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MORE UNDERSTANDING, LESS MATTER

From the July 11, 2005 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel


Because the Science of Mind seems to bring into dishonor the ordinary scientific schools, which wrestle with material observations alone, this Science has met with opposition; but if any system honors God, it ought to receive aid, not opposition, from all thinking persons. And Christian Science does honor God as no other theory honors Him, and it does this in the way of His appointing, by doing many wonderful works through the divine name and nature.

—Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 483

"I want to know God's thoughts; the rest are details."—Albert Einstein

Einstein always went for the big picture. I think his inspirational insights came from that very humbleness of wanting to know God's thoughts, not getting hung up on the symbols and thus not thinking in a limited way. "The illimitable Spirit" was one of his names for God. All of the great breakthroughs have come that way, really.

It just makes mathematical sense. You can do permutations on the existing sense evidence only so long, but what happens with scientific progress is that you get these great breakthroughs of inspiration that are inexplicable from any kind of mechanistic standpoint, or from variations on what is already known. You might say such ideas are the revealing in human consciousness of some completely new line of thought, an inspirational idea that comes from outside the present state of human thought. Folks who have had that happen to them often describe it that way—it's like turning a light on. Quite a few even admit that indeed it has to have come from the illimitable superior Spirit, too.

So does such enlightenment work at the speed of light? The speed of light is known as a universal constant in physics—the fastest speed possible in the universe. Yet, there's another concept of light within Christian metaphysics, of light as instantaneity—as the immediacy and ever-presence and action of Truth. Thus light is the immediate action of the illimitable Spirit. As Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "Light is a symbol of Mind, of Life, Truth, and Love, and not a vitalizing property of matter" (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 510). It was an interesting statement to make in the latter half of the 19th century, since light and matter were certainly not known to be forms of the same material until Einstein found that E=mc2. Yet light, in its real metaphysical or spiritual sense, is actually a symbol of Mind; it is enlightenment.

Physicists today are finding some interesting properties of the light they study, perhaps indicative of such discoveries. For example, at one level, all light particles seem to be in touch with all others; the quantum physics term for this phenomenon is called entanglement. Physicists can set up an experiment to measure this phenomenon, can show that light photons—what seem to be particles of light—in one locale are immediately in touch with all other "entangled" light particles, instantaneously, and the distance can be arbitrarily far away. Essentially, according to the equations, instantaneously means they are really already in touch with one another. This can apply to photons produced by a fire in an aboriginal's camp in Australia and photons in Whirlpool Galaxy (M51). So the underlying idea seems to be emerging that from light's perspective, it doesn't take any time to go from point A to point B in the universe. If all "entangled" light "knows" that, and fills the universe, then it is possible for all light to be in touch with all other light instantaneously. Real scientific progress always seems to lead to less, not more, limitation.

Such physics experiments with light may thus illustrate an underlying immediate interconnectedness when read with an enlightened perspective. The Scottish-American naturalist John Muir once said, "When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe." Little did he know when he said that—or maybe he did!—how well he'd described quantum physics. And his "anything" is indeed instantaneously hitched to everything else.

A late 19th-century physicist without imagination might have said, "You can never talk with someone in New York in real time from your home in California." This supposed limitation is, of course, based on the limit of the speed of sound in air, about 700 miles per hour. That physicist knew some physics, but would have missed how to overcome this limitation.

"Eternity, not time, expresses the thought of Life, and time is no part of eternity."—Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, p. 468.

The idea of time is another imposed limitation. Similarly, one might say that "distance is no part of infinity." As one cannot add up all time to get eternity, one cannot add up all the distance and get infinity. One cannot add up all limitations to obtain the unlimited. So, there is no distance between you, as an unlimited idea of the infinite Mind, and all other ideas of creation. Distance doesn't apply to ideas. There's no time or distance between Mind's ideas.

You can extend this line of reasoning to say that matter is no part of spiritual substance. The limited version is no part of the unlimited. Matter is the suggestion that ideas have limitations. But infinite Mind could not think of anything finite. It's not possible. There's no quality of finiteness in the infinite Mind. Not one idea of God is finite.

