Perhaps one of the most perplexing aspects of Christian Science is its position on the nothingness of evil and discord. It is a question both newcomer to and seasoned student of this Science may find themselves pondering again and again. Yet in order to understand and practice Christian Science, it’s important to grasp this basic idea.
To most of the world, sin, disease, and death seem solid realities. People commit crimes; friends get sick; lives are in trouble. The idea of dismissing these discords as nothing can seem like gross ignorance, negligence, or callousness. But it is the task of the Christian Scientist to overcome these maladies as Jesus instructed all humanity to do. Christian Science teaches that neither Jesus nor his followers ever tried to defeat anything God-created. So the logic follows—if discord is not created by God, and God created all, what exactly is discord?
Mary Baker Eddy writes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “It is sometimes said that Christian Science teaches the nothingness of sin, sickness, and death, and then teaches how this nothingness is to be saved and healed. The nothingness of nothing is plain; but we need to understand that error is nothing, and that its nothingness is not saved, but must be demonstrated in order to prove the somethingness—yea, the allness—of Truth” (p. 346).
Speaking of God, the Bible declares, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” (Habakkuk 1:13). How could this statement be true if evil were real? God’s infinite purity doesn’t include anything unlike itself, and certainly the concept of evil purity is an impossibility.
Then, if a student of Christian Science is faced with evil (whether it be sickness or any other discord) and declares it to be unreal, the basis for this stand is that we are spiritual ideas of God, and therefore cannot have or experience anything that God doesn’t know or recognize.
This is an important aspect of healing. Christian Science is based on divine Principle, God, the source of all true law. It operates from the truth that God is omnipresent, infinite good, and fills all space. Therefore, there is no room for anything unlike God. There is no vacuum in which discord, evil, or sin can exist, nor can there be an agent for its creation.
To some degree it’s like the principle of mathematics. Wherever in the world you go, the principle of mathematics is already there and in operation. Its principle is perfect and allows no mistakes, although someone who doesn’t understand mathematical principles may come up with a wrong answer.
There is no vacuum in which discord, evil, or sin can exist, nor can there be an agent for its creation.
Similarly, Christian Science needs to be practiced correctly. A correct practice does not ignore discord, hide from it, or fear it. Nor does it attack evil as though it were a real thing. On the contrary, Truth, which is always present, corrects the discord, because Truth is preestablished and contains no evil. Accepting this spiritual fact changes what we experience in our lives. As individuals grow in their grasp of Truth, they progressively reach the point where no claim of evil, sickness, or discord can trump their confidence in God’s power.
Several years ago I had an experience that allowed me to prove the nothingness of discord. For several months I awoke at night with severe stomach pain. It was very intense, and I often found myself rolling on the floor, crying out the truths stated above, literally fighting for my life and peace.
I was helped during this time by a Christian Science practitioner, someone who has dedicated her life to helping others understand their freedom from discord by prayerfully acknowledging the truth as taught in Christian Science. The practitioner was always ready to take my calls for treatment, even in the middle of the night. She prayerfully supported me, recognizing that the discord was unreal and that I was not required to endure the effects of this unreality.
The challenge persisted, and there were many uncomfortable nights. Doubt tried to creep in, but at last I understood the truth of what I had been claiming in prayer. I knew that I had my solution, that my spiritual logic was sound, and that there could be no other conclusion. This lie about my health and being could not push me around or have any effect on me in any way. The trouble vanished, and in the years since, it has not returned.
It is crucial to see evil as nothing, an unreality, because if evil is true and therefore a part of reality, one would have to reason that God created it, and if God created it, why would we change it? Could we change it?
To accept evil as a reality could also lead one to believe that God is not all-powerful, that He shares His creation and power with an evil source with which He is forever locked in a battle for dominion in our lives.
An even worse belief, perhaps, would be that God creates and condones sin, sickness, and death to test and prove us. But would the principle of mathematics create wrong answers so that students can prove themselves? No. And our all-loving God does not create evil to test us, either. God created everything good, and anything unlike this good is merely a mistake—seemingly real and troublesome only while it is accepted, but eliminated when the truth of its nothingness is seen.
We don’t need to focus on the discord and explore its claims. All we ever need to do is to know that discord is unreal, and stick with the truth until we understand that the condition is impossible and powerless.
Mrs. Eddy states, “The utterance of truth is designed to rebuke and destroy error” (Science and Health, p. 233). The allness of God precludes there being discord of any kind, and our understanding of this fact enables us to destroy error by knowing its unreality.
Peter Crabbe is a professional writer living in Los Angeles.