Supernatural religion will fade from this world, and in its place we shall have reason. In the place of the worship of something we know not of, will be the religion of mutual love and assistance--the great religion of reciprocity. Superstition must go. Science will remain. The church dies hard. The brain of the world is not yet developed. There are intellectual diseases as well as physical--there are pestilences and plagues of the mind.
Whenever the new comes the old protests, and fights for its place as long as it has a particle of power. We are now having the same warfare between superstition and science that there was between the stage coach and the locomotive. But the stage coach had to go. It had its day of glory and power, but it is gone. It went West. In a little while it will be driven into the Pacific. So we find that there is the same conflict between the different sects and different schools not only of philosophy but of medicine.
Recollect that everything except the demonstrated truth is liable to die. That is the order of Nature. Words die. Every language has a cemetery. Every now and then a word dies and a tombstone is erected, and across it is written "obsolete." New words are continually being born. There is a cradle in which a word is rocked. A thought is married to a sound, and a child-word is born. And there comes a time when the word gets old, and wrinkled, and expressionless, and is carried mournfully to the grave. So in the schools of medicine. You can remember, so can I, when the old allopathists, the bleeders and blisterers, reigned supreme. If there was anything the matter with a man they let out his blood. Called to the bedside, they took him on the point of a lancet to the edge of eternity, and then practiced all their art to bring him back. One can hardly imagine how perfect a constitution it took a few years ago to stand the assault of a doctor. And long after the old practice was found to be a mistake hundreds and thousands of the ancient physicians clung to it, carried around with them, in one pocket a bottle of jalap, and in the other a rusty lancet, sorry that they could not find some patient with faith enough to allow the experiment to be made again.
So these schools, and these theories, and these religions die hard. What else can they do? Like the paintings of the old masters, they are kept alive because so much money has been invested in them. Think of the amount of money that has been invested in superstition! Think of the schools that have been founded for the more general diffusion of useless knowledge! Think of the colleges wherein men are taught that it is dangerous to think, and that they must never use their brains except in the act of faith! Think of the millions and billions of dollars that have been expended in churches, in temples, and in cathedrals! Think of the thousands and thousands of men who depend for their living upon the ignorance of mankind! Think of those who grow rich on credulity and who fatten on faith! Do you suppose they are going to die without a struggle? What are they to do? From the bottom of my heart I sympathize with the poor clergyman that has had all his common sense educated out of him, and is now to be thrown upon the cold and unbelieving world. His prayers are not answered; he gets no help from on high, and the pews are beginning to criticize the pulpit. What is the man to do? If he suddenly changes he is gone. If he preaches what he really believes he will get notice to quit. And yet, if he and the congregation would come together and be perfectly honest, they would all admit that they believe little and know nothing.
Only a little while ago a couple of ladies were riding together from a revival, late at night, and one said to the other, as they rode along: "I am going to say something that will shock you, and I beg of you never to tell it to anybody else. I am going to tell it to you." "Well, what is it?" Said she: "I do not believe the Bible." The other replied: "Neither do I."
I have often thought how splendid it would be if the ministers could but come together and say: "Now, let us be honest. Let us tell each other, honor bright"--like Dr. Curry, of Chicago, did in the meeting the other day--"just what we believe." They tell a story that in the old time a lot of people, about twenty, were in Texas in a little hotel, and one fellow got up before the fire, put his hands behind him, and said: "Boys, let us all tell our real names." If the ministers and their congregations would only tell their real thoughts they would find that they are nearly as bad as I am, and that they believe as little.
Orthodoxy dies hard, and its defenders tell us that this fact shows that it is of divine origin. Judaism dies hard. It has lived several thousand years longer than Christianity. The religion of Mohammed dies hard.
Buddhism dies hard. Why do all these religions die hard? Because intelligence increases slowly.
Let me whisper in the ear of the Protestant: Catholicism dies hard. What does that prove? It proves that the people are ignorant and that the priests are cunning.
Let me whisper in the ear of the Catholic: Protestantism dies hard. What does that prove? It proves that the people are superstitious and the preachers stupid.
Let me whisper in all your ears: Infidelity is not dying--it is growing--it increases every day. And what does that prove? lt proves that the people are learning more and more--that they are advancing--that the mind is getting free, and that the race is being civilized.
The clergy know that I know that they know that they do not know.