everything that we admit exists
that can be changed - suddenly or gradually - when it is out of
sight the evidence of its existence diminishes, just according
circumstances or evidence.
~ Phineas Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
The Evidence of Sight
July 15, 1865
I have tried to illustrate how we are deceived by the idea that wisdom, based on the sight of the natural eye, is no stronger proof than what we believe from the evidence through our other senses. Now this mistake causes our trouble. For everything that we admit that exists that can be changed, suddenly or gradually, when it is out of sight; the evidence of its existence diminishes, just according to circumstances or evidence.
I will illustrate. Suppose A and B see a person in a certain place. A leaves one moment before B, and A and B are sitting in an adjoining room. As A left the room where the stranger sat, before B - when A and B are in their room, the evidence of the stranger being gone to A may depend on what B says. So as A left before B - B may deceive A, because B left last.
But suppose they don't agree. 'A' says the stranger must be in the room, for he had just sat down to eat, and according to the natural time of eating, he must be there. So they argue, and B tries to convince A.
Now suppose a stranger is seen approaching the house and walks directly up to your door and enters, and you know that he knows nothing of what you are disputing about, and you say to the stranger, “I wish to ask you a question as to the strength of evidence (or testimony).”
The stranger feels the point in dispute and says, “I know what you are disputing about.”
'B' says, “What is it?”
(Stranger) “You are disputing about a man you can't see.”
“How do you know?” says A.
(S) Because I see the man eating supper in the dining room.
(A) Can you describe the man?
So the stranger gives a description of the person and tells everything connected with him, which A and B know. Now is not this stronger evidence to A than B gave him? Then comes the question - how the stranger sees, and he convinces you that partition, to his sight, is no obstruction. So belief is a partition between true sight and error. What a man sees with his eyes, to him is light; and what a man sees through a belief is not positive.
Now this is the way with the sick. They see through a glass (or partition) (or belief) that is not certain, and the doctor sees through the same medium; so that the patient and doctor stand in relation to each other as A and B - reasoning about a man in the form (or idea) “pain” that exists in the dark. The doctor has no idea of the stranger, only as the patient describes him. So the patient commences by telling how he appears, and he affects the side, and he goes on to describe; the doctor, being more ignorant than the patient - but by his impudence and brass - pretends to tell who it is and where it is; in this or that room, either the heart or lungs or pleura, etc. Now if the patient believes, the belief makes him nervous, and a result follows - and this is shown as the person that the doctor had described. This is called “disease.”
I come to the patient after the doctor leaves, and I see the doctor's ideas on the patient, and I see how they have affected him, and I say to him, “You have been told that this stranger that the doctor has described - which is not anything but his mere opinion and imagination - is so-and-so, and you received it as truth; and the effect that follows is the natural result of the deception.”
Now until man finds the real point to reason from, he is not safe from all errors and superstitions that may be heaped upon him. We are too apt to believe our senses and not believe our sight. Now sight, being the stronger sense - we often get deceived by belief and take belief for sight. A man's senses is his judgment, and what looks clear, he receives as true. Now light may come from truth or error; so the light of the body is the eye, and if the light is single and confined to the idea, then it is light (or true). But if the eye (or light) is darkened by an obstruction (or an opinion), then the body is full of doubt (or darkness).
Now I see these difficulties in every patient I sit with, and I see how they are deceived and cannot see the deception. And it is the hardest task I ever performed, to convince them how they are deceived. They think, because they feel so-and-so, that they must have this or that disease. Now the same error exists with the spiritualists. They see or hear something that they cannot account for, and of course it must be the spirits - and when disputed they say, “If it is not spirits, what is it?”
Now the idea “spirit,” like the idea “disease,” has become a part of our very being. And the ideas are as real as our existence, so that at any excitement that comes upon us, we are ready to create a spirit or disease, just according to the pattern given. And the spirit mediums and doctors are just alike. Each deceives the masses by their beliefs and creates diseases, the same as spiritual phenomena. Now it all arises from our belief in some invisible world that no one ever saw with scientific eyes; but we have been educated into a sort of superstitious belief and have settled down to a reality that certain things exist. And because we see and hear certain groans and sounds and pains and phenomena that we can't account for - therefore, they must be disease or spirits.
Now convince man or educate him up to the point of science, so that he can see that all men's bodies are as mortar (or clay), and any phenomena he is able to understand, he will create, if excited by fear. Then he will see that it is for every person's happiness to test every teacher about what he knows - not take his opinion.
Let me give you a rule by which you can test a doctor - and I will not give you a rule that I am not willing to be tested by. Suppose you feel a little out of sorts and call a physician. When he comes, say to him, “I have sent for you to tell me what is my trouble.” This is the way Nebuchadnezzar did. He had magicians (or doctors), only he called his disease a dream. His magicians said, “Tell me your symptoms (or dream), and I will give you the interpretation of it.” Just as the physicians say, “Tell me how you feel, and I will give you the interpretation of disease.”
Now be as wise as Nebuchadnezzar and say, “My dreams (or feelings) have departed - but tell me how I felt.” This they could not do, any more than the magicians could, so they will answer as they did, “You ask too much; there is no one that asks the doctor to tell them their symptoms.”
The time had arrived when the wisest men had learned that a man's opinion is not to be relied on as a truth. So when Nebuchadnezzar made war, he ordered his officers to bring of the wisest men of the nation, that were well versed in science and in language, so they might teach him the Chaldean tongue. Now Daniel was one of the wise men, and when Nebuchadnezzar became sick and alarmed, like a dream, he had no confidence in his magicians (or sorcerers), and he took this way to tell them. So when he wished them to tell his symptoms (or dream), they could not do it; so he passed a decree.