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Channelled messages: Truth or Flummery?

Posted on 21 August 2013, 8:46

A friend was impressed with what a supposed communicator had said through a medium, namely that space men had long ago taken residence on the planet Pluto, and that their now discarnate spirits were the source of evil in this world. He says, Fancy that….how very interesting!

A book is published, 47 billion years of evolution. It contains channelled messages describing “the origin of our galaxy 47 billion years ago, and the creation of life 47 million years ago. I haven’t read the book, but I understand that the medium involved was a materialisation medium, and that much of the channelled materials over a period of thirty years was impressive. So impressive it seems, that the highly educated author seems to have failed to consider what science is saying at present,  estimating the age of the Milky Way galaxy as being up to 13.6 billion years, and the creation of life not 47 million years, but 3.6 billion years. The latter estimate is based on two centuries of geological and evolutionary research, with study of the life forms in the various geological periods, stretching back hundreds of millions of years.

Realistically, I suggest that we do not have evidence that even the best of communicators provide incontestable truth. Over the years, I have encountered a number of channelled books purporting to describe the ultimate nature of reality, descriptions at odds with each other, and with what is currently known in science.  The Only Planet of Choice comes to mind, and The Urantia Book.

If psychic research is to maintain any respect it is absolutely essential that we maintain the scientific position of open-minded scepticism, and find ways of confirming or denying the validity of mediumistic communications. And this will mean keeping a public distance from uncritical writings, which unfortunately exist in such quantity as to obliterate reliable writing in the public mind.

Another highly educated scholar writes, “Since the early part of the 20th century, science is known of a (quantum) energy field that penetrates and interacts with the constituents of matter. Since mind or consciousness arises from the flow of fundamental particles (electrons in photons) within the brain, it is a quite tenable hypothesis that the same quantum field could transmit messages of the sixth sense.”  The writer appears to see the brain as the source of consciousness and also to accept psychic phenomena.
In view of the fact that people having Near Death Experiences find themselves fully conscious, memory intact, and apart from the body whose heart has stopped, and given the phenomena of distance viewing, and precognition, what is this talk of consciousness arising “from the flow of fundamental particles… within the brain.”?

The popular A Course in Miracles has millions of people agreeing that God did not create the physical universe, but rather that it is an illusion created by human beings. Many exercises are prescribed to help the disciple disregard this illusion and achieve union with the Absolute.

The Theosophist Alice Bailey wrote many books describing physical/spiritual reality in words supposedly dictated telepathically from a Tibetan monk called Djwhal Khul.

We could add many similar works to the list.

All this makes me want to weep.

How can we in our right minds not question the story of space travellers and Pluto, and ask how this could be substantiated? How can a Ph.D. not check the current scientific view of the age of the universe, and not discuss the discrepancy between his figures and those of current science? How can a Ph.D. accept the reality of paranormal phenomena together with NDE s, and also say that consciousness and mind is dependent on fundamental particles in the brain? What evidence can be adduced to substantiate the claim that the physical universe has no part in the scheme of things, but is a human delusion? Did Alice Bailey ever confirm that there was actually a physical Tibetan monk giving her all this telepathic teaching?

It all makes me want to weep, for important as it is that humanity comes to a more realistic understanding of spiritual reality, this kind of flummery leads us very much astray, and brings the whole of scientific research in this field into disrepute. Psi Pioneers, Victor Zammit, Michael Tymn, and a host of reputable psychic researchers have helped to build up quite a reliable picture of nonphysical reality, limited though that picture may well be.

With regard to Christian cosmology, it is my view much of the picture of reality presented by New Testament can be substantiated by reputable psychic research, and much of its value can be confirmed in the lives of people inspired by its teachings, and that its value is considerably greater than that contained in the writings that I have named. There may be parts of the New Testament that we may want to discard, while other parts may inspire us to a better life. The value of anything in the New Testament should also be tested in practice, as should all other such writings.

It may be asked, who am I to talk, when I have published a book ostensibly describing conversations with St Stephen the Martyr? (Unlikely as it may seem.) In this case Stephen helped to confirm that it was he that was communicating, through speaking a little in his own ancient dialect of Greek in which he gave a number of clues as to his identity. I submitted several years of research into the Greek and its implications to two professors of ancient Greek, who found no basic fault in my work. Stephen himself said that mistakes could be made in transmitting his thoughts through a medium, and that we should find ways of determining the truth or otherwise of what we heard from the medium’s mouth. He had the humility to say that he was speaking from his personal experience, and that what he had to say could be influenced by his likes and dislikes. He was actively discouraging credulity. And a group of us took him at his word, and used various ways to evaluate what he said. In practice we found most of what he had to say to be very helpful, and with his encouraging us in being critical we found him worthy of trust indeed.

