Christian Science: The Goal of Scientific Knowledge
Henry Allen Nichols, C.S., of
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
We go to school to learn to think. Our teachers present for our consideration the best concepts of science, literature, and art that the so-called human mind has been able to think out. Our teachers would be the last ones to tell us that even the very latest advances in knowledge are the ultimate truth. In all humility they are telling us, without doubt, that current knowledge is only the latest belief about the ultimate facts. It is at this point that Christian Science makes its appeal to you and to me as thinkers. Christian Science is the Science of ultimate truth.
I do not presume to say that any Christian Scientist fully comprehends this Science of ultimate truth. But I do aver that Christian Scientists are beginning to apprehend it. Ultimate truth is becoming increasingly clear to them - so clear that they are demonstrating it as Jesus taught his disciples to do. Christian Scientists today are repeating the ancient wonders; they are healing the sick by prayer alone; they are solving economic, social, psychological, and intellectual problems, by purely spiritual means, yes, even, mechanical problems, by prayer.
An aeronautical engineer, who was a Christian Scientist, came up against a mechanical problem which he was unable to solve. †He consulted other engineers, talked with various airplane manufacturers, and attended a convention of airplane makers, hoping to gain a solution, but found none. Returning to his hotel he threw himself on his bed in discouragement. He turned his thought away from mortal mind toward divine Mind; he acknowledged the omniscience of divine Mind. Gradually his thought began to clear, tension and discouragement left him. "There IS a solution," he declared to himself, "and Mind knows it." †Soon the solution of his problem appeared to his thought; he sketched it out, took it to his machinists, - and it worked.
A New Approach to Education
Christian Science presents to you a new, scientific approach to education, a new and radically different interpretation of education. And it offers a simple, but effective, technique.
Christian Science presents the proposition that all mortal concepts are directly or indirectly beliefs about the ultimate facts. Some human concepts, such as honesty, kindness, morality, illustrate the divine facts.
We are concerned with learning how to discover true spiritual facts or ideas, what their real nature is, and how to apply them to the correction of human concepts and the consequent improvement of human conditions. This is the concern of Christianity. We are not content merely to investigate symbols and so miss the discovery of the reality behind the symbols.
Now, as to the technique: one method of discovering reality is by correctly interpreting, translating, or reversing the symbol - the method of translation or reversal. Christian†† Science states; "Every material belief hints the existence of spiritual reality; and if mortals are instructed in spiritual things, it will be seen that material belief, in all its manifestations, reversed, will be found the type and representative of verities priceless, eternal, and just at hand" (Mary Baker Eddy: Miscellaneous Writings, pp. 60, 61). Again: "Science reverses the false testimony of the physical senses, and by this reversal mortals arrive at the fundamental facts of being" (Mary Baker Eddy: Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, (p. 120). And again: "This deflection of being, rightly viewed, serves to suggest the proper reflection of God and the spiritual actuality of man, as given in the first chapter of Genesis. Even thus the crude forms of human thought take on higher symbols and significations, when scientifically Christian views of the universe appear, illuminating time with the glory of eternity" (ibid., p. 502).
Why is this method of translation or reversal a legitimate and sound method? Because seeming mortal mind is wholly a belief of the reversal or the imperfect translation of truth. Christian Science scientifically states: "The material senses and human conceptions would translate spiritual ideas into material beliefs, . . ." (Science and Health, p. 257). Therefore, by spiritual understanding, we may translate these material beliefs back into Spirit, for Science avers that ". . . all must give place to the spiritual fact by the translation of man and the universe back into Spirit" (ibid., p. 209). When we are instructed by Christian Science in spiritual things, we are able to recognize the spiritual ideas which material beliefs appear to counterfeit.
