“Whenever I feel like throwing myself off the cliff of reason, and into the abyss of atheism, I remember the wisdom of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Oh, he was not always wise, as his obsession with Spiritualism so ably points out. On the other side of the coin, he is never-to-be-forgotten for his stories about Sherlock Holmes. Don’t forget, he also wrote volumes as a war correspondent; THE LOST WORLD, THE EXPLOITS OF BRIGADIER GERARD, et. al.
For someone of such fame and renown to have written THE HISTORY OF SPIRITUALISM rings so contrary to reason, it makes one wonder if it was written by the same man – it was. The book may be very thorough, but it is thoroughly rubbish. Even my friends who study the paranormal had better read it completely before telling me, “tsk, tsk.”
In THE START MUNRO LETTERS, Doyle pretty much lets us in on his own life. He smudges enough so that we have to categorize the work as an “autobiographical novel,” but it makes a fascinating read.
Unfortunately – when compared to the millions who follow the Sherlock Holmes stories, MUNRO is about the last book in the library.
In places during MUNRO, Holmes goes after religion. He has neither time nor place for it. That is NOT to say he does not believe in a Superior Being of some sort. He DOES believe.
That he believes is abundantly clear in one paragraph at the end of letter XIII. I will quote it verbatim in just a moment, but it needs to be translated into modern English first. In 1895, Doyle sometimes comes up a little obtuse. First, my “translation.”
Close you eyes and imagine a beautiful painting. Take a moment. Now imagine all the pieces that make the beautiful painting just coming together out of the air. The wood for the easel and frame, the canvas, the tacks holding the canvas to the frame, the hundreds of brush strokes, the colors. “POP,” it just appears. In this case, “Speechless” by Jan Betts. Click the painting to enlarge so you get the full impact.
Now let Doyle tell it in his own words.
“What should we say of a man who has a great and beautiful picture submitted to him, and who, having satisfied himself that the account given of the painting of the picture is incorrect, at once concludes that no one ever painted it, or at least asserts that he has no possible means of knowing whether an artist has produced it or not? That is, as it seems to me, a fair statement of the position of some of the more extreme agnostics. “Is not the mere existence of the picture in itself a proof that a skilful artist has been busied upon it? one might ask. “Why, no,” says the objector. It is possible that the picture produced itself by the aid of certain rules. Besides, when the picture was first submitted to me I was assured that it had all been produced within a week, but by examining it I am able to say with certainty that it has taken a considerable time to put together. I am therefore of opinion that it is questionable whether any one ever painted it at all.”
Enough to chew upon for at least one day of the year.