Is there some reason why we should not use our critical faculties when reading similar communications through other mediums? We should ask whether we truly understand a communication, whether it has been made by other communicators, whether it has any support from current scientific research, whether it helps us in some way in our spiritual development, whether it is platitudinous or profound, and so on. Sound study involves focusing on something that is said, making a theory or evaluation of that something, and putting that theory or evaluation to the test. This is just what we normally do. Somebody says something, we react, and then we consider whether our reaction is justified. We should employ exactly the same procedure in studying the works of those who would be our spiritual guides and teachers.

Similar considerations should apply with our prayer life, especially when we are praying for guidance. In prayer, people often ask for guidance about what to do in some situation that is facing them. They pray, and they listen for mentally heard words of guidance. When we pray like that, we are behaving like mediums, open to whatever Spirit may impart. In doing so we are faced with the same dilemma as the people we do call mediums: we always have to ask the question, is what we are mentally hearing true guidance, or is it flummery? We are faced with that dilemma because we are both spiritual beings as well as being physical. When we mentally hear words from Spirit we have creativity, depth, and real help. When we hear from our physical mind with its often squirrel cage thoughts, then the still small voice that we hear in prayer will lead us astray. Once again we are faced with the separation of the gold from the rubbish. Here too we must retain our critical faculties.

I wrote disparagingly of A Course in Miracles. But although I consider some of its basic teaching to be questionable, there is also much that is helpful, hence its popularity. Here is a quote:

“Your Friend (Holy Spirit) goes with you. You are not alone. No one who calls on Him can call in vain. Whatever troubles you, be certain that He has the answer, and will gladly give it to you, if you simply turn to Him and ask it of Him. He will not withhold all answers that you need for anything that seems to trouble you. He knows the way to solve all problems, and resolve all doubts.  His certainty is yours.  You need but ask it of Him, and it will be given you.” (ACIM, W-ep.1:2-9. 

When we are truly hearing from Spirit, in our prayers, the above passage can be accepted as valid and true. But we need to find ways of ascertaining whether we are hearing from Spirit, rather than from the machinations of the physical mind.

Michael Cocks edits the journal, Ground of Faith.

Afterlife Teaching From Stephen the Martyr by Michael Cocks is published by White Crow Books and available from Amazon and other bookstores.

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Afterlife Teaching from Stephen the Martyr - Michael Cocks


This discussion brings up so very many issues.  First, I also find myself alarmed, chagrined, and deeply saddened by the lack of scientific literacy in so many publications about spiritual and psychic matters.  Meaningless phrases like “electrons in photons” are all too common.

However, we aren’t necessarily presented with a choice between “truth or flummery.”  Some channeled messages may be examples of metaphor or parable, or perhaps descriptions that are true on another level of reality—or simply misunderstood—not intentionally misleading.  The process of communicating with disembodied beings is fraught with complications and difficulties.  I think we can all agree on that.

But sometimes, for one reason or another, the messages are complete balderdash.

I think it’s when a message or body of work is only partly balderdash that things get really difficult.  The other day I was at our local science fiction convention, and had the opportunity for a long conversation with an author I like and respect.  She had just read a recent story to us, an excellent one, that was based in part on concepts from the Michael entity, the one from “Messages from Michael.”  That material conflicts with what’s been said by pretty much every other channeled entity that I know of, and a lot of it seems quite wrong to me.  However, some of it forms an extremely useful framework for understanding the human condition.  The author and I agreed on that—we were taking what spoke to us and was helpful and using it as we could, while taking the rest with grains of salt.

“A Course in Miracles” is a fascinating case.  I have to quibble with you there a bit, Michael—science does pretty much say that humans create the physical world.  That is, the world we perceive is constructed by our sense organs, and what we perceive is extremely limited and in a way has little to do with what is “really” going on.  I have only read parts of ACIM, but as I understand it, it’s saying that nothing is real except God.  That doesn’t seem to conflict with the basic teachings of Christianity, does it, with their emphasis on the spiritual world rather than the physical? 

I do greatly appreciate it when entities, like our esteemed Stephen, tell us that what they are communicating is only their own point of view.  When they claim to be in possession of absolute truth, I start looking for the exits.  I’m a bit biased that way, though.

I find myself in a somewhat complicated position with all of this.  After all, I am on record as receiving communications from Jesus myself, which still seems terribly odd and unlikely to me.  I deal with this by presenting it all as “this is what I heard” rather than “this is what he said,” or anyone else said.  All I can know is what I experienced, which may or may not be what “really” transpired.  Sometimes I can obtain independent confirmation, but usually this kind of communication is a very fuzzy business.  However, the messages themselves have been solid and useful.