Ultimate Truths Illustrated
Christian Science uses astronomy, natural science, music, mathematics, and so forth to illustrate the nature of divine ideas. Jesus used botany, agriculture, meteorology, food chemistry (vine, lilies, wind, yeast) to illustrate spiritual facts. The indications of heavenly things lie all about us. The outward indication is not the thing, and we must not make the mistake which pantheism and idolatry make of taking symbols for things. Neither must we let imaginative mortal mind misinterpret the signs. Spiritually scientific sense alone gives the correct interpretation. This sense may be cultivated by careful study of Jesus' method of illustration, and of Mrs. Eddy's. Mrs. Eddy says that she loves nature's promise, and as we are instructed in spiritual things, we too will see that everything about us signifies heaven, here and now.
What a marvelous quality of thought is the bird's. Whence came its aspiration to fly above the earth, its vision of such a possibility and its ability to do it? In the Mind that is God always has been and is the consciousness of limitless freedom. God gives identity to this aspiration. Even the material bird of airy bone and feather points to the possibility of leaving earth for heaven; it stirs within us our own aspiration, our own consciousness, of this possibility. Has God, or mortal mind, given us the bird as a sign? God gives us the reality without which the sign could never appear; and the sign of reality only appears to us as our human sense is acted upon and yields to the divine Mind. In this sense, therefore, God has, given the bird to us as a sign. Watching the eagle soar up and out of sight, we have become aware of the already heaven-planted aspiration and ambition within ourselves not to stay earth-bound. Desiring the freedom of the bird to roam the skies, mankind has invented a way to do it. True, he cannot do it yet except by manufactured paraphernalia of metal and plastic. Without this marvel of bird-thought, this, embodiment of aspiration, we might still be earth-bound. We have come far from being helpless babes carried upon the earth in our mother's arms, from creeping upon the earth on all fours, from standing upon it, riding a beast upon it. Long since we have left solid earth for water, sea, and now we have left sea for air.
Original Substance and Energy
Is not all this illustrative of spiritual elements, forces, and capacities not yet familiar to the human sense of man? He is beginning to see that spiritual thoughts make him master of material elements and forces; he is even beginning to see that, in reality, forces and he himself are not material, but spiritual. Finally, he will see that even the mentality which is concerned with distance, time, and matter is only an indication of something still higher, mightier, and more vast - of the Mind that is not limited, but infinite; not temporal, but eternal; not material, but spiritual, the Mind that is his God. Human sense is beginning to see that spiritual, eternal substance and energy are the reality of which the temporal and material are but counterfeits, or at best, illustrations. We, here, today, by grace of the instruction which we have received from our inspired Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, are already aware that be they the wings of a bird or human skill they do but shadow forth what will eventually appear as their divine originals (see Miscellaneous Writings, p. 232). By translating or reversing all the manifestations of material belief, we are beginning to perceive the types and representatives of those verities which are just at hand.
Going back to the aeronautical engineer, is it not evident that the ultimate facts are spiritual and that what appears as a problem is only a misconception or ignorance of those spiritual facts, and that the problem is solved by an understanding of divine law? It is important to realize that: "This understanding is not intellectual, is not the result of scholarly attainments; it is the reality of all things brought to light." (Science and Health, p. 505). Physical eyesight and hearing, the ability to reason, to be honest and kind, the beauties of nature - all these hint the divine facts. In these and in many other cases† human thought has agreed with, yielded to, and coincided with the ideas of divine Mind. When divine ideas are understood the effect upon the experience of humanity has been: to lessen the limitations of time, distance, and ignorance; to lessen drudgery; to put a higher value on intelligence and morality; to advance scientific and artistic progress in such fields as human relations, communication, atomic fission, medicine, psychology, theology, education.
What is the ultimate purpose or goal of these advances? If this goal were merely the perpetual extension of belief in matter, then Truth itself - the divine and spiritual impelling Principle of progress - would be forever hidden from humanity. The only possible purpose of Truth and Love is to express and manifest itself. God is Truth and Love. Mary Baker Eddy writes: "We live in an age of Love's divine adventure to be All-in-all" (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 158). Truth and Love is expressing itself by allowing forth its own nature, its infinity, grandeur, wisdom, love, power, inexhaustible resourcefulness, its own and eternal allness. Thus is God perpetually unfolding and fulfilling His purpose. The goal for humanity, therefore, is to come to the realization of this nature and allness of Truth and Love.
