually rely upon its validity, but where more complicated issues are involved, or where the certainty is absent, the intuitive information must be tested in some appropriate manner before its validity can be regarded as established.

The standard test of science, comparison with the observed and measured facts, is the simplest and most direct of the available methods. Unquestionably, therefore, this test should be applied wherever the existing state of knowledge makes such a test feasible, and every effort should be made, as in this present work, to extend the area to which scientific testing is applicable. Nevertheless, the contention that our thinking should be confined exclusively to those items that are currently within the purview of science is wholly unjustified. There are valid items of knowledge outside the boundaries of physical science, and there are methods by which the validity of items of this kind can be appraised. Any arbitrary restriction of thought to a limited area, whether that area be physical or non-physical, simply places unnecessary obstacles in the way of the development of human knowledge.

It must be conceded that the criteria of validity that we have thus far been able to establish for application to information from metaphysical sources are quite limited, and they can give us unequivocal assurance of the authenticity of intuitive information only in the case of a relatively small proportion of the total number of items involved. Fortunately, however, this small proportion has a significance that is much greater than might appear on first consideration, since we have ample evidence to indicate that the underlying truth from which the intuitive information comes constitutes an integrated and self-consistent system. We can establish the nature and general characteristics of the portion of this system that constitutes the moral code by means of those items of intuitive information that can be directly verified, and once this basic pattern has been established, we can test other items claimed to have been received through metaphysical channels by determining whether they fit into the established pattern.

A broad general principle of great significance is the one that we know as the “Golden Rule.” Most of the great religions express this principle in essentially the same terms, and those that do not state it explicitly give us a number of separate rules and precepts from which a general rule of this kind can be inferred. Here is a rule that meets all of the tests that we have been able to formulate. It is included in all of those religious revelations that we have reason to believe are the most authoritative; all of the different versions are essentially in agreement; and none of the negative items against which we are on guard is applicable. Furthermore, the rule is an “admission against self-interest,” as self-interest would not ask for equality of treatment between self and others; it would ask for preferential treatment. The very few objections to the Golden Rule that can be found in philosophical literature (aside from those advanced by critics such as Nietzsche who object to it on non-moral grounds) are generally of such a frivolous nature that it is questionable whether their authors are actually serious. T. H. Huxley, for instance, points out that

If I put myself in the place of the man who has robbed me, I find that I am possessed by an exceeding desire not to be fined or imprisoned.299

The moral code is the code of Sector 3 by which the actions of ethical men are governed. If anyone puts himself “in the place” of the robber, as Huxley suggests, he is not, for the time being at least, an ethical man—he has chosen to follow the code of the animal—and neither his actions nor his desires have any relevance to the moral code or to the status of the Golden Rule as part of that code. Henry Margenau produces an equally absurd “application” of the rule:

Consider healthy competition for worthwhile ends, which most people will regard as ethically desirable. The Golden Rule does not permit it, for if I want to get ahead of my competitor, I must let him get ahead of me.300

No ethical man would take this attitude. If he entered into a competition, he would want to win, if possible, but he certainly would not want his competitor to turn the whole activity into a farce by letting him win. Consequently, he is under no obligation to let the competitor win. The Golden Rule makes no such demand. The mere fact that nothing more to the point can be found by those who are looking for a negative argument is, in itself, rather eloquent testimony to the soundness of the rule.

We may thus conclude that the Golden Rule constitutes a part of the set of principles that govern Sector 3: the code of ethical man. Here we have the nucleus of the new “rules of the game” that supersede the rules of Sector 2, the laws of nature followed by the biological world, when the transition to ethical man takes place. From this point on, then, we have another test that can be applied to purported revelations or intuitions concerning these rules, a more specific test than anything previously available, as any proposed addition to the known rules must be compatible with the rule that we have already verified. The first question to be asked when any such addition is suggested will be, “Is this consistent with the Golden Rule?”

For example, Kant proposes what he calls the “categorical imperative,” in which the criterion by which we identify a moral action is a decision as to whether we would be willing to make this type of action a universal rule. It is clear that this criterion is in harmony with the Golden Rule throughout the area covered by the latter—indeed, it has been called the Philosophical Golden Rule—and it also passes the other tests that we have defined, providing that we specify collective judgment rather than individual judgment and require substantially complete agreement on each separate issue before accepting this item as a part of the code, just as we should do where we are dealing with religious revelations.

In applying this criterion, we are, in effect, taking the stand that those items which ethical men agree should be part of the moral code are, in fact, part of that code. On first consideration this may seem totally unscientific, since science deals with things as they are, not as anyone thinks that they should be. But we have found that the control unit of ethical man has direct access to knowledge of what is, even though the individual cannot identify the source of his information. This means that when human beings are dealing with matters that are within their comprehension, as is generally true with respect to basic moral principles, that which men in general feel should be true actually is true. Some philosophers have already arrived at this same conclusion without the benefit of the new knowledge revealed by the present investigation. W. D. Ross, for instance, says this:

I would maintain, in fact, that what we are apt to describe as “what we think” about moral questions contains a considerable amount that we do not think but know, and that this forms the standard by reference to which the truth of any moral theory has to be tested, instead of having itself to be tested by reference to any theory.301

It does not follow that the moral code is subjective. Such concepts as that of William James, who asserts that “Nothing can be good or right except so far as some consciousness feels it to be good or thinks it to be right,”302 are completely at odds with our scientific findings. Man’s intuitive apprehension of right and wrong is not a subjective conclusion of his own; it is knowledge of an objective fact that is transmitted to him by the intuition process.

Many of those who deny the reality of metaphysical existence, and therefore cannot accept religious or other metaphysical explanations of the source of the moral code, are reluctant to concede the existence of intuition, largely because of their apprehension (which our findings show is justified) that such a concession might open the door to a metaphysical explanation. As an alternative, some attribute moral judgments to conscience. Herbert Feigl, who is an adherent of humanism, which will be discussed in Chapter 22, has this to say:

So I think that a unified set of supreme moral values can be empirically discerned as inherent in the conscience of man, even if it is not always displayed in his behavior.303

But what difference is there between saying that the moral code is “inherent in the conscience of man” and saying that it is recognized intuitively? There is no general agreement as to just what conscience is. Freud regards it as nothing but an aggregate of attitudes that have been implanted in the individual by the influence of his parents and associates. This view, widely held today, ignores the crucial question as to how the moral standards, the standards of one’s conscience, originate. As pointed out by Herbert Dingle in the statement quoted earlier in this chapter, they cannot be based on experience or on reason. But unless they do originate in some manner, they cannot be passed on by or to anyone. Those who do face the issue of the origin of the moral code squarely either have to concede that it originates from metaphysical sources or resort to euphemisms such as “inherent”or “a priori” powers which utilize the absence of precise definitions to conceal the presence of metaphysical elements in the concepts that they are using.

One of the big stumbling blocks that stands in the way of a clear understanding of the basic principles of morality is a widespread impression that if a moral law is valid at all, it must be absolute, or, as Kant expressed it, categorical. This conceptual error leads to confusion in both directions. It leads those who do not think things through in a comprehensive way to adopt dogmatic points of view and to insist on the application of certain laws or commandments under conditions where the consequences are definitely harmful. On the other hand, it leads many of those who recognize the undesirable consequences of this rigid dogmatism to take an equally extreme viewpoint and to deny the existence of fixed moral laws.

The finding of this work is that the moral laws are, indeed, fixed and unchanging. These laws are the governing principles of Sector 3, and they have the same permanent status as the governing principles of the other two sectors of our universe. No one contends, for example, that gravitation is merely a transient phenomenon which will sooner or later be superseded by some other type of behavior of matter, nor is it seriously suggested that some other factor may ultimately replace survival as the controlling element in the biological evolutionary process. The laws of Sector 3 are no less constant. However, the situations to which these laws apply are generally of a complex nature, and their practical application is therefore subject to a number of different considerations.

It is often claimed that the moral laws are inherently different in character from the physical laws, inasmuch as the latter are essentially statements as to what will happen under specified conditions, whereas the moral laws are statements as to what ought to be done. No such distinction needs to be drawn. Human beings have the option of following the laws and principles of Sector 3 rather than those of Sector 2, the “tooth and claw” rules of the biological realm. If they elect to do so, the moral laws are statements as to what will happen under specified conditions, just as is true of the physical laws. If they choose not to follow the code of Sector 3, then the biological laws specify what will happen.

Henry Hazlitt makes this observation: “Morality is primarily a means rather than an end in itself. It exists to serve human needs… a society of angels would not need a moral code.”304 But according to our findings, a society of angels, if there be such, has a moral code. Sector 3 is governed by a set of laws and principles, just as the physical world is governed by a set of physical laws and principles. The moral code is part of the governing laws of that sector, and the hypothetical angels will follow the code, not because they ought to follow it, or because they are commanded to follow it, but simply because this is the way that Sector 3 existences act, just as matter conforms to the gravitational law because that is the way matter acts. A society of ethical men will follow the same code for the same reasons, and the “ought” concept does not enter into this situation either. But ours is not yet a society of ethical men, in the full sense of the term, and we are therefore subject to the additional considerations that were discussed in Chapter 11.

The analogy with the physical laws illustrates clearly what is wrong with the contentions of Kant and others who insist that at least some of the moral laws are of such a nature that they must be followed without regard to conditions or consequences. “The categorical imperative,” Kant tells us, “is restricted by no condition. As absolutely, though practically, necessary, it can be called a command in the strict sense.”305 But this is not at all true of physical laws. For example, the law of heat transfer states that heat will flow from a body at a higher temperature to one at a lower temperature. But in the familiar desert water bag, the water is kept cool by heat transfer against the temperature gradient. The explanation is, of course, that heat is actually being transferred from the air to the water in accordance with the heat transfer law, which is in full effect, but under the existing conditions another physical law, that governing evaporation, is also effective, and the overall result is that the net transfer of heat is from the water, the cooler body, to the air, the warmer body, until an equilibrium temperature is reached.

Many of those who realize that strict adherence to all of the individual rules of morality is impractical conclude that it is essential to allow some exceptions to the moral laws. Because of “the complicated nature of human affairs,” says J. S. Mill, “rules of conduct cannot be so framed as to require no exceptions.”306 Ewing regards the need for exceptions as self-evident. “When this [a conflict between two moral laws] happens we must admit an exception to at least one of the laws.”307 What all those who share this point of view fail to recognize is that the result of a conflict between two moral laws, like that of a conflict between two physical laws, is quantitative. Whether an action is right or wrong depends on the net balance of the right and wrong aspects of the different moral elements that enter into the action as a whole, just as whether a physical object will gain or lose heat depends on the net result of the different physical laws that apply under the existing circumstances. The cooling of the water bag does not result from an exception to the laws of heat transfer; it is the net result of that law acting in conjunction with another physical law that comes into play because of the special circumstances. Ethical matters are subject to the same considerations. There are no exceptions to the moral laws, but the effect of one of these laws under certain circumstances may be to reverse or modify the action that would normally result from some other equally valid and equally applicable law.

Where a complex ethical situation involves a number of the moral laws in one way or another, a valid judgment as to the proper course of action—the action that is in accord with the laws and principles of Sector 3—can only be reached by evaluating the impact of all of these relevant laws and arriving at an understanding of their joint effect. Here, again, the conclusions of the present work were anticipated by W. D. Ross, who states the case in these words:

Every act, therefore, viewed in some respects, will be prima facie right, and viewed in others, prima facie wrong, and right acts can be distinguished from wrong acts only as being those which, of all those possible for the agent in the circumstances, have the greatest balance of prima facie rightness, in those respects in which they are prima facie right, over their prima facie wrongness, in those respects in which they are prima facie wrong.308

This concept of the morality of an action as the net resultant of the right and wrong aspects of all elements of that action, in the same manner that the effective force acting upon a physical body is the resultant obtained by combining all of the separate forces involved, implies that the long controversy between the supporters of the “act” theories of ethics and the “end” theories has been a waste of effort. Actions in general cannot be judged wholly on their status as actions, nor wholly on their consequences. In some cases, only the act has a moral aspect; in other cases only the consequences; but it may equally well be true that both act and consequences have a bearing on the morality. And not infrequently there are one or more secondary consequences that must be taken into consideration in order to arrive at an accurate judgment.

Furthermore, the question as to whether there were any possible alternatives to the course of action that was taken is always pertinent. For example, the intentional taking of another person’s life is condemned in all systems of ethics, but self-defense is recognized, both legally and morally, as a legitimate justification for the act. Before we accept the self-defense plea, however, we inquire into the question as to whether the homicide was, in fact, necessary; that is, whether there was any feasible alternative. Thus, a proper assessment of the morality of an action may not be possible without a full consideration of the entire setting in which the action takes place. A summation of the right and wrong aspects then gives us the answer as to the morality of the action as a whole. Self-defense is no exception to the rule that homicide is wrong. That rule always holds, but continuity of one’s own existence is more right, according to present-day thinking (which, we will find in Chapter 21, is supported by our theoretical analysis) than the homicide necessary to maintain that continuity is wrong, and the net result is a judgment that the particular action is right. Most of the philosophers’ classic examples of “exceptions” to the moral laws involve similar balances between the right aspects and the wrong aspects of the actions in question.

One of the most serious objections to ethical theories of the “end” type—those which hold that an act is to be judged solely by its consequences—is that it opens the door to the pernicious doctrine that the “end justifies the means.” It must be admitted that in a great many instances, including the self-defense situation just discussed, the end does justify the means. But in many other instances, the immorality of the act far outweighs the morality of the consequences. Then, too, in actual practice, the “ends” which are supposed to justify the means are not usually the true consequences of the act but the objectives at which the act is aimed. All too often, the ultimate consequences have no resemblance to the original objectives.

Furthermore, a wrong action taken for commendable purposes may have secondary or collateral consequences of a very serious nature. For example, in order to increase the effectiveness of their advocacy of certain social changes, a number of religious leaders have, in recent years, advanced the contention that they have a moral right to decide which laws they will obey and which they will disobey. In their intense concentration upon the immediate goal, these individuals have lost sight of the fact that they cannot restrict the exercise of such a prerogative to a chosen few. If it is permitted at all, others will insist on making the same choice, and not all of these choices will be socially desirable. However pure their motives may be, those who preach defiance of the law under the banner of “the end justifies the means” must accept a major share of the responsibility for the civil disorders and terrorism that inevitably follow.

One of the basic reasons for the breakdown of the moral structure of society that has been such a prominent feature of modern life is the general lack of recognition of the complexity of moral decisions in this era when all phases of human activity are so closely entwined and interrelated. The simple rules of morality that are taught by the world’s religions and are embodied in the elementary ethical systems developed by the philosophers are just as valid as ever in application to simple situations, and in application to the separate features of complex situations, but the special needs of the intricate social mechanism of the present day cannot be met unless it is recognized that most of today’s moral judgments must be reached by a process of summing up the right and wrong aspects and striking a balance. Unfortunately, those individuals who, by virtue of their roles in society, have the responsibility of keeping the moral codes equal to their task have, on the whole, failed to understand and appreciate this situation. Some further comments on this subject will be made later in the discussion.

19 Good and Evil: Moral Values


Good and Evil: Moral Values

As a physical structure, composed primarily of complex compounds of carbon in an aqueous environment, man is beset with physical hazards on every side. If the temperature rises a few degrees above that to which he is adjusted, or falls a few degrees below that level; or if he is fully immersed in water; or if he enters a partial vacuum; or if he experiences a substantial increase in gravity; or if he encounters a high electrical potential; or if he accelerates too fast or stops too suddenly; or if he comes in contact with any one of thousands of common chemicals; or if he finds himself in any of a great many other such situations; he ceases to exist, or at least suffers severe physical damage. When we consider that the range of temperature in the universe is from absolute zero to millions of degrees, that the range of velocities in the material sector extends up to 186,000 miles per second, that there are pressures up to millions of atmospheres, and gravities millions of times as great as that on earth, and so on, it is evident that the human race is confined to an extremely narrow range of physical conditions, and is thus very severely limited from a physical standpoint.

Strangely enough, a complaint on this score is seldom heard. Whatever feelings an individual may have when someone dear to him drowns, for example, he does not protest the physical facts. He does not contend that there is anything wrong about the fact that life ceases to exist when the oxygen supply is interrupted. Nor is there any school of philosophy which argues that the existence of an all-wise and all-powerful Deity is incompatible with the existence of these extremely severe physical limitations.

But the same human beings who accept with good grace the physical limitations to which they are subject by reason of the laws and principles of the inanimate sector of the universe are quickly moved to protest when the operation of the laws of chance translates these physical limitations into hardships or bereavements, and they complain vehemently and bitterly about the handicaps and afflictions to which they are exposed because they are subject to the laws and principles of the biological sector. “A perpetual war is kindled amongst all living creatures… . The stronger prey upon the weaker and keep them in perpetual terror and anxiety,”309 wails David Hume. But this is the biological law. There would be no man to denounce the “perpetual war”—no David Hume nor anyone else—had it not been for that perpetual war which eliminated, or at least retarded, the less advanced in favor of the more advanced forms of life.

The same can be said for a great many of the items which Hume claims make the lot of man “very wretched indeed.” Disease, pain, pestilence, famine, fear, and finally death: all these are part and parcel of the process by which the primitive single-celled organisms evolved into man. They are part of man’s heritage as a biological organism, just as his vulnerability to relatively small temperature excesses or deficiencies is a part of his heritage as a physical mechanism. It is “impossible, at least for me, to believe that physical suffering is not evil,”310 says Joad. But this is a fact, nevertheless, if any moral significance is to be attached to the term “evil.” Suffering and hardship are not wrong or evil, nor are they right (in the sense of morally correct) or good (in the sense of the opposite of evil). Such concepts do not apply to them at all. They are simply inherent features of life as it exists in a space-time universe. As T. H. Huxley puts it, “suffering… is no accidental accompaniment, but an essential constituent of the cosmic process.”311

The words “right” and “good” are used in a great many different senses in ordinary discourse, but for purposes of a critical analysis such as the one on which we are now engaged, an unambiguous terminology is essential, and we will therefore restrict these terms, together with “wrong” and “evil” to their moral significance. An action taken in conformity with the laws and principles of Sector 3 is “right.” The consequences thereof, if not nullified or reversed by a “wrong” action, are “good.” Items such as physical hardship will be classified as “undesirable” and their opposites as “desirable.”

It should be recognized, however, that even though physical hardship has no inherent moral implications and is merely undesirable, the deliberate infliction of physical hardship on another individual, or failure to take advantage of an opportunity to reduce another’s hardship is a violation of the moral code and is definitely wrong. Man does not necessarily have to submit tamely to the natural forces that operate to his detriment; he can take actions to increase the desirable aspects of life and decrease those that are undesirable. He can reduce disease, minimize suffering, enlist the help of power as a means of lightening his labors, and so on. One of the requirements of the moral code is that due consideration be given to the interests of others in carrying out these activities.

If man were only a biological organism and nothing else, as an influential school of modern thought would have us believe, then this concern for the interests of others would not only be unnecessary; it would be definitely out of order. There is nothing in the biological realm, from the situation of the most primitive bacterium to that of the most advanced animal, that would suggest that any weight is, or should be, attached to considerations other than what is best for “me and mine.” The Law of the Jungle is the Law of Nature.

Natural selection should have sharpened those and only those mental abilities which assist man in the control of the environment… . All this would seem to lead to the ethic of “eat or be eaten.”312 (T. Dobzhansky)

The following extract from a summary of the views of T. H. Huxley makes the same point in different words:

Nature is non-moral. When we study it with our minds, we find cause for admiration; but when we view it in terms of our moral sympathies, we can only shudder… . The kind of fitness which enables an organism to survive bears no relation to the human ideal.313

Man, even though he is a biological organism, with all of the inadequacies and limitations of such organisms, does not accept the Law of Nature. “Anyone who endeavored in his action to imitate the natural course of things,” says J. S. Mill, “would be universally seen and acknowledged to be the wickedest of men.”314 The general use of the term “beast” as an epithet makes the same point in a different way. Man has repudiated the Law of Nature, the governing principle of the biological realm, and characterizes much of the behavior in accordance with this law as “wrong” or “evil.”

The existence of evil in the world—the “problem of evil,” as it is called—has been a source of embarrassment to theologians and religious leaders from the very earliest days, and an enormous amount of time and effort has been spent in attempts to devise plausible explanations that are consistent with basic religious doctrine, efforts as Julian Huxley says, “to evade the dilemmas in which they are landed by the acceptance of an all-wise, all-good and all-powerful God as ruler of a world in which chaos and ignorance, suffering, strife and evil are such regrettably prominent features.”315

When the conviction has taken root that there is One God whose power is the ultimate cause behind all things and whose character exemplifies perfect love and justice, the problem of evil at once becomes challenging and very puzzling. If God is supremely good, it would seem as though all His works would clearly display His moral perfection; if everything that happens in the Cosmos is the direct or indirect effect of His purposive power, how can He be honestly conceived of as good?316 (Edwin A. Burtt)

One of the expedients that have been called upon to answer this problem is to postulate that the powers of God are limited; that he rules only over the realm of the Good, and that he is opposed by another power—a Devil, or something of the sort—who rules over the realm of Evil. Such a conflict was entirely in harmony with the thinking of primitive people, accustomed as they were to continual strife between tribes or between nations, but as noted in Chapter 12, this concept has been gradually fading out, although it still lingers on to some extent because so much of the imagery of the Holy Books of the world’s great religions is based upon it. The “limited powers” hypothesis does not necessarily call for an antagonist; the limitation could be inherent in the nature of existence. But this conflicts with the prevailing conception of omnipotence, and it is generally rejected by the theistic religions.

Another recent hypothesis—perhaps it would be more accurate to say “family of hypotheses,” since there are many different versions of the same idea—asserts that evil is in some way necessary to accomplish the purposes of the Deity, the nature of which we are unable to specify, and probably would be unable to comprehend in any event. This is, of course, the theological equivalent of sweeping the dirt under the rug, but it gets away from the idea of a Spirit of Evil, which does not seem very plausible to the modern mind, and for lack of anything better, it is widely, if rather unenthusiastically, accepted.

According to the findings of this work, there is no Empire of Evil, no antagonist that exerts a conscious effort to counteract the forces of Good. To the extent that Sector 3 control is not exercised, the actions of men, like those of animals, are governed by the cold and impersonal mechanism of the space-time universe. The reaction of this mechanism to any particular stimulus is determined entirely by the laws and principles governing biological organisms, with survival as the dominant factor, and this reaction is completely indifferent—not antagonistic—to the governing principles of Sector 3: those principles which we call good. If the response happens to conflict with that which would result from the application of the laws and principles of Sector 3, it is wrong according to Sector 3 standards, and therefore evil, but this is merely because the standards of the two sectors are different.

It is simply not true that laws of nature are all benign and merciful. Neither are they evil or cruel—they are simply blind.317 (T. Dobzhansky)

The evildoer is not violating any natural laws. Indeed, he cannot violate these laws since a natural law is not a command; it is merely a statement as to what happens under certain circumstances. The evildoer is a biological organism, and he acts in accordance with the natural laws governing biological organisms: the laws of Sector 2. But he is also a human being, and as such, he has the option of another course of action. It is the failure to exercise that option that constitutes evil. The tiger goes about his predatory activities ruthlessly, but we do not call this evil because we know that he is following the natural pattern of his kind, the biological principle of “eat or be eaten.” We condemn the same ruthless behavior if we observe it in human life because man has an alternative that is not open to the tiger. He can subject himself to a different set of natural laws.

With the benefit of the foregoing discussion, we are now in a position to consider the “problem of evil.” It is evident, to begin with, that the statement of the problem tacitly assumes rationality. If either the physical universe or metaphysical existence were irrational, there would be neither problem nor answer. The inconsistency, if there be any, must be a logical inconsistency. But the usual concept of omnipotence—unlimited power: that is, capability of doing anything—is not rational, as can be seen by examining the familiar example of the irresistible force and the immovable body. If an irresistible force exists, then in rational terms there can be no immovable body, and vice versa. No rational power can evade this restriction. Thus, in order to give the problem of evil any meaning in a rational setting, we will have to redefine the term “omnipotent” to mean “capable of doing anything that is possible.” Furthermore, we must recognize that this is a human problem; the immediate issue is not whether evil is a necessary feature of existence in general, but whether the human race could have been spared this affliction by the exercise of omnipotence. The problem thus reduces to the question: Would it be possible for an omnipotent being (as defined above) to create a universe in which human individuals could exist free from the presence of evil?

