In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy poses the question, “What is the scientific statement of being?” and provides this answer: “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual” (p. 468).
Recently on the Journal podcast Record of Truth, Christian Science teacher Deborah Huebsch asked two scientific thinkers to share their insights on “the scientific statement of being.” First, she spoke with Dr. Laurance Doyle, who is an astrophysicist at the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). Next, she talked with Brian Kissock, a Christian Science practitioner and teacher. The following is an edited summary of their conversations.
“The scientific statement of being” is fundamental to Christian Scientists. So, Laurance, what does it mean to you, both as an individual practicing Christian Scientist and an astrophysicist?
Laurance Doyle: Well, what’s so amazing about this statement is that Mary Baker Eddy made it in the Victorian era of science, when matter was considered substantial and objective and real. Nowadays, what physicists have been discovering about the insubstantiality of matter has been coming closer to “the scientific statement of being.” So Mrs. Eddy’s statement was radical—clearly over a hundred years ahead of its time.
And this is where modern science is beginning to approach the ideas in the opening sentence of “the scientific statement of being.”
In 1911, physicist Ernest Rutherford published the results of an experiment where he found that the atom was mostly empty space. But since that time, experiments have pointed to something even more radical. The mainstream interpretation of these new experiments is that matter doesn’t exist until it is observed. Quantum physicists are investigating ideas about how consciousness seems to be inextricably tied up with the so-called creation of matter. In other words, what you can know about an experiment (for example, which path a light ray can take) determines what results you obtain.
If you set up an experiment to detect something, that’s what you’ll get, but there’s also a conscious interaction of the experimenter with the experiment. And this has led to the conclusion by many physicists that we cannot separate consciousness, or mind, from what we observe in these quantum measurement experiments.
In Christian Science terms, we would say this indicates that matter and mortal mind are the same thing. But there’s another, further step beyond the notion of a mortal mind.
What is “mortal mind”?
Mortal mind is the suggestion of a limited and contrasting version of the one, infinite divine Mind. It’s the belief that everyone has their own separate mind and that these minds are often in conflict with each other.
When we try to conceive of ourselves as limited, we intuitively know that this is not correct.
About four hundred years ago, we began to realize that the earth is not actually in the center of the universe. Instead, the earth is a participant in the universe. So a limitation on our concept of the universe was taken off, and our sense of the universe vastly expanded. Well, in this age, we have to get past the notion that we are all at the center of our own little consciousnesses. Instead, we are ideas living and moving in the infinite Mind that is “thinking” us, or rather knowing us. And giving up the notion of our own finite mind for the concept of one infinite, unlimited Mind is having an impact similar to the one that began with deprovincialization of an earth-centered universe four hundred years ago.
This is a huge step forward, isn’t it?
Yes, because it’s a complete reversal of limitation. When we try to conceive of ourselves as limited, we intuitively know that this is not correct. We’ve tried to educate ourselves to adapt to limitation, but we know deeply, intuitively, that this is not right, that we are not mortal, that we are not made up of matter, which is limitation.
How do we know this?
If you find, in scientific experimentation, one exception to an idea, then it doesn’t matter if you have twenty Nobel Prizes, you’ve got to give up that notion, because the experiment says it’s not true. And with the scientific method, one spiritual healing proves that matter is not truly the fundamental substance.
I think that’s why Jesus said that he had come to bear witness to the truth. He didn’t say, “I’ve come to start a religion” or, “I’ve come to build churches” or anything like that. He said, “For this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (John 18:37). He also said, “The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me” (John 10:25). That’s very scientific. He introduced the idea that experimental verification—healing—is a more reliable witness to the truth than any human authority. This is the scientific method.
Could you amplify a bit on how you feel about this being called “the scientific statement of being”?
Well, science is about finding what the truth of reality is. In that statement, Mrs. Eddy is putting down axioms, basically. “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter.” That’s an axiom. “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all.” That’s an axiom. An axiom is something that is taken as self-evident truth.
And after laying down axioms, then you use logical inference to draw a conclusion. That’s the “therefore” part of the statement: “Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual.” So, what makes it scientific is that she’s using axioms, logical inference, and a conclusion. And the experimental verification is in the resultant healings.
Can you talk about how this applies to healing? It would seem that “the scientific statement of being” can be proven in our individual experience by healing.
“The scientific statement of being” gets us to consider, “I’m not material. I’m not my own mind; I’m the unlimited spiritual expression of the infinite Mind.” Suddenly it dawns on our thought that we’re the expression of God, and a perfect God doesn’t make any errors. And coming to understand this has an immediate effect on the body to heal it. It’s a comprehension, not just an intellectual acceptance, of this truth of being that heals.
So you’re talking about spiritual understanding, right? And how does that dawn on us?
It’s not something we accrete—“Maybe if I collect more wise sayings, I’ll feel better.” It doesn’t work like that at all. Every healing I’ve had, or seen, is a recognition of something that’s always been true—and that insight comes as a result of throwing out a limited way of thinking, rather than adding something we don’t already have.
And this is a fundamental spiritual science, recognizing everything that’s always been true, spiritually. Is that right?
