Parapsychology and Modern Thought

Meeting the latest challenges of the myths of spiritualism.

James W. Osborn

The tree of life no longer grows on the earth, but the "tree of knowledge of good and evil" flourishes everywhere. In­creasing multitudes are believing, as did Mother Eve, that its fruit is good for food, and that it is a "tree to be desired to make one wise." ' Satan makes full use of its tempting fruit of mixed knowledge to con­taminate the important branches of learn­ing, religion, science, and education, and disastrous spiritual results follow.

Nearly seventy-five years ago Ellen G. White wrote these significant words regard­ing the dangers of a demonic invasion of the human will through a satanic use of the sciences of the mind:

Serpent-like, he [Satan] imperceptibly creeps in to corrupt the work of God. This entering in of Sa­tan through the sciences is well devised. Through the channel of phrenology, psychology, and mesmer­ism, he comes more directly to the people of this generation, and works with that power which is to characterize his efforts near the close of probation. . . . And while those who are devoted to these sci­ences, laud them to the heavens because of the great and good work which they affirm are wrought by them, they little know what a power for evil they are cherishing. . . . Mark the influence of these sci­ences, dear reader; for the conflict between Christ and Satan is not yet ended.2

The above prediction of occult satanic activity near the close of time could not more accurately state the kind and char­acter of the deceptions with which Satan has approached this generation.


In the decade just past we have witnessed a tremendous upsurge of interest in hyp­notism, the modern successor of mesmer­ism. This abnormal, this trance, condition is now accorded fellowship and recognition in conservative professional circles. Anes­thesia by hypnosis is now quite extensively practiced by the medical profession. Hyp­notherapy is also used as a procedure in the correction of certain mental disorders. Cor­respondence courses and schools of hypno­tism teach this occult art. Books, and even phonograph records, are available for those who wish to be self-taught. By many, hyp­notism is conceived to be a fascinating field of exploration of the human mind and its phenomena.

Satan's occult invasions of human thought subtly influence education and re­ligion, as well as the psychical and social sciences. The objective of the great adver­sary of man is to foul the springs of learn­ing and to counterwork and obscure God's ministry of salvation for mankind. He seeks to mislead man through a false spiritual experience that counterfeits the power of the Holy Spirit.

The mysterious and the occult have a strong appeal to the inquiring mind, and it is easy to see why research in the field of parapsychology has become a part of the curriculum in many universities of the world. Though this research into parapsy­chology primarily concerns education at the graduate level, it is certain ultimately to reach down into the lower-division col­lege courses that deal with the mental sci­ences. Manuals and textbooks are being written for psychical research. Psychic tests have been prepared to determine the stu­dent's psychic quotient (Psi Q) in much the same manner as standard intelligence tests now ascertain his intelligence quo­tient (IQ).

Growing Influence of Psychic Science

The modern influence of psychic science is seen in the changing emphasis in consid­ering the nature of man. Psychic scientists work on the theories that the human mind can bridge time and space, and control matter by thought. They believe they are probing extraphysical frontiers of the mind. Many now affirm that the mind transcends the brain, and that man is not a brain-centered but a spirit-centered (psy­chocentric) being.

The change of emphasis from the mate­rial to the spirit-centered life would seem to be in harmony with the teachings of Christianity, for the Christian life is a Spirit-centered life. But the spirit "soul" that is being identified by the psychic ex­periments conducted in modern psychical laboratories is not the "soul" described in divine revelation. It is a spiritual entity in its own right. The only spirit entities that can thus manifest themselves in labora­tory tests are the invisible spirits of the fallen angels.

Several dangerous errors lurk in this spiritualistic concept of the human soul. One such error is the philosophy that God is a Universal Intelligence, pervading the universe, and that man's mind is a seg­ment of this God-Mind.

It means that the existence of a Supreme Spirit, or Spirit-behind all-Spirit—in other words, God,—has been verified.'

Parapsychology now helps us to conceive of a God with Whom we can identify ourselves because of the "spiritual component" which we share with Him.'

This is one more advanced step in Sa­tan's studied effort to counterfeit the fun­damental truth of the gospel that a super­natural new-birth experience is needed. The deceiver wishes men to believe they have a divine mind by natural birth, and that inherently they possess its divine powers.

Some psychic scientists believe not only that telepathy is a demonstrated scientific fact but that it provides an explanation for prayer and for the power that brings about the conditions prayed for.

May not telepathy, indeed, be the natural and in­tended means of communication between our minds (or spirits) and the Creator's mind (or spirit)?

Dr. Smith asks: If the mind can dem­onstrate the psychic power that reaches out in communication to other far-distant minds, as in these laboratory tests, then—is it so amazing . . . to think that the mind that is capable of such feats is capable of "uprising" tele­pathically toward the Parent Mind from which it came?'

Belief in some sort of psychic "telepathic" prayer is stated also by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale in his book The Power of Positive Thinking.

Personally, I believe that prayer is a sending out of vibrations from one person to another and to God. . . . When you send out a prayer for another person, you employ the force inherent in a spiritual universe. You transport from yourself to the other person a sense of love, helpfulness, support . . . a sympathetic, powerful understanding—and in this process you awaken vibrations in the universe through which God brings to pass the good objec­tives prayed for.7

Scientific Endorsement of Satan's First Lie

Parapsychological research has given new endorsement to the belief in the in­herent immortality of the soul. These sci­entists reason that if the mind is a spiritual entity, a part of Universal God-Mind, and capable of performing acts that clearly are not subject to physical law, it must not be subject to death.

Now, all that immortality means is freedom from the effects of space and time; death seems to be purely a matter of coming to a halt in the space-time universe. Therefore the conclusion that there is at least some sort of technical survival would seem to follow as a logical derivation from the ESP re­search.'

