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Phineas Parkhurst Quimby: His Complete Writings and Beyond

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Superstitious Beliefs

Man, to understand himself, must know how he stands in society, for public opinion is the standard of all our acts. Now to know ourselves is to see where we, as one individual, stand to the surrounding influences that act upon us. For we are mere machines in the world to be moved and regulated by the wisdom of God or science or by the opinions of mankind. These opinions are what cause all the misery in the world; so to know ourselves is to know science which proves all things. I will show where every man ought to stand and to show more clearly where I am, I must take the two extremes of man's belief. The first is the religious belief of another world. This class embraces all those who are affected by it and all false ideas based on phenomena that cannot be explained. Many of these ideas purport to come from the dead or are opinions; so it takes in all the superstitious who bow down and worship this belief. If a man believes that his power comes from another world, then all who embrace this belief are ready to acknowledge the standard. This standard of the priests had its full sway in early ages when the priests cured all diseases. At last opposition arose, as in all humbugs, and a more learned class of humbugs sprang up who led the more sober part of the people. They admitted the religious error and made a still more religious belief. So you may trace the grand scheme of humbugs from Judaism down to the present day. When new phenomena appear that affect one, they also affect the other. Just keep the two before your eyes. You will find the same reform as it is called in these two humbugs.

The spirits of the dead and all kinds of superstition have been battled by science and their standard driven from the dark ages of heathen idolatry step by step, sometimes appearing in various forms of assumed wisdom, again splitting into parties and settling down into deception. This will always be until man sees himself in the true light of reason, not of opinion. To show the two extremes of humbug, I will take one that is established and is as real to those who believe it, as that the sun rises; this is the allopathy practice of medicine. This is the very foundation of man's belief and to give it a character and standard, it must have a religious belief as erroneous as its father, the old church. These two go hand in hand and their absurdities have called out another class, the spiritualists, accompanied by their physicians. These are at war with each other and what looks absurd to one of these parties is true to the other. Each has its standard of belief to which it bows down and worships and which is as real to them as their own existence. I will show that they are the two standards of the world.

The standard of science never goes back to precedents for its proof but shows its science by its works. If it goes back, it is to show that the world has progressed, not to rake up some wisdom but to show that the world has progressed every day in science. The science of life contains the two classes above mentioned. As I have said, the spiritualist goes back into the dark ages of Judaism where the belief of heaven and hell and spirits of the dead were invented, together with every kind of heathen superstition, to seek wisdom by which to correct the errors of the age, supposing that the world was wiser then than now. And showing that any foreign intelligence purporting to come from abroad is worth more than what they get at home. Now, does science go out of the way? No. Chemistry is here just what it is everywhere and the chemist is always showing his improvements and so it is with all sciences. But that science founded on opinions is proved by referring to some one's opinions. And when you go to the opinions, you are sent to another and so on. It is like chasing a jack o'lantern to find the basis independent of an opinion. The science of health is in the hands of these blind guides. There is no difference between them. They are the two extremes of humbug. One belongs to the upper crust, the other to the lower. And if there chances to be a person not under one of these two classes, directly or indirectly, I should like to see where he stands.

Disease is one of the heathen inventions and has had as many names as any political party ever had, but is always the same thing. The serpent was its author or inventor when it made Eve eat the forbidden fruit. As that was a sin, it poisoned all the human family, as is believed. And as sin is disease, all men became diseased, for all have sinned, the Bible says. The apple that brought on the first disease could not have been eaten by the inhabitants of the world, so that they must have caught it from our first parents. Thus catching diseases originated, but Jesus condemned this idea when he said, The old proverb was done away with, that the father had eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth were set on edge, showing that it was a lie. But the people believed it. As the serpent was lost or metamorphosized into the Devil and the people were made to believe it, it became necessary to have a place for him to dwell. So hell was invented as his dwelling place. And as he still held his old grudge because he was driven out of the garden, his whole power was aimed against mankind. We next hear of him tormenting Job with boils, so that disease was his invention. He used to send out young devils or evil spirits, and sometimes the Lord employed them, as when he wanted to deceive Ahab. These devils could enter man and make him do all kinds of things. They tried it with Jesus but they could not deceive him, although he recognized their existence, for he used to cast them out. These devils had teeth and they could also talk. The Bible is full of accounts of their tormenting man and if it is true or the Christian explanation of it, then there were evil spirits at the time the Christian era commenced, eighteen-hundred years ago.

