Panpsychic Philosophy

About my book: Introduction by Ben Strachan

Book Cover Its genesis was probably in my boyhood. My parents were religious, though not deeply so. My mother's father was a prominent theologian in the Church of Scotland and author of several books. My father's father studied theology before opting for medicine.

While I tolerated my religious indoctrination, I cannot say it made me deeply religious. Indeed I came to detest the Old Testament and to question a good deal of orthodox Chrisitan doctrine. I recall that in my teens I found it hard to reconcile the idea of a loving Father God with the doctrine of eternal judgement - it seemed to me that only reincarnation and a series of many lives could reconcile the huge disparity beween the length of an ordinary life and the eternity of judgement. A few years later, as a soldier in France , in the fear of death, I wrote a poem which combined the moment of death with the moment of reincarnation.

In my twenties, two books made a huge impression on me. One was JW Dunne's 'An Experiment with Time' which described the author's evidential experiences of precognitive dreams and attempted to propound a semi-mathematical explanation for them. The other was JB Rhine's 'New Frontiers of the Mind', which described a series of experiments which, it seemed to me, proved the reality of telepathy and clairvoyance. But if they were real, then modern science, which denied them, must be wrong. Moreover, if they were real, then they could not be 'paranormal' or 'supernatural', they must be 'normal' and 'natural' - phenomena which must be fitted into any philosophy of existence.

My thirties were illumined by two things: Teilhard de Chardin's 'The Phenomenon of Man' which held me spellbound and a little personal event. I was 36 and commanding a squadron of tanks in Germany . I was sitting in my bath 'philosophising', thinking about Dr Rhine's finding that people who were good at telepathy were also good at clairvoyance. Could not the link between the two phenomena be 'tapping in' to a source which knew all thoughts and all events? An omniscient Something? God?

My spare time in my thirties and forties was spent reading: books on philosophy, parapsychlogy, spiritualism, quantum physics, relativity, evolution. But it was not until I was 52 that the idea for this book came to me. I was sitting in the spring sunshine in the Bourghese Gardens in Rome , re-reading Teilhard de Chardin's masterpiece. Why? Because I had begun to forget the thrust of his arguments. I realised that I was like a leaky bucket, with all that I read gradually leaking away. I resolved to stop reading and try to make sense of it all before I forgot it. I would try to write down what I had come to believe - and why.

So, in the following years in Yemen , Lebanon and Algeria , I wrote a bit every week-end. It was a voyage of discovery: I felt increasingly confident that I was on the right track. (As I have done for forty years, I scan the 'New Scientist', every week for news of any recent scientific discovery that might invalidate my anti materialist ideas - so far, so good!)

I completed the book shortly after retiring. About twelve years ago, some of my friends on Deeside expressed interest in my ideas, so I divided the book into 20 lectures, which I have delivered every second year to a small audience of 6-12 people. Several come back, year after year. One, an atheist and physicist tells me he finds my philosophy logical and thought provoking. One, a professor of biology, tells me he finds it elegant and optimistic.

Ben Strachan