3. Let us suppose an entire nation to have acquired, in some way or other, the certainty that, at the end of a week, a month, or a year, it will be utterly destroyed, that not a single individual of its people will be left alive, that they will all be utterly annihilated, and that not a trace of their existence will remain; what, in such a case, would be the line of conduct adopted, by the people thus doomed to a certain and foreseen destruction, during the short time which they would still have to exist? Would they labor for their moral improvement, or for
their instruction? Would they continue to work for their living? Would they scrupulously respect the rights, the property, and the life, of their neighbors? Would they submit to the laws of their country, or to any ascendancy, even to that parental authority, the most legitimate of all? Would they recognize the existence of any duty? Assuredly not. Well, —the social ruin which we have imagined, by the way of illustration, as overtaking an entire nation, is being effected, individually, from day to day, by the doctrine of annihilation. If the practical consequences of this doctrine are not so disastrous to society as they might be, it is because, in the first place, there is, among the greater number of those whose vanity is flattered by the title of “free-thinker,” more of braggadocio than of absolute unbelief, more doubt than conviction, and more dread of annihilation than they care to show; and, in the second place, because those who really believe in annihilation are a very small minority, and are consequently influenced, in spite of themselves, by the contrary opinion, and held in check by the resistant forces of society and of the State: but, should absolute disbelief in a future existence ever be arrived at by the majority of mankind, the dissolution of society would necessarily follow. The propagation of the doctrine of annihilation would lead, inevitably, to this result.
But whatever may be the consequences of the doctrine of annihilation, if that doctrine were true, it would have to be accepted; for, if annihilation were our destiny, neither opposing systems of philosophy, nor the moral and social ills that would result from our knowledge that such a destiny was awaiting us, could prevent our being annihilated. And it is useless to attempt to disguise from ourselves that skepticism, doubt,
indifference, are gaining ground every day, notwithstanding the efforts of the various religious bodies to the contrary. But if the religious systems of the day are powerless against skepticism, it is because they lack the weapons necessary for combating the enemy; so that, if their teaching were allowed to remain in a state of immobility, they would, erelong, be inevitably worsted in the struggle. What is lacking to those systems—in this age of positivism, when men demand to understand before believing—is the confirmation of their doctrines by facts and by their concordance with the discoveries of Positive Science. If theoretic systems say white where facts say black, we must choose between an enlightened appreciation of evidence and a blind acceptance of
4. It is in this state of things that the phenomena of Spiritism are spontaneously developed in the orderof Providence, and oppose a barrier against the invasion of skepticism, not only by argument, or by the prospect of the dangers which it reveals, but also by the production of physical facts which render the existence of the soul, and the reality of a future life, both palpable and visible. Each human being is, undoubtedly, free to believe anything, or to believe nothing; but those who employ the ascendancy of their knowledge and position in propagating, among the masses, and especially among the rising generation, the negation of a future life, are sowing broadcast the seeds of social confusion and dissolution, and are incurring a heavy responsibility by doing so.
(Book: Heaven and hell – Allan Kardec)