Thankfully, I don’t usually have to worry about transmitting major cosmic truths accurately, as most of the few messages I receive have been about more mundane matters.  It both confuses and amuses me that sometimes the advice on piano technique I get from Chopin conflicts with what my Earth-based teacher has to say.  They have even gotten rather upset with each other, and there I am in the middle.  But they’re both right overall, and both very much worth listening to.  In the end I have to experiment, practice, and work out what is right for me.  My understanding keeps evolving. 

I think that’s the best we can do.  There may be infallible sources—I’m not sure there are, other than Source itself—but our ability to communicate and our understanding are all too fallible.

Elene Gusch, Wed 28 Aug, 09:04

Thank you for your admission that your critique of the book “47 Billion Years of Evolution:  A Case Report” is based upon NOT reading the book.  I admire your honesty. As the editor of this book,  I feel I should respond to your comments even though it is not clear how they were derived.

Please note “A Case Report” is included in the book’s title. The author and I deliberately included this limitation in the title to underscore we are relaying just that, nothing more.  We are keenly aware that virtually all areas of knowledge development begins with a case report. The most prestigious scientific journals routinely publish case reports because of this reality. 

If one reads not only the title, but also the contents of the book, it will be clear that the author and I do indeed acknowledge the discrepancy between the dates provided by the entities and what mainstream incarnate scientists assert currently.  We also cite archeological evidence that is consistent with the 47 billion and 47 million dates given by the entities.  It was just after we published this book that we learned of the converging evidence mentioned by Mike Tymn (i.e., that edges of the observable universe are 46-47 billion light years away).

Elaine Heiby, Sat 24 Aug, 00:47

A very interesting link, Michael.
I do not mean to discredit the book “47 Billion Years of Evolution” as a whole. It may well be valuable. But the book description suggest that the age of our local (Milky Way) galaxy) is 47 billion years and your link would not support that. And it cannot be true that life on Earth has only existed for 47m years. These statements cannot be true. What is said in the rest of the book may or may not be true.
The only way to find out what is true is to use open-minded scepticism, as is employed in all scientific and disciplined thinking. To be open-minded is also to be open to something being true.

Michael Cocks, Fri 23 Aug, 23:53


See the last paragraph at

It suggests that the edges of the observable universe are 46-47 billion light years away.

Michael Tymn, Fri 23 Aug, 09:01

Even if there are infallible sources in spirit, did the statement that life began 47 million years ago trump scientific findings that it actually began 3,600 million years ago? The educated people in that circle thought so.
Are we to live our lives in the light of that utterance about spacemen and Pluto?
Is there truth or falsehood in this whole arena? 
Is there no scope for error in the transmission of the thought of the spirit communicator through the medium to the sitters? Do sitters always understand the implications of what is said?
Should Alice Bailey conflict shall we say with Kingsclere, does this raise questions?
Scientific endeavour may not give us final answers, but it may help us the better take in the
implications and meaning of what we are hearing.

Michael Cocks, Thu 22 Aug, 09:09

I think the underlying question of the authenticity of everything is related to perceptions and needs for authority.
The more dependant people are on being ‘authorised’to give validity to beliefs and practice the more they will use words such as ‘submission’, ‘obedience’and ‘under’. The reverse may be true also where people demand to be obeyed and assume that to speak with finality is to speak with authority.

A greater question arises for me Why are so easily obsessed with authority? I’m inclined to think that it has much to do with a need for security - which is reasonable as we all need it but falsely assuming it will be found in an authoritative structure to which they must choose to submit. The result is more bondage than freedom. To me it is generally irrelevant from where material is sourced and I find little value in trying to prove authenticity of the the messenger.
The real value is in the message itself and as a check I measure all information offering me guidance against the total, unconditional, eternal love of God for all people ever born and the associated freedom and grace.

John Marcon

John Marcon, Wed 21 Aug, 21:40

To put it simply, there are many physical sources of information on Earth ... some good, some less good and some just fanciful. Quite obviously, those progressing in spirit will likewise have similar degrees of awareness if that awareness is the result of Earth living. If the channel is received by a seance group, then that group will usually be discerning as regards source. But there ARE infallible sources in spirit, for example light-beings from Angelic Realms. There are also sources that, in general, are more accurate than Earthly sources; for example physical and spiritual beings of planets that are more spiritually advanced than Earth. The Kingsclere Group has experienced and freely published from all such sources ... see 
. The creation is indeed much more than just one small planet with sentient life!

George E Moss, Wed 21 Aug, 17:57

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