Union of Religion and Science

One of the hopes arising out of the ESP research is the reuniting of science and re­ligion.

The significance of parapsychology for these mil­lions is that it now takes the scientific method and leads men toward the spiritual world rather than away from it.'

Doctrine, dogma, and form of organization all be­come secondary to the witness and power of the in­ner, supersensory life. Parapsychology will help unite Christendom by emphasizing that supernor­mal element that all denominations have in com­mon and minimizing those divisive elements that have their roots in time obsession.'"

This concept of a united Christendom based on the understanding that all men are spiritually a part of the God-Mind is held out as the hope for a chaotic world.

Parapsychology . . . brings hope—hope for world peace, hope for more brotherly relations among men, hope for new unity of religious faith.77

It means, ultimately, the end of the period of sensate culture and the emergence of some kind of a new Age of Faith, in which spiritual values will be primary.12

Purported Uses of Psychic Powers

Parapsychologists believe that psychic power will be put to many practical uses for the benefit of mankind; that it will be used to apprehend knowledge anywhere, to learn diplomatic secrets, to find hidden wealth, to delve into the mysteries of the planets, and to diagnose and cure disease.

The most immediate and obvious significance of parapsychology is in the field of medicine. . . Con­sciously directed clairvoyance may now rival the X-ray machine in diagnostic importance, and con­sciously directed psychokinesis may now permit the tremendous energy locked up in the mind to be used to heal the body.73

These are but a few of the ways in which ESP research and technique will make an impact upon the religious and social life of our time. It is not difficult to see how through the means of occult powers Satan can directly influence the people of this generation and through the phenomena of parapsychology produce "signs and lying wonders."

The occult in modern parapsychology appears to be becoming an ally of the spir­itual world and will be seized upon by many because of this new spiritual emphasis. Many will expect it to provide the scien­tific and spiritual basis for the change of our social and religious life. The old differ­ences between fundamental Christianity and pseudo concepts of science, however, remain unresolved, and some new irrecon­cilables have been added. The concepts of "God" and the "soul" and the psychic pow­ers with which parapsychology is now toy­ing cannot be accepted as orthodox by the loyal Bible student. Parapsychology is be­ing hailed in many quarters as a great for­ward move in the evolutionary progress of mankind.

It would be a sane guess that the way is now open for a tremendous leap forward in the evolutionary scale. And this leap will bring us closer to the high place where the mind of man can comprehend the basic secrets of the cosmos and have fellowship with the Creator Mind of which it is a part."

More and more world attention is being focused on parapsychology. Its ardent sup­porters assign to it a major role in the solu­tion of human problems.

As it is, the focus of world interest is turning upon psychology as never before. Of all the branches of science, the study of human nature must be vig­orously and earnestly promoted by all the means available, if the world chaos of which we have been solemnly warned and shockingly reminded is to be avoided."

The Mind of Jesus

As Christians we need to be susceptibleto the influence of the Spirit of God, that we might have the mind of Jesus and the impartation of His divine nature united with our human natures. This alone can be our protection against the pseudo sciences of the mind. Our spiritual safety depends upon our having and preserving this di­vine-human association.

A union with Christ by living faith is enduring; every other union must perish. . . . After the union with Christ has been formed, it can be preserved only by earnest prayer and untiring effort."

In this age, a new life, coming from the Source of all life, is to take possession of every laborer?'

Floods of spiritual power are to be poured forth upon those prepared to receive it."

In these tremendous times, when the in­creasing powers of the forces of evil are in evidence, how important it is that we be prepared to receive the divine flood of spir­itual power which Heaven longs to impart to God's children. The Holy Spirit pro­vides God's communication line into your mind. But Satan is now ready to release a surging torrent of power through his trained agents. When he is permitted to do so, most amazing demonstrations of super­natural power will be seen. God's restrain­ing hand has so far spared His unready people this embarrassing experience. One day that restraint will be lifted and Satan will work unhindered. How will it be with us then? Will we be like the nine unpre­pared disciples of Jesus on the morning after the transfiguration? They stood mute and helpless while Satan mockingly dis­played his power before the multitude. May God spare us that humiliation!

The hour is late. Let us quickly and ear­nestly prepare the way of the Lord in our own minds, that in the coming crisis God will find the spiritual life line of Our souls free and clear for the reception of His power. Let us "pray that the mighty ener­gies of the Holy Spirit, with all their quick­ening, recuperative, and transforming power, may fall like an electric shock on the palsy-stricken soul, causing every nerve to thrill with new life, restoring the whole man from his dead, earthly, sensual state to spiritual soundness." "

This experience will be the Christian's challenge to parapsychology! May God give to each of us the will and the spiritual dedication to prepare for and accept that challenge.


1 Genesis 3:6.

2  Ellen G. White in The Signs of the Times, Nov. 6, 1884.

3  Alson J. Smith, Religion and the New Psychology (Gar­den City, L.I.: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1951), pp. 163, 164.

4 Ibid., p. 165.

5 ibid., p. 166.

6 Ibid.

7 Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking (New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1952), p. 61.

8 J. B. Rhine, The Reach of the Mind (New York: Wil­liam Sloane Associates, Inc.), p. 213.

9 Smith, op. cit., p. 6.

10 Ibid., p. 174.

11 Ibid., p. 182.

12/bid., p. 151.

13 Ibid., p. 153.

14 Ibid., p. 183.

15 Rhine, op. cit., p. 208.

16 White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, p. 231.

17 White, Gospel Workers, p. 27.

18 White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, p. 46.

19 Ibid., vol. .5, p. 267.

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James W. Osborn

August 1958

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