In approaching this question, we must recognize that human beings are products of processes that occur within the physical universe. It is possible, on the basis of the considerations discussed in Chapter 4, that other types of intelligent beings may exist in other kinds of universes, but such beings, if they do exist, are not human, and they have no relevance to the human problem. The human race exists in the material sector of a universe of motion, and in this universe, the higher levels of existence are built upon those lower in the scale. Biological organisms are constructed of matter, and the characteristics of ethical man can be acquired only by biological organisms. Man is therefore necessarily subject to the physical limitations of matter and of biological structures, and to all of the consequences of those limitations.

From this it follows that if we define “evil” in broad terms so that it includes physical items such as pain and suffering, then evil is a necessary and unavoidable accompaniment of human existence. On this basis “human” and “without evil” are mutually exclusive, and in a rational existence, even omnipotence cannot accomplish the impossible. If we use the definition set forth in this work, which characterizes as evil only those instances in which a human individual deliberately chooses to follow his biological impulses rather than the code of ethical man, the existence of evil is likewise unavoidable under present conditions when mankind is still only a few short steps removed from its animal origins. This fact is strongly emphasized in Buddhism, where it is called the First Noble Truth. Edwin A. Burtt gives us this interpretation:

What he [Buddha] is saying is that, by virtue of being born into the realm of finite and changing existence in which events follow their own laws, no one escapes the conditions that bring pain, and therefore the problem of unhappiness is the universal problem of life.318

It should be understood that, so far as this present analysis is concerned, the problem of evil is purely hypothetical, as there is no such problem unless the existence of an omnipotent Power is assumed. Our findings to date do not go this far. They merely establish the reality of metaphysical existence and define a few of the properties of such existence; they do not reach any conclusions as to whether this existence, or one of these existences, is a Deity, omnipotent or otherwise. The present discussion is also limited to the human aspects of the problem. Some of the broader questions that arise when the possibility of existence of a different type in some different kind of a universe is taken into consideration will be discussed later.

Identification of the items which are in harmony with the code of Sector 3 and therefore qualify as good, and those which are in conflict with that code and therefore must be classified as evil, is the first step in constructing a system of moral values consistent with existence as an ethical man rather than as a highly advanced animal. Since man has the privilege of exercising a choice as to what actions he will take in any particular set of circumstances, he necessarily must have some basis on which he makes his moral choices. That basis is his system of moral values. It is likely that most individuals do not realize, or realize only dimly, that they do have value notions that govern their decisions with respect to moral issues. Indeed, there is one school of thought that contends that human beings are ruled only by impulse and instinct, and that the idea of the existence of moral values is nothing but a delusion. These so-called “irrationalists” argue that man’s mind, like his body, is a product of evolution from his animal ancestry, and that his “civilized” characteristics are no more than a thin veneer over the animal impulses that exercise the real control over his actions. They cite as evidence the frequency with which latent savagery comes to the surface in times of crisis even in the most advanced nations.

In the light of the information developed in the earlier pages, it is evident that this view of the situation is actually correct in application to those individuals who are completely, or almost completely, under the control of Sector 2, the biological sector. The moral code has no more meaning to such an individual than to a predatory animal. But none of the arguments put forth by the irrationalist school of thought is applicable to those human beings who are to any significant degree under the control of Sector 3; that is, are, at least partially, entitled to be classed as ethical men. To such a person, the moral code and the system of values based upon it have a very real meaning, and the extent to which that value system has been developed reflects the extent to which he has made the great transition from man, the animal, to man, the ethical individual.

The statement that x has a positive “moral value” is equivalent to a statement that x is “good.” This term “good” is generally used without any quantitative significance, merely to distinguish an item which possesses this quality from one which is “bad” or “evil.” An ethical system that views all morality in absolutes; that asserts, without qualification, that A is right and B is wrong, has no need for the additional concept of value. But few of our present-day problems lend themselves to this simple treatment. The great majority of them have multiple facets, and in order to make the correct decision as to the morality of any proposed action in connection with such a problem, we must strike a balance, weighing the good that is involved in the action against the bad that goes along with it. For this we need a quantitative term, and this we call “value.” Because of the subjective nature of value, it cannot be measured with the precision of a physical measurement, but rough approximations are sufficient for most purposes. Both good and evil can be related to the same scale. That which is good has a positive moral value; that which is evil has a negative value; and that which is neutral—without moral significance one way or the other—has zero value.

Recognition of this neutral category is essential for the proper assessment of moral values. The issue of morality arises only where there is a conflict between the rules of Sector 2 and those of Sector 3. Animals have no moral issues to contend with. Their actions are dictated entirely by biological considerations: the rules of Sector 2. The same biological considerations also apply to human life, and where the actions to which they lead do not violate the Sector 3 code, they have no moral implications one way or the other. Values can be assigned in these areas too, but they are not moral values.

Confusion between these different kinds of value is one of the major factors that has stood in the way of reaching any consensus on ethical principles. Philosophers have not usually recognized any distinction at all in this area. As James B. Conant puts it, “Without hesitation they label all reasoned choices as ethical or moral, however trivial they may be.”319 G. E. Moore, for instance, applies his discussion of ethics to “absolutely every action.”320 Some observers are beginning to call attention to the weakness in this position. A recent book by L. M. Loring, with the significant title Two Kinds of Value, is aimed specifically at this point. As summarized by Karl R. Popper in a foreword to the book, “Her [the author’s] first and central theme is that there exist non-ethical standards of value—or, if you like, standards of non-ethical value—and that these standards are in common use.”321

But the rather general acceptance of the “maximum happiness” criterion of morality (a subject which will be discussed in detail in the next chapter) practically closes the door to any widespread recognition of distinctions of this kind, and the tendency at the moment is to stretch the concept of morality to the point of absurdity. For example, Hazlitt, in arguing against Kant’s “categorical imperative” says that “there are courses of conduct which are certainly moral, even though they cannot be universalized,” and to particularize, he cites the fact that “a man may decide to learn the violin without wishing that everybody should learn to play the violin.”322 But playing the violin is not “certainly moral.” It is certainly not immoral, but neither is it moral. The error here is the assumption that an action must be either one or the other, an assumption that overlooks the fact that there is a category which is ethically neutral, a type of action that has no moral aspects at all.

Benefit and harm are, in the first instance, non-ethical values and disvalues… ethical goodness or badness, or rightness or wrongness, is in principle independent of the non-ethical values and disvalues of benefit and harm.321 (Karl Popper)

Because of the prevailing lack of distinction between ethical and non-ethical values, social, political, and economic issues of many kinds have been, and are being, confused with moral issues by both philosophers and religious authorities. “The essence of good,” asserts William James, “is simply to satisfy demand.”323 But his is not a definition of a moral good. There is no moral “demand” comparable to a demand or desire for economic goods. Since ethical man wants to follow the moral code, he may experience some kind of a sensation that could be called “moral satisfaction” when he is able to do so, but this has little resemblance to the satisfying of economic or social wants, and it is doubtful if the term “satisfaction” is appropriate in connection with moral choices.

The “good” which fits James’ definition is a non-moral good, especially an economic good. Each individual has a certain inherent capability of doing useful work. If he converts that potential into an actuality, the products thereof, or a portion of them, become available to him for use or exchange. Ultimately he experiences a certain amount of satisfaction from the results of his efforts, but the entire transaction from start to finish has been economic. Whatever values have been placed on labor or its products during this activity have been economic values, not moral values.

In the course of this process, the worker may have an opportunity to increase the economic values that accrue to him by making wise decisions as to the application of his labor and as to his expenditures in the market place. No moral question arises here, under ordinary circumstances. Negative values are balanced against positive values in the usual way to arrive at conclusions, but only economic values enter into these judgments. The correct decision in each case is that which leads to the most desirable economic consequences—the largest net positive balance of values—but there is no moral obligation to make the correct economic decision, unless the individual’s situation is such that maximum economic returns are essential in order to supply him with the resources that are required for carrying out his moral obligations.

This person may also encounter an opportunity to secure additional economic values by dishonest means, and the important point that most philosophical value systems fail to recognize is that these economic values are not commensurable with the moral values that are involved. We cannot compare the two and strike a balance, as we do with positive and negative moral values, or positive and negative non-moral values. Unless a dishonest act has some positive moral value that outweighs the dishonesty, the act as a whole is a violation of the moral code irrespective of the magnitude of the desirable economic or social consequences that may result. The religion-based moral codes recognize the difference between moral and non-moral values, but since they define morality as conformity with the “will of God,” this leaves it essentially undefined, as no one knows just what it is that God wills. In their efforts to find a more specific foundation for ethics, the philosophers, with the notable exception of Kant, have generally lost sight of the distinction between moral and non-moral values. The resulting atmosphere of confusion and contradiction is the factor that has opened the door to such ideas as ethical relativism.

Neither the religious nor the philosophical value systems give adequate attention to the fact that the status of an action as right or wrong depends on the net balance of the positive and negative moral values of all of the various elements that enter into the act or its consequences. If positive moral values of some kind are involved in a dishonest act, or an act that causes injury to another individual, that act is not necessarily wrong in its totality even though dishonesty and intentional injury are morally wrong in themselves. As brought out in the preceding discussion, the balance of good and evil in any complex action can only be ascertained by considering the act in the setting in which it takes place and summing up all of the positive and negative moral values, thus arriving at a net result. Progress toward a higher ethical level depends not only on strengthening the determination to follow the moral code wherever there is a choice to be made, but also on developing a greater proficiency in evaluating the moral aspects of these complex situations and arriving at the correct balance of values. It will not be possible to give this subject any comprehensive treatment in a work that is addressed to the metaphysical field in general, but there are a few points that should be mentioned. One thing that stands out clearly is the need for a critical review of the prevailing attitudes toward some of the specific items that enter into moral judgments.

Truth, for instance, occupies an important place in ethical considerations, so central in many respects that some moralists and many laymen insist that the obligation to tell the truth is absolute, and that lying is morally wrong under any circumstances. Those who subscribe to the “end” theories of morality counter this by citing cases in which serious consequences will ensue if the truth is told, a favorite example being that of the individual who lies to conceal a death from a critically ill relative to whom the news might be a fatal shock. Both of these schools of thought are guilty of oversimplification, failing to give due consideration to the complexity of human actions. A proper evaluation of the morality of the action must take into account both the act and its direct and indirect consequences. In the case cited, the positive moral value of avoiding a serious injury to the sick relative far outweighs the negative moral value that could be assigned to the untruth, even if we were to concede that lying is inherently immoral.

But when we examine the situation more closely, we find that such a conclusion is unwarranted. Lying is not actually wrong per se; it is merely a type of action which may be used for unethical purposes. This becomes especially clear if we look at the general category of deliberate deception, of which lying is only one form. It is obvious that we cannot condemn deception as inherently wrong. In many cases we want to be deceived. We are even willing to pay such persons as stage magicians and writers of mystery stories to deceive us, and most of us enjoy a well-executed April Fool joke even if the laugh is at our expense. Few games would be possible if deceiving the adversary was prohibited. Certainly much deception is aimed at unethical ends, but in order to avoid serious errors in ethical judgments, it is essential to realize that it is the use to which the deception is put that determines the moral status of the act. The deception itself is neither moral nor immoral. It is not analogous to such things as deliberate infliction of an injury, where the act is wrong, and accomplishment of some positive moral purpose is necessary in order to arrive at a net positive balance of moral value. The deception has no moral implications in itself and the net moral balance is determined entirely by its consequences.

Another example of misdirected criticism is furnished by the individual who is disinclined to work. The religious authorities commonly inveigh against the lazy man and brand his course of conduct as a breach of the moral code. But, in fact, this is a judgment based on economic values, not on moral values. The lazy individual has made an economic decision: a decision as to the relative value of the products of effort as compared to that of the leisure that would be enjoyed if the work were not undertaken. This is a decision that is continually being made by others, even by the strongest critics of indolence. The general adoption of the five-day week, for instance, is a recognition of an increased relative value placed on leisure by society as a whole. Laziness is no more immoral than asking for a reduction of the work week; the difference between the two is only a matter of degree.

Quite commonly, the result of laziness is that the individual in question fails to do something that the moral code requires, supporting his family (a contractual obligation), let us say. But the morally reprehensible item is the non-support, not the laziness, and there is no necessary connection between the two. This, and the discussion of deliberate deception, may seem to involve a considerable amount of hairsplitting, but the objective of the present discussion is to show that the new information developed in this work points the way to the specific and consistent ethical theory that has hitherto been lacking. For this purpose, careful and precise distinctions are indispensable.

The essential requirement of morality cannot be equated with or related to anything but morality itself, since it is simply the requirement of compliance with the moral code. In this respect, it is identical with the requirement for legality, the criterion of which is compliance with the law. In either case, we cannot arrive at a judgment on the basis of the nature of the act, or even on the combined basis of the act and its immediate consequences. If A shoots B, the legal verdict may be first degree murder, second degree murder, manslaughter, self-defense, or accident, and the moral judgment may vary within an equally wide range. The entire setting of the act and all of its legal and moral aspects must be taken into consideration in order to arrive at the proper moral judgment.

Whether or not there is legal culpability is one of the moral aspects, even though the legal and moral judgments may differ substantially. Every person has a moral obligation to obey the law, even where no other moral consideration may be involved. Likewise there is a moral obligation to honor any contractual requirements that may exist. If one accepts employment as a member of the police force, for instance, he has a moral obligation to do his best to apprehend a violator of the law, even though this may happen to involve risks that are far beyond anything that the ordinary citizen would be morally obligated to assume. This is a contractual obligation that the police officer accepts as a condition of employment. The moral code requires meeting these legal and contractual obligations. Any partial or total failure to do so is one of the debits that we enter, along with violations of specific provisions of the code, in our balance account and weigh against whatever positive moral values may be involved in the particular act under consideration. The net resultant determines the morality of the act in its entirety.

Inasmuch as the requirement for morality is conformity with the code of Sector 3, the fact that an individual believes that he has done the right thing does not make it right. If it does not conform to the code, it is wrong irrespective of any opinion. In extreme cases this is so obvious that it is generally recognized. It is now conceded by everyone but the ethical relativists that burning heretics is morally wrong, even though those who participated in the burning were thoroughly convinced that they were carrying out God’s will. But neither the moralists nor the general public have recognized that this is a general principle; that any violation of the code is morally wrong even if the offender does not realize that he has transgressed. Intent to do wrong is a violation in itself, even if no actual harm results, but good intentions do not excuse morally wrong actions. A comprehensive knowledge of the provisions of the code and a careful examination of their application to all of the factors involved in any issue are just as important from the moral standpoint as the desire to do right.

This view will no doubt meet with strong opposition, not only from those who contend that morality should be judged on the basis of intent, but also from those who realize that few individuals have a complete understanding of the code, and who feel that it is unjust to require individuals to live up to rules that are beyond their comprehension. But neither intent nor justice enters into the determination of whether the moral code is being followed. This is purely a question of fact that is independent of the intentions and the capabilities of the individual. Justice enters into the situation only in connection with the question as to whether a person should be held responsible for violations that he is not capable of recognizing as such. This is an important issue, but it has no relevance to the point with which we are now concerned. We will give it some consideration in Chapter 29. What needs to be emphasized now is that many of those who are capable of a better understanding of the code are not making the effort to acquire that understanding, or to apply all of the moral knowledge that they already have. The widespread tendency to base attitudes toward social, political, and economic issues on emotion rather than on reason that was noted in Chapter 13 is as definite a violation of the moral code as any of the acts that are commonly branded as evil, regardless of any opinions as to the relative seriousness of these violations.

The fact that religious leaders are among the most frequent and most flagrant violators of this aspect of the code makes the situation all the more serious, as invoking Divine authority in support of actions that are morally wrong when evaluated in their totality compounds the violations. No doubt most of the ecclesiastics are motivated by the best of intentions, but judgment as to the morality of their actions is not softened for that reason. As the old adage puts it, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Nor is the conclusion as to the morality any different if the religious authorities and their lay followers have been led into violation of the moral code by strict adherence to the tenets of their religion. Full compliance with this code cannot be achieved unless the moral precepts of one’s religion are given just as careful and critical scrutiny as if they originated elsewhere.

Here it may be asked: Is strict compliance with the moral code so essential that we must give it precedence when it conflicts with our religious beliefs? This is a legitimate question, and we will give it some consideration in the next chapter.

20 The Moral Objective


The Moral Objective

The great majority of those who have rejected the ethical pronouncements of the organized religions and have endeavored to derive ethics from natural sources rather than from authoritative commands have concluded that ethical conduct is characterized by maximization of a sensation that some have called pleasure, others happiness, and still others satisfaction. Some difference of opinion has arisen as to whose happiness is to be the controlling factor. One school of thought, of which Bentham has been the most influential exponent, argues that maximizing one’s own pleasure or happiness is the proper goal. This idea has considerable popular appeal, especially among those who do not want to be bothered with moral issues at all, but it commands little support among modern moralists for the rather obvious reason that it is essentially a negation of morality rather than a basis for morality. Present-day philosophical thought follows mainly along the general lines of the following definition by Bertrand Russell:

I mean by “right” conduct that conduct which will probably produce the greatest balance of satisfaction over dissatisfaction, or the smallest balance of dissatisfaction over satisfaction, and that, in making this estimate, the question as to who enjoys the satisfaction, or suffers the dissatisfaction, is to be considered irrelevant.324

The idea that human beings should be happy and that happiness is therefore the basic moral objective has a strong appeal to those human beings since, as a rule, they want to be happy. Even the religious philosophers, who are committed to the proposition that the moral code is an emanation from the Deity rather than a reflection of human needs and desires, usually contrive to bring the happiness concept into the picture indirectly. William Paley, for instance, tells us that happiness is “an enjoyment which the Deity has annexed to life.”325

When we examine the situation objectively in the light of the factual information developed in the present investigation, we find no support for this position. Happiness, in its broadest sense, is clearly the inverse of suffering, likewise taken in a broad sense, and the two have the same significance in relation to existence in general. As we have seen, suffering is not wrong or evil; it is simply one of the routine accompaniments of life in a space-time universe. Similarly, and for the same reasons, happiness is not right or good, morally speaking. It, too, is just one of the routine accompaniments of life in a space-time universe. Happiness is desirable and unhappiness is undesirable, but in themselves, both are morally neutral. They are part of our inheritance as aggregates of material substances and as products of biological evolution. This was clearly recognized by T. H. Huxley many years ago:

Men agree in one thing, and that is their innate desire to enjoy the pleasures and escape the pain of life… . That is their inheritance (the reality at the bottom of the doctrine of original sin) from the long series of ancestors, human and semi-human and brutal, in whom the strength of this innate tendency to self-assertion was the condition of victory in the struggle for existence.326

Abundant evidence corroborating this theoretical conclusion that emerges from our scientific analysis can be found on every hand. As brought out earlier, most of our physical suffering is due to our physical vulnerability, coupled with the biological emphasis on survival which keeps us under constant attack by enemies great and small. A major part of our happiness is contingent on the largely fortuitous outcome of our efforts to avoid the continual perils of this nature, few of which have any moral implications whatever. Then, too, so much depends on decisions that we make in other-than-moral fields. An individual’s choice of occupation (an economic decision) has a very important bearing on his happiness, and his choice of a wife (a social decision) even more so. Neither of these decisions is easily reversed, and the act of reversal, particularly in the latter case, is itself a source of unhappiness. Nor is it only these major matters that enter into a person’s enjoyment of life; almost every social or economic decision that he makes is a potential source of satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Even an unwanted shower of rain can dampen his spirits as well as his clothes.

The mere fact that so much of our happiness depends on factors that have no moral significance is prima facie evidence that there is no moral significance in happiness per se or suffering per se. If we assign a moral value to happiness, then we are faced with the necessity of attributing morality to the agencies that increase or decrease it. We will have to treat the rainstorm as a destroyer of moral values; a patent absurdity. Thus we come back to the conclusion that we have derived theoretically; that is, happiness is merely a feature of life in the physical universe; it has no metaphysical implications and is therefore morally neutral. It is a Sector 2 (biological) objective that is not morally classifiable as either right or wrong.

The entanglements in which the advocates of the various hedonist systems of ethics find themselves when they attempt to apply their calculus of pleasure to specific situations likewise provide abundant evidence contradicting the basic premise of such a system. For instance, if there is no risk of detection, a strict application of the hedonist principle would indicate that a financially profitable dishonest act should be judged right and good, inasmuch as it increases the satisfactions enjoyed by the individual concerned. It cannot be argued that there would be a feeling of guilt or remorse to offset the added pleasures, as no such emotion could be generated unless the action were judged wrong on the basis of some other ethical theory.

Those who reject the extreme concepts of hedonism and adhere to a modified form of the theory which takes the effect on others into account, and asserts that the right action is that which produces the greatest total of satisfaction or happiness, will point out that a dishonest act from which one individual profits will ordinarily result in a loss to someone else, and hence there will be no overall gain. But the validity of a theory cannot be judged on the basis of how well it applies to some cases. It does not necessarily follow that anyone will sustain a loss. The dishonest act may simply take advantage of an opportunity that would not otherwise be recognized at all. Even if the circumstances are such that some person does suffer a loss by reason of the act, the dishonest man may so handle the transaction that he makes a much larger gain. Indeed, the act may result in a distinct benefit to the community at large. In any of these cases, hedonism approves the dishonest act. The doctrine that “the King can do no wrong” has long since been abandoned, but here we find it replaced by the doctrine that “the skillful manager can do no wrong.” In these and many other instances of a similar nature, application of the hedonist or utilitarian theories arrives at the absurd result of judging dishonest actions as “right,” and their results as “good.”

The error here is that these ethical theories are trying to put economic values into the balance against moral values. There is only one moral element in any of the variations of the case under consideration. The dishonest act violates the moral code. It therefore has a negative moral value which cannot be counterbalanced by positive values of any other nature, economic or otherwise. The dishonesty can be justified only by showing, if that is possible, that in addition to the dishonest aspect, the act also has one or more morally correct aspects whose positive value is sufficient to outweigh the dishonesty. As expressed by Kant, “happiness and morality are two specifically different elements of the highest good and therefore their combination cannot be known analytically.”327

A very significant weakness of all theories based on maximizing happiness or satisfaction is that unless one aligns himself with the idea that everyone has a moral obligation to maximize his own satisfaction without regard to others, a position that few care to try to justify today, it is necessary to call upon some other moral principle to give the individual a reason why he should follow any moral code. There are those who argue that whatever advantages are gained by unethical conduct are merely transitory and that “moral conduct is in the long-run interest of the individual.”328 Unfortunately, this brave statement is demonstrably false. It is quite true that a society in which no one followed the moral code would be definitely less satisfactory than one in which everyone complied with the code. But an individual is not faced with a choice between these two extremes. He lives in a society in which both courses of action are common, and he must choose his own path. In so doing, he has before him innumerable examples of individuals who habitually violate the code and prosper greatly by so doing—not only temporarily, but as long as they live—whereas moral conduct seldom opens up the “something for nothing” opportunities that are exploited by those without moral scruples.

So why should one embrace principles that restrain him and limit his freedom of action? It is often argued that “social cooperation” is an essential factor in human life and that a moral code is required in order to make such cooperation feasible. Hence compliance with the code is an obligation that one assumes as a participant in organized society. So far as the individual is concerned, however, this does not alter the situation. Such an obligation, if it exists, is still only a moral obligation—the presence of a vast number of persons who ignore the code is proof that it is not a physical requirement—and the advocates of the “maximum happiness” theory cannot give the skeptical person any logical reason why he should recognize any moral obligation. “In the absence of laws and morals and religion,” says Bertrand Russell, “for each individual, the ideal community would be one in which everybody else is honest and he alone is a thief.”329 The successful criminal may lead a very comfortable and happy life.

