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A spiritual lesson from arithmetic

From the June 11, 1979 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


As he grows up, a child learns to recognize numbers. A little later he learns to combine them; eight and four make twelve. Perhaps simultaneously he learns that twelve less four leaves eight. One day he is confronted by eight take away twelve. A bright child may say, "I can't do it. Eight isn't big enough."

About this time the teacher may explain that if the thermometer reads 8 degrees and the temperature goes down 12 degrees the thermometer will then read 4 degrees below zero, or minus 4 degrees. Or if you buy an article that costs ten dollars and you find you only have eight dollars, you will owe two dollars. In this way the child begins to grasp the concept of negative numbers.

But negative quantity is not confined to arithmetic. For example, if one manifests abundant health, but begins to lose it, he may end up with minus health, called sickness. Again, if one possesses great wealth but is subject to misfortune or indulges carelessness or extravagance, he may eventually arrive at negative wealth, which is called poverty.

We appear to live in a world made up of positives and negatives. The ultimate of such a philosophy rests on the belief that God—good—has an opposite—devil, evil. That seems to be the predicament in which humanity finds itself.

Logically, however, if something is infinite, its supposed opposite isn't anything. If something is real and all, its opposite is unreal. If one has real health—the eternal truth of man—its opposite is unreal. Because the totality of goodness is real, its opposite—called evil—is unreal. Because ever-present Spirit is real, its opposite—called matter—is unreal. And this line of reasoning leads inevitably to the conclusion that an omnipotent God, good, has no opposite.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, recognized Mind—good—as the real. Here is one of many citations in which she rejects evil's supposed reality: "Matter and Mind are opposites. One is contrary to the other in its very nature and essence; hence both cannot be real. If one is real, the other must be unreal." Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 270;

A careful thinker may readily admit the correctness of this logical conclusion, but to make it practical is more challenging.

Why? Because our physical senses are constantly reporting to us evidence corresponding to the positive-negative concept. Our sight and hearing give us evidence of what seems to be sickness and health, poverty and wealth, evil and good; and according to their evidence both seem real.

Why do we so habitually accept the evidence of the physical senses? I have asked myself this repeatedly. I know Copernicus nearly five hundred years ago proved that the earth rotates, but the physical senses still tell me a different story when I view a sunset or sunrise. Our eyes report the appearance. And mortal thought interprets incorrectly what our eyes see.

Do we think we see sick people, unhappy people, bad people? But sick, unhappy, bad, are the opposites of healthy, happy, and good, and accordingly these conditions are illusions. Mrs. Eddy, in listing various aspects of the contrast between Truth and error, writes: "Moreover, Truth is real, and error is unreal. This last statement contains the point you will most reluctantly admit, although first and last it is the most important to understand." ibid., p. 466; She also tells us: "Jesus of Nazareth was the most scientific man that ever trod the globe. He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause." ibid., p. 313;

Jesus was not fooled by appearances. With spiritual perception he looked through the false evidence and saw the truth. A leper once came to Jesus and said: "If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." The account continues, "And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean." Mark 1:40, 41. And the man was healed.

It is possible to begin seeing the fact right where the illusion seems to be. This is not done by shutting our eyes to evil suggestion and saying or thinking, "It is nothing." Persistent spiritual discernment and practice are needed.

Christian Science is bringing about many healings similar to those performed by Christ Jesus. Several years ago I was troubled with a lump on my body. It grew rapidly and became painful. After praying about the condition and making only a little progress, I asked a Christian Science practitioner to help me. We prayed. A short time after asking for help I visited the practitioner in her office. A quarter of an hour later I walked out of the office completely and permanently healed. There wasn't any lump; there wasn't any pain. In reality there never had been. Mortal mind had been suggesting that I believe something my eyes reported, but the report was false because God, Spirit, is the only real substance.

A universe where evil is not real! Today I am learning more and more of the provable nature of that universe—the only one there is.

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