Christian Science: The Science of True Living
Bicknell Young, C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The full text of Mr. Young's address is as follows:
Under prevailing systems of education, and influenced by the daily stress and strain of ordinary existence, it is not strange that misunderstandings arise among people and between nations. It is not even strange that under such circumstances things of little value should be exalted and the great things of being should be unrecognized or ignored and yet this audience and hundreds of others of similar audiences in various parts of the world, assembled for the same purpose, indicate wholesome dissatisfaction with such conditions, and show that the higher and better views of life appeal to the human heart as nothing else can. I come here tonight to speak to you on a Science which rests upon the fundamental facts of being and which in the measure that it is understood is capable of improving, and even transforming, the life of every man, woman and child. Because it can do this it follows that it can also reform the world, and I am prepared to show that it will do so, just as fast as you and the rest of mankind understand and adopt it. In saying this I do not mean to imply that Christian Science is a kind of magic, or that it is a system which will work for the benefit of the race without any effort on their part to conform their lives to its Principle and rule. But I do say that it promises and provides health and peace to those who earnestly study and abide by its teaching.
To any one who thinks clearly, or endeavors to do so, it does not seem reasonable to suppose that the errors which produced trouble could be expected to remove it. Ask a stricken race if disease is less prevalent, less insistent, less fatal because of the centuries of education in the use of the material remedies, and the answer, if truthful, will be a universal NO! Diseases are as mysterious and baffling as ever to material systems of healing. Industrial unrest prevails, the high cost of living goes on, greed is rampant, and in many parts of the world unparalleled conditions of crime are unchecked and unresisted. From a material outlook what hope is there? Humanity seems to be sailing a boisterous sea without chart, compass or pilot.
Christian Scientists do not fail to take cognizance of the difficulties which beset the race as well as the individual. We are not engaged in any superficial, altruistic theory. We claim to have common sense, and the history of this movement shows clearly that, as a class, Christian Scientists are eminently practical. The advantage which they have over other people is to be found solely in what they have gained of the true Science of life and living, through the study of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," and other works written by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
What is this Science? Do the theories of prevailing educational systems indicate or reveal it? All theories of general education of life and its possibilities are predicated upon the certainty and necessity of sin, disease and death. Such theories are self-contradictory. They have been accepted and tried for centuries utterly in vain. With circumstances all in their favor, and supported by the overwhelming consensus of human faith and education, they have utterly failed. Under such beliefs, and uninstructed by Christian Science, living is tantamount to mere physical endurance and final chaos. Christian Science takes issue with all such theories and conclusions. It appeals to the higher nature, to reason and logic, and educates us in the Science of Life, the greatest need of the race.
If we are living at all (and we are), if there be any action, energy, opportunity, availability, originality or volition; if men and women exist at all, and can think or do anything at all, then there is a science for all this, and it is commensurate with all that may be required of it. We are living and thinking, and we have got to go on living and thinking in order to accomplish anything whatsoever. The evidence of our senses gives us no hint of what life really is, and when from this standpoint we think anything about life we indulge in mere speculation, unless Christian Science comes to our rescue and gives us the right idea. Ordinarily, human life is considered to be mere chance, manifesting the whim and caprice of instinct or desire. We have been taught to look out for our material needs, and we have been instructed in some of the sciences which are supposed to aid us in administering to those needs, but our thinking, which is the most important part about us, has had no science to govern or exalt it, but has been based upon and fostered by education which assumed and inculcated the theory that matter governs man. Christian Science reveals the fact that thought governs or misgoverns mankind, as the case may be, including the body, and that as we approach and attain a divine standard, the health and safety of the body are proportionately secure.
