The Key to the Mystery of Creation
Thomas A. McClain, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The lecture was given
The lecturer spoke substantially as follows:
I'm sure that each one of you from time to time has pondered the mystery of creation. It confronts us all. The common conception of existence is expressed in contrasting views of man as alternating between good and evil, mind and matter, truth and error, life and death. These contradictions, which human belief pins on humanity, are the result of a dualistic or double-minded concept of creation as both spiritual and material.
However, it's not so much this contrast between the spiritual and material that baffles mankind. It's what appears as the mixture, the commingling, of these opposite qualities in mankind − in other words, the dualism of human existence − that is the mystery of creation. In these times thoughtful people are searching for the key that will unlock this mystery. They're becoming more aware of the need to see through this mystery − of the need to understand God as the primal cause of all true being and through this understanding to resolve the contradictions in human existence.
Throughout the ages men have sought the solution to this riddle of dualism. They have felt, and rightly so, that a better life, improved health, greater security, grander achievements, were to be found in a spiritual understanding of being. But the mystery of creation − the deep-seated human belief that matter and Spirit combine in the creation of man and the universe − has hampered mankind's progress.
The literal interpretation of the Scriptural record in the book of Genesis appears to support the dualism with two concepts of being. In the first chapter of Genesis man is shown to be spiritual, created in the image and likeness of God; but in a following account he is presented as a mortal, made of flesh and bones. Are we to conclude that there are two distinct lines of creative activity − the one spiritual and the other material − which in some mysterious way combine in man and the universe?
Webster defines dualism as "the doctrine that the universe is under the dominion of two opposing principles, a good and an evil; a view of man as constituted of two original and independent elements, as matter and spirit." The almost universal acceptance of this dualistic doctrine has brought mankind to the point where the reality of both good and evil, of both Spirit and matter, is virtually unchallenged in human experience.
Christian Science Challenges Dualism
Christian Science issues the challenge on the basis of the inspired Word of the Bible. It spiritually interpretes the two different versions of the creative process found in the first and second chapters of Genesis. The first chapter of Genesis is understood to be a wholly spiritual account, revealing the essential oneness of being. The second account presents a dualistic concept in which matter and evil play primary roles. This second account is important to human thought. It shows material sense to be the source of the errors from which mankind suffers.
Christian Science challenges dualism with the discernment and authority of divine revelation. Nowhere is this more clear than in the scientific statement of being, found in Science and Health (p. 468), "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual."
This bold assertion lays bare matter's falsity. It does away with any possibility of the amalgamation of matter with Spirit. Spirit, God, is declared to be All, including all Life, Truth, intelligence, and substance. Scientific Christianity exposes dualism as utterly false and shows us the way out of this mental misconception of being. It shows the mystery of creation to be no mystery at all. Thought awakens to behold man and the universe as wholly spiritual, dwelling within infinite Spirit, God.
This truth of creation is found throughout the Bible. Healings accomplished by Jesus and his early followers testify strikingly to their grasp of the supremacy of Spirit over matter. These healings show that human discord and disease are nothing but forgeries scribbled on the tablet of being. When similar healings based on the same spiritual understanding are accomplished today, we must conclude that the fundamental truth of creation has been discovered. This discovery is Christian Science.
It is a spiritual discovery which draws back the curtain of erring material sense to reveal the real man in eternal unity with the Father. Christian Science has often been described as a practical religion. It is much more than this. It is the Science of being leading humanity out of bondage to matter and evil. It enables you and me to discover our real selfhood in Christ, the spiritual idea of sonship, and to bring this true idea of man into an immediate and meaningful relationship to human existence.
Oneness of Being
God and His creation are one, not two. This oneness is maintained throughout the entire order and unfoldment of being. The understanding of this oneness of being is the key that unlocks the mystery of creation. It clears away the errors of belief − the distortions and contradictions which have crept into mankind's concept of being. These errors are the underlying cause of all the discords of human existence.
Christ Jesus taught the oneness of being. He said (John ), "I and my Father are one." He was speaking of the Christ, but he made it plain that the spiritual idea is the only real man. Each one of us in the truth of spiritual being is one with the Father. The recognition of this oneness reveals the practical possibilities of another declaration of the Master's (Matt. ), "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
The seeming inability of mortals to approach a perfect state of being is part of the mystery of creation − of dualism. Humanhood seems destined by its very nature to be an erring sense of existence. To explain or excuse our shortcomings we often blame them on being human; however this erring human sense is based on matter, on a material concept of creation. There is no implication in Jesus' teachings that he resigned his own humanhood to erring material sense.