Here is the greatest obstacle that stands in the way of those who, because they are unwilling to accept the moral edicts of the religious authorities, and because they doubt the validity of moral judgments reached by intuitive processes, have long sought to construct an ethical framework from factual foundations. They have arrived at a number of factual conclusions, such as the necessity of a certain amount of moral behavior in order to make social cooperation possible, but they have not been able to find a legitimate basis on which to make the required transition from such a statement of fact to a normative statement—from an is statement to an ought statement—and the general opinion at present is that such a transition is logically impossible. As expressed by Reichenback, “Knowledge cannot provide the form of ethics because it cannot provide directives.”330

Inasmuch as several modern schools of philosophy deny that anything can exist unless it is founded on empirical facts, this inability to construct an empirically based ethical theory has generated a strong tendency to minimize the significance of ethical principles. Marshall Walker, for instance, tells us that “Ethics is a source of advice regarding behavior… . The origin is human experience… and the reliability is not very great.”331 Certainly this is far removed from the “commandments” of the religious organizations, or the “categorical imperative” of Immanuel Kant. But there are others who go much farther, as can be seen in the statement by A. J. Ayer quoted in Chapter 18, which asserts, unequivocally and without qualifications, that “ethical judgments… have no objective validity whatever.”

Religious codes do not have this kind of a problem, as each comes fully equipped with a directive that it must be obeyed. The religious assertion is that both the content of the moral code and the obligation of compliance are as they are because such is the “will of God.” The findings of this present work neither confirm nor deny this assertion, and they are of such a nature that they should be equally relevant whether or not one subscribes to the religious position. These findings define the objective of the moral code; they identify some key provisions of the code and provide methods by which the code can be developed in detail; and they identify the source from which the code originates.

The logical status of these findings is identical with that of discoveries in the physical field. To the non-religious individual, they merely represent additional scientific knowledge. To the religious person, who looks upon both the physical and the non-physical as manifestations of the will of God, these findings are not only additions to the store of scientific knowledge but also represent progress toward clarification of the details of God’s will. The urgent need for such clarification can hardly be questioned in view of the serious differences of opinion as to just what it is that God really wills with respect to many important problems—differences that are all too common not only between religions, but between individuals and groups that presumably draw their inspiration from the same source.

The new knowledge that has been developed in the present investigation makes it evident that the participation of the Deity in human affairs (if a Deity exists and does so participate; questions which have not been addressed in this work) takes place at a more fundamental level than that which is assumed in most religious thought. The prevailing religious view is one of Divine attention to minute detail. “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible,” says Paul the Apostle. Indeed, the great multiplicity of entities and phenomena of which the observed universe is composed, and the manner in which they fit together in a seemingly purposeful fashion, is the basis for one of the most widely accepted arguments for the existence of God: the “argument from design.” As stated by John Stuart Mill:

Certain qualities, it is alleged, are found to be characteristic of such things as are made by an intelligent mind for a purpose. The order of nature, or some considerable parts of it, exhibit these qualities in a remarkable degree. We are entitled, from this great similarity in the effects, to infer similarity in the cause, and to believe that things which it is beyond the power of man to make, but which resemble the works of man in all but power, must also have been made by Intelligence, armed with a power greater than human.332

But the development of the Reciprocal System has demonstrated that the intricate “design” of the universe is not a matter of infinite skill and wisdom in fitting a multitude of parts together in the manner of “things made by an intelligent mind for a purpose.” The physical structure of the universe in all of its complexity is merely a consequence of some very simple properties of the space and time of which the universe is composed, and the enormous number and variety of parts fit together smoothly not because of skillful construction but because they are all derived from space and time, and the relation of these two basic entities: motion, by addition or combination. This means that the argument from design is no longer tenable in its original form. Its claim to validity might still be argued on the basis of a contention that construction of a system wherein all of the complicated and intricate details that make up the universe are necessary consequences of a few basic properties of a single component—motion—is an even greater feat than construction of this kind of a system out of a multitude of parts. But in this case, the force of the analogy is lost, as there is no man-made system that can be considered as analogous to the system that constitutes the physical universe.

In any event, it is now clear that if the physical universe was created by a Deity, or by any other metaphysical agency, what was created was the fundamental entity, a particular kind of motion; that is, motion governed by a specific set of laws and principles. All else in this physical universe is implicitly contained in the fundamental entity, and follows from it. The situation with respect to the moral code is similar. What exists is a general set of rules. It has been established in the preceding discussion that members of the human race are potentially subject to full or partial direction by control units from Sector 3, the sector of the universe independent of space and time, and that Sector 3 is governed by a self-consistent set of laws and principles analogous to, but different from, the laws and principles which govern Sector 2, the biological sector. The appropriate portions of the Sector 3 governing rules are the moral code, and to the extent that an individual is under Sector 3 control—that is, to the extent that he acts as an ethical man rather than as a mere biological organism—he will comply with this code as a matter of course, just as material bodies act in accordance with the physical laws that govern their sector. Ethical man follows the moral code simply because this is the way that ethical men act.

There are some who object to any link between morality and metaphysical existence on the ground that, as expressed by Loring, an assertion “that all human goodness comes from a supernatural source… amounts to believing that it is unusual and difficult, if not impossible, to be good ’of our own accord.’”333 The flaw is this viewpoint is that it confuses metaphysical with supernatural. It is impossible for a human being as a part of the physical universe—in his capacity as a biological organism—to be good. The closest he can come to it is to be ethically neutral under circumstances where no moral issue is involved. He can be “good” only in his capacity as a local manifestation of metaphysical existence, just as he can be “alive” only in his capacity as a local manifestation of Sector 2; that is, as an organism under Sector 2 control. Thus, even though one is good “of his own accord,” as he must be if he is good at all, since there is no other way in which it can be accomplished, it is nevertheless true that all human goodness comes from a metaphysical (not supernatural) source: the metaphysical aspect of one’s own existence.

Identification of the moral code as a set of laws analogous to the laws of the physical sciences, laws which specify how the entities to which they apply will behave under specified circumstances, rather than how they ought to behave, complies with the demand of the empiricists that ethical theory have a purely factual basis. On this new basis, ethical judgments do have “objective validity”; they are not merely “advice” of doubtful reliability. Whether or not a particular item of moral significance is “good,” and hence belongs in the moral code, reduces to the factual question as to whether this item is consistent with the laws and principles of Sector 3, a question which is capable of being answered by the methods described in the previous chapters. This disposes of the empiricists’ complaint that the customary use of the word “good” is misleading, inasmuch as the user “contrives to smuggle a normative judgment into what purports to be a statement of fact.”334 Our use of the “good” designation merely identifies the item as part of the moral code. The necessary command or directive is supplied independently.

The clarification of the general nature of the code does not, in itself, provide the directive that we need; it merely brings us back to the original question in somewhat different terms. But it does throw some important new light on the subject. We no longer have to ask why, insofar as we wish to act as ethical men rather than as animals, we should follow the moral code, since we have determined that our choice between these two alternatives automatically fixes our course. We are, however, left with another question: Why should we choose the status of ethical men rather than the status of animals? The immediate emotional response to this question is likely to be that the answer is obvious, but this is mainly an indignant reaction to the idea of being classed with animals. It is by no means self-evident why we should choose to be controlled by one aspect of our nature rather than another.

We can, however, resolve the issue by a consideration of the purpose of human existence. It is true that there is a school of thought which contends that there is no such purpose or, indeed, any meaning at all in human life. But our findings with respect to existence outside the space-time universe now make this hypothesis wholly untenable. As long as the physical universe with which we are in direct contact is considered to represent the whole of existence, and the inhabitants thereof are regarded as mere cogs in a mighty but aimless machine, absence of purpose is a plausible hypothesis. The discovery that the space-time universe is only a part, perhaps only a very small part, of a greater whole, and that human beings are subject to direction by metaphysical agencies cuts the ground out from under any such idea, and implies that there is an underlying purpose of some kind.

The existence of such a purpose can be verified by the same kind of tests that we apply to other information from intuitive sources. The overwhelming majority of human individuals, scientists and non-scientists alike, have always refused to accept the contention that the universe is purposeless, notwithstanding the lack of evidence to support their intuitive position. On the basis of the criteria we have established for judging the validity of intuitive information, this almost universal agreement as to the existence of a purpose is, in itself, practically conclusive proof that this is a valid item of intuitive knowledge. The situation here is essentially the same as that which is encountered in the fundamentals of physical science, where there is almost unanimous agreement, based wholly on intuition, that the physical universe is rational.

Identification of the purpose of existence will be deferred until after some additional background information is developed, but the results of that extension of the study can be anticipated to the extent of stating what is practically self-evident as soon as the existence of a purpose is ascertained; that is, advancement of the human race, or some of the members thereof, from the status of biological organisms to the status of ethical men is essential to the accomplishment of this purpose. This, then, is the moral objective, and here is the origin of the moral imperative. Man ought to contribute toward fulfillment of the purpose for which he exists. In order to do so, he must cease to be merely an animal and must become an ethical man; otherwise his existence is wasted.

This also gives us the answer to the question with which we concluded Chapter 19. An ethical man complies with all of the provisions of the moral code; anything short of full compliance indicates that the transition from animal to ethical man is not yet complete. If an individual’s religion conflicts with any of these provisions, that religion is wrong in these particular respects, and an ethical man will not permit his religion to influence him to violate the moral code. It should be noted in this connection that while full compliance with the code is necessary in order to attain the status of ethical man, whether this is sufficient for the purpose is another question, one that we will consider later.

Bringing the human race into full compliance with the moral code is not a simple or easy undertaking. At the outset, man is in much the same position as the primitive single-celled organism. A long period of growth and development lies ahead in both cases before advanced types of animals or full-fledged ethical men can appear on the scene. There is, however, one significant difference. The biological organism must wait for natural processes to operate, but man can facilitate progress by his own efforts. One of the most important directions that these efforts can take is the acquisition and dissemination of ethical knowledge. It is not enough to have the desire to do right; one must also know what is right; that is, he must know the code of Sector 3. As in the physical field, where scientists keep up a relentless search for the correct formulation of the laws that govern physical processes, those who bear the primary responsibility for the advancement of ethical knowledge, the philosophers and theologians particularly, should be applying their best efforts to discover the correct expression of the moral code. Our finding that such information can be obtained by direct communication from Sector 3 through the process that we call by various names such as intuition, revelation, or insight, now clears the way for a systematic approach to this problem analogous to the procedures of science.

The traditional moral value systems were derived from religious sources, and in view of the revelatory nature of the original religious doctrines, the basic elements of these systems, applying, as they do, to relatively simple ethical issues, should be, for the most part, authentic. Over the years, however, the items derived from the original revelations have been subject to numerous extensions and modifications, and the authentic moral principles have been buried in a mass of ritualistic and secular additions. A growing recognition of the absurdity of much of the present content of the religion-based moral codes has weakened confidence in their validity, and this, together with the general decline of religious influence, is responsible for the value “crisis” in modern society, the term that is now commonly applied to the lack of any generally accepted system of moral values. Now that we have identified the source of the code and the means whereby information concerning its content is transmitted to the human race, and have outlined the methods by which the validity of that information can be tested, the obstacles that have hitherto stood in the way of arriving at definite conclusions on moral issues have been eliminated. We are now in a position not merely to construct a code, but to ascertain the provisions of the code: the rules of Sector 3.

Like the analogous task of developing the details of the physical universe from theoretical premises, the task of developing the moral code in full detail is a colossal undertaking, and it will not be complete for a long time, if ever. But it should be possible, within a reasonable time, to produce a body of ethical knowledge comparable to the existing knowledge in the physical field. This will accomplish all that is currently expected of a system of ethics. To demonstrate this point, let us check the general characteristics of the Sector 3 code, as seen in the light of the discussion in the preceding pages, against those which the philosophers consider essential. The “requirements which traditional ethics as well as its critics have believed it incumbent upon any ethics to adopt” are listed by Evelyn Shirk as follows:

  1. It must present a single standard or principle in terms of which ethical acts are to be judged.
  2. The standard must be universal; applicable in all contexts and at any time or place.
  3. It must be precise and unambiguous.
  4. It must be acceptable on sight and require no extended justification or defense.
  5. It must be immune to error.
  6. Its use must resolve all ethical questions.335

Shirk regards these requirements (condensed from her more elaborate description) as totally unrealistic. She calls requirement (1) a “silly effort to gain simplicity,” and brands the entire set of requirements as “nonsense.” “Burdens so heavy,” she says, “are certain to break the spine of any inquiry into rational practice.” But the code of Sector 3 has all of these characteristics, however “unrealistic” they may seem to those who are baffled in their attempts to derive a moral code from sources within the physical universe. The following statements can be made about the specific items listed by Shirk:

  1. A single standard, the Sector 3 code, is applicable.
  2. The standard is universal. It applies at all times and in all places.
  3. Natural laws are inherently precise and unambiguous, if correctly expressed.
  4. The statement that ethical man will act in accordance with the natural laws governing the behavior of ethical men requires no further explanation or justification.
  5. The code is never wrong, but we have a great deal of work to do before we will know it in detail.
  6. Since the moral objective is total compliance with the Sector 3 code, a full knowledge of this code is all that is necessary in order to arrive at the proper action in any situation that may arise.

The true basis of ethics, then, is just the kind of a thing that “traditional ethics and its critics” have always insisted that it must be. The individuals so described have had an intuitive understanding of the true situation that has caused them to hold fast to their viewpoint in spite of its lack of empirical support. Intuition, or insight, not only gives us the answers to most of our simple ethical problems but also, as these ethicists have demonstrated, defines the general nature of the moral code upon which these answers are based. What this present work has added is the identification of the code as the set of natural laws and principles that governs Sector 3 of existence as a whole.

The fallacy of the position taken by Shirk can best be seen in her comments on requirement (5). “In order to be a worthy and acceptable standard at all,” she says, “its very possession must render the ethical agent infallible. Perhaps this is one of the most onerous burdens ever proposed (tacitly or not) for any standard.” But, in fact, this is the requirement that we apply to every natural law. We recognize, for instance, that the “code” of physical science, the set of natural laws applying to the physical universe, is infallible. It is capable of providing the correct answers to all physical problems. These answers are not all available to us at present, but this is not because of any imperfection in the physical laws; it is because we do not, as yet, have a full understanding of them. The same kind of a situation exists in the ethical field. The moral code itself is complete and correct, and it is capable of providing the answers to all of our moral problems. But we are still in the early stages of developing an adequate understanding of the natural laws that constitute the code, a development that necessarily proceeds slowly while we have to contend with those like the author quoted, and the various schools of philosophical thought such as the positivists and the ethical relativists, who deny the existence of a fixed moral code.

“Morality… is not a body of factual knowledge, such as might be presented in a first-year history course,”336 say Michael Walzer of Harvard University in a recent article. Our findings are in direct conflict with this dictum. Morality is such a body of factual knowledge. In its entirety, it is beyond the scope of a one-year college course, but instruction in its essential elements certainly belongs in the college curricula. Walzer notes that the academic community is currently experiencing a revival of interest in ethical subjects. One of the best ways of insuring a continuation of this interest is to emphasize the fact that the moral laws are no different from the physical laws in anything but their subject matter, and they are equally susceptible to precise definition.

The continuing development of the details of the true moral code that is now possible because of the clarification of the nature and basis of the code will ultimately have some very significant effects. It should sooner or later result in purging the religious regulations of the non-moral additions and embellishments that have been accumulated over the years, or at least clarify the status of these items enough to deprive them of their mandatory character. As matters now stand, a vast amount of unnecessary distress is caused by conflicts in which individuals are torn between following a course that they believe is right and obeying an injunction of their church that prohibits it. Elimination of the non-moral items from the religious regulations will go a long way toward minimizing these conflicts. Inasmuch as these non-moral rules are the ones that are most commonly broken or disregarded, their elimination from the religious codes will also tend to enhance the authority and increase the observance of the genuinely moral regulations that remain in effect. It should also help to counteract the widespread belief that living a moral life is an arduous and disagreeable task. Aldous Huxley, for instance, tells us that “Being virtuous is, for him [the ordinary man], a most tedious and distressing process.”337 Kurt Baier states the case in even stronger terms:

Adopting the moral point of view involves acting on principle. It involves conforming to rules even when doing so is unpleasant, painful, costly, or ruinous to oneself.338

Many of the organized religions reinforce this impression by portraying conformity with their directives as religious “labor” for which recompense of some kind will ultimately be received. But these organizations do not distinguish between moral directives and directives of other kinds, and it is doubtful if any substantial number of those “painful” or “ruinous” consequences mentioned by Baier have resulted from tenacity in upholding moral principles. The martyrs in all ages have suffered for their religious or political views, not their moral views. The “holy wars” and schisms that create so much turmoil in the world are concerned with doctrinal issues, not moral issues. Unless a person takes a fanatical stand on some particular moral point, and insists that his interpretation of this point must take precedence over all other considerations (an attitude that is, in itself, a violation of the moral code), it is not likely that he will have to pay any price for the inner peace that accompanies the knowledge that he has done the right thing. Perhaps he may have to pass up some opportunities to make dishonest gains, but this can scarcely be regarded as a serious hardship. As we will see in the next chapter, where we will take a closer look at the personal application of the moral code, the common view in which moral behavior is seen as a heavy burden is a gross distortion of the true picture.

21 The Personal Aspect of Ethics


The Personal Aspect of Ethics

“Love thy neighbor as thyself” is the specific and unequivocal commandment emanating from the Jewish and Christian religions. But no one follows it, not even the priests, the rabbis, and the ministers that spell out the doctrine so clearly for the benefit of the laity, unless it is so watered down or “interpreted” as to have no more than a faint resemblance to the original directive. Of course, we often make decisions or take actions on the basis of considerations which give as much, or even more, weight to the good of others as to our own interests, and the extent to which this is done is to some extent an indication of the degree of compliance with the moral code, but, on the whole, our concerns are with our own personal problems (including those of our immediate family, which are, in a very real sense, our own problems). Except for such attention as one may pay to the affairs of others in the course of earning his own living, it is unlikely that any individual devotes more than a very small fraction of his constructive thought to the concerns of his neighbors. However sympathetic he may be to his neighbor’s difficulties, when he does get around to considering them, life is full of problems for him, too, and these are his primary concern.

Now, if the exhortation with which this chapter opened means just what it says, and if it is a valid expression of the moral code, then we humans are in an awkward predicament. The code requires a course of action which for most, if not all, of us is physically impossible. It is quite appropriate, therefore, that we should extend our present inquiry into this area, and to see what bearing our scientific findings may have on the personal aspect of ethics.

There is a school of thought which holds that the subject of ethics is purely a social matter. “All ethics are social ethics,”339 says Ludwig von Mises. “One could hardly be moral, or immoral, without other people,”336 contends Walzer. This view we must summarily reject. Our analysis in the preceding chapters indicates that the moral obligation is an obligation to do our part in carrying out the purpose for which the universe exists, the development of ethical men. Social cooperation plays a part in this development, to be sure, a very important part, but there are also aspects which are peculiar to the individual. The basic fact here is that each individual has the primary responsibility for the effectiveness of his own contribution toward the general objective. There is no alternative; no one else is in a position to exercise the control that is a prerequisite for responsibility. And since we have identified this objective as the fundamental moral objective, it follows that the responsibilities of the individual in connection with his own activities are moral responsibilities.

This is a very important point. In a great many instances the distinction between “good” or moral action and “evil” or immoral action hinges on whether the action is determined by purely selfish considerations or gives due weight to the needs and desires of others. Recognition of this point has encouraged the belief that actions taken primarily for one’s own benefit are always violations of the moral code, and that behavior is not moral unless it gives at least equal weight to the interests of others. This is what the “love thy neighbor as thyself” directive tell us, if we accept it at face value. But our analysis arrives at the conclusion that we have certain moral responsibilities that can well be described as “selfish,” in that they require giving self-interest precedence over the interests of others.

It is obvious that one cannot continue to contribute toward the objective of human existence if he ceases to exist, and the first responsibility of this selfish nature is therefore survival. Recognition of self-preservation as a moral obligation clarifies the application of the moral code to those situations in which survival is involved. Self-defense, for instance, is now simply a case of giving the required greater weight to the primary moral obligation of self-preservation than to the important, but less direct, moral obligation to refrain from taking the life of another. Deliberate sacrifice of one’s own life to save that of another, an act that is highly praised by most moralists, is not moral at all, according to our analysis, unless some very special circumstances are involved, such as the existence of a definite responsibility for the security of the other person, inasmuch as this action gives less weight to a primary responsibility, self-preservation, than to a responsibility which is no more than secondary at best.

It should be understood, of course, that this does not justify usurpation of a right to survival that belongs to someone else by virtue of established custom or some other legitimate claim. For example, it does not justify violating the “women and children first” rule of the sea. Neither does it justify refusal to accept a reasonable risk for the benefit of others under appropriate circumstances.

The justification for self-defense is not seriously questioned in most ethical systems or moral codes, even though reconciling this act with the basic principles of those systems or codes encounters serious difficulties in many cases. It is not likely, therefore, that the preceding comments on self-defense will evoke any strenuous opposition. However, further extension of the same general principle leads to some conclusions that will be widely questioned, and it therefore seems advisable to emphasize the fact that both the premises upon which these conclusions are based and the reasoning that is involved in arriving at them is identical with those from which the justification for self-defense was derived.

The first of these additional conclusions is that, in order to carry out our moral obligations, we must not only continue to exist but must also maintain ourselves in good physical condition. Actions such as overindulgence in alcohol, drugs, etc., are definitely violations of the moral code, inasmuch as they prevent the individuals concerned from making their full contribution toward the objective of existence. This illustrates the weakness of those theories that portray ethics as purely social. On the basis of these theories, an alcoholic is violating the moral code only if his relations with others are unfavorably affected, whereas our analysis indicates that his major offense lies in what he has done to himself.

Now let us enter some of the disputed territory. If we follow the reasoning in the preceding discussion a little farther, it becomes clear that there is a positive aspect to this matter of physical condition as well as a negative aspect. We have a moral obligation not only to refrain from doing those things that will cause physical deterioration, but to do those things that will promote physical well-being. Thus, what is commonly called “good living”—adequate and nutritionally effective food, comfortable living quarters, etc.—is not only a privilege to be enjoyed; it is something that an individual has a moral obligation to provide for himself and his family if he is at all able to do so. One should eat enough to stay in good health, if he can, even though he knows that somewhere in the world others go hungry.

Furthermore, good physical condition is not the only prerequisite for an effective contribution toward the general moral objective. Good mental condition is likewise required. Just as favorable physical conditions are necessary for satisfactory biological development, so favorable biological conditions are necessary for satisfactory ethical development. The individual who is constantly harassed by financial problems, domestic problems, and the like, is not in a condition to think clearly about moral issues. Each person therefore has the same kind of an obligation in this respect that he has with regard to his physical condition; that is, he must try, so far as his circumstances permit, to minimize these disturbing influences. In today’s society, the primary means of accomplishing this end is the achievement of a certain degree of financial security.

To many persons, this conclusion that an individual has a moral obligation to live a pleasant, comfortable, and untroubled life, so far as he is able, will seem utterly reprehensible, and little short of sacrilegious. Our findings do get a little support. Hocking, for example, contends that “There is a duty to enjoyment—not usually necessary to insist on.”340 Rabbi Gittelsohn says, “Judaism teaches that in the end each man is accountable for the legitimate pleasures of life of which he failed to avail himself.”341 Even Kant meets us half way. “To seek prosperity for itself is not directly a duty,” he says, “but indirectly it can very well be a duty, in order to guard against poverty which is a great temptation to vice.”342 But it must be conceded that, as a theoretical proposition, the great majority of those who adhere to a moral code of one kind or another will judge these findings to be incompatible with that code.

In view of our previous conclusion (in Chapter 18) that what human beings think about basic moral issues is in most cases an intuitive perception of the truth, this general disapproval may seem to raise a serious question as to the validity of the current finding. But it is extremely doubtful whether these persons actually believe what they claim to believe. As an abstract proposition, they may give support to this disapproving view, but when it comes to a matter of practical application, they almost invariably do exactly what our analysis indicates that they should do. They give priority to establishing good living conditions for themselves and their families, not to the exclusion of other obligations, but definitely relegating them to a subordinate position. Hence, if we judge what people really think about this issue by what they do rather than by what they say—a criterion that is generally recognized as more reliable—then the principle from Chapter 18 supports the conclusions we have now reached.