The science of true living and true thinking is thus drawn from a higher source than mere ordinary human experiences. To investigate it requires research of the most unselfish, painstaking and persistent nature. Such was the research that Mary Baker Eddy entered upon and carried on for years. It culminated in the discovery of that science which she named Christian Science. She saw the vast importance of distinguishing between the true and the false, between the real and the unreal. She observed the permanent nature of divine facts and this led her to the conclusion that such facts constitute immortality. How to understand these facts was not so difficult for her as was the problem of teaching others to understand them. We who are the beneficiaries of this Science, in common with the whole of mankind, can scarcely realize what it must have meant, especially fifty years ago, to awaken the world to the consideration of religion as a science, and of real science as religion. All the prejudices of sectarianism were instinctively arrayed against such a proposition, and yet it promised nothing less than complete redemption for the human race. Even now, after all of Mrs. Eddy's great work, Christian Science is not universally accepted; but the signs of the times are portentous and hopeful. Why should they be otherwise, for Christian Science fulfills the hopes of the Christian world.
Does not its declaration that God is Infinite Cause, Intelligence, Spirit, Mind, Life, Love, immutable, immortal Principle, the source and substance of all being, tally with our ideals of what constitutes the omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient God of the Bible and of all Christendom? If it does, then your ideals may, through Christian Science, take on a practical value; they may be brought out of the realm of speculation into that of actual experiment and demonstration. These definitions of God, virtually accepted by the whole Christian world, constitute the fundamental facts of the science of true living as revealed in Christian Science. But they must be more and more clearly apprehended by the students of this Science, and consequently Christian Scientists are involved in the same research which Mrs. Eddy carried on. She says that she found the ideas of true science in the spiritual teachings contained in the Bible. They may be found by anybody who, in the light of Christian Science, looks for them in that same place.
Such work is not less scientific than that of sciences which have to do with material phenomena. In fact, to investigate and understand thoughts and their nature and law is the highest kind of scientific research, and is the most interesting and instructive of all studies. Besides this, there are immediate results, visible and practical, to be attained by such a course. They are often acknowledged by the general public, who do not hesitate to say that Christian Scientists are generally a happy and healthy class of people. In mentioning this I am not claiming that all that can be desired in these directions has been accomplished, but at any rate, thousands of people who are alive and well today testify that they were saved from death and their health restored through Christian Science.
The apostle says, "your life is hid with Christ in God." Christendom has accepted that saying, but it was not understood and could not be until the science of it was revealed, yet the whole Christian world agrees that God, the immutable creator of the universe, originates, sustains and perpetuates His own creation.
The assumption that life is primarily in matter is not basic enough to satisfy the faculty of reason in man. It limits life and at the same time calls it infinite, and fails to explain what life is, or how, according to such theories, it ever got into such forms. The only philosophy that satisfies in regard to life is found in Christian Science, because Christian Science is not a theory. It shows that Life is and must be the self-existent Mind, intelligence, being, which we call God. This real Life, permanent, necessarily perfect, untouched by disease, sin or death, is the only Life of man. He does not need any other and could not have any other. The human being who recognizes this fact is gaining something by way of education that tends to both health and peace. The Science of Life must be the science of living which the whole world has sought and sought in vain. Yet here it is, obtainable by any person who desires to have it, and costing nothing beyond the preliminary steps of equipping oneself with the books which teach it. These books are the Bible and "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy. Like other books, they are made up of ideas, and this science like other sciences, consists of ideas. The difference between this science and other sciences is, however, that in other sciences, ideas, by way of instruction, pertain to material things, or actions, or the employment or use of material things and remedies, whereas in Christian Science, ideas themselves constitute both the means and the object of education, are the sole phenomena of this science and they are the only remedies used to restore health and prevent disease.
