Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Apostle of Spiritualism

by Mary Van Nattan Stephens

Isaiah 8:19-20 And when they shall say unto you,
Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep,
and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?
To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according
to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Somewhere in my teens I became very interested in the Sherlock Holmes stories. My brother and I read all that we could get our hands on and I even had a few books of my own. One day my dad bought two volumes by Arthur Conan Doyle for me at a yard sale because they had several Sherlock Holmes stories among the others. I read the Holmes stories, and then some of the other stories that were in the books. The other stories turned out to be quite enlightening, but not in the sense that I was expecting. I was rather surprised at the "fiendish female" ghost stories as well as a bizarre "romance" with a weird conclusion and other strange tales. I don't recall the names of the stories now, but the Lord used those books to really wake us up to the fact that Doyle was much more than slightly off. I'm sure the Lord had already been prodding us on the subject, since there is content in the Sherlock Holmes stories themselves that is ungodly (such as his use of cocaine and tobacco), but those other stories goaded us into action. 2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing...

There was a reason for those strange stories, although at the time I did not know the depth of it.


Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle's family lived in Scotland, but their heritage was Irish Catholic. His father was an alcoholic and suffered from psychiatric illness. Doyle was educated in Britain and Austria, some of the schools and colleges being Jesuit institutions. He was known as a rebel for at least part of that time. He studied medicine in Edinburgh, and after working in several different positions, he eventually established his own practice. He later began writing to supplement his practice, but with success he became a full time author. At the end of his life he became a preacher of Spiritualism as well.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has been called by some the "St. Paul of spiritualism," and not without reason. His fascination with mysticism and things psychic, began as a young man. He is said to have started reading heavily into spiritualism (as well as Darwin and Huxley) in his mid to late twenties. He also became an agnostic somewhere around this time. He joined the Society for Psychical Research (S.P.R.) sometime after 1888 and performed "experiments" that convinced him telepathy was real. From there he moved on to investigate other areas, fully identifying himself with the movement in his late fifties when he wrote two favorable books on the subject. 1

Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man,
but the end thereof are the ways of death.

"Spiritualists do not believe that the works or faith of a mortal during a brief lifetime can serve as a basis for assigning a soul to an eternity of Heaven or Hell; they view the afterlife as containing hierarchical 'spheres', through which each spirit can progress. Spiritualists differ from Protestant Christians in that the Judeo-Christian Bible is not the primary source from which they derive knowledge of God and the afterlife: for them, their personal contacts with spirits provide that.

Christians, generally speaking, accept and believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for all the sins of all humanity from the dawn of time to eternity. The great majority of Spiritualists do not accept that the death of Jesus Christ on the cross was to pay for all of humanity's sins. Instead, they believe that each individual is personally responsible and may have to answer for all of their own thoughts, words, and deeds after death upon their return to the spirit realms." [Wikipedia]

One of Doyle's main interests seems to have been attempting to prove that there was a "happy life" after death outside of Biblical salvation. He is claimed to have supported a Christianized version of Spiritualism, which, of course, is trying to mix darkness with light.  As 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?  And, surely spiritualism is darkness. (See side bar.)

 "Following the death of his wife Louisa in 1906, the death of his son Kingsley just before the end of World War I, and the deaths of his brother Innes, his two brothers-in-law...and his two nephews shortly after the war, Conan Doyle sank into depression." (Source) This string of tragedies, which would affect anyone, is claimed to have started his interest in communicating with the dead (as mentioned before, this was not the start of his interest in the spirit world and psychic phenomenon). Doyle himself, however, denied that his interest was inspired by grief.

After a devil convinced him through sťances (necromancy) that he had heard his dead son and seen his dead mother and nephew, he became a committed follower of Spiritualism. The Bible clearly tells us what God thinks of this kind of thing.

1 Chronicles 10:13-14 So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it; And enquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him...

Among other writings on the subject, Doyle wrote a two volume set called The History of Spiritualism which is highly esteemed by the Spiritualists. He eventually became so devoted to Spiritualism that in 1918 he began to travel, preaching its errors both at home and abroad to anyone foolish enough to listen. He is estimated by some to have forfeited a tremendous amount of money that he otherwise might have earned from writing in order to promote his occult ideas.

Doyle was a firm believer in fairies, even writing a book entitled The Coming of the Fairies. He made a monkey of himself particularly in believing and promoting the Cottingley Fairies hoax, which was later exposed as false even by the perpetrators. He believed that the alleged photographs of fairies were an evidence from the spiritual world and that this "proof" would cause many people to accept other aspect of Spiritualism (or spritism as it is sometimes called).

Ecclesiastes 10:3 Yea also, when he that is a fool walketh by the way, his wisdom faileth him, and he saith to every one that he is a fool.

Doyle eventually split with the S.P.R. over conflicts about authenticity. He was nominated honorary president of the International Spiritualist Congress in Paris in 1925. Five years later he died very shortly after leading a petition to have the Fortune Telling Act modified in favor of the Spiritualists. Thus ended the career of a man who willingly served his father the devil.

John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Now, in case any reader doesn't understand what all of the above means, let's bring it down to where the rubber meets the road. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle studied, "experimented" with, and finally became thoroughly devoted to the activities of devils (whom he called spirits). Spiritualism is the investigation of and obsession with devils, known as spirits or "the spiritual realm." His writings reflect his religion, which was nothing more than a form of devil worship made socially acceptable in the late Victorian  and early Edwardian Eras - a "parlor witchcraft" if you will. (The same era in which Westcott and Hort were dabbling in the occult and Queen Victoria was reported to be having sťances to "talk" to her dead husband, by the way.) Although there were many that mocked at Spiritualism, it still had a wide following during that era.

Doyle started his venture into Spiritualism when he was a young man, long before he began to write the books that made him famous. It is little wonder then that in his stories we find bizarre plots and subjects, especially in those other short stories mentioned at the beginning of this article. He was certainly introducing his demonic preoccupation to the reader. It seems reasonable to conclude that anything written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle should not be in a Christian's home or library. God destroyed the people that inhabited Canaan before Israel took the land for many of the very things that Doyle practiced in his religion of Spiritualism. He is hardly a man with whom we should be associating, even through entertainment.

Deuteronomy 18:10-13 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. [Emphasis added.]

1 Entitled The New Revelation and The Vital Message

Information for this article was obtained from:

First Spiritual Temple's page on Doyle

Arthur Conan Doyle, Spiritualism and Fairies

Arthur Conan Doyle (at the Literature Network)


graphics by Mary Stephens
Updated and edited 2019.