But just what do we mean by humanhood? Well, humanhood refers to the concept of man as being human; in other words, human consciousness. If we were to compare consciousness with a lens, then we might say that human consciousness is like a tinted lens. When we look through a human sense of things, everything looks human; just as when we look through a green lens everything looks green. But if this lens, though tinted, is pure, there will be no imperfections or distortions in what we see. Only when flaws are introduced into the lens will distortions appear. So it is with the imperfections we see in mortal existence. They are not in humanhood but are the flaws which erring material sense, called mortal mind, introduces into the lens of consciousness. These distortions don't touch the true man but they mar our view of him. So it's important that we awaken and remove these errors from human consciousness. In this way the dualism of human sense is eliminated. Human consciousness then is a transitional state of thought in which the spiritual realities of being appear to mingle with the falsities of error. It's like awakening from a night dream still aware of the dream along with your true surroundings. As we spiritually awaken, the coming of the Christ dissolves this seeming mixture and reveals our spiritual selfhood as God's image. In "Unity of Good" Mrs. Eddy reveals her own sense of this awakening (p. 49). "The more I understand true humanhood, the more I see it to be sinless, − as ignorant of sin as is the perfect Maker." She continues, "To me the reality and substance of being are good, and nothing else. Through the eternal reality of existence I reach, in thought, a glorified consciousness of the only living God and the genuine man."
A New Standpoint
Mary Baker Eddy was a woman who all of her life had been spiritually-minded. Those who knew her as a child and young woman testified to the rare spiritual insight she displayed. Her every thought and act reflected an abiding trust in God. She was a diligent student and a deep thinker; but she was not inclined by nature or destiny to a life of seclusion. A great love for humanity urged her to support every cause that promised greater freedom for mankind.
That a woman so pure, so filled with love for God and man, could have suffered years of physical infirmity and personal sorrow shows the paradox of human existence. It illustrates the darkness of mortal thought − a darkness this woman was to illumine with the light of divine revelation. Midway in her life she made a momentous spiritual discovery. It restored her to health and guided her over the next forty-five years as Founder and Leader of the religion she named Christian Science.
But what does this discovery mean to you and me? Its immediate effect on Mrs. Eddy's own consciousness reveals its mission for mankind. In her autobiography, "Retrospection and Introspection," she tells us (p. 31), "The first spontaneous motion of Truth and Love, acting through Christian Science on my roused consciousness, banished at once and forever the fundamental error of faith in things material; for this trust is the unseen sin, the unknown foe − the heart's untamed desire which breaketh the divine commandments."
Thus the faith of even this divinely inspired woman was advanced to a higher standpoint. Trust in matter was shown to be the unseen sin which breaks God's commands. The dualism of human existence stood exposed as mortal error; and, step by step, Mrs. Eddy was led to the absolute conviction that God's allness strips matter of any claim to reality.
This was not a new truth. But the understanding of her discovery brought Mrs. Eddy to a radically new standpoint of thought. She tells us in "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" (p 357) " 'There is no matter' is not only the axiom of true Christian Science, but it is the only basis upon which this Science can be demonstrated."
Is it any wonder that in its initial impact on world thought this discovery was hailed as revolutionary? It is revolutionary today as it summons human thought from its matter-moorings. The understanding and practical demonstration of man's oneness with God brings us to a radically new standpoint of thought, even to the realization of the allness of God, good, and the unreality of matter and evil. In this way we begin to really understand the Biblical record of creation.
Waking to God's Provision
In the first chapter of Genesis, creation is depicted as taking place in a succession of evenings and mornings constituting seven days. The days of God's creation can't be limited to mortal measurements of time. These days are the evenings and mornings of divine revelation. In response to God's creative mandate (Gen. 1:3), "Let there be light: and there was light," these days supply rays of spiritual illumination, which bring into view the eternal realities of being.
The standpoint in Christian Science of complete reliance on God, to the firm exclusion of faith in matter, is directly related to this revelation of spiritual creation. It is the natural outgrowth of the understanding of God's inexhaustible provision for His creation. It shows, by meeting every human need, that the law of supply and demand is fulfilled by divine revelation, the eternal order of being.
The dualism of a material sense of creation would reduce man and the universe to dependence on matter. This false sense enthrones accretion, the multiplication and growth of matter, as the order of being. This accounts for the fact that mortal concepts of supply and demand are governed more or less by material wants rather than by the understanding of spiritual activity. Buried in the mesmerism of mortal strivings, men lose sight of the divine bestowals ever unfolding in God's creative day.