The origin of the common practice of branding self-interest as inherently immoral is quite obvious. As we have seen, self-interest is the primary element in Sector 2 behavior, that of the biological organism, whereas the code of Sector 3 involves a considerable degree of subordination of self-interest to the interests of others. The major problem of the religious organizations and moralists in general has therefore been largely a matter of persuading individuals to reduce the role of self-interest in their decision making. To simplify the problem of persuasion, and to strengthen the case for altruism, the moralists have taken what seemed to be the easiest course, and have characterized all self-interest as inherently evil. In common with many other excesses committed with the best of intentions, this has had some serious consequences.

One of these has been the emergence of various types of asceticism, the essence of which is the contention that the interests of man’s physical body are antagonistic to the interests of his moral nature, and that denial of physical wants therefore has a positive moral value. The extreme practices in which the body is actually tortured for the sake of the presumed moral benefit are generally repudiated by present-day opinion, but there is a strong tinge of asceticism in most of the major religions. The Christian emphasis on the conflict between the demands of the “flesh” and those of the “spirit” is typical.

An ascetic doctrine that receives widespread support, explicitly or by implication, is that there is no virtue in doing anything that we actually want to do; the morally commendable actions are the distasteful ones that we carry out from a sense of duty. Religious organizations seldom make any serious attempt to explain their dicta—questioning the commands of the Deity is pointless—but Immanuel Kant has developed this viewpoint at some length, and his name is commonly associated with its expression as a philosophical principle. It is of interest to note that Kant has gone astray because he has misapplied a perfectly valid principle, which he also enunciated. He recognized, as a great many other philosophers, particularly those with strong religious ties, have failed to do, that actions taken in anticipation of reward or to avoid punishment have no moral significance. From the moral standpoint, they have the same standing as any other acts taken in the interest of self-satisfaction. But having arrived at this sound conclusion, Kant then made the assumption that, if a person derives what may be called moral satisfaction from an act, the anticipation of this satisfaction must have been the incentive for the act, and on the basis of the principle just stated, this deprives the act of any moral significance.

A man may be a very good man without being morally good in the sense of the ethics… of Kant. For a man may be by inclination benevolent, well meaning, unselfish, etc… . All those actions towards which he was moved by his “good” inclinations (whether inborn or acquired) would be, according to Kant, ethically neutral—neither good nor bad. For only actions done for the sake of duty, rather than out of benevolent inclination, can be “good” in Kant’s sense.321 (Karl Popper)

The findings of this work are diametrically opposed to Kant’s views as described in the foregoing quotation from Popper, and the Kantian version of asceticism must therefore be rejected as firmly as the more extreme forms. Our scientific analysis of the situation shows that ethical man follows the moral code simply because the rules that constitute the code are the rules that govern the behavior of ethical men. An ethical man is “by inclination benevolent, well meaning, etc.,” and all of his actions are taken as a result of his “good inclinations.” The fact that some other person may do the same thing “for the sake of duty” and seemingly against his own inclination simply means that the latter individual is not as far advanced toward the status of ethical man, and is able to do the right thing only after overcoming resistance from the Sector 2 influences to which he is subject.

The basic error of asceticism lies in its assumption of a conflict between physical well-being and morality. We find, in our analysis, not only that the alleged conflict is non-existent, but that maintaining good physical and mental condition is a positive moral requirement. Actions that harm the physical body are violations of the moral code regardless of whether they are motivated by self-indulgence or by a desire for moral improvement. Like all other violations of the code, they can be justified only if they result in the production of some positive moral values that outweigh the harmful physical consequences.

Asceticism is not the only doctrine in this area that is revealed as false and misleading in the light of our new findings. The whole concept of moral behavior as a burden and sacrifice is tarred with the same brush. There is no reason why one who follows the moral code cannot lead as pleasant and agreeable a life as anyone else. He can meet all of the legitimate demands of his physical mechanism—indeed, to be moral he must do so, to the best of his ability. He can, so far as his circumstances permit, enjoy the pleasant aspects of human life; such things, in themselves, have no moral connotations one way or the other. To be sure, he must refrain from acting as an animal in those instances where the conduct of animals and that of ethical men differs, but this is no burden. An ethical man wants to act in this manner. He does not want to be dishonest; he does not want to injure his neighbor; he does not want to follow the “tooth and claw” code of the animal world.

“There must be definite limits to our duties,” contends Hazlitt. “People must be allowed a moral breathing spell once in a while.”304 Here again, moral behavior is portrayed as a burden, an intolerable burden from which an individual must occasionally be relieved. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This is just another of the fallacious and harmful conclusions that follow from an erroneous concept of the essential nature of the moral code, the “joyless ethic” of so many religions in which moral behavior appears as a dreary sacrifice for which recompense must be made in some future existence. Fortunately, a recognition of the error into which these religions have fallen is growing. A recent editorial in the journal Theology Today has this to say:

The narrowness and negativism, the oppressive moralism long associated with one type of religious behavior, are now being increasingly rejected as a human style of life and are recognized as the products of a limited and parochial view of culture and a desiccated view of man and creation.343

Those religions that have an “other-worldly” outlook generally tend to regard the pursuit of pleasure, political or economic power, or other non-religious objectives as antithetical to religious beliefs, and are all open in some degree to the criticism expressed in the foregoing quotation. An excessive concentration on secular objectives to the exclusion of religious considerations would, of course, be incompatible with a religious life, but ethical decisions are made, and ethical actions are taken in actual practice. Participation in the activities of the secular world is therefore essential in order to gain experience in the application of ethical principles. If it is possible at all, which is highly questionable, development of a well-rounded ethical personality without such experience is obviously very difficult. This is a general rule that applies throughout human life. One may learn the rudiments of any skill through instruction, but proficiency comes only from experience.

The status of experience as a prerequisite for achieving the objective of human existence also leads to the conclusion that withdrawal from worldly activities, a practice looked upon with favor in many religious systems, is not an effective way of attaining the objective. As mentioned in the discussion of the revelation process in Chapter 10, intense concentration upon the particular matter under consideration, to the virtual exclusion of everything else, appears to be helpful in setting the stage for the “flash of insight” that is required. But whatever the nature of the subject matter may be—religious, scientific, or other—a certain level of knowledge and experience is necessary before an individual can make the intuitive jump to a significant conclusion, and experience cannot be gained in isolation. In many respects, life on earth is analogous to a game. A player can improve his performance to some extent by studying the principles of the game and by doing some thinking as to how best to apply these principles, but proficiency comes only as a result of practice and participation in the game. Buddha, Mohammed, and other religious leaders who withdrew into solitude to perfect their understanding were not hermits; they were men of the world who had accumulated a rich fund of secular experience before they undertook a life of solitary contemplation.

The game analogy can appropriately be applied to human life in many ways—in our view of the place of religion in life, for instance. Religion is one of the most important sources of advice as to how to play the game of life. Anyone who undertakes to play a game receives a great deal of advice—much of it conflicting—as to the manner of play. The value of this advice to the player does not depend upon the authority attributed to the source from which it is derived, or upon the degree of acceptance with which it is received. That value is determined entirely by the amount of gain or loss in performance that is accomplished by actual application of the recommended procedures. The same is true in the game of life. Strict conformity with the rules and regulations of one’s religion is of no avail unless those rules and regulations do, in fact, express the requirements of the true moral code. It is extremely unfortunate, from the standpoint of society as a whole, that the agency of the social order that has the primary responsibility for encouraging conformity with the moral code should be so much inclined to portray that compliance as a burdensome task. But as individuals, we have the remedy in our own hands. We can, and should, refuse to accept this distortion of the truth. Each person has the responsibility of examining the moral doctrines of his religion and determining for himself whether they are valid expressions of the Sector 3 code. Those that cannot stand up under the application of reason should be rejected regardless of the source from which they emanate.

It should also be noted that we cannot win the game of life, or any other game, on the strength of good intentions. Of course, we must have an intention to win, but this is not, in itself, sufficient. There must be actual accomplishment. Those religions that offer some kind of a shortcut whereby the full status of ethical man can be attained by fiat are in direct conflict with the conclusion that the purpose of human existence is the development of ethical men. If that objective could be attained by decree, there would be no need for the huge and complicated mechanism that constitutes the physical universe.

Like other games, the game of life involves an element of chance. This is particularly evident in economic and other non-moral areas, but chance may also play a significant role in determining the extent to which the ethical personality is developed during an individual’s lifetime. The handicaps that are imposed on ethical progress where living conditions are unfavorable have already been mentioned. Chance events may also result in termination of life before a person has had adequate time to make significant ethical progress. These are some of the considerations that have led to the conclusion that an alternate route to the ultimate goal of human existence is required, and have inspired the conception of the shortcuts that are now being offered by many religions. Our rejection of these religious answers to the problems that are involved raises questions of equity and justice that should have some attention. We will review them in Chapter 28.

Even if chance does not intervene to prevent victory in a game, one may still not achieve the amount of success to which he would be entitled on the basis of his skill. If the game is under the control of an umpire, a referee, or other official, the player may be the victim of a wrong decision. Or if the game is one involving team play, some member of one’s own team may not respond to his moves in the proper manner. Nor will the captain or manager of the team always give each player full opportunity to display his talents. So it is in the game of life. We are always subject to the vagaries of chance, and we are continually encountering obstacles placed in our way, intentionally or unintentionally, by the human individuals with whom we deal. Like those who are successful in playing other games, what we need to do is to learn to take these things in stride, to play the game to the best of our ability, and to enjoy the game while we are playing it.

In order to put human life into the proper perspective, it is necessary to recognize that human existence is an ongoing process, one that is directed toward ethical perfection (and perhaps some other goals as well—a point that we will discuss later). We are therefore imperfect by definition, aspirants rather than masters, and although our task is to overcome our imperfections, there is no sound reason why our inability to accomplish this task quickly and completely should lead us into the anxiety, guilt, and despair that are emphasized by the existentialist philosophers and are incorporated in a modified form into so many religious doctrines. We have a legacy from our animal origins (whether or not we call it “original sin”) that has to be overcome before we can reach our ultimate goal. But the fact that this objective has not yet been reached does not justify our acceptance of the sense of guilt that so many are trying to force upon us. Nor is it catastrophic if we stumble occasionally as we advance toward the goal. We are fulfilling our purpose as long as we continue making substantial progress in the right direction.

The general situation with respect to the personal aspect of morality can be clarified to a considerable degree by a consideration of what we may call “Crusoe ethics.” In the early days of the development of economic theory, it was quite common to approach economic questions from the standpoint of how the various principles involved would apply to a lone individual on an isolated island. These “Robinson Crusoe” economics are now out-of-style, so to speak, but they served a very valuable purpose (in fact, economic theory would be a great deal better off today if more attention were paid to this simple situation of the lone producer-consumer), and a somewhat similar approach to the morality of the lone individual can be equally productive.

On the basis of the principles that we have established, it is evident that Crusoe has a moral obligation to keep himself alive and in good mental and physical condition. He has no primary obligation to work. If work is necessary to meet the primary obligations just mentioned, as it normally would be, then work is a requirement, but this is only a conditional obligation. If the island has a warm climate and plenty of coconut trees, the primary obligations may be satisfied with little or no actual productive effort. If Crusoe does work, either by choice or from necessity, there is no requirement that he limit his work to the minimum amount that is actually essential. An excessive amount of work that would be physically detrimental is barred by the moral code, but in between the minimum that is required and the maximum that is allowed, there is a very substantial margin in which he may make economic decisions. He can choose between leisure and the products of effort, and, to the extent that he elects to work, he can choose between one type of product and another. He can make choices as to methods and procedures, the extent to which he diverts time and effort from direct production to the making of tools, for example. He can decide how much use he wants to make of the possibility of storing goods for future consumption, and so on.

In this economic activity, Crusoe is living in accordance with the principle of hedonism; he is taking those actions which he believes will bring him the greatest amount of satisfaction. But this hedonism, as he practices it, is not a principle of morality; it has no moral significance at all. As soon as any moral element enters into the situation, the moral aspect is controlling and satisfaction or pleasure is irrelevant. For instance, any intentional action that inflicts physical injury on himself is a violation of the moral code, and if Crusoe is acting as an ethical man, he will avoid such an action, no matter how much pleasure he might have derived from it.

Prudence has always been regarded by philosophers as an important moral virtue, even to the extent that it has been classified by some—Epicurus and Bentham, for instance—as the primary virtue. But it is evident that to Crusoe, prudence is no more than a conditional obligation, inasmuch as imprudent conduct normally does no more than lessen his pleasure and his comforts. Only in the exceptional case does it involve consequences that make it a violation of the moral code. Like pleasure, prudence is primarily a matter of economics in Crusoe’s life, rather than a matter of ethics.

There is nothing in the moral code, as it emerges from our analysis, that would bar Crusoe from killing and eating the animals on the island. In fact, his primary obligation of survival requires that he eat some kind of biological organism, and our analysis shows that there is no basic difference between the status of animals and that of plants. But observation indicates that animals do experience the sensation of pain, and Crusoe has an obligation to avoid inflicting unnecessary pain in the course of his food-gathering activities. Fundamentally, this principle applies to our conduct toward other human beings. The moral code requires that we act in a manner considerate of the interests of others, including adding to their pleasure, so far as this is consistent with our other obligations, and avoiding giving them pain. This obligation carries over into our dealings with animal life, to the extent that it is applicable; that is, to the extent that animals share the sensations that are to be avoided. Cruelty to animals is definitely a violation of the code.

Some digression from our current theme to elaborate on this point may be in order, inasmuch as certain religions carry it to extremes and forbid the use of animals as food, or even, in some cases, prohibit the killing of insect pests. In appraising this position, what we need to remember is that the basic requirement of the moral code is to direct our actions toward the moral objective; that is, to contribute forward fulfillment of the purpose of human existence. This means that we must endeavor to perfect our own ethical personalities, to assist others in doing likewise, and to avoid anything that would hinder these developments. On this basis, taking the life of a human being without adequate justification of a moral nature is clearly a violation of the code, inasmuch as it eliminates all possibility of further ethical improvement of that individual. Taking the life of an animal has no such effect, as the animal cannot develop an ethical personality in any event. It follows that this is not a violation of the code, unless the conditions surrounding the act have human implications of some kind. We are therefore entitled to judge this act on the basis of non-moral considerations. In the usual case, these considerations will be economic.

Cruelty, on the other hand, cannot be justified on any grounds. It is, by definition, unnecessary, and being contrary to the Golden Rule, it is a violation of the code under any circumstances. Of course, animals cannot follow the Golden Rule, since they are subject to a totally different law. Consequently, this rule is not applicable to relationships between man and animals. But ethical man must live up to his own standards, and the moral code is applicable to his actions, irrespective of the status of the others that are affected. Cruelty to animals is not wrong because of what is done to the animal. That animal is entitled to nothing more than what he would get under the biological law that governs his own activities. It is wrong because of what is done by man.

Aside from considerations of this kind, morality has little application to the relations between Crusoe and animals in the wild state, but if any of these are domesticated, an entirely new element enters into the picture. There is now a contractual obligation. The animal provides certain services to Crusoe (which may be nothing more than being readily available for eating), and in return, Crusoe undertakes the responsibility of providing food, shelter, protection, etc. Any failure to meet these responsibilities is a violation of the code, even though there is no obligation at all to provide the same services to wild animals of the same species.

If Crusoe now makes contact with another isolated individual on a neighboring island, a whole new set of moral considerations arises. Inasmuch as the basic moral obligation is to contribute toward the fulfillment of the purpose of human existence, Crusoe’s obligations are no longer confined to maximizing his own personal contribution. Anything that he can do to increase the contribution made by his neighbor, without a significant decrease in his own, is likewise required of him. If the neighbor, Joe Doakes, let us call him, is in danger of starvation, Crusoe is morally obligated to supply food from is own stores, providing that this can be done without risking his own health.

On the other hand, if Doakes lives a marginal existence without comforts and conveniences because he has exercised his privilege of economic choice and has chosen leisure rather than labor and the fruits of labor, Crusoe has no such sharing obligation. As pointed out earlier, there is a range of economic possibilities within which each man is free to make his own decisions, without any moral implications one way or the other. In the case we are now considering, Doakes has made one choice, Crusoe another. If each is acting rationally, each has elected the course that will give him the greatest overall economic satisfaction. Crusoe is not called upon to correct any unbalance, because no such unbalance exists. If he were to divert some of his own goods to Doakes under the mistaken impression that he was morally required to do so, he would be creating an unbalance where none existed before.

This situation remains the same if Doakes makes his decisions on some ground other than his preference for leisure. If, for instance, the use of tools is prohibited by his religious beliefs, his productivity will suffer just as severely as if he limited his hours of work. Regardless of the reason which he assigns to it, his refusal to use tools is actually an economic decision. An act or a decision has a moral significance only if it has actual relevance to the moral code. The fact that someone thinks an act is moral does not alter its true economic character. Doakes has simply chosen whatever satisfaction he may derive from following his religious taboos in preference to the satisfaction he would derive from the additional goods. Here again, if he is acting rationally, he is maximizing his total satisfactions. If the portion of these satisfactions arising out of the consumption of goods is not as large as he would like, and he looks with envy on the prosperity enjoyed by Crusoe, the remedy is in his own hands. He can alter his economic decisions accordingly. If he chooses to retain his superstitions rather than increase his productivity, the responsibility is his own; he has no legitimate claim on Crusoe.

It should be noted, however, that there are some additional considerations which apply if Crusoe’s efforts have been unexpectedly productive, or if some fortuitous circumstance has increased his supply of goods, so that there is an actual surplus over and above what he requires for his own needs. In that event, some sharing with his less fortunate neighbor is in order. But even here some caution is necessary. Giving to others is not inherently moral. Like many of the other activities that we have discussed, it is only a means of accomplishing a moral objective, which in this case is to confer a benefit on the recipient. This does not automatically follow; the gift may accomplish nothing, or it may even be detrimental. With the good start provided by his natural indolence, a period of living on the bounty of another may make Doakes completely unfit to care for himself. And even if this can be avoided, it must be recognized that neither substantial nor permanent improvement in Doakes’ situation can be accomplished by means of outside assistance. Such improvement can take place only by adoption of more efficient methods and practices, and the effect of the temporary assistance supplied by Crusoe may well be to postpone the necessary changes, thus more than offsetting any good that may result from the gift.

As can be seen from the foregoing discussion, the transition from Crusoe’s original one-man society to a society of two individuals has greatly increased the number and complexity of the moral problems involved, even though the nature of the relationship between these two persons is extremely simple. Further development of the society by the addition of more individuals, introduction of different kinds of relationships, and modification of the physical environment results in an ever-increasing complexity of moral issues, but the general principles that govern the relations between two individuals are equally applicable in the wider context. It is obvious, for example, that the points brought out with reference to the aid that Crusoe may extend to his neighbor have direct relevance to many present-day problems.

This is the last of five chapters devoted to ethical subjects, and in closing the discussion, it will be appropriate to point out that the primary cause of the difficulty heretofore experienced in constructing a consistent system of ethical theory has been the lack of any clear idea as to the objective of ethics. Any discipline which can extend hospitality to two general theories as far apart as hedonism, which makes pleasure the criterion of morality, and asceticism, which finds morality in the denial of pleasure, is obviously in need of some more distinct direction signs. The most significant contribution of the present work in the ethical field has therefore been to identify the moral objective.

Like the conclusions reached in the earlier pages, this identification is a scientific product, based in the first instance on established facts, and derived from those facts by a series of logical processes. The primary moral objective, the moral code, and all of the aspects of the application of that code that have been developed in this series of five chapters are integral parts of the far-reaching system of scientific theory that now ties the physical and the metaphysical aspects of existence together in one great whole.

22 Humanism



Identification of the moral objective as the development of the ethical aspect of human personalities, and of the individual’s primary responsibility as the maximization of his contribution toward that end, carries with it the corollary that there is also an obligation to encourage and promote the ethical development of others. This can be accomplished in part by personal influence and example, but the achievement of maximum results also requires the utilization of those agencies that are available to society in general. At present there are no agencies aimed specifically at this objective, but there are many that contribute, in some degree, toward progress in this direction. One of the essential tasks of these agencies, and the associated educational institutions, is to clarify the application of the moral code to the complex situations of modern life, which are beyond the scope of the simple ethical intuitions of the ordinary individual, and to disseminate this information. This is a function of philosophy and, at least potentially, of science. Another essential is to promote compliance with the code. This is a function of religion.

Because of the metaphysical origin of the code, the impact of science, which denies metaphysical existence, has heretofore been negative. The purely mechanistic view of life that has dominated scientific thinking not only fails to produce any positive reasons for moral conduct, but lends strong support to those who regard morality as an unnecessary restriction on human behavior. Many individual scientists disagree with this view, but they do so on religious or philosophical grounds, not on scientific grounds. Philosophy, which is ambivalent toward metaphysics, is likewise uncertain about the true status of the moral code. Only religion, which is definitely metaphysical, has hitherto stood foursquare for morality. Thus, the attitude of these three divisions of human knowledge toward recognition of and compliance with the moral code has been specifically correlated with their respective attitudes toward metaphysical existence. This emphasizes the significance of the findings of this present work with respect to such existence and its relation to human life.

In the preceding pages, we have applied inductive processes, chiefly extrapolation and analogy, to a consideration of the possibility of existence outside (independent of) the physical universe, the universe of space and time, and we have arrived at conclusions as to the reality of that existence and as to some of its characteristics. These conclusions have then been verified by the standard scientific procedure of developing their consequences in many different areas and subjecting these consequences to the test of comparison with the facts of observation. The reality of metaphysical existence is now scientific knowledge; that is, such existence is physically certain.

This scientifically confirmed finding is in agreement with the preponderance of human belief in all parts of the known world and throughout recorded history. But it has heretofore been unacceptable to science because of the lack of the kind of confirmation that this present work has now supplied, and a number of schools of philosophy have been sufficiently influenced by the negative attitude of the scientific community to base their philosophical beliefs on the assumption that the space-time universe is the whole of existence. Collectively, such philosophical systems are known as humanism. Inasmuch as the central theme of humanism is a negation of the metaphysical existence that we have now established as certain—“rejection of the supernatural world view,” says Paul Kurtz, editor of the Humanist, is the “first humanist principle”344—it will be appropriate to begin our survey of the agencies of society that deal with morality by examining the humanist position in the light of our new findings.

The proponents of humanism have thus far devoted their attention primarily to attacking organized religion, and their basic theme has been the assertion that religion is indifferent, or at least not sufficiently sensitive, to the human condition. The transcendental religions have been criticized especially for their policy of emphasizing preparation for the “other world” at the expense of what could be done toward improving existence in this world. Julian Huxley, for example, contrasts this traditional religious outlook with that of humanism:

Humanism also differs from all supernaturalist religions in centering its long-term aims not on the next world but on this. One of its fundamental tenets is that this world and life in it can be improved, and that it is our duty to try to improve it, socially, culturally, and politically.345

This humanistic viewpoint has a strong appeal to many thoughtful individuals, and as a result, it has been gaining ground quite rapidly in recent years, not by any noticeable increase in the number of those who, like Huxley, accept humanism as a substitute for religion, but by an increasingly humanistic attitude on the part of many of the religious organizations that are ostensibly committed to the “other worldly” view that the humanists criticize. This substantial degree of success has brought humanism to what Kurtz calls “a situation of challenge and crisis” because, in their absorption with the attack on their adversaries, the humanists have not developed any clear and consistent positive position of their own. “It is one thing,” cautions Kurtz, “to reject orthodoxy, dogma, and creed as superstitious mythology irrelevant to the contemporary world; however, it is quite another thing to suggest in positive terms what humanism can offer in their place.”344 The facts that have been developed in the preceding pages now give us a basis from which we can appraise the humanists’ prospects for success in formulating such a positive program.

Insofar as the humanistic goal may be to discredit religion in its entirety, our findings show that it is doomed to failure, as we have definitely confirmed the essential elements of religious belief. Our results do support the humanists’ contention that much of the detailed structure of religious doctrine is “superstitious mythology,” and we can endorse their efforts to the extent that they are directed at purging religion of these encumbrances. But whatever success they may have in this undertaking will not shake the foundations of religion. On the contrary, it will merely bring the weakness of the humanists’ own position more clearly into focus.

