order that truth may come
forth, error must be destroyed;
and science... groping in darkness... bursts into light
and rises from the dead as the butterfly - not the caterpillar.
~ Phineas P. Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Religion in Disease
The question is often asked why I talk about religion and quote Scripture while I cure the sick. My answer is that sickness, being what follows a belief - and all beliefs contain disease - the belief contains the evil which I must correct in order to cure the patient; and as I do this, a chemical change takes place in the mind. Disease is an error for which the only remedy is truth.
The fear of what will come after death is the beginning of man's troubles, for he tries to get some evidence that he will be happy; and fearing that he will never arrive at that state of happiness, he is miserable. Another fear is the chance of losing his life, which is constantly multiplied as the medical faculty creates new diseases which, like the locusts of Egypt, are in everything we eat and drink. What I shall try to show is that these beliefs do really produce the very evil we are afraid of here.
We are taught to believe that if we pray we shall receive an answer to our prayer. A superstitious person, believing this, is ready to believe he may be punished by prayer - for someone may pray that God may remove him. Each army prays that God will direct the weapons that will slay their enemies. In Biblical times, did not God answer the prayer of those who wished to destroy their enemies - and did they not die? These facts prove that what we really believe may follow. We really believe in disease; and as we create what we believe, disease is the result of our belief. People never seem to have thought of the fact that they are responsible to themselves for their beliefs. Therefore, to analyze their beliefs is to know themselves - which is the greatest study of man.
All theories for the happiness of man contain more misery than happiness, either directly or indirectly. Destroy the beliefs of man, and leave him where God left him - to work out his own happiness by his own wisdom. One-half of the diseases arise from a false belief in the Bible. It may seem strange that the belief in the Bible affects us, but it is so; for every belief affects us, more-or-less; and I now propose to show that diseases are the effects of our belief, directly or indirectly.
I will relate a case where the religious belief affected the patient and caused the disease. The lady was aged. She was so lame and bound down that she could hardly rise from her chair and could take only a step by the aid of her crutches, feeling so heavy that she dare not sleep. In this condition, she had lived some years, and all the happiness she had was in reading and thinking on the Bible. She was a Calvinist Baptist, and by her belief, she had imprisoned her senses in a creed so small and contracted that she could not stand upright or move ahead. Here in this room of Calvin, her senses were laid, wrapped in her creed; here she was confused by the narrow limits of her own beliefs; yet in this room was Christ (or science), trying to burst the bars and break through the bands and rise from the dead. She labored to be free from the bands, and no one came to her relief. When she would ask for an explanation of some passage, the answer would be a stone; and then she would hunger for the bread of life. At last, in her misery, she called upon me, and I found her as I have stated. I knew not what caused her trouble. She thought it was from a fall, but this I knew was not the case. After explaining how she felt, I told her her trouble was caused by a series of excitements from studying upon what she could not reconcile. She thought upon religious subjects, and not seeing the Scriptures clearly, her mind became cloudy and stagnated. This showed itself on the body by her heavy and sluggish feeling, which would terminate in paralysis. She said she could not understand how her belief could make her so numb. I explained this fact to her as follows. I said to her, "You will admit I have described your feelings."
"Certainly," she replied.
“What do you suppose Jesus meant by these words, 'A little while I am with you, then I go my way,' and 'You shall seek me, and where I go ye cannot come.' Do you believe that he went to heaven?”
"Yes," she replied.
“Now let me tell you what I think he meant.” (I had told her before that in order to cure her I must make a change in the fluids and produce a healthy circulation; for she, by her belief, had produced a stagnation of her system.) “You have admitted that I have told you your feelings. Then I was with you, as Christ was with his disciples - in sympathy; and when I go my way, I go into health and am not in sympathy with your feelings. Therefore, where I go you cannot come, for you are in Calvin's belief, and I am in health.”
This explanation produced an instantaneous sensation, and a change came over her mind. This mortal put on immortality (or health), and she exclaimed in joy, "This is a true answer to my thought!"
I continued explaining Scripture, as I shall describe, and a complete change took place. She walked without her crutches. Her case is so singular an example of my practice that I will give the substance of my reasoning. It seemed as though all her feelings were in her belief, and if I wished to give an idea of them, I would make a comparison from the Bible; therefore, when I wished to convey the idea that I was with her, I took a passage in the New Testament to explain my being with her and being away from her. She was, as it were, dead in sin (or error), and to bring her to life (or truth) was to raise her from the dead - for she believed that she never would be well, till God had raised her from the dead. I quoted the resurrection of Christ and applied it to her own Christ (or health) and produced a powerful effect upon her. I commenced in this way.
