One of the human prerogatives that we all cherish is the right of choice. Given certain circumstances, we like to feel that we have the right to choose our way and determine our course of action. At times the choice may be between good and evil, a righteous choice and one not-so-righteous. The Bible emphasizes, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve." Josh. 24:15.
There are times when the choice is not clear-cut. That is, there may be gray areas where the choice seems to be between two evils. Then the clearest guidance we may have is to choose the lesser of the two evils, until we develop greater spiritual understanding and gain a clearer vision.
As we get deeper into the study of Christian Science, there comes a time when we understand that there's just one God, one Mind, and that evil is not a legitimate choice. If we reflect this one Mind, which is wholly good, how can we choose evil? The basic theory of alternative choices depends upon the belief in a mind apart from God. In fact, the whole question of the reality of evil comes up for examination. Is evil a reality or a viable choice for us?
In the Bible's account of the garden of Eden—found in the second and third chapters of the book of Genesis—individuals were given a choice between good and evil. But this whole story is an allegory, a myth, contrary to the first chapter of Genesis, which tells us of the perfection of God and His creation. On the face of it, this story of the garden would appear to justify the presence of evil and to explain where it came from. If we believe that God, good, is infinite, all-power, and ever present, how, then, do we account for evil? This question has troubled philosophers and theologians endlessly. The theological concept of dualism was conceived to try to explain this seeming contradiction and to justify the presence of evil. Christian Science, however, does not endorse the concept of dualism.
Mrs. Eddy provides this explanation in Science and Health: "All reality is in God and His creation, harmonious and eternal. That which He creates is good, and He makes all that is made. Therefore the only reality of sin, sickness, or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human, erring belief, until God strips off their disguise. They are not true, because they are not of God." Science and Health, p. 472. In Christian Science healing, Truth uncovers evil as a lie, a supposition, a deception, never the reality of being. As we pray to worship one infinite God, good, we begin to find a release from belief in evil in any of its forms. The question "Where does evil come from?" is answered by the fact that it doesn't exist as a reality but is simply a supposition or deception.
Christ Jesus, our Exemplar, came to do the will of God. That was his basic purpose. He healed, he redeemed the sinner, he even raised the dead. Jesus demonstrated that the will of God is entirely good; that God never causes evil in any form. Jesus never taught that evil was a reality or a necessary choice or experience. And he never conveyed the feeling that he had any choice between good and evil. When he was tempted by the devil, he steadfastly recognized only one God, one Mind. He said to his disciples, "I must work the works of him that sent me." John 9:4. His evident understanding that God is the Mind of man determined his course of action and settled the question of choice. All through his healing ministry he was listening to the guidance of God.
Today the supposititious argument between good and evil seems to go on and on. Often the evil arguments come from general thinking or what one could call worldly thought. And it becomes our right to defend ourselves against aggressive suggestion. One of the most effective weapons in this effort is the fact that God is Mind and that there is just one Mind. There is no evil mind. There's no actual source for evil. We don't have to accept any evil belief, whether it's just part of the mortal sense of existence or intentional malice. Mrs. Eddy discusses this in Miscellaneous Writings where she states: "If the error which knocks at the door of your own thought originated in another's mind, you are a free moral agent to reject or to accept this error; hence, you are the arbiter of your own fate, and sin is the author of sin." Mis., p. 83.
When evil seems to be embodied in material sense evidence, it's still the false testimony of mortal mind, the liar. The serpent, or material sense, is talking. It would pose as self-will or mind in matter. But this is still the lie presenting itself. We're not under any compulsion to accept error in any form. Indeed, as we come to know God, Spirit, as the only Mind or consciousness, we'll see how impossible it is that Mind could be in matter or be conscious of its opposite, evil. The allness of Deity precludes any choice of evil or experience of evil.
Often people believe they have a separate mind or a separate ego that may be conscious of evil or good as one chooses. They think in terms of "what I want" or "what I think." But the Christianly scientific fact is that there is just one Ego. Man has no separate ego, no separate will; he's the reflection of God. He's not an entity separate from God and determining his own course of action. In Science the will of God constitutes man's being. The will of God brings harmony, health, and freedom into our experience. The material senses or the claim of a mortal mind may suggest that there is a suppositional will of the flesh that leads to a false sense of identity and includes all the ills of mortal existence. But we're either acknowledging and obeying the truth of divine Mind or we're accepting the suggestions of mortal mind. In our warfare with the flesh we want to reach the point where there will be less argument, stress, indecision, and more peace, direction, and certainty.
Miscellaneous Writings declares: "The will of God, or power of Spirit, is made manifest as Truth, and through righteousness,—not as or through matter,—and it strips matter of all claims, abilities or disabilities, pains or pleasures. Self-renunciation of all that constitutes a so-called material man, and the acknowledgment and achievement of his spiritual identity as the child of God, is Science that opens the very flood-gates of heaven; whence good flows into every avenue of being, cleansing mortals of all uncleanness, destroying all suffering, and demonstrating the true image and likeness." Ibid., p. 185.
Obeying the First Commandment, we'll acknowledge the supremacy of the divine Mind and we'll obey that Mind. "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me," Isa. 45:5. the Bible describes Him as saying. With such a truth to guide us, we can be free of indecision, confusion, vacillation, argument. We can take the side of Truth and feel the certainty of God's government. Indecision can never exist in the divine consciousness.
This in no way encroaches upon the development of individuality or character. It doesn't interfere with individual growth in ability to think clearly and come to right decisions. Rather it aids the process of right thinking and clear, unhindered choices. If anyone thinks that having one God, one Mind, would limit him or his individuality, let him consider what it means to be at one with infinite intelligence or at one with infinite Love. The ultimate of freedom comes with recognition of man's oneness with God. Then the argument stops, limitation is broken, healing results, indecision dissolves, and the peace of God is realized. Jesus was the supreme example of unlimited expression. He said, "I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me." John 5:30.
The prodigal son thought that he had the prerogative of choice between good and evil until experience taught him that the evil choice was a dead end. See Luke 15:11–24 . When he returned to his father's house, he received the blessings of freedom and love.
In taking the side of Truth one isn't surrendering individuality but realizing that the Ego is God, good, and that man's individuality reflects the nature of the divine Ego. Science and Health assures us: "The material body and mind are temporal, but the real man is spiritual and eternal. The identity of the real man is not lost, but found through this explanation; for the conscious infinitude of existence and of all identity is thereby discerned and remains unchanged." Science and Health, p. 302.
We can realize that the belief in evil implies dualism, self-will, or a will opposed to God. If God is All-in-all, then there is no evil, and this fact becomes apparent in healing and regeneration. The First Commandment to have one God means to have one Mind, and that one Mind knows no evil, no sickness, sin, nor death. As this becomes apparent, the kingdom of God becomes to us a present reality.