Spiritualism: Not on Faith Alone

by Tom Butler


Sunday is a day of faith and worship. That is what most of us have been taught since childhood. When we go to a Sunday meeting, we are conditioned to assume it is church related, and as we go, it is likely our mind begins to enter into a preconditioned worshipful attitude. Spiritualists meet on Sunday, and yes, Spiritualism is usually thought of as a faith-based system. That is why Spiritualist organizations almost always have the word “church” in their name.

We changed the name of our affiliate from Spiritualist High Desert Church of Reno to Spiritualist Society of Reno, because in fact, we are a society of people seeking knowledge and understanding rather than gathering for worship. While we share with religions a focuses on community and what are usually religious terms, our point of view is very different. We honor God, sometimes as Mother Nature, as a ubiquitous presence which both enables and orders our very existence. We also honor and seek cooperation with our friends on the other side. Perhaps the only real differences between our Society and religions are that we honor but do no worship and we seek to understand the nature of creation … not as children of God but as co-creators.


The Sunday format for our meetings is inherited from older Spiritualist churches. In fact there are many Christian Spiritualist groups and it was not long ago that the National Spiritualist Society of Churches, with which we are affiliated, required that a Christian Bible be present at the podium during Sunday services.

Prior to our name change, we had been evolving our meetings to better suit our community focus. For instance many churches have the healing portion of the meeting prior to the service or the healers are at the back of the room. We know that we are better able to share our energy in the healing process when we can see the sitters, and the healing attitude helps all of us commune with our loved ones.

The guided meditation is pretty unique to our Society. It is something that we feel helps the healers begin their attunement, the mediums to settle their mind so as to better sense the energies around them and the rest of us to prepare ourselves to receive; even as we merge our energy with the community.

The songs help in a similar way. We know that whenever we act as one voice, we grow closer as a community. This sense of unity is often mentioned by visitors.

We are all learning. That is a most important aspect of our society: it is a loving community in which each member is able to safely develop skills for living.

Spiritualism as a System of Knowing

In philosophy, things people believe are classified with the “-ism” suffix at the end of a descriptive word. Thus, the belief in discarnate souls is referred to as spirit-ism, or as we see it, understanding the implications of survival is spiritual-ism. However, consider the Declaration of Principles we recite together every Sunday. In Principles One, Two and Six, we begin by saying that “We believe.” That is: 1. We believe in Infinite Intelligence; 2. We believe the phenomena of Nature are the expression of Infinite Intelligence; and, 6. We believe in the Golden Rule. Considering that Spiritualism is defined as a science, philosophy and religion, these principles say that we accept these things as true but we have no scientific proof.

The other six principles begin with “We affirm.” “Affirm” means to declare as true. To paraphrase the Principles, we affirm that (Principle 3) understanding nature is the essence of religion, (4) our personality continues beyond bodily death (5) communication across the veil, (7) personal responsibility by way of understanding Natural Law, (8) our education continues beyond transition, and (9) … the community of the collective, nonlocality and the influence of intentionality.

When we affirm something, we are saying there is a strong foundation in science that it is true. So we can say: “Given that there is a Source, and that this Source manifests as reality, then it naturally follows that our highest calling is to understand the nature of reality and to learn to live as a citizens with nature.

In fact Spiritualism is not an –ism at all, it is a way of seeking understanding as it relates to three fundamental concepts: the survival of consciousness after bodily death, the existence of a greater reality and the influence of organizing principles. Spiritualism is a way of learning.

Objective Support for Spiritualist Concepts

So how can we support the claim that we are knowledge-based, rather than faith-based? The phenomena of spiritualism are primarily healing, mediumship and Natural Law. For these concepts to be factual three underlying characteristics of nature must be true:

Subtle Energy

There must be a subtle energy field that is everywhere, and that connects all of us in time and space. In fact, the science is very clear that there is such a field.1 Researchers call it a psi field. In Spiritualism, we refer to the substance of Infinite Intelligence as “spirit.” For instance, we say that a transitioned person is “in spirit,” we “draw spiritual energy to us” and that we will send someone “healing spiritual energy” (this is more correctly stated “We intend healing energy for someone”).

This psi field is the same as spiritual energy. It responds to our thoughts as if it is an extension of our body, carrying our intention to wherever we imagine in our mind as if there is no time or distance … only here and now.

To communicate with the parapsychological community, I use their term for this energy, “psi” and remember that it has had many names over the years, including Od, Orgone energy, Chi, and of course, Spirit.

The Influence of Intention

This psi field must respond to intention. That is, if we think of another person, our thought must somehow influence the other person. Current research in distant healing indicates this is the case.2 Also, there is good research showing that attention on a chaotic process increases order. Studies of Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) have shown that the paranormal voice is often formed out of chaotic noise. A global array of Random Event Generators is used to detect apparent changes in the collective consciousness of humanity. Studies have repeatedly shown that the intention to heal others has a measurable effect on their wellbeing.

In parapsychology, such terms as therapeutic touch, biofields and Homeostasis are used while in Spiritualism, we say spiritual healing, aura and wellbeing. While we use different terms, the concepts are the same. Spiritualists speak of these things because they are what Spiritualists experience.

