Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year is “science“, because people looked it up a lot this year. It has relevance to so many stories this year: what’s happening to our world, what are we learning about, what are we discovering?
The English word science comes from the Latin for “knowledge”, and the Koine Greek γνώσιν (“sci-” in Latin and “σι” in Greek share a Proto-Indo-European root) is sometimes translated as “science” and sometimes “knowledge” — it comes up 29x in the New Testament of the Bible, like the end of Luke 1 where it talks about preparing the way for the Lord’s “science of salvation.”
Humans have attempted science for a long time, and we’re getting really good at our version. We’ve mastered the atom, crawled all over Mars, and occasionally get the weather right. Scientific endeavor has translated many things into thoughts, thereby augmenting understanding and enabling technological prowess that seems like magic. And this science can explain so very much about the wondrous heavens, from the forging of the elements in the big bang to the life cycles of stars, and what currently confuses astronomers about the heavens will likely be figured out in the future. But this understanding will always be finite.
His understanding is inexhaustible and boundless.
A proverb says it is by this understanding that He established the heavens. (Sidebar: It’s not mainstream, but self-consistent Truth inducing actual creation has certain renowned proponents among philosophers and physicists.)
Can our human attempts at science explain the ultimate “why”‘s? Sometimes we’ll try, and you hear mutterings about string theory and eternal inflation, but then “science” begins to exceed its boundary of testability. And in other directions: Can we explain the forgiveness of misdeeds? Can we reproduce the radical healing practiced routinely by Jesus and others? There seems to be a science there – Jesus taught students, he encouraged empiricism, and he promised that anyone could reproduce his works:
believe what you see—these works. The person who trusts me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things
The reason human science can’t compete with this divine Science (at least in these questions) is subtle (at least, to me). In her book about science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (S & H), Mary Baker Eddy consistently echoes the theme of the Bible that God, divine Mind, Principle, is the only cause. I was skeptical of this claim for a long time. In particular, it denies validity to material causation. That book says:
starting from a material sense … seeks cause in effect, Principle in its idea, and life and intelligence in matter.
In the infinitude of Mind, matter must be unknown.
Just beforehand, it says:
That matter is substantial … exists only in a supposititious mortal consciousness.
Every system of human philosophy, doctrine, and medicine is more or less infected with the pantheistic belief that there is mind in matter… A logical and scientific conclusion is reached only though the knowledge that there are not two bases of being, matter and mind, but one alone, — Mind.
That passage on its own might not convince you — it wouldn’t convince me on its own. But beauty and order point to Mind. And I know it’s written deep in your heart, as I’ve been slowly discovering it is in mine. But if you don’t think you can read that right now, how about this: The folks who do acknowledge and adore one infinite Mind are capable of doing what we asked about in the beginning of this post: undoing sin, healing disease, and raising the dead. Jesus did it (see the Gospels). His apostles did it (see the book of Acts). Mrs. Eddy did it (see, for instance, Christian Healer). Her students did it and do it today: overcome lust and sickness and raise the (seemingly) dead. I’ve experienced the first two, and have met some who have gone through the lattermost. (Come by any Wednesday evening meeting to hear more stories!) They do it by knowing the “basis of being” in the way Mrs. Eddy described above: “The Christian Scientist, understanding scientifically that all is Mind, commences with mental causation, the truth of being, to destroy the” (apparent) sin, sickness, or death (S & H, p.423). I’m learning that it’s actually a simple and sure process.
Scientifically acknowledging the omnipresence and limitless good of God, our Mind, and thereby healing, is true praise. Science and Health says, “Christian Science does honor God … in the way of his appointing, by doing many wonderful works though the divine … nature,” (p.483). God causes this righteous praise to spring forth. He gives you the desire to do good and the power to succeed at it. It is God’s light by which we see light.
This Sunday morning, our pastor will give a sermon on God the only cause and creator, touching on some of these topics and more, in churches all over the world. We’d love for you to join us in hearing it, and in singing and praying a bit. Our local service is at 10:35, and it’s not (!) at our regular location — it’s at 66 Williams St., Apt. #2, Jamaica Plain, MA. You can also phone in at 1.605.475.4000 x636128#, or Skype-message christian.science.jp.church (audio only so far).
Much much love! And thanks for reading the longest post yet. 🙂
PS: Unlike physical science, the Science of Mind does give satisfying understanding of love. So we conclude with this poetic prose from a section labelled “Love imparts beauty” that touches on much of the above:
God fashions all things, after His own likeness. Life is reflected in existence, Truth in truthfulness, God in goodness, which impart their own peace and permanence. Love, redolent with unselfishness, bathes all in beauty and light. The grass beneath our feet silently exclaims, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” The modest arbutus sends her sweet breath to heaven. The great rock gives shadow and shelter. The sunlight glints from the church-dome, glances into the prison-cell, glides into the sick-chamber, brightens the flower, beautifies the landscape, blesses the earth. Man, made in His likeness, possesses and reflects God’s dominion over all the earth. Man and woman as coexistent and eternal with God forever reflect, in glorified quality, the infinite Father-Mother God.