Again quoting from Paul Kurtz’ introduction to Moral Problems in Contemporary Society, “the humanist does not exclude a transcendental reality on a priori grounds.” He “does not callously dismiss the reports of mystical or revelatory experiences. But he looks upon these reports as events to be explained and interpreted in natural terms,”346 and he contends that there is no adequate evidence of metaphysical existence. In other words, he asks that religious faith be replaced by faith in the tenets of humanism. Of course, the findings of the present work completely demolish this position, but even without the new knowledge, the humanist has no support for it other than his belief that a physical explanation will some day be found for the seemingly non-physical aspects of human existence. This tenuous hope is all that he has to offer as a substitute for the religious explanation that he contends is not adequately supported.

There is considerable diversity in the humanistic outlook, as in most philosophical positions, but the central proposition by which it is distinguished is the rejection of the metaphysical. (The term “supernatural” is generally used in humanist discourse, but in the light of our findings, metaphysical existence is another manifestation of nature; it is not supernatural.) It follows, on this basis, that all knowledge of the world, including knowledge of human life, must be derived from experience. This is the conventional scientific, or empiricist, view, and in general terms, it can be said that humanism is a philosophical application of conventional scientific thought. The work of Sigmund Freud, which extended the scope of science into areas that had previously been the undisputed provinces of philosophy and religion, was quite influential in the spread of humanism. Freud saw religion as a historical development—“the heritage of many generations”:

This stock of religious ideas is generally offered as a divine revelation. But that is in itself a part of the religious system, and entirely leaves out of account the known historical development of these ideas and their variation in different ages and cultures.347

What Freud himself failed to take into account is that the gradual development of religious ideas over a long period of history has no implications as to the means by which the advances were made. A cumulative series of revelations and other intuitive events leading ultimately to the doctrines of one of the modern religions is just as logical a development as the cumulative series of “flashes of insight” that culminated in one of the modern physical theories. A similar criticism can be made of his assertion that religious beliefs “are illusions, fulfillments of the oldest, strongest, and most insistent wishes of mankind.”348 The fact that most human beings would prefer that their religious beliefs be valid is not inconsistent with their validity. Actually, Freud conceded this point. He says, referring to religious doctrines, “just as they cannot be proved, neither can they be refuted,”349 and he explains that, in calling religious ideas “illusions,” he is not implying that they are necessarily wrong, merely that “wish-fulfillment is a prominent factor in their motivation”:

When I say that they [religious ideas] are illusions, I must define the meaning of the word. An illusion is not the same as an error, it is indeed not necessarily an error.350

This admission that the religious assertions may be valid, notwithstanding all that he has said against them, is only one of a number of items which indicate that, even though he took a firm anti-religious position in public, Freud was never fully able to convince himself that his position was sound. As one observer remarks, “What is not clear is why he himself as ’a natural atheist’ should have been so deeply and so illuminatingly interested in the psychology of religion.”351 The “great affection” for his own religion that he unintentionally revealed in the dream analyzed in Chapter 16, and his decision to devote most of his time during the closing years of his life to a study of the life of Moses and his influence on the development of religious thought, show that, despite Freud’s commitment to the position now taken by the humanists, there was still an inner core of religious belief which he was unable to suppress.

This should not be surprising. As a conscientious scientist, Freud could not avoid recognizing that there are aspects of human life which, as matters now stand, cannot be derived from experience. This is most clearly visible in the field of ethics. No one has succeeded in finding any empirical basis on which a tenable system of ethics can be based. As pointed out in Chapter 20, attempts to base ethics on happiness or some other experiential objective cannot stand up under critical examination. Even if they were otherwise sound—which they are not—“they all analyze ethical propositions in a way which has reference solely to what is, but what is is very different from what ought to be. And the sharp transition from the is to the ought they in no wise explain.”352 (A. C. Ewing). Those empiricists who follow their line of thought to its logical conclusions concede this point. Ayer, for example, specifically admits that “normative ethical concepts are irreducible to empirical concepts.”353

The inability to provide an empirical basis for ethical judgments pushes the strict empiricist into a corner where he is forced to contend that such judgments have no real significance. They “have no literal meaning”; they merely “serve to express, or arouse, emotion,”354 Ayer asserts. This emotive theory of ethics, as it is called, has gained considerable support because superficially it seems to clear the way for a strictly empirical view of the subject. However, if we look more closely, it is evident that the empiricists have not carried their examination of this subject far enough. They have failed to examine and take into consideration the nature of emotion.

As brought out in Chapter 13, emotion is a process. For example, a message received through the senses indicates the presence of one of a class of situations that experience has indicated to be dangerous. Evolution (a physical process) has conditioned the physical organism to respond to dangerous situations with the emotion of fear, and to respond to fear by flight. Thus, the fear emotion is not something independent of experience. Both the recognition of the dangerous situation and the recognition of flight as the appropriate response are grounded in experience; either the individual’s own experience, the experience of others that has been communicated to him, or the experiences of his ancestors embodied in what we call instinct. The situation in ethics is no different. In the world of the empiricist, where experience is the only source of information, the ethical emotion, if any such thing exists, must be grounded in experience.

Thus, the emotive theory accomplishes nothing. Since ethical principles cannot be obtained directly from experience, the empiricist brands them as emotional. But our analysis of emotions shows that they are simply processes which apply the results of experience to current problems. What the emotive theory is trying to do is to accomplish the impossible by doing it indirectly. Inability to account for the origin of ethical judgments by appeal to experience has simply been succeeded by inability to account for the origin of ethical emotions.

Some of the humanists who recognize the weakness of the emotive theory have endeavored to find a middle ground. Kurtz implies something of the kind in his statement that a transcendental reality is not necessarily excluded from humanist thinking. Herbert Feigl says we have moral “commitments,” or principles, that cannot be derive empirically. “The adoption of those commitments can be made palatable,” he says, “but there is nothing that we can prove or disprove about them.”355 But, in fact, there is no middle ground here. Either there is a non-physical existence or there is not. The denial of any existence beyond the boundaries of the physical universe is the essence of the humanist position, the “first humanist principle.” Any “commitment” not grounded in experience, or any possibility of a “transcendental reality” contradicts that first principle.

The basic humanist position is therefore untenable, even on the basis of the situation that existed before this present work produced a scientific proof of the reality of metaphysical, or transcendental, existence. Regardless of the particular variation of the general humanist position on which the individual philosopher may take his stand, he cannot complete his argument without introducing something that contradicts his basic premise, some “emotion,” “commitment,” or the like, that cannot be derived from that physical experience which, according to his fundamental premise, is the only source from which they could be derived. As Kurtz pointed out in the statement quoted earlier, it is one thing to attack, quite another to construct a defensible position of one’s own. This the humanists have been unable to do, and in the light of the findings of this work, can never do.

This does not mean that the objectives of humanism are to be condemned, nor that its accomplishments have been of no consequence. What it means is that those objectives need to be redefined so that there is a better understanding both of the significance of what has already been done, and as to the direction that future efforts will have to take in order to be effective. Futile attempts to maintain the now untenable position that the universe of space and time is the whole of existence will eventually discredit the whole humanistic enterprise.

The humanistic objectives are generally stated in terms of promoting the “good life” here on earth. “Human happiness and the desire to avoid suffering are central,”356 says Kai Nielsen. “Happiness is good,” and “pointless suffering is bad,” he says. But, as we have seen in the previous discussion, happiness is not good, nor is suffering bad, in the ethical sense. Both are ethically neutral. Happiness is desirable, and suffering is undesirable, but only as a part of the life of man as a biological organism. They have no bearing on the characteristically human aspect of existence, the non-physical aspect. The humanist objective is therefore a secular objective. Nielsen does not deny this, but he talks of a “secular morality.” In the light of our findings, this is a contradiction in terms. Morality has no secular dimension; it belongs to a totally different order of existence.

The foregoing characterization of the humanistic objective as secular is not pejorative; it is simply descriptive. But it means that humanism is not, as it purports to be, at odds with the transcendental religions. The essentials of religion, we find, are metaphysical, as most religions have always claimed. A purely secular system of thought, one which has been deliberately confined within the boundaries of the physical universe, for whatever reason, therefore has no relevance to religious essentials. The accomplishments of humanism in the increasingly successful attack on the “superstitious mythology” of the organized religions have not affected the religious base in the least. On the contrary, they should be beneficial to religion, as this is the kind of a purging of the non-religious accretions from the fundamental religious principles that is needed in order to restore the credibility of the religious fundamentals in the eyes of those whose faith has been shaken by the continued retreat of the ecclesiastics when challenged by scientific discovery.

Humanism has found strong support for its criticism of the tendency of organized religions to emphasize preparation for the “other world” at the expense of human happiness in this one. But our analysis shows no reason why religion should see a conflict between the two. We find no factual support for asceticism, the “joyless ethic,” or any of the other doctrines of this kind to which the humanists object. Indeed, as pointed out in Chapter 21, our findings lead to the conclusion that the moral code requires the human individual to lead a pleasant, comfortable, and untroubled life, to the extent that his circumstances permit, and requires him to assist others to do likewise, so far as this can be done without undue impairment of his own situation.

According to Lamont, “Humanism is the viewpoint that men have but one life to lead and should make the most of it in terms of creative work and happiness.”357 Our findings are that man should, indeed, make the most of his human life, but not because it is the only one that he will lead. We find that he should do so because he is here for a purpose, and making the most of his human life is essential to the accomplishment of that purpose. The development of the ethical personality that is the objective of human existence must take place in human life. One must learn to be honest, to be kind, to be tolerant, to be just, to be compassionate, and so on, in this human existence. There is no magic formula by which all this can be achieved suddenly at the end of that existence, nor do we find any support for the contention of some religions that there is a kind of all-purpose prescription, some kind of overall harmony with metaphysical existence, that can be conferred by decree and can serve as a substitute for the detailed ethical development.

There is no subordination of human life to “other worldly” objectives in this picture that emerges from our analysis. The ultimate goal is defined in metaphysical terms, to be sure, but the road to that goal lies entirely in human life. Furthermore, that ultimate goal is not in any way antagonistic to the humanistic objective of the “good life.” On the contrary, nothing is more likely to improve the rate of progress toward that “good life” than an increase in the number of individuals who want to do that which is morally right.

It is quite evident from the arguments put forth by the humanists in support of their contentions that they are motivated to a considerable degree by what we may call pride, or less charitably, vanity. Those human individuals who realize that their knowledge is limited are usually prepared to accept the assertion that they need the help of superhuman forces to meet their most serious problems, but those who have reason to believe that they are well-grounded in the current wisdom of the human race have a tendency to resent such a suggestion. It is disturbing to them to be told that they are, in effect, second class citizens, that there is a superior order of existence, and that the primary objective of human life is not to savor that life to the utmost, but to make some advance toward the superior status. They are particularly upset by the idea that one or more of the superior existences may be in a position to dictate the terms of human life.

Erich Fromm, for instance, objects to “authoritarian religions” on the ground that they require “surrender to a power transcending man.” He is particularly critical of the idea that this higher power “has a right to force man to worship him.”358 He is not ready to dispense entirely with the concept of religion, but he wants to give it a humanistic character. Fromm’s conception of a humanistic religion is one “centered around man and his strength.” Where such a religion uses the term “God,” he says, it is only “a symbol of man’s own powers.”359

Strangely enough, this vainglorious attitude coexists with an unusually keen realization of the wide margin by which the human race is currently failing to attain its full potential. Indeed, much of the driving power behind the humanistic movement stems from a recognition of the immensity of the task involved in reaching that goal, and the necessity of greater and more systematic efforts toward improvement if the goal is ever to be reached. Those who measure the magnitude of the task against the current rate of progress are often discouraged, and pessimism, explicit or implicit, is one of the problems of the humanist movement. “They [the humanists] accept the fact that human existence is probably a random occurrence between two oblivions, that death is inevitable, that there is a tragic aspect to our lives.”360 (Paul Kurtz) This can hardly be described as a cheerful outlook, and it has little appeal to the common man.

Now that a scientific study has established with physical certainty (the only kind of certainty that can be attained about anything real) that there is another order of existence, considerations of human pride, or vanity, no longer have any significance. But for what consolation it may be to those who find a subordinate position hard to accept, it may be noted that the uniquely human aspect of our personalities, the characteristic in which we differ from other animals, is non-physical. To the extent that we have developed this distinctive attribute, therefore, we are participants in the superior type of existence. Our status is not second class; rather we are neophytes who have the opportunity to acquire full first-class status in due course. Man does, in fact, have all of the powers he needs, if he develops his potential to the utmost. But the most significant of these are powers which he possesses by virtue of having an aspect of his personality that is independent of the physical universe, and is in touch with other such independent existences, some of which are more fully developed and are capable of providing him with advice and assistance. This is essentially the position of the transcendental religions.

Whether we are, in fact, subject to the authority of a Deity, as most religions contend, and humanism finds objectionable, is outside the scope of this work. The investigation has not been carried far enough to shed any light on this central religious issue. Nor is it yet clear whether there is any basis from which an inquiry into the subject could be pursued. The answer would have to come from a revelatory or intuitive source, and, as matters now stand, the purported revelations in this area are so numerous and so mutually contradictory that they provide nothing definite.

Many readers will no doubt feel that lack of an answer to this fundamental question leaves the development of thought in these pages incomplete. It is therefore appropriate to reiterate that this present work is a report of the results of a pioneer scientific exploration of a field that has hitherto been outside the boundaries of science. As such, it cannot be expected to arrive at anything complete and conclusive. Its aim is to get a broad, general view of the heretofore unexplored sector of existence independent of the universe of space and time, to lay the foundation for additional explorations in the future, and to identify some of the means by which such explorations can be carried out.

In the light of what has been established by this investigation, the suggestion by Kurtz that humanism should now proceed to formulate “in positive terms” what it can offer in place of the religious rites and dogma that the humanists reject is impractical. The “superstitious mythology” to which they are so strongly opposed is superfluous, and there is no need to replace it with anything else. The essential elements of religion are metaphysical, and cannot be replaced by any humanistic system of thought, as humanism is now understood. It would appear, therefore, that there are two choices confronting the movement. Humanism can continue, as Kurtz admits it has been thus far, primarily as an instrument of attack on the inconsistencies and incongruities of organized religion. Or it can face the fact that it is a secular philosophy, that its real purpose is to define and promote that which is desirable socially, economically, politically, and elsewhere in secular life, and that it has no relevance—at least no direct relevance—to what is right or good from the moral standpoint.

Humanism is in no sense a substitute for religion, if religion is to be understood in the way in which the term is used by the organized religions and in this present work. It is a difficult concept to define, but Paul Tillich defines it in a manner acceptable to a large segment of the religious community in these words:

Religion is the state of being grasped by an ultimate concern, a concern which qualifies all other concerns as preliminary and which itself contains the answer to the question of the meaning of our life.361

Tillich classifies all “isms,” such as humanism, that are “based on secularism” as quasi-religions, and he regards the “attack of the quasi-religions on the religions proper” as the most significant feature of the present-day religious scene. “Today the problems which have arisen out of this situation can no longer be neglected,”362 he asserts. The particular aspect of these problems that is brought into focus by the findings of this work is the manner in which the substitution of secular objectives for the genuinely religious objectives impedes the progress of the human race toward the ultimate objective of its existence. This point will be discussed in detail in Chapter 28. At this time, we will want to take note of the fact that there is also an inverse side to this picture. Indiscriminate mixing of religious and secular objectives is detrimental not only to religion but to secular life as well.

When a religious organization takes a stand on any issue, it automatically stamps that position, whatever it may be, as morally right. Religion is devoted to upholding the right and combating the wrong. It follows, so the reasoning goes (in defiance of the rules of logic) that whatever a religious organization supports is right, and those in opposition are either ignorant or in league with the forces of unrighteousness. But in reality, a large and growing number of the issues on which present-day religious organizations are taking sides and working energetically in the ensuing conflicts, are secular issues.

Even if some of these issues—social, political, economic, etc.—are actually susceptible to being decided on their merits (which is not always the case), the decision can be based only on whether they are desirable, not whether they are morally right. And in practice, there is seldom a clear-cut criterion of desirability that can be applied. These non-religious issues are almost invariably struggles for comparative advantage, questions as to who should get what. The gains that are made by some individuals as a result of the final decision, the gains that loom so large to the churches when they take up the battle positions, are made at the expense of others. As expressed by William Hordern, “Every social reform is ambiguous. It appears more just to those who profit from it than it does to those who do not.”363

Furthermore, the ultimate gainers or losers are not always, or even usually, clearly indicated. For example, the issue in a labor dispute is ostensibly between the interests of the employer and those of the employees, in the usual case. However, these appearances are deceptive. The employers directly affected may sustain losses as a result of the outcome of such a dispute, but this weakens their competitive positions and allows their competitors to make corresponding gains. Seldom, if ever, do employers as a whole bear the burden of a wage increase or other added item of expense resulting from the settlement. The operation of economic forces permits—indeed, it requires—them to transfer the cost burden to the general public; that is, to all workers. The church or other religious organization that supports the labor union in the controversy (as the churches generally do) is therefore doing nothing but assisting one group of workers to gain an economic advantage at the expense of another group of workers. The justification for treating this as a “moral issue” is not apparent, to say the least.

It is true that, in many instances of this nature, the religious organizations do not understand the real points at issue, and are acting on the basis of emotion without realizing the full implications of what they are doing. But this does not excuse the actions; it merely emphasizes the point that active participation by religious organizations in non-religious controversies is not conducive to equitable settlement of the issues. Unfortunately, religious organizations are, by their very nature, incapable of the kind of an approach to the subject matter that is required in these secular areas. Because religion deals with moral issues, in which there is a definite separation between right and wrong, the religious authorities are predisposed to view other issues in the same light; to see them as either black or white, so to speak. But secular issues do not usually come in black and white; they come in various shades of gray, and an uncompromising attitude which insists on branding all opposition as evil and immoral can do nothing but impede or prevent progress toward a just resolution of the points at issue.

There is a definite place in the secular field for humanism and for organizations with humanistic objectives. But mixing secular and religious objectives is detrimental to both, and the churches that are now devoting practically their entire effort to the objectives of humanism should recognize that they are no longer religious institutions. It is time that they “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.”

23 Religion Reexamined


Religion Reexamined

When we consider what religion is for mankind and what science is, it is no exaggeration to say that the future course of history depends upon the decision of this generation as to the relations between them.364 (Alfred N. Whitehead)

As Whitehead goes on to say, these two influences, “the force of religious intuitions and the force of our impulse to accurate observation and logical deduction” are prone to conflict; “they seem to be set one against the other.” This conflict between science and religion is the most serious result of the fact that there has hitherto been no scientific metaphysics. Science has been unable to penetrate the region beyond space and time, and it has looked askance at those who claim to have acquired metaphysical knowledge by other means. In the words of Herbert Dingle, “The chief error of scientists has been to condemn as illusory all experience which is not useful for their own restricted purposes.”365 The findings of the preceding chapters, which have brought the metaphysical realm within the domain of science, have now provided a basis from which we can carry out a reassessment of the relationship between these two very important sectors of human activity.

Inasmuch as this is a scientific, rather than a religious, work, the discussion that follows will be directed to an examination of the effect of the new findings on the world outlook of the scientist—a typical scientist, let us say—but the conclusions that are reached apply with equal force to all those who are concerned with the place of religion in a rational universe. As brought out in the introductory chapter, the scientifically trained individual in modern society is faced with a very awkward dilemma, since much of that which he believes, or wishes to believe, with respect to the most important issues in his life (the assertions of religion) is incompatible with the implications of that which he knows from observation or reasoning by himself or his colleagues (the assertions of science). In the absence of any satisfactory way of reconciling the two conflicting viewpoints, most scientists have tried to keep them separated, so far as possible, and to avoid thinking scientifically about religious matters. Those who cannot see their way clear to evade the issue in this manner are likely to echo the sentiments of Harlow Shapley: “Should we not look deeply and sympathetically for religious beliefs that are founded on science, and that grow with science?”366 Or perhaps those of George R. Harrison: “There is great need in the world today for a new integration of religious belief, which will fill all the innate longings of man for spiritual solace, without doing too much violence to his intelligence.”367 But the inability of science to deal with metaphysical questions has caused this search for a scientific religion to bog down in a sterile materialism.

In the meantime, strenuous efforts have been made by some segments of the religious community to reconcile the religious and scientific viewpoints. Speaking of what he calls the “liberal church,” Reinhold Niebuhr has this to say:

Its energy for some decades has been devoted to the task of proving religion and science compatible, a purpose which it has sought to fulfill by disavowing the more incredible portions of its religious heritage and clothing the remainder in terms acceptable to the “modern mind.”368

If there were a definite conflict between religion-in-general and scientific knowledge, then any such reconciliation would obviously be impossible, but even though many scientists believe this to be true, it is actually not scientific knowledge but certain implications of the scientific knowledge heretofore available that are incompatible with the fundamental religious assertions. As pointed out in Chapter 2, an item of scientific knowledge, once established, is valid for all time, but the implications of that knowledge, the things that it suggests about related matters inside or outside the particular field involved, are subject to change whenever additional relevant items are added to the previously existing store of knowledge.

Prior to the development of the Reciprocal System of theory, scientists had assumed that all of the knowledge of the universe thus far accumulated was compatible with the traditional concept of space and time as the setting in which all else exists. On this basis, there can be no existence outside (that is, independent of) space and time. The implication of this previously existing scientific knowledge, therefore, was that metaphysical existence of any kind is impossible, an implication that is in direct conflict with the basic assertions of most religions. The findings of this present work did not, and could not, affect the established body of scientific knowledge in any way, but they demonstrated that the previous concept of the nature of space and time—a pure assumption—is erroneous. Since the conclusion as to the impossibility of metaphysical existence was based on that previous concept and not on established scientific knowledge, that conclusion is automatically invalidated by our findings. These findings not only overturn the reasoning on which the negative conclusion was based, thus reestablishing the possibility of a metaphysical existence, but go a step farther and show that such an existence is physically certain. The principal obstacle to a rapprochement between science and religion is thus completely demolished.

All justification for the scientists’ reluctance to concede the reality of religious revelation has similarly been swept away. The new findings make it clear not only that such revelations have been and are being received, but that revelation is merely one manifestation of a process of obtaining information from metaphysical sources that is widespread in human life and is in general use in the scientific fields. Then, too, we have established that the principles of morality do come to us from the metaphysical region through revelation, intuition, or insight, just as the religious organizations have always claimed.

Aside from some assertions as to the nature of the metaphysical existence which are outside the scope of this present investigation, the foregoing are the basic religious doctrines. To emphasize this point, let us consider the following list of the basic beliefs that the revealed religions have in common, condensed from one compiled by William E. Hocking:

  1. There is an existence outside the space-time universe.
  2. There is contact between this existence and man.
  3. The external region is the home of divine agencies.
  4. These agencies are superior to us, and should be obeyed and worshipped.
  5. There are ways of living that have the approval of the divine agencies.
  6. The souls of men, or some of them, enter the external region after death.369

On consideration of this list, it is evident that the adjective “divine” in items 3 and 5 should be replaced by some such word as “non-physical,” inasmuch as the intention of item 3 is only to assert that the agencies exist, and that of item 5 is to assert that there are ways of living approved by these agencies. The significance of these two statements is independent of the nature of the agencies, which is covered separately in item 4.

The sweeping character of the victory which the scientific findings of this work give to religion-in-general over humanism, materialism, naturalism, and other non-religious or anti-religious beliefs grounded on opinions as to the implications of the previously existing body of scientific knowledge, is demonstrated by the fact that if the foregoing change in wording is made, and some of the other language is given a reasonably broad interpretation, four of the six statements (1, 2, 3 and 5) have been definitely verified in the preceding pages, evidence confirming one more (number 6) will be presented later, and nothing adverse to the remaining unconfirmed statement (number 4) has been found.

With the benefit of the factual knowledge of metaphysical existence and phenomena that has been developed in this work, and the confirmation of the basic religious assertions, it is now possible for the scientist to accept religion-in-general on the same basis that he accepts scientific theories; that is, on the strength of reason applied to factual premises. He is no longer called upon to exercise a “faith,” a concept that to him has heretofore been essentially unintelligible and of very doubtful validity, in order to find something that will invest human existence with the sense of purpose that is lacking in purely mechanistic science.

