Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Scientific Interpretation of a Passage in the BibleSeptember 1861
Scientific interpretation of the following passage: I Cor. 8, vs. 1, 2, 3. "Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up; but charity edifieth. And if any man think he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God, the same is known of him."
Now what did Paul mean by all the above? He begins by saying that we all think we have knowledge concerning offerings to idols. But this knowledge puffeth up, so it is not worth much. What does Paul mean by knowledge? He means that wisdom that man has which is brought out in trying to account for all phenomena.
Man sees, hears or feels a sensation; being ignorant of the cause, he undertakes to account for it. This is knowledge, and it makes him vain and puffed up. Paul says such a man knows nothing as he should know, but if he knows science, then his wisdom is known of him. So science is God, and God is one of the names of science. Wisdom is the only living and true life.
Why should all persons appeal to the Bible? The Bible contains no intelligence of itself. If you wanted to know anything about mathematics or any science the world admits, you would not go to the Bible. Then what is the Bible good for? There must be some cause why everyone should admit a book that everyone should explain. If we consider the believers in the Bible, we shall find them of all classes of minds, all differing in regard to the meaning - and yet no two agreeing what it is good for.
Suppose the Bibles were burned up - would it have any effect on you, as an individual? I think I hear you say, “No, but it would have on some others.” Suppose it would. Then it is of some use, like the law - to keep man in subjugation. This is the fact, and Jesus had the same idea of it. So he says, “What the law has failed to do, science will do.”
Science has destroyed opinion (or law), just as far as it can be proved. It has enlightened man in all the arts and sciences. The science of health and happiness has not been admitted as yet; still, happiness is what all wise men have been trying to establish. The ancients thought they had discovered it, but owing to the superstition of the world, the people could not understand it. They required that every phenomenon should have a mysterious source. So the wisdom of the wise was interpreted by the opinions of the ignorant; and as ignorance is increased, the wisdom grew cold, and the wise men were believed when they spoke.
Now the ideas of the writers of the Old Testament are not known to the world; being enveloped by opinions about them, which are taken for truth, while the authors are winked out of sight. The writers of the Old Testament were scientific men, far superior to the men of our age in regard to the subject on which they wrote. I shall show that the Bible was never intended as a religious book, according to the opinions of the world. But it is a scientific explanation of causes and effect; showing how man must act and think, for his own happiness; and teaching us how to unlearn our errors that lead to misery and disease. It has nothing to do with theology. The whole aim of these ancients was to teach man how to be happy by wisdom; for happiness is what follows our acts.
Man acts according to his wisdom, and if his wisdom is of opinions, he is liable to get into trouble; but if it is of science, he gets his reward of his study - and the happiness is what follows. So the Bible is the wisdom of certain men, condensed into a book, like any other mathematics. This book, if rightly understood, would give man an idea of all the superstitions of the world, and the right understanding of the authors would explain the absurdities of superstition and show that ignorance is the theory of the day. At the time of Jesus, these were misrepresented; so that not one of these ideas were admitted - but a literal construction was put upon their writing, when they never intended to have them understood as literal facts.