What Is Religion?

This question is more easily asked than answered; for when you ask to have it defined, it vanishes as a thing and only remains as a belief. All persons have a right to a belief, so all persons can have religion if they have any desire to get up a belief. I have tried to find if there is any such thing defined in the dictionary, but I find the definition of religion to be, “A system of faith, worship and pious practices.” Then pious means “religious, godly,” so you get right back where you started from, just as in thousands of errors founded on error.

The definition of mesmerism, for instance, is fully as intelligent and satisfactory. It is psychology and that is magnetism and magnetism is a power which one man has over another. What is that? Why, mesmerism. It is the same in defining a disease. Ask physicians what disease is—they begin to give an opinion. For instance, ask them what causes pains in the shoulders or side—answer, rheumatism. What is that? Neuralgia. What is that? Nervous affection. So they will go on from one thing to another till you get them angry and drive them back where they started from. So it is with all theories based on ignorance and superstition. Is it so in science? No. The chemist does not give an opinion. He tells the truth and if you do not believe, he shows you the facts so you have no doubt. Now in all the above theories there are phenomena which cannot be accounted for by the natural man, for they do not come within man's reason. Man reasons in matter and all his experiments are proved in matter for all phenomena are developed in matter or the natural man. The natural man never can understand the things of the spirit and all these are governed or created in the heavens or spiritual world, and this spiritual world is science. And in all I say, I never mean to give any other meaning to spiritualism than the phenomena produced in developing science.

In chemistry, phenomena are produced and not always according to the known laws of chemistry, but they are accidents as they are called. When these accidents are produced, men look for the cause and then they reason and have opinions. This is the religion of this world but when the science or truth comes, wisdom takes the place of religion and this world of opinions gives way to the scientific world. Then is established Christ's kingdom or science or religion in this world as it is in heaven. This world means just what it did in Jesus' day; the natural world of Jesus' day was all the wisdom of the Mosaic laws or religion. Their religion was their belief. They had some wisdom in regard to science. Jesus knew all their beliefs, and then as now, the people were discussing all sorts of theories and beliefs and when some new idea or theory started, it came from the sea or belief of the old school. The old school was like the river Jordan, and to wash in that or understand, you could withstand all the enemies' fire or darts. So the sea was the great popular belief and all the little streams ran into it, just as the old allopathy is the sea, and all other doctoring runs into it and that swallows up all the rest, for it is made up of all these little streams and when they can't stand the tide, they fall back and mingle with the great sea of allopathy. So it is with religion. The Mosaic priesthood is the great ocean of religion and all the streams or creeds run into that and the fishes or ideas that swim in that sea have kept the people in food ever since it was discovered.