Yes. All science is based on ideas. Christian Science is based on the infinite Mind, the source of all ideas. So in a sense, it’s the science of sciences, because it is the Science of all true ideas.
Would you say that infinite Mind is the same as God?
Yes, it’s one of the first things I understood about God. I grew up attending a Christian Science Sunday School and had learned the synonyms for God, but it was through the synonym “Mind” that I first began to realize what Christian Science was all about. I suddenly saw that creation is the infinite Mind “thinking,” comprehending itself. A mind can’t think ideas that aren’t like it, and therefore, as God’s idea, I must be like God. And so, being God’s image and likeness really made sense. In particular, “the scientific statement of being” made complete sense as a consistent definition of spiritual reality.
Could we talk about the “being” part? This is “the scientific statement of being.” What can you share with us about that?
Well, it’s not “the scientific statement of becoming.” It isn’t a process of becoming perfect, or achieving salvation. It’s a statement of the fact right now—that we are not material, we are spiritual, and there isn’t any time element in this. There’s only one Being, and we are the expression of that divine Being, now.
That brings me to a question that I’d love to hear your thoughts on: How could the truths put forth in “the scientific statement of being” shape the future of the planet?
Well, it’s the statement of the actual spiritual nature of man as the expression of God. It says that the infinite Mind, with its infinite ideas, is all there is. That’s it! There is no other explanation of creation. And I can’t help but notice how fundamental physics is having to consider consciousness as the foundational substance.
Jesus introduced the idea that experimental verification—healing—is a more reliable witness to the truth than any human authority.
I was at a meeting of theoretical physicists where they were asking different scientists, “What is reality about?” And I could have said, “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all,” but that would be a Christian Science way of putting it, so I translated it into a physics way of putting it. I said, “Consciousness is a field, not a particle.” And they wrote that down, just as they did the other theories offered at the meeting, and people mentioned it, and reviewed it, and it was one of the topics. But they didn’t even bat an eye at the proposal that consciousness is a field.
“Consciousness is a field” means, in physics, that it’s everywhere. And “It’s not a particle” means it isn’t electrons in the brain, for example. It’s interesting that we have arrived in physics at the point where such a theory for reality can be suggested in a theoretical physics meeting and be accepted as a working hypothesis. I would have to say that “the scientific statement of being” is, really, the most succinct and accurate statement of reality that we have.
Continuing the discussion of “the scientific statement of being,” Deborah Huebsch then spoke with Brian Kissock.
Brian, as a public practitioner of this Science, you help people with healing. What does this statement mean to you as a healer?
Brian Kissock: Well, I could reiterate what Mary Baker Eddy said on page 300 of Science and Health: “So far as the scientific statement as to man is understood, it can be proved and will bring to light the true reflection of God—the real man, or the new man (as St. Paul has it).”
As thought rests on what “the scientific statement of being” says, it overcomes human challenges and limitations.
Let’s go through “the scientific statement of being” and talk about each line. The first line is, “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter.” What does that mean to you?
To me this radical statement is a clarifying agent, because if we work out from it on a daily basis, it can help change all aspects of our experience. It makes us examine previously held and perhaps cherished beliefs regarding God, man, and the universe.
Mrs. Eddy’s spiritual inspiration allowed her to see beyond mortal belief to the truth of our being. Her statement changes thought from the belief that matter is real and substantial, to the comprehension that matter intrinsically has no life or intelligence, and that real intelligence is founded on the fact that God, good, is our life. This is a key, or foundation block, to our understanding spiritual healing.
That’s very helpful, Brian. And the second line reads, “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all.” What thoughts have you had about this line?
The more I’ve been able to realize that each of us is God’s very expression, not separate from God as a mortal, the more I see that every real thing is the manifestation of God, Mind, which is good. And this helps lift thought above fear, material and sensual contemplation, and the daily siren calls. It helps bring a sense of peace to know that we are all, as God’s expression, the beloved of Love.
To daily contemplate the word infinite is also very helpful, to know that God is All-in-all. This helps us recognize and rejoice that we are one with God. Never for a moment are we separate. This is the coincidence of the human with the divine, the sense of coexistence that lifts consciousness.
Christ Jesus stated, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). I don’t think he was speaking quantitively, but qualitatively. And this understanding can have a profoundly beneficial effect on our daily lives, whether we’re facing an illness, an unruly child, or a challenge with finances.
That’s wonderful! In the next two lines, Mrs. Eddy talks about what is true and what isn’t. They read: “Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal.” What does that mean in our daily lives?
Well, Deborah, as we turn our attention to what is true, what is of God, Spirit, and give less attention to error, the pull of material things is lessened, and we can begin to see error’s unreality. And by error, I mean anything that is ungodlike.
Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Knowing and embracing the idea of immortal Truth fortifies us. Then we are more alert to error’s strident calls. We need not accept the images of sickness, terror, or lack at face value, as real. And by prayerfully refusing to do so, we can find refuge from the storms of life.
“The scientific statement of being” ends like this: “Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual.” This is certainly a radical statement about our identity! Why do you think this is so important in healing?
