Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
What is God?November 1860
What is God? God is the name of that essence that flows from wisdom. It fills all space and contains all the identities of this natural world. Man is created in this essence and formed out of the dust (or error) of the earthly ideas.
Happiness and misery are the invention of the natural (or earthly) man (or ignorance). I will try to illustrate how happiness and misery come into the identity of man. God is not the author of misery, for misery is what follows our belief. To make it plain to your understanding, you must suppose yourself ignorant of what I shall illustrate. I will show the absurdity of this world's wisdom. We all say and believe that God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Now no one supposes that God, in these six days, was trying experiments - but worked (or acted) scientifically; and after all was accomplished, according to his wisdom, he (or his wisdom) sat down to rest. This rest was called the seventh day, and in it he neither worked, nor did anything else. So that man was to do the same.
Now let us look at it in a Christian manner, and see if we do towards God as we would like that he - or anyone else - should do to us. I labor all the week for the benefit of man's happiness, to explain to them the science of health. Now on the Sabbath I want to rest, and I want the privilege of choosing my own amusement. I do not want people coming and laying before me their troubles on that day. The Lord sat down to rest after six days of labor. Man labors all the week for his own selfish ends, for the world's goods; and when he cannot make any more money, he is uneasy and unwilling to sit still; he fixes up some place to go to get rid of the day that annoys him.
All those who have been laboring in the vineyard of God (or science) want that day to rest from their labors. But the wisdom of this world knows nothing of God; but like the foolish virgins, spend all that day knocking at the door of the Lord, praying him to listen to their hypocritical story; expecting to learn something on that day, so they can have all the rest of the week to serve the devil in.
Now if God is what their ignorance would make him - where does he get any rest? For they call the seventh day the Lord's - and if there is any day in the whole seven when he could not get any rest, it is the seventh day. On that day they call on him, laying before him all the fraud and deception; asking him to forgive their sins, without doing anything themselves, except to humbly and hypocritically get down on their knees and say over some words, which amount to nothing. So you see the wisdom of man is all the time tormenting God, according to their creeds.
Now how do I worship God? In all that I do, scientifically - and when I have labored scientifically all the week, I want to rest. So I let God (or science) rest. So the God I worship is not known in the religious world. If their God sits on the seventh day and listens to their stories, he would become as hard-hearted as a New York judge who sits on Monday and hears the story of the miserable creatures brought from the tombs to be tried.
The Christian's God is placed in just such a place - and he is just about as good; for his verdict is governed by public opinion, where he gets the most support. So that money makes the good Christian, and ignorance makes the convert. The rich are saved with money, and the ignorant are saved by grace; not by money, for they have none. So the rich set up the religion to guide the poor, and pay the priest for teaching it; therefore God is not in their week's work - but on Sundays. So if the priests take care of the masses Sunday - the rich will look out for them the rest of the week.
As there are so many kinds of Gods, it is necessary for a person to know what kind of a God he worships. There is the God of war and the God of peace; the God of love and the God of hatred. All of these - added to the heathen Gods - make quite an army of Gods. Now all of these require obedience to their laws; therefore, we pray to the God of battle to sustain us while we are fighting battles for his glory - and if ever a hypocrite was sincere, it is the prayer of the murderer, who prays to his God to sustain him in his bloody act; then after the act is done returns thanks to his God, as though God has sanctioned his bloody deeds. Oh shame! Vain man! This is the wisdom of this world.
I have no fault to find, for the God that I worship is not responsible for this world's God. My God is one God - the living and true God - who is the same today and forever. This God is not the Christian's God. The Christian's God is the God of persecution, envy and malice; he asks tithes and observances; has certain rules and ceremonies; requires long prayers and is very strict. He is very scrutinizing, and not one hair of your head can fall to the ground, without he sees it. He knows every one of your acts; stands outside them and sees all that you do, rewarding every one according to their acts. This is the Christian's God, but this is not my God. My God is wisdom and has more intelligence.
He acts in this way. When I ask my God if it is right to injure another, he asks me what I think about it and says, “Do you think it is right?” and lets me answer my own question - my happiness or misery being in the answer.
If I should say, “Is it right to do wrong?”
He answers, “What do you think? Do you not have any power over me?”
“Why not? Can you not judge what is right?”
“Then you must learn.”
“Suppose I wish to steal...”
“Well, suppose you do. Would that make you any happier?”
“Yes, if I knew you would not punish me.”
“Did I ever punish you?”
“No - not that I know of.”
“Did you ever do anything you knew was wrong?”
“Did not you feel guilty?”
“Was not that feeling punishment?”
“Where did that come from?”
“You, I suppose.”
“No, I never punish anyone.”
“Then who does?”
“The one that does wrong.”
“Then I punish myself.”
“Yes - if you are punished at all.”
“Well, if all that punishes me is myself - that shall not punish me any more. If you do not punish me, why should I punish myself?”
“Because you agree to.”
“Do you want me to punish you, if you do wrong?”
why do you want to do wrong, if I do not wish to punish you?”