Think of what happened with the bread in the Bible's account of Jesus feeding the multitude, and the pouring of the oil as directed by Elisha. These were demonstrations of the fact that there's no possible way that infinite Mind has ever thought a finite idea, because you just can't have an idea that's not like the Mind that conceives it. Christ Jesus asked essentially the same question Elisha had asked the widow—What have you in the house (in consciousness)? Once the idea or substance was recognized as already present, it could then be demonstrated to be unlimited.

God is the all-knowing Mind. Being is therefore all about God knowing us. God is the only Mind. Since the infinite Mind can only think of Mind's being, each idea Mind has is of itself—its image and likeness, one might say.

If you have ever said, "Let me reflect on that," then you know that reflection can mean "to contemplate." Creation is the infinite Mind's ever ongoing contemplation of its own completeness, and you are Mind's reflection, the image, idea, offspring—the likeness of this one and only Source of the universe.

The progress of science

Progress in science begins with a willingness to take the evidence of intelligence over the evidence of what appears to the physical senses. This is what real science has always essentially been about—from the round Earth replacing the flat misrepresentation of Earth (a change in perspective), to quantum physics replacing the false notion of objective matter as substantial. A change in perspective changes perceptions—the larger perspective reveals the truth, and fewer limits are seen to be closer to reality.

In Mrs. Eddy's time, much of Victorian era science certainly didn't seem to be heading in this direction. Yet she could write, for example, "Matter disappears under the microscope of Spirit" (Science and Health, p. 264). For her to write this about reality being wholly spiritual, well, it doesn't take a hundreth of the courage today to say these things. These statements today are testimony to her scientific correctness as well as to her uncompromising courage and integrity in stating the truth. She wrote in the preface of Science and Health, "The author has not compromised conscience to suit the general drift of thought, but has bluntly and honestly given the text of Truth" (p. x). And so she also made a giant contribution to the change in the direction of this drift. Reading the signs, it does not seem to be a drift at all, but a rapidly unfolding metaphysical revolution in science.

It can be acknowledged that, for example, the more one understands the science of agriculture, the less land one needs to grow the same amount of crop. It is clear that the more one understands computing, the less computer chip material one needs. This has been dramatically demonstrated. It used to take several tons of metal to do the calculations now done by a tiny pinch of sand (and a daub of gold). Less material accompaniment with more understanding is the trend in virtually every scientific field.

It seems we'll allow things to be miniaturized, but to get rid of them altogether—there's a reluctance to do that, even though we have progressed up to this point. "Every step of progress," Mrs. Eddy said, "is a step more spiritual" (The People's Idea of God, p. 1).

Again, it is the road of science to take the evidence of intelligence always as superior to that of the senses. More and more understanding, and less and less matter, leads, of course, to complete understanding and no matter. It is the road of science we have chosen, and that is where it is heading.

Sometimes I get asked how I can do physics and yet seem to have such a metaphysical perspective. Well, reading beneath the chalk, much of the progress in thought is very heartening. I'm not looking to physics for the answers. I'm considering the lessons in the "lilies" of my academic field. Right where limitation seems to be, in many cases one now sees the unlimited nature of reality coming into focus. I think we are, in Einstein's words, beginning to know God's thoughts. As Mrs. Eddy put it, humankind is beginning to "look deep into realism instead of accepting only the outward sense of things" (Science and Health, p. 129).

That's what's going on in the progress within all fields of real scientific inquiry. It's about overcoming limitations. It's fun to be able to be there and watch it unfold—to see the direction thought is going in and to rejoice in the fact that it's leading to less limitation as thought becomes more and more spiritualized. Less materialism as thought becomes enlightened, and less error as human thought approaches the expression of infinite Mind alone.

"The time for thinkers has come," Mary Baker Eddy said (ibid., p. vii), so why shouldn't we all be out there on the front lines of discovery?

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Laurance Doyle is a contributing editor for the Sentinel and works at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.

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