Even faith itself can now be seen to have a rational basis, notwithstanding the fact that, in application, it is so vague and uncertain that the validity of any specific article of faith is open to question. Both religion and science have had a valid perception of certain metaphysical truths, but inasmuch as their knowledge of these truths has been received through intuitive processes, there has hitherto been no way in which their validity could be substantiated. Acceptance has had to be based either on each individual’s own intuitive perception of that validity, or on his conviction, intuitive or otherwise, that a revelation claimed to have been received by someone else was genuine. Such a conviction is called faith.

Our findings indicate that, in the absence of the kind of rational basis for religious beliefs that is being supplied by this work, the religious appeal to faith has been, to a considerable extent, justified. Religious revelations have been received, and in view of the extreme importance of the revealed truths, the recipients and their associates have considered themselves under an obligation to disseminate this knowledge as widely as possible. In the absence of any physical or intellectual way of demonstrating the validity of the revelations, there has been no option but to call upon individuals to accept them without proof. On first consideration, it may seem that this is totally unwarranted, but it should be realized that the persons to whom this exhortation is addressed are already intuitively prepared to accept it, in part, if not in its entirety. For instance, most people, including most scientists, have accepted the religious assertion (grounded in revelation) that the universe exists for a purpose, and have rejected the scientific assertion (grounded on inability to find any tangible evidence) that no such purpose exists, because they have intuitive knowledge that there is a purpose. Similarly, the religious assertion that there is an aspect of human life which transcends the limitations of physical existence falls upon ground already prepared for it by an intuitive realization that human life is, in some respects, basically different from all other kinds of biological life.

It should be understood, however, that the qualified justification which the present investigation finds for religious faith applies only to those items that the individual accepts of his own accord; that is, where he has an intuitive perception that the article of faith is valid. If he has any doubt (indicating that the intuition is not present, or even that there is an intuitive perception of the falsity of the religious assertion), then acceptance on the basis of faith is simply reliance on the pronouncement of authority, which has no scientific standing. The religious exhortations to “have faith” therefore have no genuine effect. Unless the faith already exists—that is, the intuition is present—it cannot be generated by persuasion. Missionary effort or proselytizing may succeed in modifying the form of the intuitive belief. It may substitute one god for another, or alter opinions as to how he should be worshipped. But the substance of such a belief is seldom changed.

Our finding that religious faith has more justification than science has hitherto been willing to concede does not imply that the beliefs to which that faith applies are necessarily valid. Religious intuition is subject to the same limitations as any other intuitive process. Its product is a probability, not a certainty, and the degree of probability is highly dependent on the kind of information that is involved. As emphasized earlier, present-day interpretations of religious revelations with respect to physical matters are generally wrong, either because the original recipients were not adequately prepared to receive the information correctly, or because the meaning of the original language is misunderstood. The new findings give no support to interpretations of religious literature or tradition that reach conclusions of this nature, conclusions that are in conflict with established scientific knowledge. The credibility of Archbishop Ussher’s assertion that the world was created in 4004 B.C. is not in the least enhanced by the fact that his calculations were based on data from Biblical sources.

The creation issue is one of the major bones of contention in the American religious scene at the moment. The battle is centered on the question of biological evolution, the contention of the “creation” forces being that evolution is incompatible with the religious account of the creation of the earth. The logic of this position is rather difficult to grasp. Just why the creation of an evolutionary universe, in which biological evolution was one of the things created, should be objectionable to those who champion the idea of creation is puzzling to a neutral observer. It is even more difficult to understand when we examine the Biblical account of the creation, on which the objections to evolution are purported to be based, and we find, as we did in Chapter 10, that it portrays the creation as sequential, and therefore by implication, evolutionary. Some of the confusion obviously results from reading things into the creation account that are not actually there. “According to this [creation] view,” says Titus, “all living species were created at one time and place.”370 But that is not the way the story is written. It describes the creation as a sequence of events taking place over a period of time, and with one minor exception, puts them all, including the pre-evolutionary events, in the proper order.

There is, it is true, considerable controversy as to how long a period of time is implied by the wording of the creation story. As pointed out in Chapter 10, the meaning of the language used in an account such as this, written long ago under circumstances much different from those that now exist, cannot be understood unless the general level of knowledge and the manner of expression of thought prevailing at that time and place are taken into consideration. Present-day science finds that millions of years were required for each of the major evolutionary stages, and billions of years for the events that preceded the origin of life on earth. The early Hebrews were not prepared to think in terms of long intervals of this nature even if the revelations contained all of the information, and it was therefore necessary for the author of the Genesis account to use some expression to indicated an indefinite period of time. He chose a word which has been translated as “day.” Obviously he did not mean an earth day, even though the words “morning” and “evening” are employed in elaborating the account. There was no earth during the first “days” of the creation story. It follows that the author could not have used the word “day” in the sense of “the period of the earth’s rotation on its axis,” the sense in which the “creationists” are interpreting it. He must have used it in a different sense. His use of the terms “morning” and “evening” in describing the events of the “days” before there was any morning or evening in the specific sense shows definitely that the language was intended to be interpreted broadly rather than specifically. The logical conclusion is that he used these terms in the general significance that has been attached to them throughout recorded history, even in our “day,” as indicated in the following definitions taken from a standard dictionary:

Morning: the first or early part of anything.

Evening: any later period or time of decline, as in the evening of his life.

Day: a period of time; age; era; as in days of old.

This present work has not uncovered enough evidence to determine as a matter of scientific fact whether the universe was brought into being by an act of creation. We find the Biblical account of the origin of the earth and of biological life to be an authentic revelation insofar as its account of what happened is concerned, subject to the limitations of the recipients’ knowledge of physical phenomena and processes. But the investigation has thus far located nothing that would either verify or disprove any religious assertion as to the cause of what happened. Similarly, we have confirmed the existence of metaphysical agencies, but we have not determined whether one or more of these agencies created the universe, or even whether such a thing as creation is possible. As matters now stand, therefore, both the Reciprocal System and conventional science are silent on the creation issue. Anyone who feels that he should arrive at a definite conclusion on the subject will have to determine whether he can accept on faith some one of the many pronouncements as to the origin of the universe that have been made by the various religious bodies.

Creation is by no means the only controversial metaphysical question on which this first scientific expedition into the region beyond space and time fails to shed much light. While this investigation has definitely established the most important fact, the reality of metaphysical existence, it has not produced much information as to the nature and characteristics (other than ethical) of the existences, a subject on which the religions have a great deal to say, and say it in a great many different, and contradictory, ways. However, the verification of the basic religious doctrines that has been accomplished is a big step forward. There are also some broad general principles underlying both science and religion that can now be regarded as firmly based, as it is now clear that the almost universal acceptance of these principles is evidence that they have been received by a process of intuitive insight, and their validity can be tested by application of the criteria that have been developed for judging the products of insight and revelation. All this definitely confirms Hocking’s assertion that “Its [religion’s] basis is more substantial and less vulnerable than the fabric of speculative ideas in which it seems to consist.”371

The question now arises as to whether a scientist can logically identify himself with any particular organized religion—with a specific set of those “speculative ideas”—without doing violence to his scientific reliance upon the processes of reason, or whether his reconciliation with religion is confined to agreement on generalities. Here some detailed consideration will be necessary. It is evident, to begin with, that a scientist, as a scientist, cannot accept all of the official doctrines of any of the organized religions. Many thoughtful individuals have, in fact, concluded that the unacceptable portions constitute so large a proportion of the whole that these organized religious bodies must be rejected summarily. P. W. Bridgman, for example, once asserted that “acceptance of any of the traditional or conventional religions seems to many incompatible with plain decent intellectual honesty.”372 Paul Dirac takes a similar stand. “If we are honest—and scientists have to be,” he says, “we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.”373 Arthur Koestler expresses much the same sentiment in these words:

To the inquiring intellect, the established churches become venerable anachronisms—though still capable of giving sporadic uplift to a diminishing number of individuals at the price of splitting his mind into incompatible halves.374

Our analysis indicates, however, that these extreme views are not justified. It is true that the analysis does show that a very large part of the information purported to be received through revelation, insight, or equivalent means, is erroneous in whole or in part, and religious beliefs based on such information are spurious. Fully prepared recipients of inter-sector communications are extremely rare, and even though the message itself may be complete and correct (as we assume that it always is, since the Sector 3 intelligence presumably knows the truth), the interpretation that it is given by the recipient may be completely wrong. It is also true that the greater part of the doctrine of any of the religions of today consists of additions to or interpretations of the original revelations, and there is considerable doubt as to whether the originators of this additional material were qualified to perceive and to understand the full effect of the additions on the revealed information.

For centuries men had been indoctrinated in a complex system of myths, built on what had originally been a simple religion but had been embroidered through the years by tradition and the human tendency to elaborate and ornament.375 (Vannevar Bush)

Every great religion, when it spreads widely, becomes corrupted, and it is necessary to distinguish between the insights of the pioneers who founded it and the popular superstitions which arise through mingling their teachings with persistent primitive notions or through interpreting their basic ideas so as to satisfy childish demands on the part of their followers.376 (Edwin A. Burtt)

In this connection, it is significant that many—probably most—of the highly controversial religious tenets belong to this category of additions and interpretations rather than being part of the original doctrine. Some of the most controversial of all are assertions about the founder of the religion rather than about his teachings, and these are especially likely to become highly emotional issues. The particular target of ecclesiastical vindictiveness has always been the heretic, the individual who differs with the official doctrine in no more than a few of these very controversial points, perhaps only one, and a minor one at that. The infidel or atheist is attacked, verbally or, where circumstances permit, physically, but not with the same fervor that characterizes the assault upon the heretic. Meanwhile, the items included in this category of controversial additions and interpretations are continually being revised, even in the most inflexible and immovable religious organizations. The heresies for which men are imprisoned or executed in one era often become perfectly respectable beliefs a few centuries later.

The scientist cannot be expected to accept the transient and questionable items that make up such a large part of religious doctrine. In his own field, his aim is to accumulate a store of knowledge that is valid for all time, and he sets up some exacting requirements that must be met before any proposed addition to this accumulated knowledge is admitted. Religious doctrines are fully acceptable to him only if they are capable of meeting the same requirements, or other equally rigid criteria of validity. Those items that cannot stand up under critical scrutiny or conflict with established knowledge in any field must be rejected. But neither science nor religion can arrive at a definite and unequivocal decision on every issue, as matters now stand. In both the religious and the scientific fields, therefore, many doctrines (or theories, as they are called in science) are accepted on a tentative basis, pending further clarification. Much of the religious dogma that the scientist is somewhat reluctant to accept falls into this category. Since all that can reasonably be expected of him is that he accept these unproved ideas on a provisional basis, just as he might accept a somewhat questionable scientific theory as a working hypothesis in spite of a belief that it will ultimately be replaced by something better, they should not constitute a serious obstacle to his participation in a religious association of some kind.

Of course, if the requirements of a particular religious group in this respect are unreasonable, the situation is different. For example, the scientist cannot accept the “word of authority” in lieu of the standard proofs of validity, and hence he cannot, in his capacity as a scientist, adhere to any organized religion in which submission to the authority of the ecclesiastical leadership is mandatory. He can do so if he continues to follow the currently popular practice of leaving his scientific beliefs and practices behind him when he closes the door of his office or laboratory, but we are now considering the situation of the scientist (or any other person) who wants to eliminate this dichotomy and to govern all facets of his life by the same basic rules.

A scientist must reject any claim to the exclusive possession of the truth by any religion or creed, although he may legitimately conclude, after examining the various beliefs, that some one of them has a better perception of the truth than any other. Every major religion of the present day contains many elements that meet all of the requirements of validity; in fact, there is a basic framework of religious belief which is common to all. Furthermore, the evidence indicating that the earth is only one of a great many abodes of intelligent life in the physical universe is sufficient in itself to brand all claims of exclusive knowledge or special privilege as presumptuous.

But there is no general agreement on details. Even after the scientifically unacceptable items (mainly additions and interpretations by the priesthood) are eliminated, and we are down to the hard core of the doctrines of the various religions, there will still be major differences with respect to questions with which science is as yet unprepared to deal. All of the religions claim to be right about these matters, and any one of them could be, so far as we are able to determine at present. Thus there is no obstacle that would prevent a scientist from becoming an adherent of any one of the modern religions or their constituent organizations, providing that the governing regulations thereof are sufficiently flexible, or liberal, to permit him to disregard scientifically unacceptable items of dogma.

In an earlier era, it would have been difficult to find a Western religious organization with the necessary degree of flexibility. Some of the Eastern religions, particularly the major Hindu sects, have always taken the attitude that every religious view has some relevance to the truth, and that none is perfect. All are therefore entitled to respect and sympathetic consideration, even though, by accepting certain features of his own religion as authoritative, one automatically rejects the specific doctrines that are in direct conflict. Thus there is no problem here for the Hindu scientist. But for most of the readers of this work, the point at issue will be the justification for affiliation with a religion such as Christianity, which until recently has taken a rigid stand on the question of the validity of its doctrines.

There has been little or no relaxation of the official attitudes of many of the Western religious organizations thus far, and the governing bodies still take just as hard a line on the question of deviation from their theological positions as they did in past centuries (even though those positions have changed significantly in the meantime). But the membership at large no longer responds automatically to the directives of the leadership, and even the most authoritarian religious institutions have to recognize that there is now a considerable degree of de facto flexibility in the tenets of their respective creeds, regardless of the official pronouncements to the contrary. Indeed, the differences in viewpoint within a particular denomination of one the major religions are now usually greater than those between denominations. Hordern gives us this assessment of the situation:

A striking development of our century is that theoretical differences no longer follow denominational lines… . In a particular denomination, we may be somewhat more likely to find a particular type of theology, but in every case there are exceptions.377

While this relaxation of the earlier theological rigidity has been going on—a relaxation that Hordern attributes to the fact that theologians “are taking a more humble view of their abilities than often has been the case in the past”—the individual members of the religious organizations have been growing increasingly impatient with what they regard as theological hairsplitting, and are more and more inclined to dismiss theological issues as inconsequential. This is particularly true among the mainline Protestant denominations. Louis Cassels describes the existing situation in this manner:

Individuals and families shift their allegiance from one Protestant denomination to another as casually as they switch brands of toothpaste… . Today if a pastor refers to “our denominational heritage” he can be reasonably sure that one fourth of the congregation won’t know what he is talking about—and another fourth won’t care.378

Where the theological and organizational differences are greater, as between Catholic and Protestant, or between the Christian and Jewish religions, the interchange is not as casual, but even so, there is an increasing amount of switching from one affiliation to another for other-than-doctrinal reasons, mainly inter-faith marriages, which are becoming more common as the isolation of the various religious groups continues to break down under the influence of modern living conditions. Because of their vested interest in the prosperity of their individual organizations, the ecclesiastical authorities generally view with alarm the loss of members by reason of marriage to individuals of other faiths, and are inclined to predict emotional disturbances and other damaging consequences. The available evidence seems to indicate, however, that these gloomy views are unjustified. For instance, a recent survey reported by Andrew M. Greeley (himself a Catholic priest) reaches this conclusion:

By far the largest number of those who have disidentified from the Roman Catholic church have done so in association with religiously-mixed marriages. They are happily married, devoutly practicing, believing members of Protestant denominations. They may have gone through a crisis of institutional affiliation, but they do not seem to have suffered any acute crisis of religious convictions.379

All of the foregoing tends to show that, while basic religious convictions—beliefs about the assertions of religion-in-general—are the products of an intuitive understanding that is deeply imbedded in human nature and extremely resistant to change, each individual’s commitment to the doctrines of a particular religious organization is essentially accidental, and not a crucial factor in his life. The religious fervor that manifests itself in “holy wars” and bitter antagonism between neighboring groups of different faiths is mainly a matter of group solidarity rather than of intellectual or emotional attachment to specific religious doctrines. As Arnold Toynbee points out, most of the factors responsible for the present distribution of the higher religions are non-religious. “They derive from physical geography or from technology or from politics or war or economics, not from religion.”380 Recognition by the individual that his present religious affiliation is due to the accident of being born in a particular place and under particular social and economic conditions should make it easier for him to change that affiliation if this is necessary to harmonize his religious commitments with his intellectual convictions.

To the devout adherent of any particular faith, this suggestion that one’s religious affiliation should be changed if necessary in order to achieve harmony between intellect and intuition will no doubt appear as an utterly reprehensible attempt to subordinate religion to science: an effort to force religion into a scientific mold. But, in fact, the point that is being made is that a person’s religious commitments (that is, whatever he is required to assent to as a condition of affiliation with a specific religious organization) should be consistent with his religious beliefs, regardless of how those beliefs have originated. A scientist can accept what he now knows to be true, and anything further that he believes is true, and he can tentatively accept that which may be true. But being dedicated to the truth, he must reject that which is demonstrably false, even if this requires changing his religious affiliation.

On this basis, it should not be difficult for a scientist to find a religious organization with which he can feel at home, and certainly these religious groups would benefit by the acquisition of new members who are fully convinced of the validity of the most important doctrines of the organization on the strength of their own reasoning powers, without having to rely on a rather uncertain faith. This is especially true in a time like the present, when so many of the church members, even those—or, in the light of recent publications and opinion surveys, perhaps we should say particularly those—who have been the most active in church affairs, have lost confidence, not only in items belonging in the category of additions and interpretations, but also in certain of the basic doctrines of their church. An ironic sidelight is that some of the doctrinal assertions that have been under fire, and are now being rejected by a substantial percentage of the religious leaders, have been confirmed by the scientific investigation reported in these pages.

The full benefit of such rapprochement between science and religion will not be realized, however, unless there is some softening of the rigid attitudes that have prevailed on both sides. It will be necessary for the scientist to refrain from opposing religious or other non-scientific ideas simply because they do not fit neatly into the scientific framework as it happens to stand at the moment, an attitude that has been taken all too often with respect to matters that are outside the field that science is currently cultivating—the ESP phenomena, for instance. Fortunately, there is a growing awareness among scientists that the existing limits of scientific knowledge are not the boundaries of knowledge in general. The following recent statements on the subject illustrate the new scientific position:

A philosophy which sees the answers to all questions clearly implied in what is now called science is presumptuous and contrary to the spirit of science.57 (Henry Margenau)

The existing scientific concepts cover always only a very limited part of reality, and the other part that has not yet been understood is infinite.381 (Werner Heisenberg)

The more realistic viewpoint that is reflected in these statements by Margenau and Heisenberg is an encouraging indication that enlightened scientific opinion is moving in this direction. What is needed is an open-minded and sympathetic appraisal of each of the assertions of the various religions, not in the light of existing scientific knowledge alone, but in the light of this knowledge plus careful reasoning with respect to what may lie beyond that which science has thus far established.

The sincere scientist certainly cannot be expected to accept assertions that are in conflict with well-established facts, and if a religious organization insists on acceptance of such doctrines as a condition of membership, he will have to forego that privilege. However, where the conflict is not with established fact, but with interpretations or extrapolations of those facts, with inferences drawn from them, or with unconfirmed theories or hypotheses, he should bear in mind that a careful scientific investigation has now demonstrated that religion has its own processes of ascertaining the truth, and while the nature of these processes is such that a great deal of error is inevitably mixed with the truth, it is neither logical nor scientific to assume that all non-scientific conclusions are erroneous. Where a religious assertion is neither demonstrably true nor demonstrably false, the proper course is to analyze the situation and arrive at a decision as to whether there is sufficient justification for accepting that assertion tentatively, pending further clarification.

On the other side of the picture, the most serious religious obstacle to harmonious relations with science and scientists is the tendency on the part of the religious organizations to regard their doctrine as fixed and not subject to change, something that was handed down to the founder of the religion in complete form and must persist in that form for all time. Adherence to this dogma in practice is, of course, impossible. The world moves on, and even religion must move with it or be left behind. But the ecclesiastical authorities continue to proclaim the timelessness of their doctrines in public, while behind the scenes they are doing what everyone else must do; they are continually discussing, debating, and making changes. That which was a sin yesterday is perfectly proper today, while that which was an important religious duty yesterday, persecution of the heretics, for example, is today regarded as contrary to religious ideals.

Perhaps the unyielding attitude of the religious leaders may have some merit where they are dealing with an uneducated and superstitious people, but it alienates those who are able to think for themselves. “The intransigence of religious authority,” says du Nouy, “tends to prejudice an independent mind in favor of positive materialistic rationalism.”382 It is possible that the religious authorities have no real choice in the matter, as it may well be that the great majority of the adherents of the major religions are still not emotionally prepared to accept the modifications of religious doctrine that are necessary to keep religion abreast of the advance of human knowledge. It may be necessary for the present to continue talking in terms of posthumous reward and punishment, for instance, simply because this is the only good hold that the religious organizations have on some segments of their membership. But if this is true, there should at least be some branches of some religions which can meet the scientist’s desire for a logical and rational religious viewpoint.

One of the essential requirements in this respect is a recognition of the fact that religion, like science, is a growing body of knowledge. Even if the revelation received by the founder of one of the major religions was correct in every detail, there are many reasons why the body of doctrine based on that revelation is not, as it now stands, adequate to serve as a continuing basis of religious thought and practice. In the first place, we do not know just what the revelation actually contained, since little or nothing comes to us first hand. In many cases, the Holy Books of the religious organizations purport to give the founder’s words, but we have only someone else’s testimony that these were his words, and since a long interval usually elapsed between the spoken word and the written record, it is inevitable that many statements were incorrectly reported.

Then, even if we assume that we have the correct wording of a particular statement, there is always a question as to just what these words mean. As pointed out earlier, each culture has its own manner of expression, and a literal interpretation of the words of a people far removed from us in time and in environment can be utterly misleading. Nor is this exclusively a phenomenon of the past. Anyone who attempts to interpret the idiomatic or colloquial language of the present day literally according to the wording would go just as far astray as those who insist on a similar literal interpretation of the allegory and imagery habitual with the population of earlier eras. The person who puts his foot in his mouth is not a contortionist. One of the important tasks of the religious community is to discover and correct the errors that have distorted the meaning of some features of the original revelations.

Beyond this, it should be recognized that however accurate the original revelation may have been, its scope was limited by the general level of knowledge at the time it was received. Only a relatively modest level of understanding needs to be reached in order to grasp the simple basic rules of ethical living, and it is not unlikely that the widespread attainment of such a level was the factor that resulted in the appearance of most of the great religions of the world within a period of time that was extremely short, not only in comparison to the million years or more of human existence, but also compared to the very much shorter period of recorded history. These simple truths are not adequate, however, to meet the more complex situations of the present day, and the attempts of the ecclesiastics to deny this fact are the root cause of much of the decline in religious influence that is now taking place at an accelerating rate. The revelations on which the modern religions are based are remarkable products, but they are neither infallible nor adequate. They provide good foundations on which to build, but the growing complexities of human existence call for purging the organized religions of the elements that thoughtful persons cannot accept, and for an advance in religious understanding comparable to that which is now under way in other fields, particularly in science.

The findings of this work will not only provide guidelines for the purging operation, but will furnish solid factual support for the sound portions of religious doctrine that remain intact, a support that should reinforce the faith in the basic assertions of religion that has been wavering in recent years. The positive verification of the reality of metaphysical existence in the preceding pages, and the clarification of the important role that this non-physical existence plays in human life, now constitutes a solid base from which it will be possible to make significant advances in religious knowledge, advances that will fulfill the prediction made by J. B. Rhine in this statement:

If… some kind of a world of independent spirit agency can be discovered, as there is reason to think may be possible, its establishment would manifestly bring to religious life an incomparably greater meaning and potency. The discovery would do for religion something like what the germ theory did for medicine. It would open the range of religious exploration to horizons beyond all present conceptions. It has always been so when new areas are discovered.383

24 East and West


East and West

The task of applying criteria of validity to the doctrines and beliefs of the various world religions in order to separate the true from the false and the purely secular will not only be long and difficult, but also extremely controversial. The mere fact that it is undertaken at all will be bitterly resented by those religious authorities and their steadfast followers who regard their doctrines as emanations from the Deity, and any questions or doubts as sacrilege. But this is a task that must be carried out sooner or later, and the findings of this work have laid the foundations for such a project.

