Spiritualism and Christianity

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
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Spiritualism and Christianity is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Evening News (Australia) on 27 november 1920.


Spiritualism and Christianity

The Evening News (27 november 1920)
Light (15 january 1921, p. 35)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is Attacked and Replies

Below we publish an "open letter" addressed by Mr. David Simpson, president Christian Evidence Society to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle having apparently seen the letter, has asked us to also print his reply to it.


(See image on the right ->)


Be More Charitable

Pacific Hotel,
Manly, Nov. 26, 1920.

Sir, — Your letter is couched in such terms that it does not deserve a reply; but I send one last it should seem that I had initiated our want of good manners.

The tenets which we Spiritualists preach, and which I upheld upon the platform are that any man who is deriving spirituality from his creed, be that creed what it may, is fearing the lesson of life. For this reason we would not attack your creed, however repulsive it might seem to us, so long as you and your colleagues might be getting any benefit from it. We desire to go our own way, saying what we know to be true, and claiming from others the same liberty of conscience and of expression which we freely grant to them.

You, on the other hand, go out of your way to attack us, to call us evil names, and to pretend that these loved ones who return to us are in truth devils, and that our phenomena, though they are obviously of the same sort as those which are associated with early Christianity, are diabolical in their nature. This absurd view is put forward without a shadow of proof, and entirely on the supposed meaning of certain ancient texts which refer in reality to a very different matter, but which are strained and twisted to suit your purpose.

It is men like you and your colleagues who, by your parody of Christianity, and your constant exhibition of those very qualities which Christ denounced in the Pharisees, have driven many reasonable people away from religion and left the churches half empty. Your predecessors, who took the same narrow view of the literal interpretation of the Bible, were guilty of the murder of many thousands of defenceless old women who were burned In deference to the text, "Suffer no witch to live "Undeterred by this terrible result of the literal reading, you still advocate it, although you must be well aware that polygamy, slavery, and murder can all be justified by such a course.

Your challenge to debate is childish, and merely made for public effect, since you have intelligence enough to realise that no debate is possible where the literal validity of your authority is not recognised. The same applies to the absurd offer of your photographer. He could easily produce a faked photograph, but he could not produce the likeness of a dead son beside his living father, this likeness being different to any taken in life, and produced upon the plate which the father has brought with him, and which is developed and handled only by the father.

If he seriously persists In bis challenge, I will send him a sitter with a marked plate, and I will myself pay £25 to a hospital if he can produce a recognisable portrait of a dead relative upon it, the plate to be developed by the sitter. As this test does not require my personal presence, it can be carried out at once if you give the name and address of the photographer.

In conclusion, let me give you the advice to reconsider your position, to be more charitable to your neighbors, and to devote your redundant energies to combating the utter materialism which is all round you, instead of railing so bitterly at those who are proving immortality and the need for good living in a way which meets their spiritual wants, even though it is foreign to yours.

Yours faithfully,