Now, where are they? If man is not affected by them, who is the author of our troubles? Man is affected more than he ever was. These same devils reigned in the time of Jesus and he sent forth his disciples to cast them out. He said that they would be destroyed at the end of the world, for then the Devil and all his works shall be destroyed and death itself. Then there should be no death nor hell. They were to be cast into the lake of fire. Jesus put the power of destroying these evil spirits in the hands of his disciples. Now let us see what they have done. First we find the priests persecuting them, hanging them and casting them into prison till all the disciples were destroyed and they got the power into their own hands. If these devils were the priests that crucified Jesus and all his disciples, then we can trace them along. But if they were evil spirits which the Devil sent into the priests and prophets, we can also follow them down. The people were divided on this point. The priests taught that they were the chosen ones to put down the evil spirits, not that such were in them. And here is where the war commenced. The priests, like the demagogues, had power over the masses and as the people believed in these evil spirits, of course there would be different opinions about their power. The most superstitious were the easiest led and as the priests had full possession of the minds of the masses, it was very easy to interest them in their favor.

So all opposition came from a more liberal quarter, but yet governed by the same belief in the spirits of the dead; so science had nothing to do with the religious quarrel. The quarrel commenced about a false opinion, existing only in the minds of political demagogues and science is as much a stranger as in any political quarrel. Still they hold out to the people that they are their friends and thus they have got the world to admit their wisdom. What do these parties propose to the people? To restore order and happiness to man. I will give their platform. They have established the fact that there is another world, which constitutes one plank. The return of spirits to earth is another. Also the Devil leading the wicked into trouble. These and a still larger number of grievances are laid down as facts. What do the leaders propose? To get up an army and attack this devil and in the name of goodness reform the world, drive the devil out of existence and establish the kingdom of heaven on earth. This is the appeal to the people and as this is a spiritual war against the devil's kingdom, it is necessary that the people should know what they are fighting for and who are their leaders, etc. The priests like the demagogues have made the people believe that they have been deceived and that it is necessary that they should do something to get out of their trouble, while the troubles are the effects of their beliefs invented by man and all the warfare is to fight down their own beliefs. So it is with the sick; the devils are the priests' opinions and the disease is the punishment of their belief. So the people pay the priests for the opinions and get the reward thereof in aches and pains.

These are the profits of the priests, for they know that the people know not the author of their misery. They offer their services to fight down the very evil they have created. In spiritual as well as in literal wars, there must be opposition parties, some for the health and some for the disease. As the war is in the minds of the people, the destruction of life is what is aimed at. Health and happiness being the land of science, the destruction of either cripples both, so all their aim is at this land. All will admit that this land is overrun with every kind of devil in the form of disease. How to destroy them is a matter of opinion, so parties spring up and make war in their peculiar way. The priests are for driving them out by prayer, while every prayer goes to create more devils. This is seen by another class called educated or more scientific, the doctors. They calculate more scientifically for their own benefit and have induced the people to give up to them all those who are killed by these devils in order that they should examine and discover the place of rendezvous.

Thus the people have given them this power over all who fall by disease. So when a person is attacked by one of these children of their own make, they commence war against it. If he attacks them in the side, the doctor claps on a blister. If he flies to the head, he also follows him there. If he goes to the stomach a dose of calomel is sent after him. This generally starts the devil and ruins the man and his house being shattered to pieces, he gives up the ghost and leaves. Then the doctor claims his prize; so he cuts up the head like a vegetable, hanging up one part and preserving the other in alcohol. They contend this is all for the benefit of the people and like the priests in Egyptian theology, instead of lessening the evil, they create ten times as many more. Finally, the people in despair, like Saul, have left their oracles and sought witches or those having familiar spirits, to enquire how to get rid of these Philistines that are overspreading the land and devouring their lives and substance. So in the darkness of night, they disguise themselves and are seen making their way to some woman having a familiar spirit to inquire of her how the battle is going on with their friends, for the doctor is fighting the battle. In a trembling voice, they ask if the spirit will respond; a faint rap is heard denoting yes. Then the communication is open and the spirits have the field. Here is war between the living and the dead. A revelation commences, but as both are in the devil's employ, it makes but little difference to the scientific man which gets the day.

April 1861

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