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Why Doubting the Afterlife is a Good Thing

Posted on 11 November 2019, 9:46

One of the arguments made by so-called skeptics in opposition to the belief that consciousness survives death is that if there is an omniscient God behind it all “He” should be able to do a better job of providing proof of “His” existence and that of an afterlife. They ignorantly assume that there is no reason not to know with absolute certainty that this life is part of a larger life.

When Victor Hugo, (below) the renowned French author and poet, asked a spirit claiming to have been Martin Luther when in the flesh why God doesn’t better reveal himself, the reply came:  “Because doubt is the instrument which forges the human spirit.  If the day were to come when the human spirit no longer doubted, the human soul would fly off and leave the plough behind, for it would have acquired wings. The earth would lie fallow.  Now, God is the sower and man is the harvester.  The celestial seed demands that the human ploughshare remain in the furrow of life.”


As I interpret those metaphorical words, it would not be to our benefit to know with certainty that this life is part of a larger life as the lessons learned from our free-will choices would not be as meaningful if our actions are based on the promise of reward or the fear of punishment in that larger life.  It might be likened to parents wanting to teach their children moral excellence based on kindness, love, and sympathy rather than out of expectation of reward or fear of punishment.

“Man, do not complain about the fact that you doubt,” Luther further advised Hugo. “Doubt is the specter that holds the flaming sword of genius above the gateway of the beautiful.”

Similar messages have come to us through other credible mediums. Communicating through the trance mediumship of Dr. George T. Dexter during the early 1850s, the famous scientist and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg said: “What would be the benefit conferred on man by opening to his comprehension all the mysteries of spirit life and all the beauties of the spheres – revealing the truths belonging to his material and spiritual nature, if we were not able to teach him how that life on earth should be directed; how to govern his passions, how to progress, how to live that his death may be productive of life everlasting in happiness?”

French educator and researcher Allan Kardec received this message: “The wisdom of Providence is seen in this progressive march of human conviction in regard to the continuance of our existence beyond the grave.  If the certainty of a future life had been permitted to man before his mental vision was prepared for such a prospect, he would have been dazzled thereby, and the seductions of such a certainty, too clearly seen, would have led him to neglect the present life, his diligent use of which is the condition of his physical and moral advancement.”

I like the way Belgian Maurice Maeterlinck, (below) the 1911 Nobel Prize winner in literature, put it: “We need have no hope that any one will utter on this earth the word that shall put an end to our uncertainties.  It is very probable, on the contrary, that no one in this world, nor perhaps in the next, will discover the great secret of the universe.  And, if we reflect upon this for even a moment, it is most fortunate that it should be so. We have not only to resign ourselves to living in the incomprehensible, but to rejoice that we cannot get out of it.  If there were no more insoluble questions nor impenetrable riddles, infinity would not be infinite; and then we should have for ever to curse the fate that placed us in a universe proportionate to our intelligence.  All that exists would be but a gateless prison, an irreparable evil and mistake.  The unknown and the unknowable are necessary and will perhaps always be necessary to our happiness. In any case, I would not wish my worst enemy, were his understanding a thousand-fold loftier and thousand-fold mightier than mine, to be condemned eternally to inhabit a world of which had surprised an essential secret and of which, as a man, he had begun to grasp the least tittle.”


As I see it, absolute certainty means a person is 100-percent sure of something, that there is no doubt in his or her mind that consciousness survives death.  Below that 100-percent plateau are various degrees of faith, ranging from blind faith to true faith, or conviction.  Conviction seems to be best applied to those who have at least a 97.5-percent certainty that consciousness survives death based on evidence that has come to us through research in such areas as trance mediumship, clairvoyance, near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, deathbed visions, past-life studies, and other psychic phenomena as carried out by men and women of science under controlled conditions. I put my conviction at 98.8-percent certainty, or 1.2-percent doubt. 

While no single case can stand alone as proof of survival, the cumulative evidence from them all strongly suggests survival.  It can be said to meet the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of our criminal justice system.  If not “beyond a reasonable doubt,” it most certainly meets the much lower standard of a “preponderance of evidence,” which is applied by our civil court system.  Of course, many who subscribe to a religion and proceed on blind faith would say that they know with absolute certainty that life goes on because their “good book” says so.

As pioneering psychologist William James put it, “If religion be a function by which either God’s cause or man’s cause is to be really advanced, then he who lives the life of it, however, narrowly, is a better servant than he who merely knows about it, however much. Knowledge about life is one thing; effective occupation of a place in life with its dynamic currents passing through your being is another.”