The poet, Wordsworth, echoed the complaint of humanity,
"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers."
Christian Science redeems mankind from this waste. By turning thought to full reliance on Spirit, God, it rescues us from the daily round of "getting and spending" and brings the satisfying, fruitful rhythm of spiritual activity into human experience. Christian Science furnishes the proof that supply and demand are spiritual laws, governed wholly by the divine Mind, and held in perfect balance.
Meeting Human Needs
This is no ivory tower concept but the practical application of God's law to human needs. It evidences the ceaseless creative activity of the divine Mind operating at every level of human experience. Shortly after I entered upon the public practice of Christian Science, I had occasion to prove this in my own experience. Having resigned a position I'd held for some years, I opened an office in a downtown office building and appeared well launched as a Christian Science practitioner. And my practice was slowly building up.
Now, I'm a native of Kentucky.
It's sometimes said of the people who live in certain parts of
I began to see that my real need was to bring into human consciousness more of the ideas of good which God continually imparts to man, His image and likeness. Man's purpose is to reflect God, to show forth the presence and activity of divine Love in every thought and deed. I saw that man's real activity and the outpouring of good which flows from it is already fully established in Mind, God, and couldn't be affected by the fluctuations of human circumstances and chance. Nothing could be more permanent or more fully established than man's relationship to God. It is from this relationship that all good flows.
To attain and hold to a clear understanding of these truths required much prayer and mental discipline on my part, but as thought yielded to this spiritual demand changes began to take place in my experience. My practice increased, and I soon found that the time I had previously given to the other work was completely taken up with new practice. Also during this time an interesting change came to my thought regarding those bills which seemed to be forever piling up on my desk. These were bills for normal needs, such as rent, telephone, and household needs. I had been pushing them aside, literally dreading the necessity of trying to balance them against my limited resources − actually my limited sense of my resources. They seemed to mock my efforts to realize the ever-presence and sufficiency of God's provision for man, so I preferred not to think of them.
Suddenly, however, it dawned upon me that instead of being symptoms of lack, these bills were evidences of supply! Instead of being afraid and resentful of them, I should be grateful for the good they represented. Each occasion I had to consider these bills, each check I sent out in payment of them, should bring fresh assurances of the unceasing activity of divine Love in meeting the human need.
This broke the mesmerism of lack that had gripped my thought. A deep sense of gratitude for God's goodness and care flooded my consciousness, and from that time on I never had any difficulty in meeting my regular expenses.
Now, I feel I should offer a word of caution here. This idea of seeing bills as evidence of supply shouldn't encourage any of you to go on a spending spree with your charge accounts simply to see how much evidence of supply you can run up. We shall do well to remember Jesus' admonition to Satan (Matt. 4:7), "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God."
Human Thought Elevated
Christian Science doesn't suggest that one can simply "think" himself into prosperity. Human thought, however directed, doesn't alter in the slightest the realities of being. But lack is not the reality of being. The ebb and flow that seem to characterize supply and demand in human experience are part of the dualism we have been talking about. They are part of a misconception of the true source of creative activity. They're the result of looking to matter instead of to Spirit.
When human thought is elevated to the spiritual understanding of God as All, when we recognize the divine Mind as the only Mind, when the substance of Spirit becomes more real to us than forms of matter, when the truths of being gain such ascendancy in human consciousness that the Christ abides with us − and all of these are part of the daily practice of Christian Science − then our days become the days of spiritual creation, filled with the activity of unfolding good.
Made in God's image and likeness, man is given dominion over all the earth. This dominion is reflected, in human experience in the expression of those spiritual qualities and attributes that make for a truly successful and happy life. Moral integrity, wisdom in human affairs, purity of thought, intuition and joy, stability and stamina are all inherent in man's God-given capacity to possess and express dominion. Man has divine authority to be the active expression of good.
In the closing verses of the spiritual record of creation, we find this crowning benediction (Gen. 1:31), "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." Man and the universe are held forever within the circle of Deity's infinite self-knowledge and esteem. This divine awareness of good, the infinite appreciation with which God views His own creation, embraces humanity now. It rests upon you and me right where we are.
Spiritual creation is a divine whole, an uninvadable oneness of being. It is the activity of the divine Mind expressing itself within itself. There can be no exposure within the divine Mind to an opposite power or influence and no source from whence it can come. Elements of evil or matter − whatever is unlike the divine nature − cannot enter into the oneness of being. The evidences of material sense are unreal, meaning that God doesn’t create or cause them. What then is the basis of dualism? Where does it come from?