To this end human progress has always been tending step by step up through the increased understanding of the physical sciences; through the admission that matter is not the inert mass it was thought to be; to the recognition that matter is the objectification of mortal mentality; on through the perception that this mentality is but a conglomeration of beliefs about something that is spiritually real; on and up to the discernment and proof that Spirit, Mind, Truth, Love, God, is the ultimate reality. This is the real purpose and goal of the advance of scientific knowledge. Thus, is human thought unsuspectingly yet irresistibly drawn upward by divine intelligence. "I am the Lord and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me" (Isa. 45:51).
Truth Corrects Errors
This advance Spiritward necessitates the correction of all limited and false beliefs. Mortal mind cannot escape this necessity. It is being compelled to admit its own falsity by the irresistible and unavoidable impulsion of Truth. From one untenable position to another falsity, superstition, brutality, are giving ground. Mortal mind is being forced toward the final admission of its own nothingness. Until this final surrender, the progressive overcoming of false belief is the corollary of the progressive appearing of Truth. This necessity to master evil and to utilize the divine power which enables us to do it is impelled by that very power. Of ourselves we can do nothing. Evil that is appearing outwardly in the world of mortal mind is appearing only because it cannot hide longer from Truth; it is being forced into the light by the light of intelligence. Christian Science points out that false material beliefs latent in mortal mind are the source of all error's visible forms, and therefore the way to eradicate these visible forms is to eradicate the latent beliefs that produce them. It will not do to stir up evil beliefs and then let them remain apparently real. We must prove that we are able through Christian Science to reduce to nothingness that which we have exposed. Through the power of God we are able to do it.
The Availability of Divine Intelligence
Is this assurance genuine or is it only a pious wish, a blind hope? How can we know that we are able to prove the falsity of evil. Divine intelligence enables us to know. Intelligence is that which knows Truth. How can intelligence recognize Truth? That which is external to Truth and unlike it cannot recognize Truth. Error cannot apply any test to Truth. The test of Truth is inherent within Truth itself; and the test of intelligence is within intelligence itself. Truth alone can stand the test of its own inexorable logic. "The understanding of Truth gives full faith in Truth . . . (Science and Health, p. 286). Blind faith or belief without understanding can be shaken, but faith raised to spiritual scientific understanding is unshakable. It affords proof of its soundness. Thus intelligent faith in Truth, love of Truth, and reliance on Truth, which comprise spiritual scientific understanding - these are our assurance and our conviction that we can prove error to be false and so prove our dominion over it. This assurance and conviction is not imaginary, transcendental, deceptive. It does not ignore error, evade lies or tolerate ignorance, fear, or sin; it is not a dweller in a fool's paradise. It is positive, alert, dynamic, efficacious. It faces ignorance, fear, untruth, and sin, and it overcomes them with its understanding of Truth.
How did this demonstrable and scientific Christian understanding of Truth come to be restored to humanity? Mary Baker Eddy had sought for many years to discover the ultimate spiritual cause for all outward effects. In a time of great need, at what seemed to be the point of death, she discerned the nature of this spiritual cause with crystal clarity. She discerned God lo be Love, to be Life, to be Mind, to be the one and only cause, the ultimate and present Principle of man and the universe. She discerned God to be her very Life. She was immediately healed. But she did not stop there.
An Intelligent Discovery
"For three years after my discovery," she writes on page 109 of her book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "I sought the solution of this problem of Mind-healing, searched the Scriptures and read little else, kept aloof from society, and devoted time and energies to discovering a positive rule. The search was sweet, calm, and buoyant with hope, not selfish nor depressing. I knew the Principle of all harmonious Mind-action to be God, and that cures were produced in primitive Christian healing by holy, uplifting faith; but I must know the Science of this healing, and I won my way to absolute conclusions through divine revelation, reason, and demonstration."
