The Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle EncyclopediaThe Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
22 May 1859, Edinburgh M.D., Kt, KStJ, D.L., LL.D., Sportsman, Writer, Poet, Politician, Justicer, Spiritualist Crowborough, 7 July 1930

Spirits and the Spirit World

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Spirits and the Spirit World is an article written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in the Evening Standard on 9 january 1920 and reprinted in Light on 17 january 1920 as A Critic's "Logical Questions".


  • in Evening Standard (19 december 1919 [UK])
  • in Light (17 january 1920 [UK]) as A Critic's "Logical Questions"

A Critic's "Logical Questions"

Light (17 january 1920, p. 19)

Sir A. Conan Doyle on the "Main Thesis."

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle replied as follows in the "Evening Standard" of January 9th:—

"Mr. Newman Harding shows the limitations of his knowledge by alluding to the Spiritualist Position as if it rested upon the assertions of two men, Sir Oliver Lodge and myself.

"Has he never consulted the writings of Sir William Crookes, Professor Hyslop, Professor Lombroso, Dr. Geley, Charles Richet, Dr. Crawford of Belfast, W. T. Stead, Professor Hare, Judge Edmonds, and so many more?

"If he has done so he has no right to state the case as if it rested upon two witnesses; if he has not done so he should consult the recognised authorities before asking long lists of questions which would take a volume to answer.

"On examining this list I find that most of these questions are not really questions at all, but assertions, usually false and sometimes offensive. The mentality which can ask, 'How is it that spirits never have any Communications to make that will benefit and advance mankind?' on the assumption that the fate of the human race and the present condition of our loved ones who have gone before is of no consequence to mankind, is to me unthinkable.

"Is it not evident that the function of higher beings is to minister to our spiritual needs and knowledge, not to invent motor engines or to instruct us in chemistry? We should become automata if we were to allow our world to be run from the outside.

"There are only two vital propositions in Spiritualism. These are that personality survives death without a change; the other that under proper physical conditions communication is still possible.

"Professor Hyslop, the highest authority in America, says in his recent work. 'Life After Death' (p. 306) : 'Any man who does not accept the existence of discarnate spirits and the proof of it is either ignorant or a moral coward.' I believe that to be a perfectly just dilemma.

"As to those questions of minute detail which make up the long catechism of Mr. Newman Harding, their answer is insignificant compared with the importance of the main thesis. A great quantity of Information has been gathered and certain conclusions have been formed, but there is latitude for dissent, and no Spiritualist would make such points a touchstone of the truth."