February 15, 2020

Cliff's Edge––A Text to and from the Dead?


How did humanity survive in the primeval BSP (Before Smart Phones) era? How did we shop, communicate, or find our way to whatever unknown location we were driving to? (Remember how “cutting edge” a printed Google map was?) Smart phone technology that once amazed us (I remember my astonishment with Shazam, the app that instantly identified whatever music you heard playing) now seems as humdrum as indoor plumbing. Who knows what smart phone technology will bring next?

How about a call or text to or from the dead? The Soulphone Foundation’s (thesouldphonefoundation.org) motto is: “Bringing ‘Spirit’ Communication Technology to Life,” and by “Spirit” they mean you-know-who. The iconic Hollywood line, “I see dead people!” will supposedly become a reality because the Soulphone Foundation claims that it is creating technology that will allow us to contact the deceased “via texts, phone calls, and video-conferencing.”

After all, it’s science, which, according to the Soulphone folk, shows that the dead still exist: “a basic understanding of the physics of light and electromagnetic fields, when integrated with quantum physics, illustrates how our bioenergy and information persists in the ‘vacuum’ of space (sometimes called the ‘zero-point field’) long after physical death.” It’s not surprising that they shuffle into the mix the mind-mocking realm of quantum physics. Even Albert Einstein, one of its founders, referred to some quantum phenomena as “spooky action at a distance” (though he wasn’t talking about the kind of “spooks” the Soulphone Foundation is).

Calling the dead post material persons (PMPs), the site claims that when humans morph into corpses they simply pass on “into another phase of forever” but “retain their consciousness, identity, and core aspects of their previous physical form.” But most importantly, the Soulphone folk claim to be developing, in three phases, technology that will allow communication between material and postmaterial persons.

The first phase, SoulKeyboard,TM will “allow texting and typing with postmaterial family, friends, and experts in every field of expertise.” Phase two, SoulVoice,TM is supposed to “enable talking with your dear ones who are living in another part of forever.” The third phase, SoulVideo,TM will open the way to “hearing and seeing those who are experiencing the field of all possibilities from a different observation point.” The Foundation envisions apps that will allows us to communicate with the dead and, also, it hopes to host webinars with “postmaterial geniuses in science, healthcare, religion, law.”

Especially creepy, at least from a Seventh-day Adventist perspective, is how they test if the communicating dead are really whom they claim to be. “For example,” the site says, “a bereaved parent might ask the following question of a son or a daughter who has changed worlds: ‘Did you have a dog named Snoopy when you were a child. Did we give you a pocketknife for your tenth birthday?’” Correct answers are “final proof for deeply realizing that life and love are forever.” How interesting in light of this warning: “Spiritual beings sometimes appear to persons in the form of their deceased friends, and relate incidents connected with their lives and perform acts which they performed while living” [Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1890, 1908), pp. 684, 685].

Among the Soulphone aficionados are plenty of heady material persons: Ph.D.s, M.D.s, bestselling authors, and so forth. A leading figure, Gary Schwartz, earned his doctorate from Harvard, where he taught for years, and later at Yale. Some of the foundation staff had children who, tragically, “transitioned,” which helps explain their involvement with the Soulphone Foundation and their desire to communicate with them.

No doubt, these people are getting messages from “the other side,” the wrong side (unfortunately). This is spiritualism, a twenty-first century version. Instead of seances it’s science; instead of Ouija Boards it’s “quantum physics” and “the zero-point field.” The enemy of souls cloaks the same old lie (“You will not certainly die” [Gen. 3:4]) in the untrammeled authority of science and technology. If, as the Foundation claims, science can show that the dead exist in a post-material form, then why couldn’t science create technology that allows us to contact them?

The logic sounds great, except that the dead are now but dust, molecules sprinkled across the earth, and as such know no pain, no fear, no sorrow. “The dead know nothing” (Eccl. 9:5), which is great for the dead because they close their eyes in death and, in what will seem to them but an instant, many will be resurrected, in flesh and bone, to a new existence. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There shall be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

However sincere, even honest, the Soulphone folk surely are, sincerity and honesty don’t change the state of dead. Which means that whomever they contact with their SoulKeyboard,TM SoulVoice,TM or SoulVideo,TM it won’t be their “transitioned” loved ones who—undisturbed by the tumult and rage here—peacefully and quietly rest until Christ comes back. Then “the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable. . . . Then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory’” (1 Cor. 15:52-54).

Clifford Goldstein is editor of the Adult Sabbath School Bible Study Guide. His latest book, Baptizing the Devil: Evolution and the Seduction of Christianity, is available from Pacific Press.