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Zeroing in on the spiritual model

From the July 2011 issue of The Christian Science Journal

My academic training was in physics and electrical engineering. These disciplines use logical thinking to explain cause and effect. They deal naturally with forces that are invisible and seek rational cause behind every observation, even when the observation is surprising. 

So how do we rationalize the most surprising of occurrences, such as Jesus’ renewing a withered hand and walking on water (see Matt., chap. 12, and John, chap. 6)? How do we logically explain years of verified physical healing through Christian Science prayer alone? To me, it all begins with one of the main ideas presented in Christian Science: that man and the universe are in reality spiritual, and that this fact makes spiritual healing possible.

Jesus explained: “You live in terms of what you see and touch. I’m living on other terms. I told you that you were missing God in all this” (John 8:23, The Message). And Mary Baker Eddy suggested how we might focus our efforts to see more clearly man’s spirituality when she wrote, “We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives” (Science and Health, p. 248).

But how can we hold a perfect spiritual model of reality in thought continually? Especially when there seems to be contrary material evidence? I’ve found I can make a good start at this by working through the logic of why man and the universe must be entirely spiritual—and work this out continually, like a runner training for a race. 

There is no set formula for this activity, but first I look at the evidence and possible theories. I can see there are only three possible models of reality for us to consider: We, and the whole universe, are either spiritually based, materially based, or a mixture of both. Because these differ from and contradict each other so much, I know only one can logically hold true. 

The mixed model relies on the material senses to tell us what is true and tries to attribute to God that which material science can’t explain. But this model leads to complex and unsatisfactory explanations for life’s biggest questions. In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy explains: “Dear reader, which mind-picture or externalized thought shall be real to you,—the material or the spiritual? Both you cannot have. . . . Either Spirit or matter is your model. If you try to have two models, then you practically have none. Like a pendulum in a clock, you will be thrown back and forth, striking the ribs of matter and swinging between the real and the unreal” (p. 360).

A purely matter-based model also fails, in that it can’t explain the origin of energy and matter. Theoretical physicists are today working vigorously to find a unified model to explain all cause and effect, but many of them have acknowledged the limits of even the most recent matter-based models. For example, Brian Greene writes in the preface to the second edition of The Elegant Universe, “We may even find that the art world’s scientifically inspired works will provide new stimulus to the scientific imagination and, in some possibly intangible way, prepare us for the next step in understanding the universe” (p. ix).

As I’ve reasoned and prayed, I’ve concluded that only a purely spiritual model of reality can be true. This model is simple and compelling. It gives hope and understanding and explains how instantaneous healing occurs, something no material-based model could fathom. Christian Science explains that healing comes when we shift our thinking toward fully understanding that there is one Spirit, God. When we begin to discredit material models of ourselves and more fully accept our true spiritual nature, we discover healing results. This spiritual model can be arrived at logically, from the starting point of one God. 

In trying to shift my thought to this correct view, I often start by seeing that Principle, one of the synonyms for God, has no beginning and remains forever unchanged. How is this possible? Well, the unchanging principle of mathematics has existed forever, with or without apples to count or rocket trajectories to calculate. That principle cannot be destroyed. Likewise divine Principle cannot be destroyed and must be real and eternal. Principle must also be eternally good, and as Eddy explains: “Good cannot result in evil. As God Himself is good and is Spirit, goodness and spirituality must be immortal” (Science and Health, p. 277). If Principle were anything unlike good, it would eventually change its nature, dilute or self-destruct through internal disagreement. Principle, God, only knows the reality of spiritual perfection, just as the principle of mathematics knows nothing of mathematical errors. And as His creation, we reflect these same indestructible qualities.

I’ve concluded that only a purely spiritual model of reality can be true. This model is simple and compelling.

So, I arrive logically at seeing myself as God’s perfect man. Repeatedly I’ve seen that when I wholeheartedly embrace the spiritual model of man, healing comes. Years ago I was suddenly healed of extensive warts on my hands and feet, a condition that had persisted for about three years. A significant breakthrough in my prayers came to me as I studied the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson early one morning. The thought came to me, “Error, unsupported, must fade.”

I realized that for months I’d been unconsciously supporting the idea of warts by frequently seeing myself as having this physical problem. But the Bible and Christian Science explain that man is actually God-created, spiritual and perfect. There was nothing useful, spiritual, or perfect about warts. That day, each time the condition crossed my thought, I stopped and reasoned through afresh the facts of man’s true, spiritual nature.

As I was “unsupporting” matter along these lines, I focused only on my spiritual reality and gave no particular thought to the problem of warts. I took care to not slip back into matter-based thinking and continued in my prayers, knowing that understanding my true spiritual nature, not wishful thinking, would bring healing.

I had to move beyond faith and into an understanding of the basis for that faith. Otherwise, it was like listening to a beloved teacher deliver a lesson without pondering the concepts or working through the problems in the homework assignment! How could I consistently hang on to the spiritual reality of my existence in the face of contrary material evidence, if I never put in the work required to truly understand the truth?

My praying in this way was so effective that the problem of warts didn’t cross my thought on the next day. On the third day, I noticed all the warts on my hands and feet had changed in appearance. Over a period of a few days new skin appeared, leaving no trace of the problem.

The error of accepting the warts as a factual part of me had faded, as I more fully embraced the spiritual model of man. Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “False views, however engendered, relative to the true and unswerving course of a Christian Scientist, will at length dissolve into thin air” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 291). 

Since that healing, I’ve often sought to see more clearly why man must be wholly spiritual. My efforts often include reasoning afresh why the spiritual model is the only logically consistent model of reality. This prayerful work is constantly improving my understanding of God, and of man’s real and purely spiritual existence. I now more strongly discount the validity of material observations. Working along these lines must increasingly bring the freedom of spiritual existence to us individually, and to our world. Through this work, we “emerge gently from matter into Spirit,” as Eddy said we should (Science and Health, p. 485). And we see the effects in big and small ways in our daily experience. 

The less we buy into the material model and instead realize the truth of the spiritual, the more we see our human needs met through healing and the graceful abandonment of sin. You can separate your real self from material evidence and experience healing.  

Denis Hall lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He specializes in the management of technology.

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