Religions rise because they satisfy the many and fall because they cease to satisfy the few.
They have become the day dreams of mankind and each in turn has become a nightmare from which a gleam of knowledge has waked the dreamer.
The religion which will endure is such a day dream as may still be dreamed in the noon tide glare of Science.
The Four Stages of Public Opinion
I (Just after publication)
The Novelty is absurd and subversive of Religion and Morality.
The propounder both fool and knave.
II (Twenty years later)
The Novelty is absolute Truth and will yield a full and satisfactory explanation of things in general.
The Propounder man of sublime genius and perfect virtue.
III (Forty years later)
The Novelty won't explain things in general after all and therefore is a wretched failure.
The Propounder a very ordinary person advertised by a clique.
IV (A century later)
The Novelty is a mixture of truth and error. Explains as much as could reasonably be expected.
The propounder worthy of all honour in spite of his share of human frailities, as one who has added to the permanent possiions of science.