All well and good if humanism – morality without religion – influences enough non-believers and further provides the necessary peace of mind and happiness, especially in times of trial and tribulation.  However, based on the hedonism we are witnessing in today’s world, humanism clearly fails the masses. “The state of anxiety, the feeling of powerlessness and insignificance, and especially the doubt concerning one’s future after death, represent a state of mind which is practically unbearable for anybody,” wrote Erich Fromm, a humanist philosopher.  Younger generations may find all that difficult to comprehend as the real trial comes during old age.

To again quote the pioneering psychiatrist Carl Jung: “Leaving aside the rational arguments against any certainty in these matters, we must not forget that for the most people it means a great deal to assume that their lives will have an indefinite continuity beyond their present existence.  They live more sensibly, feel better, and are more at peace. One has centuries, one has an inconceivable period of time at one’s disposal.  When then is the point of this senseless mad rush?”

The group soul known as Imperator which communicated with William Stainton Moses, an Anglican priest, during the latter decades of the nineteenth century, told Moses that there is a point beyond which it is impossible for them to present evidence.  “We have frequently said that God reveals Himself as man can bear it.  It must needs be so. He is revealed through a human medium, and can only be made known in such measure as the medium can receive the communication.  It is impossible that knowledge of God should outstrip man’s capacity.  Were we now to tell you – if we could – of our more perfect theology it would seem to you strange and unintelligible.  We shall, by slow degrees, instill into your mind so much of truth as you can receive, and then you shall see your present errors. But that is not yet.  Indeed, since the conception which each frames for himself is to him his God, it cannot be that revelation can be in advance of capacity. It is in the nature of things impossible.”

Next blog post:  November 25

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.


Paul, how right you are. The best evidence that I have come across apart from the work carried out by Sir William Crookes is what the great Scottish pioneer of television came across - John Logie Baird in his memoirs ‘Sermons, Soap and Television’. On page 66 he tells how the finger prints were taken of a “dead” person who materialised. The prints were identical to those on the dead physical body. This proof would be good enough to execute people in a number of states in the USA. How about that Mary? In future experiments we can now also take DNA

Michael Roll, Sat 4 Jan, 11:16

Mary, the word “believe” does not come into it. We have had the scientific proof that we all have a soul that separates from the dead physical body for exactly 146 years. Sir William Crookes carried out repeatable experiments over three years in 1870. He published the results of his experiments in ‘The Quarterly Journal of Science’ in 1874. This report can now be read at the top of my website:
This is desperately bad news for very powerful people. Therefore it has all been hushed up.

Michael Roll, Wed 1 Jan, 12:11

Hi Mary
We don’t need to rely purely on logic to accept survival is likely. There’s a great deal of evidence too.

Paul, Wed 1 Jan, 12:10

I too am just short of believing in an afterlife—97% say.
I have never had any experience to make me certain-but
it seems logical that there is something. 
This life is just too complex to mean nothing at all.
Peoples are so extreme in some cases for it all to levelout
in the next life as though the deed s of earthly mean nothing.  It is all so mysterious.

mary, Wed 1 Jan, 10:10

Michael Tymn,
Of course, I agree with you. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 17 Nov, 15:10

Mike (Tymn) I do like the teachings of Silver Birch, but we must remember he was for his time. People are now moving away from super men. My hero is Thomas Paine who was wanted dead or alive by the Christians at the time when Paine published his book ‘The Age of Reason’ in 1792. Please note that the philosopher Jesus was officially made into the God known as Christ at the Council of Nicaea in 325 of the Christian era.
This council was called by the Roman Emperor Constantine because different Christian sects were slaughtering each other all over the Roman Empire. All the leaders of Christianity were ordered to formulate a universal and all-embracing (Catholic) set of doctrines and dogmas that all must accept or face death. It was here that Jesus was made into the second person in a trinity of gods. Christians follow this today. This all came about because of the story of Jesus appearing in front of his disciples after his physical body had been destroyed. In 2019 we now know that one of the disciples must have been a materialisation medium like Florence Cook that Sir William Crookes worked with. Jesus materialised in his etheric (spiritual) body which is identical to his old physical body. In 1983 my father proved to me that he had survived the death of his physical body in 1967.

