Men have enthroned truth in some far-off kingdom, away from the world, as though it were too pure to live on earth. It has been made supernatural, and only to be known by being revealed. But truth is everywhere; its voice is heard in everything. The very pebble at our feet holds its image, and its light twinkles in the white splendor of the distant star.
Man has searched for truth in books, but has not found it there. He has invented words to conceal his disappointment, such as God, heaven, providence, etc. Nature contains all the truth, and so far as men have read nature aright they have learned what is true, but we cannot catch and hold nature in our philosophies. She breaks through all the finely-woven theories we put about her, and man, in his attempt to bind nature with his thoughts, binds only himself.
Men in all ages have tried to read the secret of the universe. We have been told that God directs it, that a divine mind planned it and keeps it in motion. Why not let the universe explain itself? Why not read it by its own light? Why not confess our ignorance? God is a figure of speech, but nature is a reality. Let us trust what we know. Nature is never capricious. Fire will always burn, water will always drown, and frost will always freeze. Though we have confidence in nature, let us acknowledge that we do not yet comprehend the meaning of things. The old habit of inventing words to hide our ignorance has been adopted by silence as well as by religion.
Evolution does not reduce the mystery of existence to a simple problem. What we call truth is more than we have yet found. The unknown is still provocative of investigation, and the only prayer of the mind is, more light. We must beware of accepting dogmas, whether of science or religion. No statement is the last word of truth. Doubt is the first step of progress, and inquiry is the way to knowledge.
There is nothing that stands more in the way of human advancement than the authority of opinions. Some dragon of assertion ever disputes our right to the golden fleece of truth. If we ask for proof of God’s existence or man’s immortality, we are answered with a text, but a text is only the dead opinion of a dead man. This age demands truth, not the belief of a person who lived centuries ago.
Because superstition holds the contents of a book sacred we are not to enslave reason to its statements. We will not be bound by the opinions of others, neither must we bind others to our opinions. We must make freedom sacred, and cease condemning men for disbelief or unbelief. The bondage of faith is the slavery of the soul.
It makes man unjust, unwise and unkind. Allegiance to a creed makes us ill use a man simply because he does not believe as we do.
No church has all the truth, and no school either. So-called religion merely shows where the search after truth ended. But truth is the infinite reality, and it will always be for man to find.