I believe it cuts the feet from under the belief that man is just matter, or matter with a soul. It takes us to the glorious perception that we are made in the image of God—that is, being at one with God, complete, intact, inseparable. And as we identify ourselves consistently on this basis, the more we find peace, harmony, and healing.
I’m sure that this understanding is something you use a lot in your practice.
Yes, “the scientific statement of being” is entirely practical in all aspects of our lives as we turn thought expectantly to God, to good. Take, for example, a friend of mine called Bob, who lived in the next condo block. He would come over, and we’d discuss philosophy and theology and religion. He had a science degree and an MBA. I gave him a copy of Science and Health, and he began studying.
This radical statement is a clarifying agent, because if we work out from it on a daily basis, it can help change all aspects of our experience.
One day I asked him, “Bob, are you independently wealthy? It doesn’t seem like you have a job.” He replied, “Well, I’m looking for one, but I feel that what I’m offered is kind of beneath me.” I said, “It wouldn’t matter to me if I was washing dishes or serving tables. I could bring to that job qualities of order, punctuality, cleanliness, harmony, and even good humor.” He nodded, and about a week later he came to tell me he’d got a job as a waiter at a good quality restaurant. I suggested he keep thought open to infinite possibilities, that ideas are not limited. I quoted to him from “the scientific statement of being,” that “all is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all.”
Well, a couple of months went by, and one day he rushed up the stairs and with great delight told me this story. He was waiting tables and got into conversation with a lady who turned out to be the CEO of a company in Los Angeles. The company was recruiting, and she invited him to come for an interview. He said he had got the job—exactly what he had been looking for, as a technical sales representative and estimator. They were giving him a new car and an apartment. He was ecstatic. He called me about six months later to say he was really enjoying his job, that he had continued studying Christian Science, and that he had healed a dog struck by a truck. He said, “My cup runneth over!”
We have infinite possibilities when we realize and rejoice that we do reflect the infinite Mind, the infinite consciousness of good. Folks who have little knowledge of Christian Science might question whether physical healing is possible and actually accomplished by this Science. But there are tens of thousands of carefully verified testimonies in the Christian Science Sentinel and Journal over the last hundred years and more of the healing of all kinds of disease—many that were medically diagnosed and sometimes pronounced incurable by physicians. These can be read, and even searched, on JSH-Online. They prove that when the rules are followed, healing occurs.
That’s wonderful! Can you give us an example of how “the scientific statement of being” has been helpful in your life?
I once had a head-on car accident, and at the point of contact I was shouting out, “God is my Life.” Then I was unconscious for a while, and when I came to, I was in the midst of this wreckage and was feeling somewhat broken, shall we say. I started repeating “the scientific statement of being”: “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all.…” I smelled gas, or petrol, and I thought, “I’ve got to get out of this car,” but I couldn’t see, initially, how I could do this. However, I did get out of the car and was lying on the ground. Traffic had stopped, and I was told an ambulance had been called. I remember thinking I didn’t want to go to the hospital.
Then two friends came along, and I was so grateful they were able to put me in the back of their car and drive me to my house, two hours away. In the car, I was thinking about “the scientific statement of being,” and before the end of the journey, I was sitting up. My friends helped me to the door, and when my wife saw me, she said, “You’ll have to go to hospital.” I said, “No, please, I’ll just go into a bedroom and call a Christian Science practitioner.” And I called a practitioner, a Christian Science healer, and she was so loving and helpful. She reminded me that Mrs. Eddy said, “Accidents are unknown to God, or immortal Mind, and we must leave the mortal basis of belief and unite with the one Mind …” (Science and Health, p. 424), just what we were talking about. I really clung to that statement, and within two days I was back at work again. I couldn’t say I was completely healed, but I was functional.
Which was a far cry from when that impact first occurred?
Yes, and I continued to pray along the lines of “the scientific statement of being,” and I was free of all pain and fully healed in a very short time.
Those are two very powerful examples of how understanding “the scientific statement of being” can bring harmony and healing to our lives. Our final question relates to how this statement applies to the concept of salvation. How does understanding it deliver us from the penalty of sin and bring about redemption?
Well, the word salvation has meanings of rescue, deliverance, and protection from harm, risk, loss, or destruction. Sometimes we impose on ourselves our own penalties for sin, for missing the mark, but redemption comes when we give up our own peculiar deviation, or distortion, in thought. The outward is always governed by the inward. “The scientific statement of being” takes us to a new level of seeing and understanding man’s real identity as wholly spiritual, as God’s beautiful image and idea. So, sin and disease lose their reality in human consciousness, and thereby we do find redemption, regeneration. Healing occurs, in many instances, when mental images of resentment, bitterness, anger, or fear are given up and replaced with thoughts of cooperation, compromise, truth, and love, of seeing the real man of God’s creation as spiritual, upright, joyful, pure, and free. And, to me, this is salvation.
Christian Scientists live normal lives. What we’ve discussed are not ethereal philosophies, but practical applications in relation to healing and to relationships with our fellow man. Mrs. Eddy wrote: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick” (Science and Health, pp. 476–477). That gives us this provable idea that we are wholly spiritual and not material.
Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
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