The Fable of Mankind
The first record of mankind's encounter with dualism is found in the second chapter of Genesis. The use of an allegory to explain this struggle is particularly appropriate since its purpose is to expose a falsity. This second account of creation − the allegory of Adam and Eve − is a graphic portrayal in narrative form of the various false theories and beliefs about God and man which seek to invade the consciousness of mankind.
In other words, in the second chapter of Genesis we have a fable of mankind: a kind of man brought forth out of the dust of the ground. Every point presented in this allegorical version of creation is the exact opposite of the truth revealed in the first chapter of Genesis. Far from being God's image and likeness, Adam represents everything that opposes God. The belief that matter has life, that it forms its own offspring or cooperates with Spirit in doing so, is opposed to the divine creation of man in God's image and likeness.
What has happened to man's spiritual dominion? Has the divine demand (Gen. 1:3), "Let there be light," been reversed, bringing a night of error to God's creative day? No! The perfection and harmony of God's creation are forever intact. The characters and events of this narrative typify unreality. They expose the suppositional and false claims of matter and evil.
One commonly held view of this narrative is that it shows how mankind has fallen from spiritual grace and has become a sinful mortal, but Adam was never created in the image and likeness of God. Christian Science doesn't overlook the individual's need of salvation, but neither does it put upon him the condemnation of Adam. It leads us to relinquish the errors of belief − to cast out the Adam concept − and lay hold on Christ, the divine idea, which reveals man's eternal oneness with the Father.
Faith in God means faith in Christ as the true idea of God. When Jesus ascended he laid aside his human sense of identity for the divine. This was the climax of his progressive demonstration of the Christ. The Master proved through his teaching and healing ministry that mankind's deliverance from the flesh comes through spiritual growth, through the progressive exchange in human consciousness of the objects of material sense for the ideas of Spirit.
Jesus once referred to a sick woman as one "whom Satan hath bound" (Luke ). It was common in those times to speak of diseases as demons, to be cast out. The early Christians recognized that disease is to be cast out on the same grounds that sin is rejected. The restoration of the body to health, when accomplished through spiritual growth, is a progressive step in the restoration to human consciousness of man's true spiritual identity and oneness with the Father. This is the Christ way of healing, and in this way absolute reliance on God is both imperative and natural.
In its healing work Christian Science doesn't disregard apparent material conditions; it heals them. But it is important to understand that the application of this Science in the physical realm is not for the purpose of producing better matter, or more of it. Its purpose is to purify and redeem human thought from trust in things material. Christian Science is a spiritual pursuit, not a search for material comfort. It is an adventure of the heart, not an exercise of will. The disciplines of Christ Jesus are the waymarks of this religion; his life, its summit.
Absolute Reliance on God
A woman I know underwent an operation for the removal of a growth in her throat. The growth had developed over several years finally becoming seriously infected. She began to feel the effects of this condition in other parts of her body. Her physician recommended surgery; and, though quite painful, the operation was successful. The growth was completely removed.
About one year later another growth appeared in her throat. It soon became as large as the former one. During the year, the woman had become a student of Christian Science. She was learning to exchange faith in things material for reliance on God's healing power.
She hadn't come to Christian Science in the first place for physical healing, and her desire to rely on it in this instance was not prompted primarily by the physical need. Her new-found faith in God was not the faith she formerly had in material remedies merely turned in a new direction. It was a different kind of faith. It was the faith of spiritual understanding.
A moment ago I said that Christian Science is a spiritual pursuit, not a search for material comfort. This does not mean that we should not expect to find human comfort in Christian Science. It means that it is not its primary objective. The objective is spiritual regeneration.
The student of Christian Science knows that in the absolute truth of being − the truth of spiritual creation − there is no need of healing. As we have seen, however, human thought is strongly oriented to the Adam fable, the beliefs of material existence. Spiritual regeneration is the means by which thought is lifted above materiality and the discords of material sense are dissolved. The prayer of spiritual regeneration, when applied to specific mortal discords, is called Christian Science treatment.
This woman asked for treatment from a Christian Science practitioner. Three days later she awoke to the realization that the growth had completely disappeared. She was unable to recall the moment when it had dissolved. Isn't it often the case that we can't recall the moment we stopped believing a lie? In spiritual healing, Christ, Truth, dawns upon human thought as an awareness of what has always been true; disease dissolves as the dream that never really was.
