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A Budget of Paradoxes, Volume I by De Morgan

Rather more slowly than the ignorant community


great soul question took three hundred years to settle: the little body question might be settled in thirty years, if the decisions in the former question were studied.

"Time was when the State believed, as honestly as ever it believed anything, that it _might_, _could_, and _should_ find out the true doctrine for the poor ignorant community; to which, like a worthy honest state, it added _would_. Accordingly, by the assistance of the Church, which undertook the physic, the surgery, and the pharmacy of sound doctrine all by itself, it sent forth its legally qualified teachers into every parish, and woe to the man who called in any other. They burnt that man, they whipped him, they imprisoned him, they did everything but what was Christian to him, all for his soul's health and the amendment of his excesses.

"But men would not submit. To the argument that the State was a father to the ignorant, they replied that it was at best the ignorant father of an ignorant son, and that a blind man could find his way into a ditch without another blind man to help him. And when the State said--But here we have the Church, which knows all about it, the ignorant community declared that it had a right to judge that question, and that it would judge it. It also said that the Church was never one thing long, and that it progressed, on the whole, rather more slowly than the ignorant community.


end of it was, in this country, that every one who chose taught all who chose to let him teach, on condition only of an open and true registration. The State was {268} allowed to patronize one particular Church, so that no one need trouble himself to choose a pastor from the mere necessity of choosing. But every church is allowed its colleges, its studies, its diplomas; and every man is allowed his choice. There is no proof that our souls are worse off than in the sixteenth century; and, judging by fruits, there is much reason to hope they are better off.

"Now the little body question is a perfect parallel to the great soul question in all its circumstances. The only things in which the parallel fails are the following: Every one who believes in a future state sees that the soul question is incomparably more important than the body question, and every one can try the body question by experiment to a larger extent than the soul question. The proverb, which always has a spark of truth at the bottom, says that every man of forty is either a fool or a physician; but did even the proverb maker ever dare to say that every man is at any age either a fool or a fit teacher of religion?

"Common sense points out the following settlement of the medical question: and to this it will come sooner or later.

"Let every man who chooses--subject to one common law of manslaughter for all the _crass_ cases--doctor the bodies of all who choose to trust him, and recover payment according to agreement in the courts of law. Provided always that every person practising should be registered at a moderate fee in a register to be republished every six months.

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