Now to the average person, accustomed to rely upon matter, to speak of ideas as remedies for disease may sound like mystery, and yet all religion consists of thoughts or ideas, all science consists of thoughts and ideas, all the great things in the world have their origin in education, which is attained by study and consists wholly of ideas. But beyond this and above it there is something still greater to be observed, and that is that the infinite Mind, God, which spake and all things were, expresses Himself forever in ideas. This being so, is there anything extraordinarily mysterious, or at all mysterious, in the fact that Christian Science heals the sick through revealing, by means of thoughts or ideas, the nature, the power and the presence of God? If the ordinary human being is expressed in his character, that is, in his thoughts and education, should it be considered incredible that the divine Mind could reveal itself through its own ideas, and if these ideas come from God, who is Mind, is it extravagant or unreasonable to expect enlightenment, and even improved health, through their presence and law? These questions might imply a dogmatic attitude, but I propose to justify them right here, and to show that the answers are not founded upon opinion, but upon facts. Consider that even ordinary systems of education, and ordinary views of science, unite in declaring that the creation or universe is immeasurable. Even those who think it to be wholly material and who believe, or profess to believe, that thought can originate in and be carried on by brain or matter, are at absolute agreement upon the facts of an infinite universe. Now let me call your attention to the further fact that all phenomena or effects imply a cause. Our observation of the effects may be inadequate, and, indeed, must be so, when these effects are infinite, but at any rate, however we regard effects, they inevitably imply a cause. Now immeasurable or infinite effects in quantity and quality, not only demand but actually require an immeasurable or infinite cause. Religionists speak of this cause to be God. Material scientists think they are more scientific when they speak of the first great Cause as energy or force; but neither the one nor the other, however divergent their views or expressions, can possibly deny the infinity of that cause, and the Infinite must be indestructible. For this reason religionists throughout all ages, even though they have not reasoned it out, have instinctively felt and said that God is eternal, and the materialists, driven to the last ditch by their own investigations, declare also that what they call force or energy, in order to be the cause of the universe, cannot be conceived of as beginning or ending.
The eternality of God, the first great Cause, is therefore universally admitted. No religionist will deny it nor think of doing so, and no scientist can, although his nomenclature may differ from that of the religionist. Now eternality declares certain characteristics which we can here consider and be greatly instructed. In this connection let me speak of the fact that Christian Science has been criticized, and that Christian Scientists have been the object of attempted ridicule, because of their conviction that God can not possibly be the author of disease or sin, and that consequently disease and sin, which have no divine origin, are devoid of true existence. Nevertheless this contention of ours rests upon logic that is irrefutable, for if God be eternal, as all people admit, then God is not the author of any destructive thing, neither does he include within Himself the possibility or knowledge of any destructive or self-destructive element. To think otherwise is not only illogical and unscientific, but irreligious, and in the last analysis even sacrilegious.
I have asked you to follow along in this course of reasoning for a certain purpose, and that purpose I believe now begins to appear. It is that you may learn the naturalness of health and life and the unnaturalness of disease and death. Perceiving, as I believe you must have done, as we have gone on here thinking this out together, that God does not and cannot include or conceive of a single destructive element or quality, you can see that a better understanding of God will mean more of the presence of God, and will tend to remove destructive elements and incidents from our lives. thereby health and life will, not only be more general, but more permanent. We have taken a step in the Science of Life within these few minutes, and I wish to call your attention to the fact that it has been a pleasant step, and none of us has suffered in taking it. I have not urged you to believe in Christian Science, and I promise you that I will not urge you to believe anything. The most that I ask of you, anywhere, at any time, in considering this subject, is to think. It goes without saying that thinking requires logic, for without consistency, without Principle or basis for thinking, and conclusions drawn by reason, there is no real thinking going on. Just here, however, some who have turned their faces toward the light of Christian Science find themselves assailed by questions as to the reason for the existence, or seeming existence, of disease and sin and the rest of the train of destructive and afflictive human experiences. They accept the inevitable logic of Christian Science, which I have briefly and altogether inadequately touched upon here, but they naturally wonder about human experiences that, according to Christian Science, could not be either God ordained or God sustained. It is not strange that they should do so, but let it be said that Christian Science is like other sciences in at least one respect; if it is to be demonstrated its rules must be followed. Its Principle must be perceived and maintained under all circumstances. Even in the study of art and music, we find that progress depends upon allegiance to certain ideals which have sprung from standards established by the most cultured men and women of the world. The mistakes that we make in the study of art do not, or should not, engage our attention any longer than is required to correct them. Let us then take that same attitude toward the afflictive experiences of human existence. They are not of God, consequently they are not scientific, and not true in the highest sense. They are only true to our limited powers of observation and because of our inadequate education. For example, certain mechanical improvements which today are commonly understood and used could not have been conceived of by our forefathers. If enlightenment has enabled us to discover them, and thereby to avail ourselves of such improvements, and thereby also to do away with some devices which were crude and perhaps unscientific, may not greater enlightenment enable us to do away with the experiences of sin and disease, and when they are abolished shall we have any interest in asking how it was that they came about? An afflictive experience, giving way to health and peace, or a crude invention, giving way to an intelligent discovery, need not be inquired into. Its day is past, and as it had no permanent value, it had no real being. The best and only explanation of error is to show its unreality, and I ask you to consider this sufficient and final explanation. Permanent value must be the criterion by which we judge. With this criterion in view, greater improvements than are yet dreamed of will come to light, and by the same token, things that are now accepted as natural will vanish under the revelation of the true naturalness of an existence that has its being, function and law in the God or creator who is wholly good.
