The difference between a truth based on an opinion and on wisdom is this. Wisdom backs itself up by science; opinion gives no proof but someone's opinion. Here is the difference. Man who is under the wisdom of opinion has no idea on what his opinions are based. All controversy springs from this error. It is the basis of all our knowledge. Strip man of this and you leave him a mere skeleton. All that men talk about is what they know nothing of, only that someone said so. Look at religion. How often we hear this remark. It is a good thing to have religion or such a man has religion; I would not give much for such a one's religion, etc. Everyone hears this kind of talk and yet they never think to analyze it or see if there is any science to prove it. No, that won't do; you must believe in religion as though it was something that had an existence independent of man and he must get it.
Let us see what man gets when he gets religion, for I will admit that he gets something. It cannot be wisdom, for they say they are willing to be called a fool for religion's sake. So it must be something to get which they are willing to sacrifice all the pleasures of the world and become a mean despised being, laughed at, spit upon, and hated. Now what is it? If you ask one that has it, they will tell you, You must pray for it; that God will answer your prayers and if you will comply with certain laws and regulations, break off from your sins and turn to God, then perhaps you will get it. I will take a sinner or one who wants to get religion and show you what he gets and how he gets it. You never heard of a man getting religion who never heard of Christ or the Bible; so religion began at the commencement of the Christian era.
It seems there was a man called Jesus who the people believed was God, at least some of them did and some denied it. Like all other phenomena, the people wanted proof that he was God. So, of course, in all phenomena that appear which are the invention of man, not of science, opinions spring up. Everyone will admit that Jesus was a man of flesh and blood. To be a Christian was to believe he was God. For if men should not believe so, they should die in their sins and where he went they should never come. So to go to heaven or where Jesus went was to believe that he was God and then you should be saved. Therefore, a belief was necessary to get to heaven. At that time, heaven was a place separate and apart from earth and man's salvation depended on his religion to insure him a passage to it. Religion, when you get it, is just what you get from any belief that man invents. At that time, it was a cross to admit such a number of absurdities as was required of a person to believe, and it was not strange that they should be called fools. Are not the Mormons and the Millerites called fools? Yet their belief is not half as absurd as that of the people eighteen-hundred years ago. Now there never was and never can be a belief that is perfect; it must admit a doubt. Science holds no doubt. It is that wisdom that proves all things and holds fast that which is good.
Paul shows the difference between true and false religion. He says if a man thinks he knows anything, he knows nothing as he ought to because it embraces a thought or doubt; but if he knows science, that wisdom is known to him. The above religion is nothing but an opinion. I can take three out of ten and make them believe in just such a religion as I please and they shall meet with a change of heart, talked of by the religious or superstitious world.
Nov. 15, 1861