Mind Independent of Body

You will notice that the factual requirements I have mentioned are progressively “fringe,” in that the concepts are increasingly outside of mainstream thought. The requirement of a subtle energy field only proposes an, as yet, undefined new state of energy. That is not too farfetched. The requirement that this subtle energy field must respond to thought is even further on the fringe, as it requires the ability of mind to influence things at a distance. This is something mainstream academia only allows in science fiction stories.

The third requirement puts us on the farthest fringe of mainstream academia because the dominant theory of reality is that there is only the physical universe and that mind is a product of the brain. Parapsychologists generally agree there is the physical universe but also say that there is a psi field that is influenced by intentionality. Our third requirement for science to support the phenomena of Spiritualism is that mind must be separate from brain. In fact, mind must have existed before birth of the body.

The idea that mind exists before brain is an important and pivotal point for Spiritualists. Most parapsychologists I have communicated with indicate that they believe mind is born with the brain, but is then independent of it and may continue as a memory in the psi field long after bodily death.

The existence of residual energy from the brain as a source for verifiable mediumistic messages is less controversial than the existence of a mind that is independent of the body and that existed before the body was born and continues long after the body dies. So from the Spiritualist pint of view, parapsychologists have it backwards.

The science is increasingly clear that mind is independent of body. To quote Dr. Sam Parnia who studies people who are clinically “killed” and effectively made brain-dead for surgical procedures: “The studies are very significant in that we have a group of people with no brain function … [and] who have well-structured, lucid thought processes with reasoning and memory formation at a time when their brains are shown not to function.”3

The Association TransCommunication has documented a number of EVP which strongly suggest the presence of an aware but nonphysical personality which is able to sense and comment about our physical actions. A good example of this was recorded by Martha Copeland. She had a habit of leaving her voice-activated audio recorder on so that she might record a paranormal voice. Martha’s daughter, Cathy, had recently made her transition and Martha was the caretaker of Cathy’s beloved dog, Deja.

One day, Martha’s housekeeping was interrupted when a friend invited her to go shopping. Of course, she dropped everything and left, absentmindedly leaving Deja lose in the house. In the resulting recording, you can hear the dog making a mess in the house, and over that sound, Cathy’s clear and recognizable voice scolding him with “Doja, no!”

The mainstream explanation for the decidedly paranormal voice in that recording is that it is impossible and therefore must be a fraud. Based on the parapsychological Super-psi Hypothesis, the voice in the recording would be explained as having been telekinetically put there by Martha, based on her memory of Cathy’s voice and how she would have spoken. However, we know it is not a fraud and the voice is clearly recognized as Cathy’s.

There is good research supporting the idea that people recognize the voice of loved ones in EVP. Other EVP have been analyzed using sophisticated software to compare the voice of the person thought to be speaking in the EVP with their voice while still in the physical. Forensically, the voices have been shown to be better than 98% in agreement, which is sufficient to stand up in a court of law.4

Perhaps most evidential is that no one knew of the incident or the recording until after the fact. While there may be room to argue that Martha retroactively made the recording after seeing the mess, there are no other known examples of such extreme retroactive, telekinetic action. Allowing for survived personality, the simplest and most reasonable explanation is that the still alive etheric personality of Cathy was trying to control her pet.

Of course, there is also the evidence provided by near-death and out-of-body experiences, along with many different forms of after death communication. Reincarnation is very well documented as well. While alternative explanations have been offered for all of these, the accumulative evidence increasingly shows that the phenomena of Spiritualism are really the phenomena of our human condition.


A common question put to scientists concerns how they can believe in God and still believe in evolution and the Big bang origin of the universe. They typically answer by indicating that they compartmentalize the two in their mind so that the question of God need not be rationalized. They accept the existence of God and the community of their church but require that all else is objective.

In a sense, I think Spiritualist do this as well, only it is the need to have a higher authority which they must compartmentalize from the search for understanding. To be drawn to Spiritualism, it is necessary that a person accepts the personal responsibility to seek progression through understanding, while at the same time, accept that the personalities they sense around them in etheric space are not all loved ones; that some may be divine personalities.

So the point of my talk is that we are a society of seekers aiding one another as a community of common interest. Each of us holds a different view of God but we all share a common desire to understand the nature of God. This Society is perhaps our best opportunity to participate in a community of like-minded people while we progress in our understanding of nature. However we evolve this society, it is important that we preserve these two qualities.


  1. Palmer, John (1997), “The Challenge of Experimenter Psi,” Rhine Research Center, Durham, http://jeksite.org/others/jp1997ejp.pdf
  2. “Biofield and Etheric Energy”: References for biofield and biofield energy healing, ATransC, http://atransc.org/psi/biofield_etheric-energy.htm
  3. Tippit, Sarah, “Study: Brains Function in Clinically Dead,” ABD News, abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=98447
  4. Gullà, Daniele, “Computer–Based Analysis of Supposed Paranormal Voice: The Question of Anomalies Detected and Speaker Identification,” Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Biopsychocybernetics Research (defunct), Bologna, Italy, atransc.org/journal/gulla-voice_analysis.htm

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