“Your belief is the sepulcher in which your wisdom is confined. The world is your enemy. Your opinions and ideas are your garments, and the truth is the Holy Ghost (or angel), which will roll away the stone and heal your grief. The God in you will burst the bands of your creed, and you will rise from the dead (or your religious belief) into the truth. You will then walk into the sitting room, and the friends will start, as though you were a spirit, and you will say, 'Hath a spirit flesh and bones, as you see me have? Give me a chair.' Then the friends will inquire where the Christ is. The truth will say, 'She has risen from her religious body of sin and death and gone to meet her friends in heaven.' Then comes the false ideas, and as they cannot see the truth, the body - being changed - to them is gone, and they report it stolen. You leave the body of belief and take that of science and rise into health. This is the resurrection of the dead.” This, with other explanations, produced such an effect on the lady that she could rise from her chair as quickly as any person of her age.
The natural world is full of figures that may illustrate man's belief. The silkworm spins out his life, and wrapping himself in his labor, dies. The infidel and brutal man reason, but they do the same. The caterpillar is a good illustration of the natural man groping in the dark, guided by a superior wisdom that prompts his acts. When his days are numbered, wrapped in the mantle of this earth, he lies down to sleep the sleep of death; but the wisdom that brings forth the butterfly also develops its science. In order that truth may come forth, error must be destroyed; and science, groping in darkness, bursts into light and rises from the dead as the butterfly - not the caterpillar.
All men have sinned (or embraced beliefs), so all must die to their belief. Disease is a belief; health is in wisdom. So as man dies to his belief, he lives in wisdom. My theory is to destroy death (or belief) and bring life and wisdom into the world. Therefore, I come to the sick - not to save their beliefs (or life in disease), but to destroy it. And he that loses his belief for wisdom will find his health (or life).
I will now give what I conceive to be the ideas of Jesus on the resurrection. I address my words to the sick; for I cannot make illustrations to the well, for they are not affected by their belief. According to the Scriptures, sin is a transgression of the law. What law? It must be of God, for it says, "The soul that sinneth shall surely die." So sin is death, and the law to which man is liable, whose penalty is death, is God's law. Therefore, God is supposed to make laws to punish man for his thought; for every idle word is to be accounted for. This law breeds countless evils, and it is the part of wisdom to correct it - for to believe that God is the author of our evils is as absurd as to believe that he made the remedies and laws before he made man. How often do you hear this remark, "There is a remedy for every disease." When we ask what it is, we are referred to some root or herb, but no hint is ever given that disease can be cured by the power of truth. Did Jesus employ such remedies? On the contrary. Had the sick whom he cured tried them? He said, "My words are life eternal, and by my words I cure all manner of diseases." If disease was a thing that required a chemical change, Jesus must have been ignorant to undertake to talk to it. If the palsied limb was the thing to be cured, why did he say to the owner, "Stretch forth thy hand," and immediately it was made whole? Why did he not apply some remedies to the arm?
The fact was that Jesus knew that the arm was not the cause, but the effect - and he addressed himself to the intelligence and applied his wisdom to the cause. He "spake as never a man spake," for he spoke to the cause; but when man speaks, he gives an opinion. All the acts of Jesus were based on truth, while man acts from an opinion and chooses darkness rather than light; for the light of truth will show him his error. He therefore shrinks from investigating his own belief, since he knows it cannot stand the test of science.
Truth and error both produce a chemical change in the mind; therefore, it is folly to apply an inanimate something to cure an inanimate disease - for neither contains any intelligence. If a man's face is dirty, and he is satisfied, there is no disease; but if it troubles him, the trouble is in him and not in the dirt. To cure him would be to tell him to wash. If the person believes he is cured, the water proves that what was told him was true.
The war between my patients and myself is here. They make the dirt the disease. I make the dirt the cause. They put intelligence in the dirt. I put intelligence in the person. To cure him, I must convince him that the dirt is nothing that need trouble him and that water will remove it. By knowing the truth, they are able to remove the cause. The doctors put the trouble in the dirt, as though the trouble and the dirt were one and the same. They never address the intelligence, but the opinions; while the cause, being unintelligent like the dirt, affects the intelligence and is reflected on the body.