Now revelation, we know, is the disclosure to human sense of divine truth, which human sense of itself could never originate. God reveals His truth to humanity.
Demonstration as understood in Christian Science is proof, or the effect of the revealed truth in human experience.
But reason or logical thinking - let me speak to you for a few minutes on this subject. We may define reason as the faculty of drawing conclusions from a given premise; of proceeding, in thought, from a premise to its conclusions, or from effects back to their origin. Is not reason the ability to perceive the relationship between cause and effect? Without the faculty of reason, cause and effect would appear unrelated and unexplained. Another dictionary definition of reason is explanation, as when you give a reason for something. Christian Science, then, as the explanation and demonstration of divine cause and effect, could never have appeared, and did not appear, without the element of reason.
We are prone to consider that our human ability to reason or think logically has a merely human origin. But it is borrowed from a higher source than brain or matter. Sound human reason imitates or patterns some divine faculty. What is this, divine faculty? On page 72 of Science and Health Mrs. Eddy names it. She writes, "'God, good, being ever present, it follows in divine logic that evil, the suppositional opposite of good, is never present." Divine logic, then, is what sound human logic or reasoning patterns and with which it coincides.
What is divine logic? The all-knowing Mind, God, knows Himself, His own being. He knows that He is good, that He is Life, and Truth, and Love. He also knows that He is the source and substance of all true being; that all that exists expresses His nature and that there is therefore nothing unlike Him. This knowing is the inevitable relationship and† nature of Mind's logic. God has always been expressing His own nature, and we have in the Bible humanity's record that it has heard God declaring Himself and the character of His mighty creation. Mary Baker Eddy perceived this scientific explanation of God not only in the Bible, but directly from the source whence the Bible writers caught their glimpses of it - that is, from God, from divine Mind itself. And that is where we may find it. God is our divine Mind too!
Not long ago a girl who was a high-school graduate asked me in Sunday School, "What is reasoning: how do you reason?" The answer came simply enough: "Every time you say or think 'because' and 'therefore' you are reasoning. Every time you answer the question How? and Why? you are reasoning. God is the how and why of everything, isn't He? Because God is Love, therefore man is loving. Because God is Life, therefore man is alive." Then we found in the Lesson for that Sunday some passages in Science and Health where Mrs. Eddy said "because" and "therefore." We learned to distinguish false reasoning based on matter from scientific reasoning based on God. We learned that the simplest forms of reasoning were establishing the connection between cause and effect. We learned what the law of cause and effect is; namely, that like produces like. We saw how Jesus reasoned. Intelligent reason completely satisfied this young girl.† Her happy face showed it. She is now teaching Sunday School herself.
Intelligence Inseparable From God
A college girl - the lovely daughter of Christian Scientists - seemed to suffer mental and physical exhaustion. She said, "I just work my head off and never think about God." Right away the practitioner saw what was the trouble. She was thinking of herself as something apart from God. So the practitioner said to her: "You and the principle of your being are not so far apart and separated as here and there, as though God were up there and you were reflecting Him down here. You are not separated from Him. God is closer than your two hands clasped together! For your two human hands might conceivably exist without each other. But you and the Principle of your being do not and cannot exist without each other. Cause and effect are one. Each exists because the other exists, and neither exists without the other. Tell me: when you multiply 10 x 10, where is the principle of mathematics? Isn't it where the multiplying is going on? The principle of mathematics is expressing itself right there as 10 x 10 equals 100. The principle of your being, God, Mind, is right where you are, expressing itself in you. You are the expression of Mind - that is what man is. Why, you wouldn't be here if the Principle of your being wasn't here! Do you see how close God is to you? God is the Mind you really know with. God is the Love you truly love with. God is the Life you express. The ray of light is the sun's own shining, isn't it? God is doing all, always God is giving His ideas to you, isn't He? It was only the ignorant suggestion that you are a mortal and that your mind is material that made you believe you had to invent some ideas by yourself and that you had to work so hard to do it." She recovered, of course. And she gave this as a testimony in the Christian Science Organization in the college she was attending.