Consider also that an eternal cause or creator cannot be conceived of to be personality, consequently the real personality of God, or the real character and being of God must be the Mind. There is no other word that so fully enlightens us and enables us to see the perfect relationship existing between the creator and his creation. Besides this, the word Mind satisfies our intellectual cravings in another direction. It explains what we call thinking. Even though much of what is called human thinking is wholly unworthy of man and utterly unknown to God, yet even that semblance of thinking implies mentality, and mentality means that somewhere in the universe, and, indeed, everywhere in the universe, is Mind, the cause and creator of all things and the ultimate explanation of our power to think, which becomes more Christlike as God is better understood.
When we perceive that divine Mind is the sole Cause of all things, we begin to perceive what Life really is, and how Life and its Science may be more clearly understood. We have already been taught in the ordinary curriculum of school or college to value great and beautiful thoughts. Christian Science takes us a step further. It shows us that really great thoughts and pure ideals in themselves constitute the activity of true science. Thus it is that the thoughts which reveal God in Christian Science possess interest and power beyond any thoughts that can be entertained by mankind.
To the old way of thinking it seems incredible that materially intangible facts should have actual value and influence. Yet the founder of the Christian religion proved beyond all question that diseases even of the most fatal nature could be absolutely healed by the power of the understanding. He taught, however that such power can only be available to men in proportion to their righteousness, their rightness in every way. He knew and declared that the power to heal is wholly from God, the divine Mind, and he said and showed by his own works that this power is natural to men and women in the proportion of their understanding or enlightenment on the true nature of God and His law. In accordance with the teachings of Christ Jesus, Mrs. Eddy shows that evil actions spring from beliefs entertained instead of rejected. Wrong acts mean wrong mentality, which is either utter ignorance, or perverted tendencies cultivated and submitted to. In turn, wrong actions persisted in seem to arouse and increase the very instincts or erroneous beliefs from which they originally sprang; thus goes on a circle of evil feeding upon itself. Christian Science, in calling attention to such things, shows the value of true education, and proves it by establishing thought in accordance with God, the divine Principle of all being. This word Principle shows that thought can have a correct and permanent basis, and that, being constantly kept in accord with that permanent and correct basis, thought tends to produce better habits, which in their turn stimulate mentality in its endeavors toward improved thinking.
What is the origin of thought? We have been taught to believe that it is the brain, but advanced philosophers and scientists today realize, in some degree at any rate, that while brain may be influenced or affected by thought, it cannot possibly of itself be the origin or basis of thinking. It is composed of the same simple elements that constitute the rest of the human body. These elements, as it is well known, taken by themselves, or combined with each other, without the presence of human life, could not do anything at all, least of all think, which is the most important act that is ever done. We must therefore conclude, and we do conclude, in the light of reason, that the brain does not think, but that thought itself exists irrespective of brains; indeed it only takes a moment of consideration to lead us to the conclusion that all of the thoughts or ideas thus far revealed, even by the greatest thinkers, existed prior to brain, and that these thinkers performed a service to mankind in discovering or bringing to light these ideas, often clothing them in sublime and striking language and thereby making them more apprehensible. This is also what Mary Baker Eddy did. She aroused our admiration and reverence, not only by the ideas which she brought to light, but also by the manner of their presentation.
