is a word
to embrace what we call "science."
For a truly Scientific Man is never puffed up - but like charity, his science is his wealth.
~ Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
How to Make a Belief & How to Correct ItOctober 1861
I will explain how I am affected while sitting by the sick. All mankind act according to their belief, without knowing it - so to know how to act intelligently is to correct a false idea. According to our natural belief, man is matter. To my wisdom, matter is an idea that is used like language - to convey to another some wisdom that one wishes to explain to his friend.
Here is the difference between myself and the world. The world believes in matter - and everything outside of matter is a mystery. I admit matter, but I call it the shadow of our wisdom; so the natural man's wisdom cannot see itself (or matter), nor has any idea of an existence in a state outside of his belief. I admit both and class them both in this way - science and ignorance.
To make it clear, I will call my mesmeric state the “light” or “world of science,” and to get into that, we must go through the dark valley of the shadow of death. In each state, we carry our own belief; so that when a person is in the light, he knows it not as he ought to know; for if he reasons, his wisdom is of the world of error; but if he does not reason, he is like a child - ready to be instructed by science or opinions.
To illustrate. I take a child and create in my own mind a dog. I do not speak it to the child, but all the time I am with the child, I have the dog before me. My feelings change the child's mind, till our minds mingle (or sympathize). At last the child grows nervous. Now I am acting upon the child, but the child knows it not - and I may or may not be aware of the fact. Finally, the child gets so far under my influence that, when in the dark, it sees a dog. When the child's senses become attached to the dog, it becomes a real animal - and if I am angry when I create it, the dog will be angry. This produces fear and anger in the child, and it becomes fretful; it feels nervous, and at times sees the dog in the dark.
This is the way one mind acts on another - ignorantly. The science is to correct this error. This has been the study of the ancient and modern philosophers. Phenomena take place every day, and persons are affected by them - but how to account for them has never been discovered. This is the question - how are all these things produced? We hear people - male and female - talking about some “mysterious something.” One tells some witch story; another a spiritual experiment that is unaccountable; and some say this is all humbug. There is still another class - pretending to be in the secret - that warns you against all the above and points you to a God of their invention, who knows all things, which he has revealed to them. Others pronounce them bigots and superstitious and say, “We do not know anything about another world,” and that it is all a mystery. These are as superstitious as the others. There are some who have their fortunes told who say they do not believe a word of it - yet everything told them was true.
These differences embrace all mankind, but do not contain one word of science. They are the working of error to arrive at truth.
The child laughs at the superstition of his father and tries to account for his belief in the phenomenon, but establishes error almost equal to his father. In this way, error has been changing, not knowing that it has changed. The progress of true wisdom is so slow that the children of one generation do not see the change, but speak of the generation of their fathers. The son listens to his parents explaining the superstition of their age, not knowing that the ignorance of the one is equal to the ignorance of the other. So the world goes on, from one generation to another.
Now I want my children, when I am out of sight to the world of opinions, to say, when they hear persons declare that medicine never cured a person, "That is just what father used to say - here is what he says about it." When they hear it said that disease is the invention of man and is nothing but a continuation of Salem witchcraft; and that the priests' opinions are the relics of heathen superstition; and Jesus opposed the whole of it - I want them to show how it has been foretold and laughed at. Here is where I stand.
In looking back at the Salem witchcraft, when the judges sat in council, judging their fellow men for being witches or wizards - the accused testifying against their best friends, believing themselves bewitched; just ask yourself if these very people - rich and poor, low and high - were not like the people of our age. And will not the people of the next generation laugh at the folly of our age?
It is twenty years since I first embarked in what was one of the greatest humbugs of the age - mesmerism. At that time, the people were as superstitious about it as they were two hundred years ago, in regard to witchcraft. Now see the change. Today the phenomena of mesmerism are admitted, as much as those of electricity. And those who oppose it stand in society on a level with those who believe in ghosts and witches.
The opposers of all science are the material to establish the truth of any phenomenon - right or wrong. In religion, the more absurd; the more opposition - and therefore, the more material to work with; for to oppose a phenomenon that you admit is to be ignorant of what you oppose. For instance, if a man opposes the science of mathematics - he must be ignorant. And if a person should show him, or explain a mathematical problem which he cannot see through - if he is a person capable of investigating, he will listen to the explanation. And if that is not satisfactory, he will not deny the phenomenon, though he may not believe the explanation.
I have had some experience in regard to man's belief, and I know that the wisdom of man is not properly defined. Man's wisdom is like his wealth. It does not follow that a man is as rich as he appears - but when he dies and his debts are paid, then you will see how much he is worth. So it is with wisdom. The man who is rich in public opinion today may be a beggar tomorrow; his wisdom is all of this world. When science comes to reckon and test his wisdom, he falls and is buried in the ground with all those minds that make a show of wisdom.
I cannot give a better explanation of such wisdom than to quote Paul again, where he says all men have knowledge. “Knowledge puffeth up; but charity (or science) edifieth.” Charity is a word well-calculated to embrace what we call science; for a truly scientific man is never puffed up - but like charity, his science is his wealth. The wisdom of the world is flattery; it puffs man up. Then he continues, “If a man thinks he knows anything, he knows nothing as he ought to know, but if he loves God - which is science - the same is known to him.”
The position of the scientific man has neither place nor magnitude. It has length and breadth, without thickness; it is in its own element, out of opinion. The wisdom of man has place, a starting point, magnitude and matter. When a man is out of matter (or opinion), he is in science. This holds good in all science. Science is to correct all error or phenomena that the natural man cannot correct intelligently.
Now when a phenomenon is produced called “disease,” the causes are unknown; therefore man invents reason to account for it. His reason is the cause of his trouble; his disease is not the cause - but what follows. To illustrate. You tell me I look sick. I say I do not feel sick - in fact I don't know what you mean by the word; so you have to invent some story to tell me, or explain by some intelligent sign. I lay my hands on my left side. You ask me what I feel. Now if I had never heard of sickness (or disease), I should not know what to say; neither would I be frightened - so it would pass off, without anything of any account.
But you tell me that people often die with just such a feeling as I have. This starts me, although I have no idea what you mean; my feelings not containing danger or trouble - but your opinions trouble me exceedingly. I begin now to twist and turn, not knowing what to do. This convinces you that I have disease of the heart, and you try to explain to me what I have and how it affects a person. By mesmerizing me into your belief, you disturb my mind and create the very idea you have invented. And at last I die, just as you foretold. All this is disease - and you made it. If I had never seen you, nor anyone wiser than myself, I should not have died!