True Logic Heals
So you can see how logic, coupled with love - always with love - heals. You can see its great importance. It heals by explaining the truth to us. It heals by correcting those false conclusions that get us into trouble. By correcting our thoughts it heals our bodies. Are we beginning to understand how Jesus healed - with love and logic? These are elements of the Christ, and Jesus brought them to human comprehension - to human affection and†† human reasoning. Sound Christian reasoning leads to the healing of sin, including moral evil. Listen to Mrs. Eddy's words: "Reason is the most active human faculty. Let that inform the sentiments and awaken the man's dormant sense of moral obligation, and by degrees he will learn the nothingness of the pleasures of human sense and the grandeur and bliss of a spiritual sense, which silences the material or corporeal. Then he not only will be saved, but is saved" (Science and Health, pp. 327,328). The Christ is the spirit of Truth and Love, the spiritual understanding of God. This spirit and understanding made Jesus the affectionate and wise human being that he was. As we imbibe this spirit and gain this understanding, these will make us more affectionate and wise.
Youth and Christianity
And what about our young people? In school and college they are given highly technical knowledge supported by material theories and material reasoning. Are material sciences more logical than Christianity? Is the explanation of matter more logical than the explanation of divine Mind? "Has God no Science to declare Mind, while matter is governed by unerring intelligence?" asks Mrs. Eddy on page 546 of Science and Health. Shall we abandon the young people to these material theories. Shall we not be as explicit, as specific, as explanatory, and as logical as their school teachers are? Christian Science is logical. Our textbook is logical. The time for us to be logical thinkers has come.
Our young people need a good education. "Academics of the right sort are requisite. Observation, invention, study, and original thought are expansive and should promote the growth of mortal mind out of itself, out of all that is mortal." So writes our learned and inspired Leader, Mrs. Eddy, on page 195 of our textbook. On this same page she says, "Through astronomy, natural history, chemistry, music, mathematics, thought passes naturally from effect back to cause." We should all understand these subjects to be symbols of the actual spiritual facts.
What is it that analyzes human thought and tests its premises and conclusions and so exposes and annihilates error? Sound logic, always working with love. Your love and logic are the upper and nether millstones in the mills of God which grind all with exactness and "grind exceeding small." From them no claim of evil can escape. Both millstones are necessary - one alone could not grind or accomplish anything. For lack of logic, mercy alone was unable to save early Christian healing from the subtleties of paganism.
The Function of Logic
This method of convincing humanity that error is unreal is the method of Christian Science as revealed to and practiced by the Discoverer of this Science. We do well to cultivate our own skill in using it, for by this method do we convince ourselves of errorís nothingness. No other method known to man has ever accomplished this. The function of logic is not only to test conclusions already arrived at, but to lead thought to new conclusions, to ideas never before apprehended. Was it by sheer logic that Mrs. Eddy arrived at the inescapable and revolutionary conclusion that because God is All, therefore evil is nothing? Can anyone say that conclusion came as pure inspiration and not by logic? It is as divinely logical as it is inspired. Where does logic begin and inspiration end? Neither begins nor ends. Our genuine spiritual intuitions, our spiritual inspirations, soaring above and beyond the slow plodding of mortal mind, do not leave logic behind. The unfolding of spiritual ideas is logical and orderly in sequence. Genuine divine logic is as spontaneous and unshackled as divine inspiration. They are not mutually exclusive but mutually inclusive; they are distinguishable, put inseparable because they are two aspects of the one divine manifestation. Their union is an element of Christian Science, or the Science of Christís Christianity.
The Christ is not a human being; the Christ is the spiritual understanding which inspires and empowers the human being. The Christ is not and never was the corporeality; the Christ is the spiritual consciousness that made Jesus the most wise and good and loving human being that ever trod the earth.
