Phineas Parkhurst Quimby
How are we to determine what is a truth? The dictionary says it is conforming to facts; veracity; certainty; exactness; faithfulness, etc. Now all this does not settle the fact how to tell what a truth is. We wish to find some ways of testing facts, in order to know how to define the truth, so that persons won't ask what is a truth.
Now the truth is like the word “right” - neither would be needed if there were not something to change; but as changes are continually taking place, the discord is called “wrong.” When all is harmony, that is called “right.” So right is a truth - and wrong is a discord.
To apply the word truth to discord (or belief) is using it in another sense. If two persons agree upon anything, they call it a truth; but the truth is in them and not in the discord (or thing believed). For instance, two persons believe that there is such a thing as a ghost. Now if they believe it, it is a truth to them - but it is not certain that the ghost exists outside of themselves. The word truth used in this way applies to all sorts of error. But there is another mode of testing the word, scientifically. I will give a case where the right and wrong truth came in; for the word is only to assert to what one or more believe. I will show how I test the word.
A patient calls on me. I sit down by her. I feel a sharp stinging pain in my breast. This I tell to the patient as her feelings. This she says is true. So here is a real truth, without a belief for its basis. I now tell the patient that she thinks the pain arises from a cancer coming on the breast. The patient says, “Yes.” Now here is another combined truth, for it combines the two - the fact that she believes she has a cancer and that I know she does. But in this there is a discord; for I know there is no truth in it, but the truth is in her belief. So the discord is in these two truths. It is also a truth to me that there is no cancer. Now to destroy the belief of a cancer is what I try to do. My reason is to destroy one truth that is founded on a belief and establish health, and then she will enjoy it. This is a truth, and we both agree to this last result as a truth - that she never had a cancer; only as a belief.
Language was invented to communicate a sensation from one person to another. Now if there never had been any sensation, there need not have been any language. So as sensation is the first action in matter (or mind), it required some way to describe it. So of course, discord would make the idea. Then the opposite is harmony. So every word must conform to this rule of discord and harmony.
Discord is disease; harmony is health - and every person starts from one or the other of these two bases. The word “truth” is applied to both, but if there was not any discord, there would be no need of harmony; for before there was discord, all was quiet. So it is a truth that there is such a state as discord in the mind, but the discord is in us and not in the thing spoken of. The discord is not in the tune but in those that hear it; for if there were no one to hear it, there would be no discord.
Now there are certain things that would exist if there was not a man on the face of the earth, and certain things and conditions that would not exist; for instance, our senses. When a man dies, as it is called, if his senses die with him, then everything that pertains to man ceases. But no one would say that if every man was blotted out of existence that everything that existed would go with man. But if we look at it in the right sense - destroy the wisdom that man has, and you destroy creation. For with wisdom, they are all as dross. For everything that moves and has life is in wisdom, and there is nothing outside of him.
Now as wisdom sees through everything, matter is, to wisdom, a shadow; but to man it is a substance; and yet man creates things that, to the one that creates them, are shadows. So the ideas that man has created and brought into being, which cannot be seen, are the things I shall speak of as being of that class I call “discord,” to which the word “truth” is applied.
The invisible world - or the things believed in that have their existence in an invisible world - are as real to those that believe them as those things that are seen and felt by the natural senses. And both have the same identity in the natural world and are called truths; and here is the error in language. To make it plainer, I will illustrate. Suppose I tell you a story that I know is a lie and tell it as a truth, and you believe it. Now to you it is a truth, and you believe it; yet I know it is false. Now the question is, how shall man distinguish between the two? One is based on a belief and the other, on a fact; yet you cannot show the difference between them.
Here is the lack of language expressing the true meaning of what a person wishes to express. It all arises from admitting a lie at the beginning. Then someone began to account for some sensations after his own thought and told them as if they were true. This error, once introduced, started up a sort of false reasoning, based on an opinion (or false basis). And from this false basis has sprung up all kinds of theories of another world and God and disease. And as men have received them as living truths, man assumes them as facts, and all his wisdom is based on them. This is called the Bible - and if this false theory is not admitted, then you disbelieve the Bible.
So now the question arises - what influence prompted the writer of the book, or did they have any higher object than those men that wrote about the rebellion of our day? We know that there are certain events spoken of that happened before the New Testament, but did the people who wrote the book believe that they, themselves, were inspired from any superior power over their followers that they could not learn? Now to me, every man, when he writes, has his two influences; but when he has nothing to test his wisdom by, it is of no value to the world.