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‘Experiments in Truth’

From the November 2014 issue of The Christian Science Journal

How much do you think of yourself as a scientist? What sorts of experiments have you conducted lately? What data have you been researching to help find the answer to a problem that needs solving? If science is about figuring out how things work, what discoveries have you made lately? If science is about understanding truth and applying the power of truth to bring out practical solutions, what answers have you unlocked that have brought greater freedom to people’s lives? For a Christian Scientist, these are important questions to be asking (while standing in front of a mirror).

I once read a book by the Nobel-prize winning physicist Richard Feynman, which gave an illustration of poor science. He talked about a science textbook for elementary school children that showed a picture of a wind-up toy dog. The textbook question was, “What makes the dog move?” And the answer the textbook wanted the children to come up with was “energy.” But as Feynman pointed out, just getting kids to memorize the term for something didn’t mean they’d learned anything about the science involved. 

He then indicated that a useful and scientific approach would have been to take the toy apart so the children could see the gears and the tension in the spring and how its release makes the dog move. I was struck by how true this is of any science. 

You can’t just learn terms and go through the motions. You’ve got to take the thing apart, so to speak—examine it, test it, learn from mistakes, and go forward until you understand and prove it. And when we remember that the Christ is the subject of the Science we’re testing, all of the images of a cold, sterile, lab-coat environment are replaced by tenderness, comfort, and the confident assurance that the healing power evident in Jesus’ ministry is ours to explore, test, and verify today. But like any good scientist, we must be willing to do the disciplined work involved.

Mary Baker Eddy discovered the Science of Christ and provided the full and complete statement of it in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, but she no more felt that she had exhausted its applications or the possibilities it would open up than Newton’s discovery of gravity put an end to learning more about the implications of gravity in the development of the physical sciences. 

She posits a timely question:  “Who is it that understands, unmistakably, a fraction of the actual Science of Mind-healing?

“It is he who has fairly proven his knowledge on a Christian, mental, scientific basis; who has made his choice between matter and Mind, and proven the divine Mind to be the only physician” (Miscellaneous Writing 1883–1896, p. 269). 

In fact, perhaps the point is that part of what’s needed for more effective healing practice is a willingness to embrace the scientific spirit of exploration. A scientific mind-set is driven by the conviction that questions have answers, that truth is powerful, that the testing you do must be done within a proven set of laws, that evidence must be consistent with those laws, and that from within this mental framework, you must be actively exploring, experimenting, and working to find solutions to unsolved problems.

A scientific way of thinking includes an awareness of how important it is to interpret the data correctly and to be willing to adjust your approach when you realize you’re wrong. Sometimes experiments don’t go as planned—just ask Peter about his attempt to walk on the water with Christ Jesus! Or ask the disciples how possible they thought it was to complete the lab assignment they had been given to feed thousands of people when the only apparent resources were a few fish and a bit of bread. But just because the disciples couldn’t see their way forward, that didn’t mean the underlying science was off. It meant they had more to learn about the law of God and how an understanding of the actuality of infinite good could be practically applied to meet the need because man is never separated from God’s care.

When I was in school, the lab assignments we were given were largely designed to repeat already verified science. In other words, we were given a lab assignment and told that if we followed the described steps, we should be able to arrive at the specified results with reliable consistency. But I well remember the frustration of seeing my results fall far short of the expected outcome. 

Then, with the teacher’s help, I’d be shown how I’d turned the heat on too high, or allowed too much moisture in, or in some other way had not been faithful to the steps I’d been given. When the results did turn out just right, they brought a feeling of power and of “getting it” that always made me want to learn more. 

Today we not only have Jesus’ example but the textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health, to show us how an understanding of the Christ can bring healing of sin and disease in all their forms.

Much of the world today embraces the idea of science so long as science confines itself to material evidence. But Mrs. Eddy realized science that is based on matter as causative is like starting an experiment incorrectly. Her own great need for health, her deep research into Jesus’ teachings, and her experiments with the curative sciences of her day, especially homeopathy, led her to grasp the fundamental, mental nature of existence. 

She discovered that the underlying cause of all that truly exists is Spirit—an infinite intelligence and power for good, or divine Mind, and that man is forever the intact expression of this Mind, or God. This “falling apple” enabled her to see that life’s experiences were in some ways experiments—opportunities to prove that the eternal evidence of Spirit and spiritual being, if loved and acknowledged as true with all our heart, will overturn the evidence of suffering or disease. 

In fact, you might say any experiment, or experience, which relies on or draws conclusions from matter, is basing its findings on faulty data. Material evidence will give a false positive (it will make you think something is there that isn’t, such as sickness or disease) or a false negative (it will make you think something isn’t there when it is only hiding, such as sin). But it will always be false because its substance and the so-called truth it arrives at are based on matter, which decays, and the material senses, which are unreliable. Only that which brings to light eternal Truth—what is true forever—can be considered conclusive evidence.

For a skeptical world, this magazine has been accumulating evidence of authenticated healings through prayer on this basis for over 125 years. These testimonies should provide a reason for wanting to investigate further and for encouraging this small but committed band of Scientists to continue presenting its evidence for review and consideration. 

For Christian Scientists, there is no better time to redouble our efforts to demonstrate the healing efficacy of the Science of Christ. Each healing counts. Each proof advances the Cause. Each one of us is needed, and needed now. Our churches’ testimony meetings are perfect labs for sharing the results of our experiments. 

In referring to her “scientific statement of being,” including the words, “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter” (Science and Health, p. 468), Mrs. Eddy implores us, “Having perceived, in advance of others, this scientific fact, we owe to ourselves and to the world a struggle for its demonstration” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 94).

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