The Original Psychology
The Christ is not the intellectual man. The Christ is the spiritual consciousness which when understood enlightens the intellect; it guides, instructs, inspires, clarifies the intellect, frees it from ignorance, frustration, dullness, materialism, animality. The Christ improves and humbles the intellect by exchanging its beliefs for ideas of Mind - the Mind that is God. It exchanges a belief in many minds for an apprehension of the one Mind.
This Christ or manifestation of the spiritual reality and perfection of all things heals the sick by healing the thinking that makes sickness; it reforms the sinner by casting out the thoughts that make sinners; it spiritualizes theology by proving that Spirit never made a material universe or physical man; it corrects psychology by pointing out that mentality governs physicality. And so homeopathy has been followed by psychoanalysis, which has been followed by psychosomatism. The Christ is not in these but in the power that has impelled these successive changes in psychology; it is the impulsion that drives psychology to explore its own mistakes, until it discredits and abandons them. The course of mortal mind is a zigzag course, but it is ever attenuating itself not because of any virtue of its own but because it is impelled to do so by Spirit, Soul, and by divine Science, the true Science of psychology. For, as you know, the Greek word "psyche" means spirit, soul, mind; and the suffix "ology" means knowledge or science of. Thus does Christian Science use the term Science of psychology in its spiritual meaning - the genuine, original, divine Science of Spirit, Soul, Mind - divine Mind's own Science, understanding, consciousness of itself and of its likeness, spiritual man.
A graduate student of psychology said: "I rebel at the awful misconceptions of psychology. I'm not so confused as disgusted.''
Her friend replied: "But that is not necessary. If you recognize them as misconceptions, why not use them to point your thought more exactly toward the true concepts of divine Mind? Errors serve as way-marks to the one Mind, when you reverse them, and by this reversal of errors you come to the fundamental facts." The student looked relieved and later on in the evening said thoughtfully: "By reversing them, yes, I see. I can reverse them and have true ideas instead."
Christian Science On The Campus
One of the wisest and most lovable Christian Scientists I have ever known of was for many years professor of sociology at a large middle-western university. How did he teach this subject which is concerned with the social relationships of human beings? Why, he brought to bear upon it his understanding of the nature and relationships of spiritual ideas. This we can do also in proportion to our understanding. He wrote (Christian Science Sentinel, July 31, 1948): "Teach in the spirit of reasoning together . . . Emphasize that Christian Science is not restrictive to thinking, but urges the necessity of correct thinking as the price of life and progress . . . Teach the consummate naturalness of translating these new discoveries of physical science into spiritual, that is, Christianly scientific terms . . . You do not need to apologize for Christian Science. It is already out ahead, and after seventy years physical science is just beginning to catch up . . . Teach the student not to fear subject matter, for example, hygiene, psychology, physics, . . . Finally, teach . . . that Christian Science is the greatest adventure in the world today . . . that (it) is rational, revolutionary in even a wider sense than were the discoveries of Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, . . . Darwin, . . . Steinmetz, . . . or Einstein, - the greats in physical science . . ."
Colleges are looking for men of
his character, abilities, and ideas; and so are college students. He was loved
by college presidents and students alike. The
To divine Mind, to the Mind of man, there is no limit - no limit to the altitude and range of spiritual, scientific thought. Spiritual thinking is scientific prayer; it takes mankind to attainment. Thus does prayer attain its answer; thus do we work out our own salvation from material beliefs. We not only tread upon the forces of divine Mind; we soar upon them. Surely the current of divine inspiration bloweth where it listeth. We are lifted not by material mentality but by the forces of spiritual consciousness - lifted to apprehend and to demonstrate the Science of ultimate truth. "When we learn the way in Christian Science and recognize man's spiritual being, we shall behold and understand God's creation, - all the glories of earth and heaven and man" (Science and Health, p. 264).
[The Milwaukee County (Wisconsin) News, May 30, 1957.]