Now if you and I exist at this moment and can think, existence is a fact and thinking is a present, conscious function of that existence. If we can think about the small things of life, it is only a matter of education to learn to think about the great things of life. If we can think about God and learn of His purpose and law, it is only a question of education to be able to think and act according to that purpose and law.
Christ Jesus is always the exemplar. The mystery which religious belief has associated with his words and works is disappearing in the light which Christian Science throws upon them. Redemption through Christ involves no such theory as that of vicarious suffering, neither does it predicate itself upon the belief that the material blood of Jesus saves from sin. In all of the ancient languages, and to a great extent in the modern, the word blood is used metaphorically to signify life, and in the New Testament it is constantly employed in that way. Jesus at the time of the last supper admonished his followers to live his divine life among men, and he did so by means of a symbol which was perfectly understood by them, but has been misunderstood or misinterpreted by religious systems since their time.
Christian Science in showing us what salvation through Christ is, does not omit the healing of disease. Living the Christ life involves us in the acceptance and practice of the Christ healing. We have been accused of making too much of this healing, but it may be easily observed that such accusations generally spring from people who are in the enjoyment of excellent health. None of the afflicted who have been healed or who are seeking healing in Christian Science have ever accused us of making too much of the Christ healing.
The power of God which characterized Christ Jesus came to him not in the realm of matter, but of understanding. That is where all true power comes to man. That is where all true education fits us for life and equips us with courage and wisdom to meet the difficulties of human existence, including disease. How necessary it is for us to awake to the full value of true thoughts and pure education, which constitute real being! What would man be without the power to think? Salvation is the main object, it is even the object of all education, although that object is not mentioned in the curricula of schools and colleges. We are all seeking salvation, consciously or unconsciously, for we are all striving for satisfaction. Everybody wants heaven, though many appear to be searching for it in strange ways, for heaven is nothing more nor less than real permanent happiness, satisfaction.
On page 291 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy writes: "Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind in which all the manifestations of Mind are harmonious and immortal, because sin is not there and man is found having no righteousness of his own, but in possession of 'the mind of the Lord,' as the Scripture says." It follows that the way to heaven is a way of education, in the highest sense of that word. We must think our way into heaven, and nothing can deprive us of or excuse us from that exalting and redemptive necessity. This is being saved through the blood of Christ, the life of Christ. Heaven is natural and constant to God and must be the same to man in his image. We need only gain that likeness in ourselves in order to be in heaven. Jesus said, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation; neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo, there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." Jesus knew that the Science of Life will heal the sick, and acted in accordance with that science. He proved that the Science of Life naturally produces the phenomena of Life, and that health is indisputably one of the phenomena of Life.
Divine facts constituted his mentality and made him the Christ, for they had their being, and they still have their being, in God. It was what Jesus knew that made him different from all other human personalities, but he placed no restrictions upon that knowledge, and we should not place any if we are his followers. He was anxious that everyone should know and have the power to prove the healing, saving Christ. This divine Christ, Truth, is to be born within us, and there, in the realm of consciousness, or thought, it is to carry on its redemptive mission according to the example of Christ Jesus.
Does this take away any of the respect and reverence which mankind justly feels for him who spake as never man spake? Was it not on the contrary this constant dependence upon Mind, God, that gave him the title of Christ Jesus, and is it not a corresponding attitude on our part that gives us the right to be called Christians, and that, persisted in, will make us better Christians day by day? He declared that life is not dependent upon matter, but upon knowing, which is a characteristic of Mind, God. "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent."
We have learned to recognize Life eternal, and we insist upon maintaining the fact in spite of all evidence to the contrary. We would not be worthy of the name either of Christians in the ordinary sense, much less of Christian Scientists, if we failed to do so, for any theory of life contrary to eternality involves death, which is the exact opposite of life.