It is generally recognized that the essential doctrines of all religions have been overlaid with a large number of non-essential additions, but the distinction between the two classifications has been subject to much difference of opinion, and as Arnold Toynbee comments, the “task of trying to distinguish the accretions from the essence [is] a delicate one.”384 A more important point is that a separation on this basis does not accomplish the real objective. An item may be an accretion, something that has been added to the doctrines laid down by the founder of the religion, and also non-essential; but even so, it may contribute something worthwhile to the religious structure that justifies its retention. What is really needed is not to eliminate the accretions or non-essentials, but to eliminate the non-religious items. This is obviously impossible as long as any assertion or belief is, by definition, religious if it is part of the creed of any organized religion. But when we set up the requirement that an item must have some relevance to Sector 3 existence in order to qualify as religious, we are able to identify those that are inherently non-religious.

After these non-religious items have been eliminated, or at least identified as secular accompaniments of the religious doctrines, the next task will be an inquiry into the validity of these doctrines. The limitations that have to be placed on the scope of the present work make it impossible to pursue an analysis of this kind into any considerable detail, but since the foundations for the development of criteria for distinguishing valid from invalid products of intuitive processes have been laid in the preceding pages, it will be appropriate to go one step farther and illustrate how such criteria apply to some of the general classes of religious beliefs.

According to the findings that have been described, the assertions of the major religions with respect to relatively simple religious matters should be essentially correct, inasmuch as the recipients of authentic revelations should have been adequately prepared to understand whatever information of this character they may have received. The principal items included in this category are the reality of metaphysical existence, the presence of a component related to that existence in the human personality, the status of the revelation process as a form of communication from metaphysical sources, and the basic elements of the moral code. If we compare the teachings of the major religions, we should therefore find substantial agreement in these areas, whereas we could expect to find a wide divergence of views concerning any inherently non-religious items that have been incorporated into the religious doctrines, as well as with respect to the more complex and recondite moral and metaphysical questions.

In this chapter, we will examine some of the similarities and differences between the major religions in the light of the foregoing theoretical expectations. The conclusions that have been reached as to the locations where divergence can be expected apply even to closely related religious systems, but the points of conflict are more clearly defined where the differences are greater. As it happens, the evolution of religious thought has followed a much different pattern in the far East than in the West, and for that reason, the most significant comparison that we can make is between the Eastern and Western religions.

The most striking agreement between East and West is that with respect to the moral code. As pointed out in Chapter 18, the general moral principle known as the Golden Rule is contained, explicitly or implicitly, in the moral teachings of all of the major religions. The detailed instructions and admonitions of the various creeds show more divergence, but even here the differences are mainly in the respective areas of coverage, rather than in the assertions as to the proper conduct in given circumstances. Each code was originally developed for application to the special situation existing in the place and at the time the religion was established, and the subjects that are emphasized, especially in the sacred writings of the various religions, are strongly influenced by the geographical and temporal settings.

All of the major religions also agree as to the reality of some kind of metaphysical existence that has a relation to human life. Here the agreement is less obvious than in the case of the moral code because each religion attempts to go beyond mere reality and to say something about the nature and attributes of the metaphysical existence, and the conclusions that are reached in these respects are widely divergent, ranging all the way from the paradise of Islam, in which earthly pleasures are experienced in greatly enhanced degree (by the males at least), to the nirvana of Mahayana Buddhism, which has been described as a “passionless peace.” The test of agreement between the Eastern and Western religions, the East-West test, we may call it, thus supports our finding that there definitely is a metaphysical existence of some kind, and a related aspect of the human personality, but that the characteristics of the metaphysical existence are, for the most part, uncertain.

There is general agreement that the provisions of the moral code originate in the metaphysical region, but the conflicting beliefs with respect to the characteristics of the metaphysical existence lead to differences in the identification of the authority on which the code rests. The Western religions regard the provisions of the code as commandments emanating from a Deity. In some of the eastern religions, on the other hand, the code is self-sufficient. “In Buddhism and Jainism,” says T. R. V. Murti, “the moral law is perfectly autonomous… . The deities only reveal and uphold this order; they do not create the order.”385 In either case, there must be communication between the metaphysical agencies and the human race in order to define the details of the code, and both East and West agree that there is a significant amount of this communication, covering a broad range of subjects in addition to the moral code.

Summarizing the foregoing paragraphs, we can say that the East-West test, the test of agreement between the assertions of the major religions of the East and those of the major religions of the West, definitely confirms the four principal religious assertions specified in Chapter 23 as having been verified in the earlier pages of this work on the basis of reasoning from totally different premises. We will now turn our attention to the points of disagreement to see what conclusions can be drawn from them. According to our previous findings, disagreement can be expected (1) where authentic revelations have not actually been received by all, (2) where the revelations, as received, were not clear enough to all recipients to enable them to be expressed in similar terms in the different religious systems, and (3) where the information alleged to have been received through revelations, whether valid or invalid, is not inherently religious; that is, it deals with matters that have no relevance to Sector 3.

The points of disagreement included in categories 1 and 2 are closely related to a major difference between the Eastern and Western concepts of human existence that results from their differing views as to the nature of knowledge. “It is usual to divide East and West on the basis of the difference between intuition and intellect,”386 says P. T. Raju. But this is not the whole story. Indeed, intuition and intellect are not directly comparable. Information is obtained from metaphysical sources by means of intuition, but intellect or reason is merely a tool that can be used to process information and put it into usable form. It is true that since the ultimate source of the information derived from intuition is the metaphysical existence, the intuition itself is merely a transmission mechanism. But so far as the human individual is concerned, it is the only thing with which he deals. In a sense, therefore, it is a source of information: an intermediate source, we may say. A person who is confronted with a simple ethical problem needs nothing more than intuition to obtain the answer. If he is confronted with a simple physical problem, however, he cannot get an answer from reason alone. Reason must have some information on which to operate. In order to arrive at the desired answer, this individual must first obtain relevant data from empirical sources. He can then apply reason to these data and ultimately reach some conclusions.

It does not necessarily follow that reason is applicable to the processing of empirical information only. It can equally well be applied to the examination or extension of information derived originally from intuition. The methods of verification of the assertions of religious revelation that were discussed in Chapter 10 are examples of the application of reason to intuitive data. Whenever a scientist undertakes to verify, by means of the standard procedures of science, an idea that he has obtained in a “flash of insight,” he is likewise applying reason to information derived from an intuitive source. Nevertheless, in actual practice, reason has not been applied to information from intuitive sources in anywhere near the degree that has been the rule in the empirical field. There are a number of reasons for this. Perhaps the most significant is the authoritarian nature of religious revelations. In theory, the Eastern attitude toward revelation is not authoritarian. “Everyone can have the revelation,” says Raju; “Everyone can become a Buddha.”387 But in practice, this author admits, the particular revelation ascribed to the founder of the religion is accepted as authoritative. Buddhists in general are not guided by their own revelations, if they receive any. They accept the teachings of Buddhism, and as Raju says, “Buddhism is Buddha’s religion.”388 The Western religions take the authoritarian attitude from the start. Each claims that its revelation is unique and ultimate. Application of reasoning to an authoritative revelation is, by definition, presumptuous and serves no useful purpose.

The fact that reason does not enter into the conception of an intuitive or revelatory idea likewise discourages the application of reasoning to the examination of such ideas. Conversely, where the source of the information is empirical, reasoning is essential in order to put the raw data into a form in which it can be used. Its employment for this purpose as a matter of necessity then fosters a tendency to extend its application to an examination of revelatory pronouncements as well. The extent to which reason is applied to the extension and elaboration of religious ideas thus depends largely on the magnitude of the empirical content of those ideas. The philosophical outlook has been an important factor here. All of the major religions and philosophies rely upon revelation (intuition) for at least some of their basic ideas, but Western philosophy is primarily concerned with information derived from empirical sources, and this philosophical attitude has had a profound effect on the Western religious views.

Oriental philosophies, on the other hand, rely just as strongly on intuition as the corresponding religions. In fact, philosophy is not differentiated from religion to anywhere near the same extent as in the West. Indian philosophy has a pronounced religious character, so much so that “foreigners find it difficult to say whether Indian philosophers are discussing philosophy or religion.”387 In China this situation is reversed, and the religions are more like philosophies. There is a long-standing difference of opinion as to whether Confucianism is a religion or a philosophy. Taoism, one of the other indigenous Chinese religions, is described by Raju in these words: “Taoism is a kind of nature mysticism, understanding nature in the sense of human nature or some ultimate natural principle in human nature, not physical nature.”389

Application of reason to any body of subject matter ultimately involves going beyond the immediately apprehended elements of the situation under consideration and into an unseen realm known only by inference and deduction. Physical science, for example, deals largely with abstract concepts such as forces and fields which are accessible only by way of reasoned inferences. Reasoning in the philosophical and religious fields in the West has produced similar results, and the basic assertions of the Western religions are mainly concerned with the unseen world: the “spiritual forces and fields,” we might say. On the other hand, the Eastern religions are primarily concerned with that which is immediately accessible, either to the senses or by intuition. As expressed by F. S. C. Northrop, the Orientals “consistently restrict themselves to the immediately apprehended, branding all logically inferred, theoretically designated reality as illusory.”390 “To know reality,” says Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, “one must have an actual experience of it,”391 and he views reason as having only a limited capability:

There is a higher way of knowing reality, beyond the reach of reason, namely the direct perception or experience of the ultimate reality, which cannot be known by reason in any of its forms. Reason can demonstrate the truth, but reason cannot discover or reach the truth.392

On this Oriental basis, the metaphysical and religious realities, whatever they may be, are operating within the immediately apprehended universe. In religious language, they are immanent. The extension of religious thought by reasoned inference in the West has transferred the ultimate religious realities into the realm beyond the reach of immediate apprehension, where they are said to be transcendent. (In some Western thinking, they are both immanent and transcendent.) This transcendental nature of the Western religions leads to a perception of human life as a progression along a one-way path toward a higher, or more advanced, existence, and to the characterization of these religions as linear. The Eastern religions, which see all human existence as bound up in the immediately apprehended universe, regard human life as a never-ending cycle, symbolized by the wheel in both Hinduism and Buddhism. For this reason they are classified as cyclical religions.

While it would seem, on first consideration, that there is a direct conflict here, a closer analysis shows that these different views are both consistent, in the religious areas to which they are applicable, with the findings set forth in the preceding pages of this work. Religion, we find, deals with certain aspects of Sector 3 existence. One of the manifestations of that existence is the non-physical component of the human personality: Level 3 of human life, as we have called it. Any concept of ultimate reality that restricts itself to the immediately apprehended in the manner indicated by Northrop and Radhakrishnan limits its view of the metaphysical sector, Sector 3, to the manifestation of this sector in the human Level 3. From this viewpoint, the religious realities, like the physical realities, are seen as wholly contained within the physical universe. Inasmuch as the development of the Reciprocal System of theory has now identified the physical universe as a cyclical entity, it follows that the cyclical view of the ultimate reality that is common to the Eastern religions is correct as far as it goes. Thus the revelations from which this view was derived were, in this respect, authentic.

Meanwhile, the Western religions, by the application of reason to the information derived from their authentic revelations, together with that derived from experience, have extended their view of religious reality into the metaphysical region. On the basis of this broader viewpoint, they have arrived at an interpretation of the religious aspect of human life as a one-way progression toward higher levels that are independent of the physical universe. This, too, is in agreement with the findings of the preceding pages. The apparent disagreement between East and West is due to the fact that each is concentrating its attention on a different part of existence as a whole. By rejecting, or at least minimizing, abstract theoretical inquiry into religious subjects, the people of the Orient have restricted the scope of their religious understanding in much the same way that they have, until very recently, limited the extent of their advances in scientific and other physical fields. On the other hand, the people of the West have been, to some extent, carried away by their enthusiasm over the discovery of the transcendental reality, and have tended to concentrate their attention on the hereafter, at the expense of the religious aspects of the here and now—a self-defeating policy, inasmuch as the only way by which sustained progress can be made toward the ultimate goal is through experience in dealing with the problems of earthly life.

One of the significant results of the difference between the cyclical and linear concepts of human destiny is a strong contrast between the attitudes of the Eastern and Western religions toward the human condition. Western religious thought recognizes that the world is full of unpleasant and undesirable things, but nevertheless regards human life, on the whole, as a reasonably enjoyable experience. One of the primary human objectives, as seen from this standpoint, is to make this experience still more rewarding. Eastern religious thought, on the contrary, regards human life, on the whole, as difficult and disagreeable, and emphasizes the existence of widespread suffering. The “First Noble Truth” of Buddhism is the existence of suffering; the second of these noble truths is that the suffering is due to man’s desires; the remaining two stress the repression of these desires as the way of release from suffering. Similarly, for the Hindu, “the good… is not to be gained by manipulating nature, altering society, or seeking pleasure for ourselves.”393

There is no indication that the actual conditions of life for the ordinary individual during the time when the major religions were in the process of formation were significantly different in one part of the world than in another. But the linear view is inherently optimistic. The religions of the West have diluted this optimism to some extent by raising the specter of a Final Judgment, but even so, the individual has a certain amount of control over his ultimate destiny, and can at least see some promise of a better future. The cyclical outlook, on the contrary, is inherently pessimistic:

To be endlessly bound to an endless wheel, to be ground upon the road of life not once, or twice, or a thousand times, but repeatedly and forever, with all responsibility, fault, and error ceaselessly accumulating to one’s discredit, is not a pleasant prospect.394 (Frederic Spiegelberg)

With this kind of a prospect facing him, the most that a person can hope for is some kind of a release mechanism that will liberate him from the perpetual cycle. Such a release was the original goal of the major Eastern religions:

The goal of life in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism is essentially the same. Moksa (liberation) is the ultimate objective for Hinduism and Jainism, and nirvana is the goal in Buddhism. The precise meanings of liberation vary among the different schools, even among those within the framework of Buddhism and Hinduism, but the essential meaning of both moksa and nirvana is emancipation or liberation from turmoil and suffering and freedom from rebirth.395 (S. Radhakrishnan)

The only escape route that is fully consistent with the cyclical theory of existence is extinction of the human personality, either by total annihilation or by absorption into some kind of a cosmic essence, and some of the Eastern beliefs, particularly the earlier ones, and those, such as Hinayana Buddhism, that have maintained the earlier doctrines relatively unchanged, define their nirvana or moksa in terms that amount to, or approximate, annihilation. But this is not an attractive prospect, and as a result of the general desire for a more acceptable alternative, together with the influence of contact with the linear religions of the West, the earlier views of the human fate have been modified in most of the current versions of the Eastern religions. The nirvana of Mahayana Buddhism, for example, is described by Spiegelberg as a state of “wonderful heavenly bliss.”396 On the question of human destiny, then, the East-West test is inconclusive because of the basic difference between the linear and cyclic viewpoints. This question will be examined in more detail in Chapter 28.

This basic conceptual difference likewise accounts, in large part, for the wide discrepancies between the teachings of the different religions with respect to the existence of a Deity, and the nature thereof, where the existence is asserted. All of the major religions, except the earliest versions of Jainism and Buddhism, are theistic, at least in the sense that worship of something or someone is a religious requirement, but there is a bewildering diversity of views as to the number, the nature, and the powers of the Deities. The tendency to deify the founder of the religion is very marked, and extends even to those cases where the founder explicitly denied any such status. Like the theoretical development in this present work, the East-West test leaves all questions in this area unanswered.

East and West agree that there is something in human life that is physically indestructible. It is also agreed that there is some kind of a relationship between this indestructible human characteristic and the inherently metaphysical existences. There is no consensus as to the nature and extent of that relationship, but the amount of agreement that does exist is sufficient to confirm the theoretical conclusion that there is a non-physical component of the human personality.

All the religions of the world have the teaching that the spiritual life of the human individual continues beyond physical death. However, the various religions differ widely concerning the details in their picture of the future life, and even concerning the desirability of a future life.397 (R. E. Hume)

A similar lack of consensus is seen in the attitudes toward evil. Some religions see little evil in the world; others regard it as inherent in physical and human existence and mainly beyond human power to modify; still others regard evil as an antagonist against which religion must continually do battle. The concept of “sin,” which is closely related to evil in Christian thought, is not so correlated in most other religions. Hume points out that neither Buddhism, which sees evil in all existence, nor Hinduism, which regards evil as illusory, concedes the existence of sin, in the Christian sense.398 Thus the Christian concept of the essential sinfulness of man and the need for some kind of an expiatory action, either by himself or by a surrogate, to achieve harmony with the higher existence gets no support from the East-West test. The same is true of the “problem of evil” that looms so large in the thinking of Western people. “To many,” says John Hick, “the most powerful positive objection to belief in God is the fact of evil.”399 But none of the Eastern religions accepts the premises in terms of which this problem is stated in the West.

The third of the categories with respect to which disagreement between the Eastern and Western religions can be expected, the inherently non-religious category, has a special significance in our analysis, as the findings of this work enable us to distinguish between religious and non-religious subjects on an objective basis, something that has not heretofore been possible. This is particularly helpful when we undertake to examine one of the most frequently emphasized differences between East and West: the prevailing attitudes toward the satisfaction of human desires. As expressed by Titus:

In the West there is a tendency to emphasize desires and the need to satisfy them… . In the East, on the other hand, there is greater emphasis on discipline, self-control, moderation, detachment, and even renunciation.393

The existence of these differences in viewpoint cannot be denied. The question is whether they are religious differences. It is true that both the Buddha and Confucius laid more stress on the need to curtail desires than Western religious leaders have done, but our theoretical findings indicate that, to the extent that the “desires” which the Eastern religions want to suppress involve violations of the moral code common to East and West, there is no conflict. The Western religions do not countenance deviations from the code. To the extent that these desires are not contrary to the moral code, which apparently is true in general, as indicated by the repeated charge that the West is too much interested in “the comforts and pleasures of this world” (which, as we saw in Chapter 21, have no moral implications), the difference in viewpoint is not religious. Each community is simply exercising its privilege of economic and social choice. Whether one chooses to put forth more effort in order to obtain more physical goods, or to devote less effort to production and more time to contemplation, has no relevance to religion. If it could be shown that a contemplative life under adverse economic conditions is more conducive to development of the ethical personality than a more active and comfortable life, this statement might have to be qualified, but the evidence thus far available does not support such a contention.

An unfortunate result of the confusion between religious and non-religious matters in the doctrines and activities of religious institutions is that these extraneous issues have obscured the true status of the religious code of conduct: the moral code. It is this confusion that has fostered the growth of “ethical relativism” and subjective ethics, which contend that “whatever an individual or group thinks or feels to be good is good—for him or it.”400 As emphasized in the preceding pages, our findings are that these views are completely erroneous. The moral code is an integral part of the structure of law that governs Sector 3. It is fixed and unchanging, just as the biological laws and the physical laws are in their respective fields. It is the same everywhere and at all times.

Much of the argument in favor of ethical relativism is based on the finding of modern anthropology with respect to the ethical notions of primitive people. Intuitionism, the theory that ethical knowledge is obtainable through direct moral insight, is the strongest antagonist that the ethical relativists have heretofore had to face, aside from the authoritarian dicta of the organized religions, and it has been singled out for severe attack. It is argued by the supporters of ethical relativism that if intuitionism were valid there could be no serious disagreement as to moral judgments between people of different eras and different cultures. Scientific investigation has found that this is not even approximately correct; that the moral rules and standards of the various existing primitive peoples differ widely from each other, and are, in many respects, totally inconsistent with the prevailing consensus in the more advanced societies. Furthermore, these findings indicate that few of the primitive people regard their moral standards as universally applicable, and some ethicists regard this as even more damaging to intuitionism than the differences in the standards. Alexander Macbeath, for instance, has this to say:

Few, if any, primitive people regard their moral rules as universal in the sense that they apply to all men. Some of them do not regard all their moral rules as applicable to all, even of those to whom some of them are applicable.401

The conclusion reached in this work, that intuition is not a source of ethical information but a means whereby such information is obtained from its source, revolutionizes the entire logical situation, and gives the anthropological data a totally different significance. On this basis, knowledge in the ethical field has exactly the same status as knowledge in the physical field. It is available at the source, complete and in full detail. But the human race is not capable of acquiring a full understanding of any major aspect of existence from this source without going through a long step-by-step process of learning. Experience in physical science, currently the most advanced of all branches of human knowledge, gives us a clear picture of what can be expected in the less advanced areas, including morality. During almost the entire range of human history, progress toward understanding of the physical world was limited to the acquisition of individual, mostly unrelated, physical facts. Not until about three thousand years ago was there any systematic attempt to assemble and to codify these individual items and to derive some general relationships. Even today, the workers in this field are continually confronted with phenomena that are totally unexpected, and extremely difficult to fit into the existing structure of thought.

In the light of this experience, it is evident that the findings of the anthropologists are right in line with the concept of continuing ethical development that we have derived from our investigation. On this basis, primitive people cannot be expected to have clear and consistent moral principles. Their ideas in all fields are still confused and often contradictory. Nor could it be expected that their moral principles would agree with the prevailing thought of the more advanced societies, which has had the benefit of thousands of years of painstaking search for the truth. However minuscule the results of that search have been when compared to the great task that still lies ahead, it has nevertheless carried moral understanding far beyond the confused and inconsistent ideas of the primitive tribes. Contrary to what the ethical relativists contend, the evidence from anthropology and from history shows that the human race is moving slowly, but surely, in the direction of higher ethical standards. Our problem is that we have an immense distance yet to cover.

The situation with respect to economic, political, and social issues is altogether different. Where definite and specific answers to problems in these non-religious fields do exist, they are, as a rule, relative to the prevailing circumstances. For example, a decision as to whether to make a certain expenditure for a non-essential purpose should depend largely on whether the community has any surplus resources. Likewise, a nation’s choice of political institutions should depend primarily on what the people of the nation happen to want. The striking differences between the social customs of the Eastern peoples and those of their Western counterparts, therefore, have no relevance to the East-West test that is the subject of the discussion in this chapter. They are not religious differences, even though many of them may be deeply imbedded in the traditions or practices of the organized religions.

25 Outlook for Communication


Outlook for Communication

A striking characteristic of all of the means of obtaining information from metaphysical sources that we have examined—inductive insight, clairvoyance, religious revelation, and intuition in general—is that, as we now know them, they are wholly unpredictable and not subject to our control. The question naturally arises: Is this necessarily true, or is the present situation merely a reflection of our almost total lack of knowledge as to the inherent nature and properties of the inter-sector communication phenomenon? This is a question that has a profound significance for the future of the human race. Unfortunately, it is also a question which, as matters now stand, we cannot answer. The new information developed in the preceding pages does, however, clarify the nature of this problem to a considerable degree, and it suggests some lines of inquiry which, if they are followed up diligently and systematically, may ultimately produce some kind of an understanding of the situation.

The most important discovery in this area made in the course of this present investigation is that all of the hitherto unexplained and somewhat mysterious processes by which information is obtained in a non-physical manner are manifestations of the same thing: communication between Sector 3 units through Sector 3 channels. In studying these various phenomena, therefore, we are no longer in the position of viewing a number of separate and presumably unrelated things. We now realize that we are viewing the same thing from a number of different angles. Such a finding is a great help to any investigation, but it is of particular importance in the study of elusive phenomena such as those that we are now considering, inasmuch as whatever is known, or can be learned, about any one of them can now be taken as applicable, in some sense, to the general process. The total amount of reliable information that is available is still small, to be sure, but it represents a big advance over the very meager amount of knowledge that we possess concerning any of the individual phenomena.

All this suggests that conditions are now ripe for a thorough and systematic study of these related phenomena aimed at gaining an understanding of the general process of non-physical communication. If we can attain such an understanding, we can then turn around and apply it to improving the effectiveness and usefulness of each of the individual applications of this communication process. Such an investigation is far beyond the scope of this present work, but since we have here developed the basic information that opens up an avenue of approach to this hitherto recalcitrant problem, or group of problems, it seems appropriate not only to point out the opportunity that is afforded by the new information now available, but also to discuss the existing situation briefly and to indicate some of the specific lines of inquiry that could profitably be followed.

