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From the November 14, 2005 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

ARE EPIDEMICS inescapable biological events, and our defenses uncertain at best? Or, are flu and other forms of contagion actually mental phenomena—the products of fear and mass advertising of human vulnerability?


If flu and other contagious diseases are essentially would-be harmful thoughts and fears, wouldn't the most powerful medicine be whatever can destroy fearful and sick thoughts, and replace them with unwavering healthy thoughts? We call that something scientific Christian healing.

To the Christian healer, the Almighty is not an absentee landlord who created life and the universe and then retired to deep space. The infinite Father-Mother of all truly is all-mighty, the here-and-now caring Parent of us all. And God actively loves and protects all creation. Faith alone in God's protection isn't enough. The healer needs to get to the actual substance—or literally, under-standing—of God and existence, in order to consistently experience the God-made wholeness that the physical senses cannot perceive.

In prayer-based treatment as it's taught in Christian Science, success depends on the healer's understanding Creator and creation—of God as the Creator-Spirit, and of men and women as spiritually created beings. Successful spiritual healing also depends on discerning one's way out of imprisoning beliefs about life—that it's confined to matter and vulnerable to destructive forces—and out of the belief that we live in a sorrow-filled world of which God is the author.

This way out is also the Way, or Christ, the divine means God has given humanity to find and enjoy life in Him. Christian theologian Mary Baker Eddy put it this way: "Christ illustrates the coincidence, or spiritual agreement, between God and man in His image" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, pp.332-333). And she also wrote, "The true theory of the universe, including man, is not material history but in spiritual development" (p. 547).

The clay underneath material history is shaped by material theories of creation. That's why the ongoing creationism vs. evolution debate bears watching.

In 1830, when the young Mary Baker was about nine, the French statesman and author Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States. "The religious atmosphere of the country was the first thing that struck me on arrival," he later wrote. By 1830, Americans already had seen two Great Awakenings, decades-long periods characterized by widespread religious revival. Some observers believe that the United States is today experiencing another Great Awakening of religious fervor, and that one manifestation of this religious stir may be the growing contention over competing theories of creation.

According to a July 2005 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, a substantial portion of evangelical Christian Americans (slightly more than a third describe themselves as "born-again" or evangelical) believe that humans and animal species were created by God and have remained in their present forms since "the beginning of time," which, according to a literal reading of the Bible, happened only a few thousand years ago. Creationism, the shorthand term for this set of beliefs, rejects the findings of (and often the teaching of) evolutionary biology and geology.

A slightly larger population segment, which includes those who hold religious or secular views of creation, that human beings evolved over millions of years. Religious believers in evolution tend to see God or a divine being as the "intelligent designer" who guided the formation of complex lifeforms. Secular believers in evolution say there is no hard science to support either creationism or intelligent design.

Mary Baker Eddy challenged matter-based science and materialistic theology. "The theories I combat," she wrote, "are these: (1) that all is matter; (2) that matter originates in Mind [God] and is as real as Mind, possessing intelligence in life. The first theory, that matter is everything, is quite as reasonable as the second, that Mind and matter coexist and cooperate. One only of the following statements can be true: (1) that everything is matter; (2) that everything is Mind. Which one is it?" (ibid., pp. 269–270).

That's not necessarily the question that most believers in evolution, creationism, or intelligent design are asking. But it is the one question that, when answered with the conviction that grows with each step of spiritual understanding, will advance effective healing and preventive care.

When the world faces infectious fears of pandemic illness, how we answer that question—Is it matter or Mind that defines life?—is profoundly important. Equally important is the love for God and love for humanity that prompts the healer to answer on the side of Mind.

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