If you desire to go to a given point you will follow the direction in which that point lies. You will not turn your back to that direction and go in an opposite one. All the ways that human education have devised or theorized about in reference to health and life are headed in the wrong direction and lead away from either or both. A healing system is intended to produce health, which in its turn tends toward life. How is it possible then that a healing system be founded upon the observation of disease? The opposite direction in this case is the right direction. What is it? It is the direction of reason, the direction of pure logic, the direction of divine revelation. It shows unmistakably that a creator who is Life never introduced any death into His creation, and that means, as we have already seen, that He never conceived of a destructive element such as disease, has never known it, does not know it now, never will know it. What does this mean to you and me? It means that in proportion as we get out of the old education and get into the new, what we call our minds and our lives will be entirely different from what they have been. Instead of having an ephemeral existence, without any certainty except that of death, mankind will begin to show forth the divine nature, and the divine nature lives forever.
This science of living, this Science of Life, was illustrated by Christ Jesus, but as a science it could not be given to the world in his time. It has come in ours. Think of that. Think of what it means to have the privilege of studying and demonstrating the Science of Life, a science for which the world had to wait thousands of years before its mentality could lose enough darkness to even perceive such a Science. Think what it means that a person could have been awake enough, free enough, clear enough mentally, spiritually, to discover such a Science as this, the science of all sciences. This is exactly what Mary Baker Eddy did, and she did something more than that; her discernment extended to the facts of being and revealed them, but it also descended to the present needs of mankind and met them. She saw that the omnipresence of God would have to be affirmed before it could be realized and she also knew and taught that the rejection of all other seeming power would have to be persisted in before full proof that good is all powerful and Life is immortal could be obtained.
Mrs. Eddy's teachings constantly admonish us not to claim for ourselves or for our understanding anything beyond what we can substantiate by actual proof. Therefore we, your friends, who have invited you here to a lecture, and who welcome you upon all occasions when Christian Science is being correctly set forth, make no claim to have attained the fullness of this Science. We are trying to be worthy of this gift of God to men. We would be unworthy of it if we did not here and upon all other proper occasions express our gratitude, love and reverence for the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. She established the cause of Christian Science on the enduring foundation of Christ healing, where it stands and will continue to stand, a living and ever rising monument to a character and to a career of achievement absolutely unique in history.
God is Life, and perpetuates His own creation. Jesus said, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health, "God's thoughts are perfect and eternal, are substance and Life." We have been considering those thoughts here. They are easy to understand when sought in sincerity, because they are more natural to us than other thoughts, nearer to our real being than any other thoughts could be.
The Bible is the original revelation of the immortal relationship of God and man. Christian Science makes this relationship understood, and in doing this it removes condemnation and establishes redemption in its stead, it shows beyond all doubt that the only final or possible sequence to a mistake is loving and complete correction. Sometimes our own shortcomings may have retarded the fruition of the desire to have this Science universally understood, and we can only say to you that we hourly repent of them in sackcloth and ashes. But the Science itself, the Science of Christianity, discovered by Mary Baker Eddy, has no shortcomings. Its possibilities for good are as immeasurable as its divine Principle, God, is, and we ourselves, though offering no excuses for our failure to be fully worthy, beg you to consider that we are moving in the right direction, that is, onward and upward. With arms extended to encompass mankind, in reverence and adoration to the God who is Love, and in devotion to His Christ, we give you this message of Life, of health, of peace, and we aim to express and make daily more practical in behalf of ourselves and for all mankind the compassion of Him who said, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
[Delivered April 17, 1921, at the Scenic Temple under the auspices of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and published in The Cambridge Tribune, April 23, 1921. The title of the lecture, which was not provided by the Tribune, is taken from the "abstract" published in The Cambridge Chronicle of the same date. This report of the lecture takes the places of Christian Science: The Science of Life, formerly in the index, which, although appearing in The Christian Science Journal, was only a portion of the lecture. There are slight differences between the two reports.]