The most general form of this inter-sector communication, commonly called intuition, and defined as “the direct apprehension of knowledge without conscious reasoning or immediate sense perception,” is one about which practically nothing, aside from its existence, is currently known. There are even those who deny that it does exist, in the sense of this definition. For instance, the empiricists, who regard the observed physical universe as the whole of existence, must necessarily reject it. But the extreme weakness of the arguments that these objectors are able to muster in support of their position is eloquent testimony to the reality of the process. About all that they are able to suggest is that intuition must be the result of some unknown, abnormally rapid or subconscious thought process. As pointed out in Chapter 24, however, reason—directed thinking—is not a source of information; it is a tool for dealing with information obtained from some source. This means that the basic question is: What is the source of the intuitive information?

In the preceding pages, we have examined this issue and have found that the information comes from a metaphysical source. The empiricists and materialists deny the existence of anything metaphysical, but they are unable to suggest any alternative. The only source of information that they recognize is experience, and the clearest and most definite instances of intuitive understanding occur in such areas as moral values, which the empiricists themselves admit cannot be derived from experience. Those of this school of thought, who face the issue squarely, recognize that their denial of the existence of intuition or any other non-experiential source of information forces them to deny the existence of moral values. But this is a denial of the observable reality. Both intuition and moral values do exist, and our findings now disclose that intuition is merely one of a number of manifestations of the general phenomenon of communication with Sector 3. It is certainly one of the aspects of the communication situation that should have careful and painstaking study. Just how the problem can best be approached is not clear as matters now stand, but some ideas as to the direction of investigative efforts can probably be developed from consideration of the information that is available with respect to the other communication phenomena that we have identified as different aspects of the same thing.

The characteristics of scientific insight were discussed in Chapter 9, and no more needs to be said here, other than to emphasize some of the principal points that were brought out in the earlier discussion: first, that such insight comes only when the general level of knowledge is high enough so that it is feasible to go the rest of the way to an understanding of the point at issue by means of an “inductive leap”; second, that the insight comes only to those who are adequately prepared to receive it; and third, that it comes mainly, perhaps always, to individuals who are deeply immersed in the subject matter, and have given it both extensive and intensive study.

Revelation is practically identical with scientific insight except that it deals with religious information rather than scientific information. These two processes operate in the same manner as ordinary intuition, but they are actually of a somewhat different character. Ordinary intuition draws upon a basic supply of information which, under existing conditions, appears to be readily accessible to most individuals, and can be obtained with little or no effort. Revelation and scientific insight, on the other hand, deal with more advanced and less easily comprehended truths that are not yet part of the general understanding, and consequently are available only to unusually well-prepared individuals who are also intensely motivated.

The possible avenues of approach that can be followed in a systematic study are more clearly indicated here than in the case of ordinary intuition, as we do have some information as to who has (reportedly) received communications of the revelation or insight variety, and as to what conditions prevailed at the time. We note, for example, that a period of uninterrupted contemplation preceded many of the reported religious revelations. Most of the founders of the great religions are reported to have cut themselves off from normal human activities repeatedly, or for extensive periods, so that they could devote themselves completely to thinking about religious matters. The story of the Buddha, Gautama Siddhartha, is well known; how he left his high position and his family and wandered about for seven years, pondering over the mysteries of existence, until a revelation finally came to him. The experience of Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, is almost identical. Moses received his enlightenment during the forty days that he spent alone on Mount Sinai. Zoroaster, or Zarathustra, founder of the religion now practiced by the Parsees, is said to have gained his insight while living as a hermit. Mohammed’s revelation came to him in a cave on Mount Hira, after repeated sojourns in the hills around Mecca, where he could be alone with his thoughts.

Both religious contemplation and intense scientific concentration are relatively calm and tranquil activities, characterized primarily by channeling the maximum amount of thought into the one area in which new insight is sought, to the exclusion, so far as possible, of all extraneous matters. The absent-mindedness of scientific investigators is proverbial, and it is standard practice, particularly in the Orient, for the seeker after religious truth to isolate himself, not only from the affairs of the world but also from his own personal desires. This might well suggest the conclusion that calm and peaceful concentration on the subject at hand is one of the requirements for successful Sector 3 communication. But the next type of communication that we will consider introduces a new factor. Most of the instances of spontaneous telepathic communication that are sufficiently well authenticated to entitle them to consideration in the present connection took place under conditions of extreme emotional stress.

It is possible that this predominance of highly emotional cases in the records is the result of a selection process. Experiences that seem to be well outside the limits of plausible explanation as mere coincidences are not at all uncommon. But most of these receive little attention. They are not even mentioned to anyone, or even remembered for any extended period, to say nothing of being recorded in any way. Records of any kind—even recollections—are therefore confined to the more spectacular instances. The seeming preponderance of highly emotional situations is thus misleading. Nevertheless, the frequent occurrence of telepathic transmission under stress (even after discounting the number of reported instances drastically to eliminate those that are most questionable) seems to rule out calm and peaceful contemplation as a prerequisite for the Sector 3 type of communication.

It will be necessary, however, to examine the possibility that the transmitter and the receiver of the telepathic message are subject to different considerations. In the communication processes previously discussed—intuition, scientific insight, and revelation—we have been dealing only with receivers, and our finding that quiet concentration is conducive to success in achieving communication applies specifically to reception, and not necessarily to transmission. Experience with the reception of telepathic messages does not contradict this finding, as it is ordinarily the transmitter of the message who is under emotional stress, not the receiver. At this point, then, our tentative conclusion is that the circumstances that we have previously found to be favorable for the reception of communications of an intuitive nature apply to the reception of all communications from Sector 3, but that some special mental or emotional state, the nature of which is not yet clear, is a requirement for successful transmission of a message through Sector 3 channels.

At first glance, the second part of this conclusion would seem to be contradicted by the fact that there is another form of Sector 3 communication which can take place under a great variety of circumstances in which the transmitter may be anywhere from perfectly calm to highly emotional. This is the religious activity known as prayer. In secular life, a prayer is a petition or earnest request. Religious prayers extend over a considerably wider range of attitudes and subject matter, but for purposes of the present discussion, their essential characteristic is that they are attempts to communicate with the existence or existences in the metaphysical region. This is an activity of vast proportions, carried on by hundreds of millions of people, in all parts of the earth, and over the entire span of recorded history.

A more extended consideration of this activity indicates that there are some significant differences between prayer and the forms of non-physical communication previously examined that should be taken into account in arriving at our conclusions. One point is that, while telepathy attempts to communicate with another human being, and intuition receives information from Sector 3, prayer attempts to transmit a message to Sector 3. We may logically conclude, then, that prayer has the advantage of dealing with a vastly more sensitive receiver which (or who) is capable of receiving communications from less efficient transmitters. Thus the previous conclusion that the transmitter must be in some special mental or emotional state in order to be successful in sending his message does not have to be discarded; it merely needs to be modified to apply only to communication between human individuals. We will take another look at this conclusion later in this chapter.

It should also be noted that, while we know that prayers are being offered under conditions in which the supplicants’ attitudes range all the way from casual to highly motivated, we have little or no evidence as to what effect, if any, these attitudes may have had on the success of the attempts to communicate. Indeed, we have very little reliable information about the results of prayer, and it may very well be that the casual and perfunctory prayers, and perhaps the ritualistic prayers, are wholly ineffective. From a scientific standpoint, this and other uncertain aspects of prayer would seem to be subjects that call for a thorough and searching examination. As expressed by L. D. Weatherhead, “We have a lot of research to do into the laws which govern intercession.”402

Religious authorities have generally been opposed to anything of this kind, ostensibly on the ground that raising questions about, or attempting to analyze, such intimately religious matters verges on sacrilege. We may surmise, however, that this opposition is also motivated by fear that one of the major questions that would be addressed in such an investigation is whether communication of this nature is possible at all. Obviously, the ecclesiastics must maintain with all of the positiveness at their command—dogmatically, if one wishes to use that term—that such a question cannot be entertained even for a moment, since religious doctrine in its entirety is based on the premise that such communication does take place. This objection should not apply in the same degree to the investigation that is now being suggested in this work, inasmuch as the findings upon which the study would be based—those described in this volume and its predecessors—definitely confirm the existence of communication with the metaphysical region, and hence the question to which the religious authorities are the most sensitive would not come up at all.

This being true, it would seem that science and religion have every reason to make this a common cause and to join forces for a thorough inquiry into the details of the process. Obviously, if anything can be discovered that leads to more effective and efficient communication by the prayer route, the primary benefit accrues to religion; if anything can be discovered that improves the process of gaining scientific insight, the primary benefit accrues to science. But the findings of this work indicate that these two processes are essentially nothing more than different manifestations of the same thing. This, in turn, makes it altogether likely that any significant discovery in either area will be applicable to both.

Of course, such cooperation will be impossible if those on the religious side insist that all of their doctrines are infallible and not subject to question. For example, it will be necessary, before any appraisal of the relative effectiveness of different procedures can be undertaken, to come to some conclusion as to what kinds of petitions are admissible. It will be particularly essential to examine the question as to whether it is in order to request that one or more of the governing laws or principles of the universe be set aside in a particular circumstance. This is another sensitive point, to be sure, since most religions have utilized what they classify as miracles for the purpose of bolstering the case for their particular doctrines, and they have encouraged their adherents to ask the Ruling Powers for concessions which, in effect, call for miracles or their equivalent. No doubt some of the ecclesiastics will be adamant in opposition to any inquiry into this situation, but it would seem that, by this time, a substantial segment of the religious community should be willing to participate in an exploration of this kind, particularly since the findings of the present investigation are not adverse to certain classes of miracles.

Whether they call for miracles or not, there can be little doubt but that a substantial proportion of the petitions currently being addressed to the Deity are improper. Requests for special or preferential treatment, for example, probably outnumber all others, but such requests are not at all consistent with the ethical code. Harlow Shapley was correct, even if somewhat harsh, in calling them “greedy supplications for special favors.”403 The pleas for “mercy” that are encouraged by most religious leaders belong in the same class; they ask that the petitioner be exempted from whatever penalties may be assessed against others. This is the biological code, the “me first” doctrine, and it is directly opposed to the Golden Rule, the essence of which is that we should ask no more for ourselves than that which is given to others.

Although the present investigation has not gone into these matters extensively enough to justify any firm conclusions, the preliminary survey seems to indicate that, if it is to be effective, prayer must be concerned with matters that involve human actions, not physical events. In familiar language, this means that one should pray only for wisdom or for moral courage, either for himself or on behalf of others. Whether or not this tentative conclusion is correct is a question of major significance to the human race, and an exhaustive study of the subject is certainly justified, with the cooperation of religious organizations if possible, but without it if necessary.

A comprehensive study should ultimately result in delimiting the range of subjects with respect to which prayer is appropriate, and this will enable some studies of the relative effectiveness of different procedures. Few observers are likely to believe that such a study would find the prayer wheels of Tibet very effective, yet the truth is that many modern procedures, not only in prayer but also in other attempts at metaphysical communication, are equally as perfunctory as these wheels. The efficacy of group prayer, for instance, is open to serious question, in view of the highly individualistic character of inter-sector communication in general. Of course, it is quite possible that group activities of this nature have a meaning in, and a value to, institutionalized religion that is separate and apart from the communication that is the ostensible purpose, but some inquiry into this situation ought to be in order. The efforts that are currently being made to apply group techniques to the discovery of new solutions for scientific, economic, and other problems seem to have a somewhat similar rationale, and could well be studied in the same connection.

The only one of the inter-sector communication processes thus far discussed that has been subjected to any kind of a systematic study is telepathy, which, with the related process, clairvoyance, the direct perception of information, is currently being investigated under the general name of extrasensory perception, or ESP. Clairvoyance is essentially equivalent to intuition, the only difference being in the nature of the information that is sought. An individual’s conclusion with respect to the morality of a proposed action would be ascribed to his intuitive understanding of right and wrong, whereas his correct perception of the nature of a hidden object in an experimental situation would be ascribed to clairvoyance.

The results obtained to date from the ESP experiments have been meager. As indicated in the discussion of the subject in the earlier pages, it would be correct to say that certain aspects of these experiments have demonstrated the reality of the ESP phenomena, but knowledge has not advanced much beyond this point. This lack of progress can be attributed to a number of causes. Some of these, such as the insistence on coupling psychokinesis (PK) with ESP, thus saddling ESP with all of the shortcomings of the PK hypothesis, can be laid at the door of the experimenters themselves. Others, such as the exaggerated degree of skepticism with which the results of the experiments are received, and the general lack of support of ESP research, are chargeable to the scientific community as a whole. It is apparent, however, from the findings of this work, that more meaningful results cannot be expected until the investigators have a better understanding of how to proceed. Clearly, some further information of a basic nature is required before ESP experiments can be so planned and executed that they will give conclusive answers to the questions that are being investigated.

One of the most important issues, we find, is the matter of motivation. What we may call routine communication with Sector 3, intuitive access to simple information, has the benefit of a high-powered transmitter, and most individuals have no difficulty receiving the messages in the ordinary course of life. Reception of complex and specialized information (revelation and scientific insight) is much more difficult. Examination of the various methods of inter-sector communication from the standpoint of the characteristics that they have in common indicates that, in all instances, the individual who receives one of these extraordinary communications is a person who is specifically qualified in the field of knowledge that is involved, and who is able, because of a strong motivation, to exclude other matters and devote practically his entire attention to the one subject under consideration. The essential requirement seems to be an intense interest in the success of the undertaking coupled with the absence of competing thought processes.

Insight or revelation is not in itself a thought process, in the ordinary sense of the term. On the contrary, it is the total lack of resemblance to the ordinary processes of thought that gives rise to such expressions as “flashes of insight,” and causes those who comment on these metaphysical modes of communication to use adjectives such as incomprehensible, miraculous, etc. But the message cannot be consciously perceived by the recipient unless it is converted into a thought process of some kind. Aside from the possibility discussed in Chapter 11, nothing is yet known about how such a conversion is accomplished, but evidently the probability of success is enhanced if the mind is cleared of extraneous matters and the entire thought mechanism is held in readiness to receive the message.

Our findings further indicate that transmission of a Sector 3 message is a much more difficult operation than reception of a message, and an individual must be in a special mental or emotional state of a nature not yet understood in order to transmit such a message to another human being (telepathy). Whether the same degree of preparedness is required in order to transmit a message to Sector 3 (prayer or the equivalent) is not clear, because of the lack of reliable knowledge as to the results of prayer. It may reasonably be assumed, however, that prayer is the inverse of intuition. The intuitive process pairs a high-powered transmitter with a relatively inefficient receiver. Prayer reverses this combination, and pairs a relatively inefficient transmitter with a very sensitive receiver. On this basis, we could expect that it is equally as effective as intuition.

If the foregoing conclusions with respect to motivation are correct, they have some significant implications in connection with the efforts that are now being made to study telepathy and other ESP phenomena experimentally. They strongly suggest that the principal obstacle standing in the way of obtaining more satisfactory results is the lack of adequate motivation on the part of the subjects participating in the experiments. Investigators working in the field have already recognized that motivation is an important factor. J. B. Rhine, for instance, says that:

In order to produce a suitable test situation for psi, an order of interest must be sustained sufficiently high to compete successfully with the many other interests arising out of the subject’s own personality and the test surroundings.404

The findings of this present investigation suggest that the “order of interest” envisioned by Rhine is not anywhere near high enough to set the stage for efficient and effective communication. The indications are that “competition” with other interests cannot be tolerated at all; that the would-be receiver of the message must not only give the matter his full and undivided attention, but must be intensely motivated as well. The problem of how to provide sufficient motivation may be a difficult one, particularly since it is questionable whether any collateral motive, such as the expectation of a substantial financial reward, will suffice. If such a reward would provide adequate motivation, gambling houses would have to go out of business. It is altogether possible, in the light of the findings of our preliminary investigation, that nothing less than an intense desire to accomplish the objective for its own sake is adequate.

As pointed out in Chapter 9, gambling, to the extent that chance, rather than skill, determines the outcome, is an exercise in ESP. The gambler is trying to anticipate what the next roll of the dice, deal of the card, or turn of the wheel will reveal. This is exactly the same thing that the subjects in certain types of ESP experiments are trying to do. The person who “breaks the bank” at a gambling establishment, or who is prevented from so doing only by arbitrary betting limits or restrictions, is accomplishing the same results as the ESP “stars” mentioned by John Mann in the statement quoted in Chapter 8, the individuals whose extraordinary performance in the ESP tests is the principal empirical support for the reality of the ESP phenomena. It was noted in the earlier discussion that the general conclusions which can be drawn about the existence and characteristics of ESP from gambling games are identical with those reached by way of specific ESP experiments, as would be expected where the basic process is the same. But the conditions surrounding the attempts to foretell the coming events are quite different in the two cases, and it is these differences that are responsible for the more erratic performances of the gamblers.

One significant point is that most gamblers are not trying to anticipate what is going to happen. They are simply placing their bets and hoping that fortune will favor them. These individuals are not exercising their ESP ability, if they have any. Only those who, consciously or unconsciously, bet on intuition or hunches can be compared to the participant in the regular ESP experiments. Furthermore, since the primary objective in gambling is monetary gain, the direct incentive to foretell future events, which appears to be a requirement for success in clairvoyance, is largely accidental. The person who has an extraordinary “run of luck” cannot repeat his performance at the next gambling session because the financial gains that he made on the previous occasion are now uppermost in his mind, and he cannot approach the situation with the same attitude that brought his earlier success.

The star performer in the ESP experiments is also limited in the extent to which he can repeat his earlier successes, but not to the same degree as the gambler. He can usually maintain a reasonable standard of accomplishment over a considerable period of time. In view of the differences in the experimental conditions, this difference in the results is understandable. The ESP subject is specifically aiming at ESP performance. He knows what he is trying to do. In his case, the ESP objective is not subject to being relegated to a secondary role, as it is in gambling. But even though he may initially have the intense desire to produce positive results that seems to be a prerequisite for success, it is not possible to maintain that high level of motivation indefinitely after the existence of ESP has been demonstrated to his own satisfaction, and no one knows how to proceed any farther. Sooner or later his interest wanes, and with it goes his ESP capacity.

Most of the experimental work thus far undertaken has involved a rather close collaboration between the investigators and the subjects, and it is doubtful if adequate motivation on the part of the subjects has ever been attained unless the investigators were equally motivated by a strong desire to produce something of a positive nature. Much of the criticism of the ESP experiments has centered on the fact that the positive results come only from the investigators who are personally convinced of the reality of ESP and want to find evidence to support that belief, while the results of experiments carried out by skeptics are uniformly negative. Our findings with respect to motivation now indicate that this is just what should be expected. ESP reception by skeptics, or even by impartial subjects, is impossible. The subjects must be strongly motivated in order to succeed, and such motivation is practically impossible if the investigator in charge of the experiment is a skeptic. On the other hand, the present tendency for the investigators to be biased in favor of positive results is scientifically undesirable. Some redesign of the experiments that will introduce an emotional separation between the investigators and the subjects is therefore very much in order.

Inasmuch as it appears that the requirements for a transmitter of telepathic messages are very much more stringent than those of a receiver, the problem of providing qualified transmitters for experimentation is critical. Indeed, the likelihood that any of the persons utilized for transmission purposes in the ESP experiments to date were adequately qualified and sufficiently motivated for the task is so remote that it is probable that telepathy has never actually been examined experimentally. Telepathy is difficult to distinguish from clairvoyance, and it has already been suggested by some observers that all of the current ESP experiments are dealing with clairvoyance, even where telepathy is the ostensible subject of the investigation. Our findings support this conclusion.

The difficulty in differentiating between telepathy and clairvoyance in the experimental situations has led to the further suggestion that telepathy may not exist at all, and that the ESP phenomena are wholly due to clairvoyance. Here, however, we cannot concur. Once it has been demonstrated that Sector 3 communication is a reality, the basic objections that have hitherto been raised to the acceptance of the validity of reports of spontaneous telepathic occurrences are invalidated, and the existence of the telepathic process must therefore be recognized. These spontaneous incidents always involve an extraordinary degree of motivation on the part of the individual who must be regarded as the transmitter of the message and no conscious effort by the receiver. This kind of a situation has not thus far been duplicated in the experiments intended to be telepathic.

Some extensive study of spontaneous telepathy, together with revelation, extraordinary scientific insight, and any other identifiable extemporaneous intuitive processes ought to be carried out in order to determine the mental and emotional states of the participants, as well as the kind and degree of motivation that is involved. What little attention has been paid to the spontaneous occurrences thus far has been mainly directed toward establishing the reality of the several phenomena in question, but the events in which communication actually did take place, according to our present understanding, are undoubtedly the best sources of information as to the conditions under which transmission and reception of Sector 3 messages is possible. This information as to the necessary conditions for communication must be available before appropriate experiments to enlarge the existing knowledge of the inter-sector communication processes can be effectively designed and conducted, because these are the conditions that must be duplicated in order to obtain reproducible experimental results.

As noted in Chapter 8, much of the criticism of the ESP investigations has centered on the lack of reproducibility of the results, but as matters now stand, no one knows what the conditions relevant to the ESP phenomena actually are, and all of the talk about reproducibility is meaningless. The prevailing inability to reproduce the relevant conditions which surround an ESP experiment applies with equal force when an individual attempts to repeat his own work. The glee with which the critics seize upon the very common decrease in ESP abilities after early success as evidence against the validity of the earlier results is therefore entirely unwarranted. Hansel’s caustic comment, “In other words, experimenters fail to confirm their own results,”405 is definitely out of order, since neither Hansel nor the experimenters know how any specific experiment could be duplicated. Neither knows how to set up the equivalent of the non-physical conditions of the original work. Rhine attributes the apparent loss of ESP capacity in repeated experiments to a waning of the initial enthusiasm with which the subjects approached the tests. As previously mentioned, this may well be one of the factors, but it is probably not the full explanation. We simply do not know enough about the phenomenon to arrive at firm conclusions. All of this definitely underlines the desirability of some extensive research into the conditions under which ESP and the related phenomena make their appearance.

It should be recognized that this lack of basic information is not peculiar to ESP. We are equally deficient in our knowledge of the conditions surrounding all other forms of communication with Sector 3 or through Sector 3 channels. Scientific insight, for instance, is no more reproducible than ESP. We can set up a duplicate of all of the identifiable conditions under which an important scientific idea appeared in a “flash of insight,” but this will not bring us another important scientific idea. It will not even assure us of the production of an inconsequential new idea. A. C. Benjamin makes this comment concerning our utter inability to create a situation that can be counted on to serve this purpose:

We can say, simply, that unless the scientist has a firm foundation of extensive factual knowledge, unless he has an overpowering drive, unless he indulges in occasional relaxation, unless he understands something of the logic of explanation, he cannot hope for results. But if he satisfies all of these conditions, he may still not succeed if he lacks the mysterious spark. This is the bitter conclusion to which we are driven.406

In this connection, it is interesting to note that every argument that is raised against the reality of ESP could be used with equal force against the reality of scientific insight or against the existence of any kind of intuition. As phenomena, the spontaneous instances of ESP are almost identical with the “sudden flashes of illumination” reported by scientific investigators. The process by which these new scientific ideas are produced is equally as inexplicable, on the basis of the laws of physical science, as ESP. It is “miraculous,” “incomprehensible,” and so on, according to the authors quoted in Chapter 9. Of course, these negative arguments that are applied to ESP are not advanced against the reality of scientific insight, because new ideas definitely do appear, and their sudden appearance just as definitely cannot be explained by any known physical process. In this case, the conclusion is that the phenomenon exists but is inexplicable, whereas in the case of ESP, the conclusion reached by so many critics, on the basis of exactly the same kind of evidence, is that since the phenomenon is inexplicable it does not exist.

A more consistent and logical attitude toward the ESP investigations is long past due. In a sense, it can be said that ESP is the basic phenomenon of which scientific insight, religious revelation, etc., are special cases. Whatever information can be developed about ESP will therefore have an important bearing on any studies that are made in these other areas. There is a great deal waiting to be discovered, and a thorough exploitation of all of the possible lines of investigation that have now been opened up has a very good chance of being highly productive.

In concluding this discussion of the outlook for improving inter-sector communication, it should be mentioned that there is one more phenomenon that seems to belong in