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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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Science

The word science is frequently used but so loosely defined that its true meaning cannot be understood. Ask a person what science is, he answers, “It is knowledge, a collection of general principles.” This leaves it just where it finds it. So everyone sets up his standard of a collection of general principles.

Let us see if the word can be explained so that everyone may know. Science embraces something that is spiritual or a revelation from a higher state of mind than that of the brutes, so to me science is the name of that wisdom that accounts for all phenomena that the natural man or beast cannot understand. To illustrate. You throw a ball into the air; every child will soon learn that the ball will return. This is not science. But to know understandingly that it will return with just as much force as it received is science. To acknowledge it simply as a fact is not science, but science is in the act, not known, as God is in the world and the world knew Him not.

This principle or science Jesus tried to teach to man. The acts of man were sometimes according to this law but the actors knew it not. So they, being ignorant of the science, were a science to themselves; but as they did not know the motive, they could not teach it to others.

Paul, speaking of this science, says some have not heard of it, and how shall they believe in what they have not heard of, as a science, when it was never taught, and how shall men know about it unless someone teaches them, and how can a man teach a science that he knows nothing of? So, he says, How beautiful are the words of that person who can teach science but all cannot understand. He uses the word charity for the same wisdom that we use science and goes on to tell that although we give all our money to the poor and suffer our bodies to be burned and do not understand science or charity, it is of no use; it profiteth nothing. The world is none the wiser. To understand science or charity so as to put it into practice so that it becomes a science is not an easy task. Well might the disciples say, This is a hard saying and how can a man believe or understand? Many shall try but few can understand. Therefore, if they cannot understand, must the wisdom of God or science or charity be of no effect? Wisdom says, No! Let science be true but every man a liar. This science was in the minds of people, but the priests and doctors led the people and explained it according to their own notions so that when Jesus came to establish this truth as a science, to them it was a stumbling block. The wisdom of this world never has put science into goodness but thinks goodness is cultivated or a dispensation. It never thinks it is a revelation from a higher power that distinguishes man from the other living creatures. This wisdom or charity was known by some to have an identity, but was never admitted as a creature or anything independent of the natural man. So goodness was considered by the priests as a sort of subjection to the rulers. A good person was like a good dog, ready to obey his master; then his master would pat him and call him a good dog, although he had just torn another dog in pieces or had done something to please his master.

This was the way with the Christian Church—to be good was to persecute all who would not bow the knee to the leaders and all who had the boldness to speak their opinions were heretics or infidels. The priests patted the heads of their dogs and set them onto the swine or those who oppose them, so that to steal or rob from one of these skeptics was a virtue rather than a wrong. I have seen this effect in my own practice. There are persons who are honest according to their religion who will come and tell me a lie, as I call it, to deceive me into a belief that they mean just what they say. I have just as much confidence in their honesty as I have in a bull dog who looks as innocent as a lamb when you have something that he wants, and after he gets it he will bite you as soon as your back is turned. This all arises from smothering the science or charity or revelation from God. And this is done by the priests. The priests make their goodness a sort of self interest and charge people a fee to pardon their sins which the honest part of the community would look upon as a wrong. The priest flatters them with the idea that they are doing just right so they worship the priest as the masses worship the leaders and every person knows that a leading demagogue will uphold any crime his party is guilty of and applaud the actor for his goodness or honesty. Charity has no friend with any of these leaders; it finds no foothold, therefore, like the dove of the ark, after trying to find a place to rest, it returns to its house and is gone to the world. This was the case in the days of Jesus. He came to establish this science or charity. This word science not being used to explain this truth, it was called by Jesus, “Christ” and by Paul it was called “charity” and by the wise men who admitted it, it was called a power or gift, but it never was admitted to have an identity, to the teaching of which, the senses were attached. This was Jesus' religion, so that he talked his religion, not talked about it. Because to talk wisdom is wisdom, whereas to talk about wisdom is to talk about an unknown God.

Now Jesus tells just about where the people stood in regard to this truth. There were none who understood it but many who acted according to the principles. These he called persons who, being ignorant of the law, were a law to themselves because they did right and did not know why they wanted to do it. He describes their minds as half wise and half foolish. But the wise were ignorant of the cause of their own wisdom, so that in trying to make people understand this truth, which he called the greatest of sciences or the kingdom of heaven, he spoke in parables.

He commences by a parable of the foundation of this science or the ground in which it is sown, and then shows its growth by parables. So when he was asked for an explanation of his science or power or kingdom, he took a little child in his arms and said, Of such is the foundation or kingdom of heaven. Now everyone knows that a child is a blank as far as virtue or vice is concerned and with it might is right. Now the growth of this child's wisdom depends entirely on the direction given to its mind. Then he says, What shall I compare its little wisdom to? I will compare it to a grain of mustard seed that a man sowed in his garden.

So God sowed wisdom in this little child's mind and this wisdom, if properly developed, would teach him that his body, like the earth, was the casket or loom for this wisdom to develop itself in.

As it developed itself, it would leave its mother earth and derive its life from a higher and more perfect mother that had no matter but which, like the air, was perfect so that it lifts one above all the fog or atmosphere of earth and the decomposition of matter or ideas that contain all sorts of evil. The growth of this wisdom was liable to be destroyed, for Herod sought to kill it. But its mother hid it in the ignorance or bushes in the sea of superstition till it could grow in the hearts of the people. So when its branches began to put forth and the fowls or theories began to build nests or attack it, then came the devil and made war against it. Then the priests and doctors joined in and stirred up the multitude to search out where the true wisdom was, that they might take counsel together, how they should put it down.