Now what actually took place with this woman? How did Christian Science treatment dispose of the false claim of dualism? Dualism suggests that matter is substance, that its discords weigh against man's harmony. Previously the woman had resorted to material means for healing. This only resulted in her throwing more matter into the scale of being in the vain hope that faith in matter might outweigh fear of it; or that good matter, so to speak, might outweigh bad matter. We need to take matter, good or bad, out of the scale of being. We need to destroy fear of matter by rejecting faith in it and by acknowledging God, Spirit, as the only substance.
In Science and Health there is this counsel (p. 192), "Whatever holds human thought in line with unselfed love, receives directly the divine power." The purpose of Christianly scientific prayer then is to bring human thought in line with unselfed love and hold it there. It is to bring into the mental realm, where disease and discord seem real, the consciousness of Love's allness. It quiets fear by affirming God's omnipresence and man's eternal oneness with Him. It destroys error by denying its claim to reality. Christian Science treatment is a divine knowing, in the light of which the things that can't be truly known − the errors of mortal, material sense − are seen to be nothing.
Instead of dealing with the problem as a need to change or heal matter, the practitioner recognized matter to be a phenomenon of mortal mind resulting from the misconception of creation. The growth in the woman's throat didn't need to be cut out because it was never more or less than the objectification of erroneous thinking. The growth wasn't external to mortal thought; it was embraced within it. When this thought yielded to Truth, the growth disappeared and never returned.
One aspect of dualism that the student of Christian Science quickly sees through is that Spirit and matter can't be mixed in the healing work. It is generally known that the use of drugs and other material means of treating disease is incompatible with the healing method of Christian Science, but the basis for this is often misunderstood. We're not opposed to doctors, nor are we blind to the humanitarian efforts of the medical faculty to alleviate human suffering. But there's no possible basis for mixing the methods of materia medica with healing prayer in Christian Science. Materia medica is based on the belief that matter is real. Christian Science is based on the understanding that matter is unreal. Any attempt to adopt both methods violates the basis of each, thereby limiting, if not preventing, results from either one.
Christian Science takes exception to commonly accepted methods of treating disease and challenges modern concepts of combining spiritual and material means of healing. As in the ministry of Christ Jesus, healing in Christian Science is a sign of spiritual awakening. It evidences in this age the coming of the Christ to human consciousness. In "Unity of Good" Mrs. Eddy asks a question that is vital in these times (p. 9): "What is the cardinal point of the difference in my metaphysical system?" She answers, "This: that by knowing the unreality of disease, sin, and death, you demonstrate the all-ness of God. This difference wholly separates my system from all others."
Jesus healed the most aggressive sins and diseases known in his day. These healings were instantaneous and on the surface often appeared to require very little of the one healed. Undoubtedly, many today who long for release from physical suffering read of these healings and think, "Wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if Christ Jesus were here today that I might go to him and be healed?" The Christ is here, and those who turn to it today in Christian Science are being healed; but if we are blind to the spiritual demand in Christian healing and fail to see how this demand is met, we shall not recognize the presence of the Christ in our very midst!
Consider the case of the woman who one day followed the Master as the crowd thronged him. The account Mark gives us of this incident is brief, but pointed. He tells us that she "had an issue of blood twelve years, and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse" (Mark ,26).
Is it assuming too much to conclude that this woman had reached her extremity, the utmost limit of her trust in matter? Resort to material means had only increased her suffering, until all that she had to give to such means was exhausted. Then, she discerned the presence of the Christ. She came to Jesus saying (Mark ), "If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole."
These few words disclose the spiritual demand of a totally different kind of faith from the fearful, doubting resort to a new cure that may have marked her previous search for healing. The faith, which touches the hem of Truth's garment, is a spiritual awakening in which human thought, no longer bound by material trusts, joyfully adopts the Christ. The Master's confirmation of this spiritual awakening is implicit in his declaration (Mark ), "Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague."
In Science and Health we read (p. 264), "As mortals gain more correct views of God and man, multitudinous objects of creation, which before were invisible, will become visible. When we realize that Life is Spirit, never in nor of matter, this understanding will expand into self-completeness, finding all in God, good, and needing no other consciousness."
In other words, as we find the key that unlocks the mystery of creation − as we rise to a present understanding and demonstration of oneness with God − we, too, can hear the healing benediction of the Christ, "Thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace . . ." (Mark ).
©1963 Thomas A. McClain
All rights reserved
[From a Des Moines, Iowa newspaper clipping.]