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Burt, Sir Cyril - The universe as system



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

from The 17th Frederic W H Myers memorial lecture 1968 by Sir Cyril Burt

Even the most thoroughgoing materialist assumes as part of his initial postulates, not merely space, time, mass and matter, but certain intelligble laws eg the laws of mechanics; since the world, so far as the empirical physicist can observe it and test it, is in large measure an orderly and a rational world.

With nothing besides space, time and matter, the most probable world would be completely random, disorderly and lawless; nor of course could it ever be observed, because observation - ie sense perception - is a mental, not a material process.

However, what the physicist actually discovers in the course of his observations and what all his experiments attest and verify, is a Nature capable of being depended upon, a Universe of consistency , of order, and of the beauty that goes with order.

And these are surely attributes not of dead matter, but of mind - or of something closely akin to mind - perhaps we should say a 'supermind'.

It is therefore difficult for a frankly impartial physicist to escape the conclusion that behind the physical world there is, as Professor Coulson puts it, a 'spiritual substratum'.


The source of the experience

Burt, Sir Cyril

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