When Jesus appeared at the common age of man, ready to defend himself, John sent to him to know if he was this science or Christ or must we look for another. As Jesus began to preach this truth or science, it struck at the root of all their old superstitions and it troubled them. This was the very thing that people had looked for. The prophets had prophesied that the time would come when man should act from a higher motive than dollars and cents, when goodness was virtue and virtue could be appreciated, for virtue was nothing to the priests. They looked upon all virtue as passion and treated it as such. Thus sympathy or love was misrepresented by these blind guides so that people acknowledged and thought that they were born dishonest and all sorts of vice and passion were elements of our nature. When Jesus began to separate vice from virtue the war began.

This separation was his religion, for vice and passion were the inventions of man. It was a sort of appetite and made the people brutish. I will not say brutish for that is a stain on God or goodness, for the brutes act as they were intended to and to compare them to man, who debases himself below the brute, is a stain on the noble character of the horse, for instance. I have seen a thing driving a horse who looked more out of place than he would if he were in the hills, and the horse had the reigns. This sort of intellect, which is made up of the lowest passions of men, is as much beneath the brute as the hawk is beneath the dove. These two characters make up man. One is ignorance, superstition and all kinds of passion, to gratify the lusts of a low, contemptible mind which cannot see honesty in anything except as a restraint upon the appetites; so he looks upon all restraints as burdens and oppressions. This is the wisdom of this world. This wisdom has always been in the ascendancy. It has been the enemy of truth or science. So when any new development of truth comes up, this brutal intellect catches the seed or idea and puts a low construction on the acts. This causes the war of error to see which should get the mastery. Science comes as a natural result of the quarrel, for the truth never makes war for anything; all the fighting is done by ignorance and superstition.

Now as I have already said, the beasts were made perfect as they were intended to be; no change is visible in each succeeding generation. The combination of the natural brute is perfect. But it does not contain science or wisdom. Man, that being who is called the noblest work of God, has a higher development and shows that there is something outside of matter that can control matter. This something is what the world has always been looking for. It is not in the beasts, for it is not life and that the beasts have; nor is it reason, for the beasts have that; nor is it passion, nor is it love nor temper, for all of these the beasts have. Then what is it that makes man above the beasts? Science or revelation from a spiritual world, higher than the natural world. And this wisdom or science is, like all other wisdom or science, progression. Although it is in the beastly man, in some it is never developed, yet in others it has.

Wisdom or science makes the distinction in man by this figure: man is of the earth and is earthy or brutal; yet in him, like the grain of mustard seed, was this science in the form of a rib or this higher power and the science called it woman. And this woman or wisdom is to lead man or ignorance to truth and happiness. Now, neither the woman nor the man had any science, so you see that the man, like the beast, was willing to live under restriction, as all other animals did; for God placed all other animals under the law of might. But it was not so with the rib. The rib saw farther ahead than the beast; it had more sagacity and, like the serpent, said to it, Here is a tree or knowledge of good and evil or judge of right and wrong, and if you eat it or investigate, you shall be like the father of it, more than the brute. Here you see the true character of wisdom. It shrinks not from investigating, although it is unpopular and has the whole world to contend with. It fights its way regardless of danger. So it ate or investigated whatever it saw.

Now I will suppose the tree. All theories are called trees. John says every tree that beareth not good fruit shall be hewn down. In this sense, a tree means anything that man wants to investigate. You must go back to Adam and Eve or to a little child, as Jesus said when he undertook to explain the same idea. So of course it had no reference to man and woman as we see them now but to the development of knowledge above the brute. So he takes man and woman as figures of truth and error and shows that the mind of woman is better calculated to receive seed or investigate than man. They have more endurance and have more patience to investigate any new science than man, but their wisdom is not of this world but of that higher power called science. When they give their idea to man, he then eats or understands and then goes to work to form the idea that has been given to him by the woman. It has always been the case that all spiritual wisdom has been received through the female. The oracle of Delphi was a woman. As men's minds are more brutal and less scientific or spiritual, they never believe till they can see with the natural man's eyes. To them science is shadow. Now as man is of matter and his thoughts are a part of himself, he lives on his ideas and forms all of his plans in matter and carries them out in matter; thus the natural man knows nothing above matter. The spiritual man, or the woman, is not of matter and sees all the changes of matter. These two characters are in every man and the way they can be distinguished is by the answer. If the answer is true, it can be shown; if the person has the wisdom of science, and if the answer is to be proved by an opinion of the person or others, it is of this world and is of no force, if true.

Paul, in trying to separate this wisdom from the natural world, called it charity and said, Though I speak with the tongues of angels and have not science or charity, it is of no force; the world is no wiser. And though I have the gift of turning tables and everything else upside down and have all faith that it is of God or spirits but have no knowledge or science, it amounts to nothing. And though I give all my goods to the poor to establish this science and even go as far as John Brown did to establish his opinion in regard to slavery, there was a truth in it, but his act was governed by an opinion; and although he might be honest, as I have no doubt he was, yet it all amounts to nothing, for it does not embrace charity or wisdom. And this has been the way with all fanatics. Although they may be honest and give all they have and at last sacrifice their lives, it is only their opinion of a science that they worship; the science they know not of. Science or charity does not act in that way. Science suffers long before it becomes a fact. It envieth not other science, it praiseth not self, is not puffed up, doth not behave unseemly, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not over trouble but rejoiceth in the truth. Science never fails but prophesies. The knowledge of this world fails but science never fails.

July 1860

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