Are the Dead Alive?

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
Leslie's Illustrated Weekly Newspaper No. 3342 (cover)
Leslie's Illustrated Weekly Newspaper No. 3342 (p. 494)

Are the Dead Alive? is a letter signed by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in the Leslie's Illustrated Weekly Newspaper vol. 129 No. 3342, 27 september 1919.

Are the Dead Alive?

A Vital Discussion by Famous American and British Thinkers in an Attempt to Answer the Ever Great Question: Where Are Our Martyred Soldier Heroes?

A Symposium Gathered for Leslie's Weekly, by Perriton Maxwell

A Famous Doctor's Fixed Belief

(While the name of Conan Doyle is best known as a writer of fiction, particularly of the Sherlock Holmes detective stories, it also stands for scholarship and medical skill, for he is a Doctor of Laws and a Doctor of Medicine of Edinburgh University, and was chief surgeon of a field hospital in South Africa. His activities in the Great War are generally known. His point of view becomes the more interesting because of his distinctive materialistic training.)

There was a time in my life when I believed that death ended all. Finally after long study extending over many years I came to the conclusion that the more advanced psychical students were right, and that after making every deduction for fraud or self-delusion there was no question at all as to the validity of the evidence which pointed to a future world so near to our own that the veil could be torn or lifted.

I am well aware that these opinions lend themselves to a good deal of cheap humor, but every cause must fight its way, and truth invariably survives.

Great harm has been done to this cause by the whole system of membership, which lends itself so easily to fraud.

But when people learn how often they themselves possess latent powers of the sort which can be developed in the direction usually of writing a speech, that source of scandal will be eliminated.

At the same time the genuine mediums in the past have done great work by drawing the at attention of the human race to this subject by physical phenomena, the said phenomena being only useful as calling attention to this messages with which they are followed or accompanied.

Too much attention has been directed to the telephone bell, and not enough to the telephone message, which is a new revelation from beyond, and which has practically done away with death!

It is the greatest message of joy which our race has had for 2,000 years.

Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex, England.