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Edward FitzGerald

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Having seen how many follow and have followed false religions, and having our reason utterly against many of the principal points of the Bible, we require the most perfect evidence of facts, before we can believe. If you can prove to me that one miracle took place, I will believe that he is a just God who damned us all because a woman ate an apple; and you can't expect greater complaisance than that to be sure.
--
Letter to William Makepeace Thackeray (1831); quoted in The Life of Edward FitzGerald, Translator of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyán (1947) by Alfred McKinley Terhune, p. 57.

 
Edward FitzGerald

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The first step is the last step. The first step is to perceive, perceive what you are thinking, perceive your ambition, perceive your anxiety, your loneliness, your despair, this extraordinary sense of sorrow, perceive it, without any condemnation, justification, without wishing it to be different. Just to perceive it, as it is. When you perceive it as it is, then there is a totally different kind of action taking place, and that action is the final action. Right? That is, when you perceive something as being false or as being true, that perception is the final action, which is the final step. Now listen to it. I perceive the falseness of following somebody else, somebody else’s instruction — Krishna, Buddha, Christ, it does not matter who it is. I see, there is the perception of the truth that following somebody is utterly false. Because your reason, your logic and everything points out how absurd it is to follow somebody. Now that perception is the final step, and when you have perceived, you leave it, forget it, because the next minute you have to perceive anew, which is again the final step.

 
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Scripture says:—If a man should rise, pretend to be a prophet, and show you his signs by which he desired to convince you that his words are true, know that God intends thereby to prove to the nations how firmly you believe in the truth of God's Word, and how well you have comprehended the true Essence of God; that you cannot be misled by any tempter to corrupt your faith in God. Your religion will then afford a guidance to all who seek the truth, and of all religions man will choose that which is so firmly established that it is not shaken by the performance of a miracle. For a miracle cannot prove that which is impossible; it is useful only as a confirmation of that which is possible, as we have explained in our Mishneh-torah.

 
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Now, evidence to a man is that which convinces his mind. It varies with different men. An argument to a man who cannot reason is no evidence. Facts are no evidence to a man who cannot perceive them. A sentimental appeal is evidence to a man whose very nature moves by emotion, though it may not be to his neighbor.
So then, when men come to the investigation of truth, they are responsible, first, for research, for honesty therein, for being diligent, and for attempting to cleanse their minds from all bias of selfishness and pride. They are responsible for sincerity and faithfulness in the investigation of truth. And when they go beyond that to the use of their faculties, the combination of those faculties will determine very largely, not, perhaps, the generic nature of truth, but specific developments of it. And as long as the world stands there will be men who will hold that God is a God of infinite love and sympathy and. goodness with a residunm of justice; and there will be men who will believe that God is a God of justice with a residunm of love and sympathy and goodness; and each will follow the law of his own mind. As a magnet, drawn through a vessel containing sand and particles of iron, attracts the particles of iron but does not attract the sand; so the faculties of a man's mind appropriate certain facts and reject others. What is evidence to a man will depend upon those of his faculties whk at work upon the things which are presented as evidence.

 
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