I am proud to finally announce the publication of what may be my most important book, The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Science and Spirit Together. Three plus years to write, fifty plus years to prepare to write.
I met with a dozen staff of the publisher, New Harbinger, in Oakland a few months ago, and they asked me to tell them, in a few words, why the book was important, what could they tell potential readers? I responded with a question: how many of them had some sort of personal spiritual practice, such as meditation or prayer? I had just met these folks, so this was a rather personal question to ask them to respond to in front of a group, but this was California, we’re supposed to be honest and open folks, so after a few seconds everybody’s hand went up.
I looked at them seriously, and after a few seconds of silence told them that, if I spoke from the position of a modern scientist, which I certainly was, I would have to tell them that they were all fools! Ignorant fools at best, neurotic fools at worst. Didn’t they know that science had long ago shown that all religion and spirituality were nonsense, the only reality was that of the physical world?
Like most of us, I have a strong need to be liked, so I felt like I was taking a risk in calling them fools, but I wanted to quickly get across the main thrust of The End of Materialism: in modern life many of us do believe that science has shown all spirituality to be nonsense. Yet my experience, both personally and professionally, has convinced me that there is some real and vitally important sense in which we do have a spiritual nature, and to deny and repress it wounds and lessens us. If you think the smartest people in your culture, the scientists, have proven your spiritual feelings to be dumb and neurotic, of course you try to suppress them….but yet….. So many modern people are thus wounded.
But my scientific work, as well as that of many colleagues, has shown me that, properly applied, essential science has actually provided a great deal of support for the reality of some kind of spiritual nature for us, so the suffering that comes from denial and suppression is unnecessary and useless. The main thrust of The End of Materialism is to give readers the kind of data that allowed me to reach a personal resolution where I can be both devoted to science and trying to develop and practice my spiritual side. If two living people, for example, can occasionally demonstrate telepathic communication under tightly controlled laboratory conditions, is the idea of prayer, a telepathic kind of communication with someone/something beyond us inherently nonsensical? I don’t think so.
Of course there are nonsensical elements mixed in with religion and spirituality: that’s true for all areas of human life. But to totally deny our spiritual nature, as science apparently does, harms and inhibits people. Indeed, it’s not science that denies our spirituality, it’s scientism, a rigid philosophy of materialism, masquerading as science.
I think the New Harbinger folks ended up liking me at the end, and they got the point. The End of Materialism is aimed at reducing useless human suffering by showing people that it’s rational and sensible to be both scientifically and spiritually oriented.
New Harbinger is in the business of selling books, so they will soon prepare a fancy e-postcard I can send around, full of glowing endorsements, such as the forward to the book by one of the world’s foremost scholars of religion, Huston Smith and his wife Kendra and all that, but my style is this more personal introduction. I’ll attach a photo of the book cover to make it look pretty, but basically if you have ever found your spiritual interests and aspirations inhibited or held back because you think science has shown this is all nutty and dumb, you’ll find The End of Materialism helpful. I don’t know how soon copies will reach the bookstores, but I’ve made the title into a link for web ordering if you’re interested.
Charles T. Tart