make man responsible for his belief,
and give him a rule by which he can detect the imagination from the scientific -
then you will find “evil” disappear.
~ Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
Illustration of the Use & Abuse of LanguageDecember 1862
No one knows the misery which results from misapplying language to ideas, which never had an existence, except in man's own brain. Take for instance the word “life.” The child learns that life is in what he cannot see. He is made to believe that God is a living being, so he naturally supposes that there must be other living beings that he cannot see - for instance the Evil One, who may harm him. In the country, bears and wild animals have been made terrors to children. We are also told that our food contains life; that it decays and dies, and from this decomposition comes life. This is taught to children, and they grow up with these ideas.
Now to the child this life contains intelligence - for when we speak of it, it is always associated with some matter we call “living.” This life, that is attached to these invisible forms (or ideas), which are a terror to mankind, is what makes him superstitious, because he believes that some invisible spirit is near him - and he reasons about it, as he would about anything visible that he feared. This superstition has caused the people to believe that God was present in an invisible form, and that sometimes he would talk to Moses, and sometimes would affect the people with disease. This kept them nervous and all the time in fear; for their ignorance and prejudice put life into every kind of evil invention which could affect mankind.
Hence arose “evil spirits,” which were persons - for they could talk and act; and consequently, they had life. But as science progressed, the spirits changed their characters and appeared in the form of diseases. Now to suppose that a disease could come and attack a person, except it had some wisdom to guide and direct it, is folly. Therefore, every person admits a cause - which, of course, must be intelligent and contain life - like those people who were tormented by disease, which they believed was from the devil.
Make life the invention of man, and it will not be difficult to convince him that the invisible beings of his own belief are of his own invention - and their life is also his own. Let man know that his belief is the cause of his misery, and he will cease to embrace evil (or beliefs that contain life), and learn wisdom; for wisdom is not life, but the destruction of life. There is no life or death with God (or wisdom); for there is nothing to destroy. Matter, with God, is the same; as it is considered by man that “substance which contains no intelligence.” But man, being ignorant, has deceived himself into the belief that his body contains intelligence.
So he is, to himself, what the Irishman was to himself, when he awoke from a drunken sleep on his cart and found his oxen gone. He said, "If this is Patrick O'Neil, I have lost my oxen - but if it is not, then I have found a cart." So his happiness depended on his own decision. Probably, as he came to his senses, he found that he was Patrick, and his horror became his torment.
Man reasons about himself precisely in the same way. He finds himself in a dilemma, and he begins to conjure up ideas according to his belief and puts life into every idea he creates. Finally he finds himself in the same fix as Patrick and says, “If this is myself, I have a disease that will kill me - but if it is Mr. Imagination, he has got himself into a bad fix.” A physician is sent for, who is puzzled to know which it is, as they both look alike. He talks to the man to discover if it is he or his imagination and finally concludes that he will give the man a dose of something, which will drive away the imagination - and if it is the man, then he is mistaken.
make man responsible for his belief, and give him a rule by which he
can detect the imagination from the scientific - then you will find