Mike Roll, Sun 17 Nov, 11:36

Michael and Amos,

To again quote Silver Birch, “The spirit that worked through the Nazarene is still at work, seeking to continue the work that it started two-thousand years ago, but that spirit has been crucified a thousand times since, and is being crucified almost every day.  But, because that spirit is part of the Great Spirit, it will continue to spread its influence wherever there are instruments who can work for the Great Spirit to bring peace and happiness to your world of matter.”  As I see interpret that, the Christ spirit was much more than a mere “philosopher.”
Thanks for your input.  A little more on the subject in my next blog.

Michael Tymn, Sun 17 Nov, 04:26

Michael Roll,
I don’t want to be argumentative but I think you generalize too much about Christians, especially Christians of today.  I suppose that I might be considered a “Christian” but I prefer to follow the direction of the “philosopher” Jesus who said in so many words that previous beliefs—-that may have become what we now think of the “Old Testament” of the Bible—-were given because of the “hardness of their hearts” really meaning that people of the Old Testament were not at a stage in their understanding to accept his new teachings. That is not to say that I negate other attempts of other religions to provide explanations and guidance for their followers.  All of these efforts of religions are really directed to one purpose which is to provide reassurance to humans that they are more than just their physical body and in fact their true essence is spiritual.  I think that some belief systems (religions) are farther along in that effort but at the same time I think that whatever those efforts are they probably are appropriate for their audience and are of varying degrees of verity.

I think that the Old Testament is more difficult to understand for uneducated people, than the New Testament especially the four Gospels that attempt to recall the words of Jesus and what happened to him as a result of his teachings and his threat to Roman domination and rule and the beliefs of the past.  I understand the Old Testament as symbolic in many ways, that is, it is trying to explain something in allegories, analogies and metaphors things that people of limited education at that time would understand within their culture.

We too, today may be given understanding comensurate with our limited abilities to understand.  Perhaps a thousand years from now, people will understand more completely the true essence of the universe and its spiritual origins and the place of consciousness in that universe, something many of us are struggling with today.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 15 Nov, 17:23

Amos, how right you are. There is a branch of Christianity within the Church that does follow the philosopher known as Jesus. The Unitarians. They have united behind Bishop Arius. He was at the Council of Nicaea in 325 of the Christian era. It was here that Jesus was officially made into the second person in a trinity of Gods - Christ. The 17th pagan saviour-god known to historians. All who followed Bishop Arius after this date were murdered as heretics. The Bible, Old and New Testament is still being held up by Christians as the word of God.

mike Roll, Fri 15 Nov, 11:29

Michael Roll,
I always thought that true Christians follow the teachings of Jesus as presented in the “New Testament” rather than the songs of David as found in the “Old Testament”. I think there is a huge difference between the two.  The fact that people who profess to be Christians do bad things, not following the teachings of Jesus does not negate the value of Jesus’ teachings as a way to live one’s life.  Jesus direction was to love one’s enemies and to bless them who curse you. Crushing one’s enemies with an iron rod or breaking them like pieces of pottery is not a Christian teaching.  AOD

Amos Oliver doyle, Thu 14 Nov, 18:30

Riley, you sum things up very well. Where it all goes desperately wrong is claiming that books written by men in the Dark Ages have divine authority. Hence the slave trade and Christians charging across the world pinching other peoples countries and killing the natives:
“I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, thou shalt break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” (Psalm 2; 8-9)
Even today some people have been brainwashed to believe this rubbish is the word of God.

Michael Roll, Thu 14 Nov, 11:45


I don’t think “believing” or having true faith or a conviction concerning survival means being “so heavenly minded.”  I like the way the “Invisibles” explained it to Betty White.  They said that developing a “habitual spiritual consciousness” did not mean retirement into a cloistered nunnery. “It means simply that each day, when you finish your practice you do not close the experience like a book, but carry it around like a treasured possession.  Instead of being completely forgotten, it remains in the back of your mind, communicating its influence automatically to your actions and reactions, and ready at any moment, if specially called upon, to lend a helping hand>”

The objective, they said, is getting to know the higher self “and a gradual training of your spiritual muscles to maintain it, once recognized. Don’t cease the multitude of routine and mundane daily activities, they added, but make the gradual growth and expansion of the eternal self the major business of each day.”

Thanks to Keith, Stafford, and Riley for their comments on the God issue, and to others who have commented.

