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Climate change and mental change

From the August 2022 issue of The Christian Science Journal


One of the major issues that humanity is trying to deal with is the fear of climate change and its effect on the environment. Understandably, there is a great deal of concern about this issue, and a lot of human effort is going into combating climate change physically and chemically. But initiatives based on a material perspective are falling short of what is needed because they don’t take into account the impact that thought has on outcomes.

The results of some quantum physics experiments point to the impact our thoughts have on our experience. They show that what the physicist knows or is conscious of relating to an experiment with particles or light, for instance, is reflected in the outcome of the experiment (see interview with Laurance Doyle and Brian Kissock, “A deeper look at ‘the scientific statement of being,’ ” Journal, March 2018). In view of this, it’s reasonable to conclude that human experience generally reflects our thinking. 

Christian Science takes this even further, offering a unique way to delve into the nature of and solution to problems of every sort facing humanity. In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Christian Science explains all cause and effect as mental, not physical” (p. 114). Science and Health also shines a light on the spiritual nature of reality. So while humanity’s efforts to combat climate change may be useful and justified, usually they are occurring within a framework of accepting that life is material and depends on matter and on how matter interacts with itself. This concept leaves divine Spirit, God, out of the picture and does not take into account the mental nature of experience, which includes how we experience weather.

If all cause and effect are mental, not physical, it logically follows that the mental climate of humankind affects our experience of the physical climate on Earth. So it’s powerful and worthwhile to consider the climate and atmosphere of thought, especially the impact an understanding of God has, as Christ Jesus evidenced.

The record of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark shows that we have the ability to demonstrate God’s control of the weather. He and his disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee in a ship when a great wind and huge waves came up, filling the ship with water and the disciples’ thoughts with the fear of death. Jesus was sleeping peacefully, so in anguish they woke him up. 

Jesus was always conscious of living in God’s presence, which is a divinely natural environment of peace. From that standpoint of the certainty of God’s supremacy and perfect peace, he was immediately able to counteract the fear that was overwhelming the disciples. The result of Jesus’ spiritual consciousness was that the wind stopped blowing “and there was a great calm” (see Mark 4:35–41). 

In the Glossary of Science and Health, which gives the spiritual sense of biblical terms, there’s a definition for wind. The contrasting descriptions in the first paragraph of this definition point to the difference between Jesus’ spiritual perspective and the view of what was going on that his disciples were taking in: “Wind. That which indicates the might of omnipotence and the movements of God’s spiritual government, encompassing all things. Destruction; anger; mortal passions” (p. 597).

If Jesus stilled the storm by a thought filled with spiritual peace and the assurance of God’s loving control, what does that suggest about what happens when thought is filled with opposite mental states, such as fear, selfishness, greed, anger, hatred, revenge? 

Science and Health links violent weather to tempestuous states of mind when it makes a distinction between the impact of mortal mind, a belief that there is a mentality apart from God, and that of immortal Mind, which is God. It says: “Erring power is a material belief, a blind miscalled force, the offspring of will and not of wisdom, of the mortal mind and not of the immortal. It is the headlong cataract, the devouring flame, the tempest’s breath. It is lightning and hurricane, all that is selfish, wicked, dishonest, and impure.” 

Pointing to the solution, it continues, “Moral and spiritual might belong to Spirit, who holds the ‘wind in His fists;’ and this teaching accords with Science and harmony” (p. 192).

What is mankind’s mental climate? Is it characterized by moral and spiritual qualities, or indignant reactions, extremes of opinions, anger, fear, outrage, self-justification, and selfishness? The latter, traits of human will that fill the mortal thought-atmosphere, can be reflected physically in extremes of temperature, drought, or violent weather, such as huge storms, volcanic eruptions, and tornadoes. 

But Christian Science shows there is a way forward. These destructive results are essentially caused by ignorance of God, who is divine Life, Truth, and Love. What is needed is a change in our concept of God, the harmonious Principle of the universe—a change to a deeper and larger and entirely spiritual understanding of God as Love and Truth. What is also needed is to see ourselves as God’s manifestation. This includes the recognition that we are expressions of Love and its qualities—peace, harmony, compassion, temperance, and confidence—and that we have the God-given ability to behold and know each other this way. 

In its “Scientific Translation of Mortal Mind,” Science and Health highlights the degrees or phases that human thinking progresses through as it gains an understanding of God (see pp. 115–116). One of the moral or transitional qualities it identifies that can easily be overlooked is “temperance.” The Apostle Paul includes this quality as one of the essential fruits of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22, 23). It is defined as moderation, sensibleness, reasonableness, and extremism and irrationality are some of its antonyms. One might think of temperance as living in a state of inward calm, undisturbed well-being; of spiritual poise and stability based on trust in God; of recognizing the all-power and ever-presence of Love and expressing it in our lives. The dynamic, animated activity of divinely impelled patience, calm, and peace counteracts and douses the heat of emotion, resentment, anger, and self-justification.

Mental influences that are not derived from Love should be recognized as such and rejected. There is no anger and destruction in Mind’s creation or in Love’s environment. Upgrading, uplifting, and transforming human thought by recognizing God’s nature and feeling the divine power of God’s natural law of harmony begins to denounce and ameliorate discordant mental extremes. As such extremes are replaced by gentleness, care, goodness, generosity, honesty, compassion, forgiveness, unselfishness—the divine nature and attributes that God imparts to everyone—the improved atmosphere of thought will have a beneficial impact, including improving the weather, moderating the climate, and harmonizing human experience.

As we increasingly feel and evidence our God-created nature, the divine, eternal, harmonious creation will become clearer to us. The fact is that the true, spiritual universe is God’s own manifestation, the expression of all that God is, now. And we are included in this expression as the loved children or ideas of Mind, which means that our entire nature is spiritual and derived from God. With these divine facts in thought, we can know that the weather and climate are truly governed by God, Principle, Soul, Life. 

Mrs. Eddy spoke of the spiritual progress of humanity and its effect on the weather, writing, “. . . the atmosphere of the human mind, when cleansed of self and permeated with divine Love, will reflect this purified subjective state in clearer skies, less thunderbolts, tornadoes, and extremes of heat and cold; . . .” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 265). 

Our prayers and the way we live can help the world’s climate by affirming that Life is Spirit, good, and that all creation exists and continues within the atmosphere of Love. The divine Mind is the only Mind and cause, and divine Love the one power. And as we are the offspring of Mind and Love, we are constituted of all the wisdom and intelligence of Mind and are the emanation of the compassion, serenity, and power of Love. This is our divine nature, our natural state as the children of God. As we consciously live in Love’s pure and harmonious atmosphere, the climate of the Earth will be found to be balanced and safe, and the environment will be renewed.

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