Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
True & False ScienceApril 1862
Man's belief makes him what he is, and he is subject to all the errors of the world, as far as his life and happiness are concerned. This science of happiness embraces all sciences admitted by scientific minds; but the knowledge of it separates the real from the spurious science. It proves that a belief in any science that can be proved never makes a man sick; but one that is based on an opinion is false.
For example, all religion is based on an opinion. The healing art must be a science or an error, and when its advocates claim it as a science, the people have a right to call for proof. So it is with any new question; it must be demonstrated to skeptics on an admitted principle.
There are persons claiming wisdom (or science), and when asked for proof, they give their opinion; while every scientific man knows that any opinion is merely a babbling about what is not understood. Nebuchadnezzar understood this, and when he besieged Jerusalem, he gave a command that they should bring certain of the children of Israel and of the kings and of the princes; children in whom was no blemish, but well-favored and skillful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace and whom they might teach the learning and tongue of the Chaldeans. Here Nebuchadnezzar knew that there were babblers or men of pretense among them, even in his own palace; so he found that such science as theirs was only opinions about what they knew nothing.
Paul warns Timothy and says, "Keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings and oppositions of science, falsely so-called." Ever since the world began, there has been a war in error. But science never makes war nor has any hand in it. It never dictates, but reasons what it knows. Error is science, falsely called.
Now I claim that my cures are done by a true science; and so do all others, the same. This was just the same in the days of Jesus. The false science (or saviour) (or Messiah) claimed the same power as Jesus, but the latter contended there was a difference. The world has never been shown where it is, and the false science has had the day, up to this time. Now I profess to show where my practice differs from all others; and also to show that their professed science is nothing but an opinion, based on an error.
My science consists in proving that this is only an error; and their misery is what follows the error. To prove this, it is necessary to show that man is made sick by his belief - and cured by it; and that all there is of man is error, ignorance and science. His life and senses are in these, and they make up man. So when a man goes to a doctor, he is in one of the two - ignorance or error. He cannot be in wisdom; for wisdom cannot be ignorant (or in error). Error is opinion; reason is knowledge - and is always showing what it knows. Ignorance is the child, disturbed.
I will take for illustration one who is sick and a spiritualist. He sits down, and after I have told him how he feels, and he admits it, I begin to tell the causes. This requires his attention, and in listening, he grows nervous and says, "I don't want you to talk - that won't cure me. I came to be cured."
“Well,” I answer, "that is what I am going to do - and I want you to listen, while I tell you what has made you sick."
"I don't care what has made me sick. I want to get well. I believe you can cure me, and that is all I want. I don't want to hear you talk. I am a spiritualist - and so are you, but you won't admit it, so it does not make any difference. Just cure me, and let your talk go. You cannot change my mind."
"What do you believe?" I then ask.
He answers, "I believe you get your power from the spirit world."
These believe that I have a power. This belief requires no reason or thought; only a belief in a spirit world, which has all the spirits of the dead. To reason is to get them nervous; for they cannot understand. It is much easier to admit an error than to try to understand it. Such a person stands in relation to a doctor as a scholar who comes to his teacher with a mathematical problem and wants him to work it out for him. The teacher tells him where his error is and then goes on to explain how he got into it and to teach him how to get out of his error.
But the pupil says, "I don't want you to explain it - it makes me nervous. I only want to get out of my trouble."
The teacher replies, "I want to make you understand that there is a science."
But the pupil says, "That is all nonsense."
The same is the case with the spiritualist. He says to me, "You have a power which all men have not - some men have more electricity than others."
I answer, "Electricity has nothing to do with it."
“Well,” he says, "it is of no use for you and me to argue. I know it is all spiritual electricity - so just correct the evil, and that is what I want. You cannot change my mind."
So I cure them in their own belief and save them in their sins (or ignorance); ready to get into trouble again the next day. This is the case with a great many. They want to hold on to a belief and then be cured of it. They want me to admit a disease and then want me to cure it by my spiritual power. So their belief makes them sick; and their belief makes them well. My wisdom cures - and they are none the wiser.
There is another class of minds, like the following. A person comes to see me. I commence to tell him how he feels, and he admits it. I then say, “Your mind is affected; this makes you nervous, and you believe you are troubled with dyspepsia.”
He answers, "I have the dyspepsia - but my mind is all right."
I then ask him why everything looks so dark and gloomy and why he feels so alone in the world.
He says, "My dyspepsia causes it."
I say, "I have no dyspepsia - and yet you make me feel as I have described."
He answers, "I don't know why."
I then say, "It is caused by your religious belief. You cannot understand, so it makes you nervous - and you put your trouble into your food."
"My religion does not make me nervous," he answers, "it is the only thing that gives me happiness. I cannot give up my religion. I would rather die than give it up ."
"I do not want your religion. I only want to show you how afraid you are to have it touched."
"I did not come to have you talk to me about religion. I came to be cured of the dyspepsia."
Here is a person with whom I have to argue, until I change his mind. His mind is the disturbed state of his matter. His belief is the bugbear that frightens him, and his fright changes his mind. This is the disease - and the misery is the complaint (or feelings). As I am not afraid of such a belief, I stand to a person like the above as a pilot stands to a captain, when he is in trouble and calls for one. I know my business, and if the captain won't listen to hear me tell him how he got into his trouble, that does not prevent me from getting him out of his trouble - but the captain is none the wiser.
The next kind of patient is the lawyer. Jesus could not make much out of this class of minds, for their wisdom is all arbitrary. They never argue from scientific principles, but from law - and everyone knows that law is arbitrary. I sit down by the learned lawyer, just as I do with all others, and tell him his feelings. Sometimes he will admit them, and sometimes he will not, except as a guess. I commence to explain, and he breaks out with, "I know what the matter is. I understand the structure of the human system. I know the liver is turgid, the lungs are irritated, etc. I understand my difficulty. Do you think you can give me anything to help me?"
"I never give anything for disease. I believe all disease is in the mind, and my explanation cures."
"Well, my mind is not troubled. I have a local disease."
"That is your belief, and that is just what I must change."
"But you don't understand," the lawyer insists. "I have a disease of the liver. I understand my trouble."
I answer him, "If you understood yourself, you would have no trouble (or belief). I explain your feelings in my way, and by enlightening you and showing you the cause of disease, I make you see that you have embraced an error, which is the cause of your misery. When you see this, you will lose your belief and gain knowledge."
"Poh! This is humbug. You need not think to come such game on me. You do not use words correctly."
Then he goes on to quibble about words and puts me down on the ground that I have no education. There he has the advantage, certainly. He quarrels all the time with me and seems very much afraid I shall gain some advantage over him in argument. His native intelligence is cramped by law, and his opinions are molded with the intention of getting the better of his opponent in some little matter. He is blind and deaf to the fact that there is an intelligence superior to an opinion. Still, I cure him, and he goes on browbeating and blackguarding - pleased with coming out ahead in such warfare.