Michael Tymn, Tue 12 Nov, 21:02

Mike (Tymn), I have given a lot of thought to this. It does make sense if this physical existence is only a training ground.
However, as I have received the proof that my “dead” father is still very much alive, I do watch my step very carefully. I do listen to my conscience and try and do the right thing. I don’t have a saviour-god who is going to forgive all the rotten things that I do while on Earth.

Michael Roll, Tue 12 Nov, 17:22

No country is free from poverty and social problems regardless of the spiritual beliefs of its population or the lack of such beliefs.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 12 Nov, 15:11

There appears to be a problem with people being “so heavenly minded (concerning the afterlife) they’re no earthly good.” When you look at the nations were reincarnation, for example, is assumed to be true, there is profound poverty and social problems. The West has definitely benefited from having civilization focus on this current life and not past or future lives. Perhaps this is one of the biggest problems with religion in general.

I am convinced 100% of an afterlife and God because I have had profound experiences with the supernatural throughout my life and have read the experiences of so many others. I am also convinced that I am so heavenly minded that I am not as earthly good as I could be. So doubting the afterlife is like believing that “ignorance is bliss.” Perhaps this is why the discovery of an afterlife can be harmful thing to society and not a good thing. This may be why 100% proof of an afterlife will never be found.

Kevin Williams, Mon 11 Nov, 22:52

Keith, you express exactly my view of “God.” But I do pray. The target of my prayers is usually the world of spirit, whoever may be listening: my spirit guide, my muse, my spirit healer, my grandmother, anyone mildly interested in me or my children’s well being. Just as often I pray like a Buddhist—by sending sharply focused wishes of wellbeing to those I hope to help in my small way: “May she be in good health, may she prosper, may she be happy.” I think that such prayer has power to subtly affect those prayed for. In the meantime, thanks for all the great work you do with your free videos. You are the only person alive who might be doing more for the spirit life of humanity than Michael himself. As for you, Mike, thanks for another great blog.

Stafford Betty, Mon 11 Nov, 18:37

I have to say that it has taken me many years to realize fully that there is a personal God, who does take note of one’s own life. It has been a journey of the door opening gradually. What takes place within my heart, connected to events, reassures me fully of the existence of a Loving Being. I accept reasons for everything, connections and guidance comes from the Creator. We, as spirit ourselves know this, but the point of the exercise is to remember that and utilize in human lives. With love and blessings, Margaret.

Margaret Coles, Mon 11 Nov, 15:49

@richard - and yet you engage… 😆

Paul, Mon 11 Nov, 15:22

Great work Mike, as always.
I can only comment from my own experience. The cumulative evidence I have compiled and examined after thirty years of research has positively convinced me of the afterlife and spirit return. I believe, with no hesitation, that “God” as such, is Nature, and her unstoppable and unalterable force is Cause & Effect. All religions are man made mythologies. See Zeitgeist: The Movie for a brilliant explanation of this.
Everyone must come to their own conclusions.

riley heagerty, Mon 11 Nov, 13:48

Just as a personal reaction, I never find these/this blog(s) “engaging”. And I am well-read in the field. But, to each his/her own!

Richard VanDerVoort, Mon 11 Nov, 12:16

Thanks a lot for this piece, Michael. I notice that you put into parentheses the word “he” and I know some people, myself included, question the wisdom of apportioning the gender of a so-called God to a male anthropomorphic personality. Perhaps giving a gender to a personality misunderstands completely what we should be trying to learn.  But I also note that Imperator, in your discussion above, also uses the word ‘he’.

Einstein put it more simply. “Anyone who becomes seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced there is a spirit manifest in the laws of the universe - a spirit vastly superior to that of man.” And he also saw a God as revealed “in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings.” “The idea of a personal God is an anthropological concept which I am unable to take seriously,” he said.

Einstein is described by some as a mystic as well as a scientist, and it is easy to conclude as much from some of his writings, but he also admitted, “ What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of “humility.” This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism”. In my terms, we can reasonably end up with reckoning on an incomprehensible, unknowable intelligence behind the existence of the universe (as manifested by the intelligent design in nature) that hopefully fills us with awe;  one that will never to be understood even in the future, and one deserving acknowledgement rather than worship, prayer, or obeisance. Like you, I am 97 per cent confident there is a spiritual dimension within (or outside of) this universe, and I don’t expect to find the absolute 100% certainty that you refer to during what remains of my life.

Keith P in England, Mon 11 Nov, 11:16

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