Eternal and Temporal Science
There are two systems of thought in the world today to which the name science is applied —Christian Science and natural science. The objectives of both are similar: to understand the nature of the universe and of everything in it, of man and of life, and, by utilizing this understanding, to gain control and dominion over experience, to free mankind from troubles and from unnecessary labor, and to bring more abundant life and happiness.
The basic assumptions and the methods of the two systems are, however, profoundly different. Natural science starts from the assumption that man is a mortal, living in a material universe, and that matter is fundamental, entirely independent of thought, having existed long before life and consciousness appeared. Life and consciousness are believed to appear only when the evolution of matter has resulted in highly organized bodily structures, which can survive only when the temperature and composition of the atmosphere and other material conditions are suitable. At the present time, natural science has a very strong hold on human thought; indeed to most people, the word "science" still means only the systematic study of material phenomena.
Christian Science, in complete contrast, declares that the fundamental substance is Spirit, God, entirely independent of matter. This Spirit is self-existent, infinite Mind, intelligence, Life, and Love, the law-giving Principle of all its infinite spiritual creations. Matter is unknown to Spirit; man is not a material organism but the spiritual expression of God, inseparable from his creator. Man does not live in a material universe of space and time but in immortal Mind. As Paul said on Mars' Hill (Acts 17:28), "For in him we live, and move, and have our being."
Christian Science, which Mary Baker Eddy discovered and founded, is most revolutionary and demands a radical rethinking of the whole basis of science. Christian Science shows that what is called matter is really a mental phenomenon, having its origin, not in immortal creative Mind, but in a spurious, temporal, and mortal mind, which misunderstands the nature of real spiritual substance and counterfeits the spiritual creation. It is our task as Christian Scientists to learn how to see the universe and man and all creation as spiritual, as God makes it, and in this way to gain the dominion which results from true understanding. This includes correcting the errors which have been accepted in the imposing edifice of natural science.
Natural science is founded on observations made with the physical senses, whose range and power have been immensely extended by a vast array of instruments. These observations are then coordinated and classified by a process of thought in which elements of order, consistency, and harmony are conspicuous. Theories are constructed which, it is hoped, are gradually approximating a true picture of the universe. These theories are used to predict hitherto unobserved phenomena and are eventually discarded if new observations do not confirm these predictions.
In natural science, preference is given to the study of those phenomena which can be treated quantitatively by measuring, weighing, or otherwise. One consequence is that natural science presents only a very incomplete picture of experience. It describes and analyzes the visible world but has little to say about mental and spiritual qualities, such as joy, intelligence, creative genius, beauty, serenity, confidence, honesty, goodness, and love. The spontaneity and essence of these qualities are distorted if an attempt is made to measure them quantitatively. Yet these qualities are of vital importance to each individual; their presence or absence makes or mars his happiness and satisfaction in life. They are not to be found in any external world but subjectively, in consciousness. As Jesus said (Luke 17:20,21), "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."
Preoccupied as it is with matter, natural science tries to account for consciousness by claiming it is due to complex chemical or physical reactions in the brain, hoping eventually to explain thought in that way. But consciousness, not matter, is fundamental: indeed, if it were not for consciousness, we could not even believe in or be aware of matter. Spiritual consciousness and matter are opposite aspects of existence; and matter is temporal, destined ultimately to disappear when human consciousness is fully enlightened by the divine immortal Mind.
The influence of natural science, which looks for everything in matter, on modern intellectual thought is so strong that it has become fashionable to doubt or even deny the existence of God. Natural science, seeking for everything in matter, fails to find God, for He is not there and never will be.
Christian Science shows that matter is a misconception of the nature of true substance, which is spiritual. There are not two universes, the material and the spiritual. What is believed to be a material universe is merely a false picture, very widely accepted about the real universe, which is spiritual. On page 337 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mrs. Eddy writes: "The visible universe and material man are the poor counterfeits of the invisible universe and spiritual man. Eternal things (verities) are God's thoughts as they exist in the spiritual realm of the real. Temporal things are the thoughts of mortals and are the unreal, being the opposite of the real or the spiritual and eternal."
The spiritual nature of the universe and man cannot be discerned with the physical senses and so is beyond the range of natural science. To understand reality, spiritual sense is needed. On page 209 of Science and Health we read, "Spiritual sense is a conscious, constant capacity to understand God." Therefore a person who begins by doubting or denying the existence of God cannot hope to perceive, still less to understand, the universe as it really is.
Despite its materialistic basis, natural science, when properly applied, has made possible a multitude of useful inventions, which have greatly diminished many limitations formerly associated with the beliefs of material existence. Properly used, natural science still has great potentialities for benefiting mankind and remains one of the most useful professions. But a Christian Scientist, if engaged in the study or application of natural science, should each day know that the real creation is spiritual and under divine control and that its substance is Spirit, Mind. He should claim divine intelligence and spiritual discernment in his work. This metaphysical work will enhance his ability and insight and improve the thought element in natural science. The qualities of order, consistency, and harmony, which are important in constructing useful theories, belong to divine Mind and are reflected by man.
In the first chapter of Genesis the first act of creation is described thus: "God said, Let there be light: and there was light." The light of spiritual understanding should be claimed by each one of us; step by step it will improve even the beliefs of natural science.
We should bear in mind Mrs. Eddy's ringing words in her inspired address given in Chicago in 1888 (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 103), "Intelligent Spirit, Soul, is substance, far more impregnable and solid than matter; for one is temporal, while the other is eternal, the ultimate and predicate of being."
The long-standing conflict between religion and science will be finally resolved when human beings learn to see everything from the standpoint of divine Mind and recognize that substance is Spirit and creation the continual unfolding of Spirit. Then true Science will be found identical with religion. This radical change in the standpoint of science, from the material to the spiritual, prophesied and inaugurated by Mrs. Eddy, will ultimately bring to pass the promise in Revelation (11:15), "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever."