Christian Science: The Science of Life
Bicknell Young, C.S.B.
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
Portion of a lecture delivered by Bicknell
Young, C.S.B., member of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship, in the
First Church of Christ, Scientist, in
Before entering upon the main body of my subject, permit me to call your attention to a few important points, chief among which is our ability to think. We seldom consider it; yet it is the greatest gift that we possess; and the cultivation of it is the highest duty we owe to ourselves and to mankind. That it may be exercised in a far nobler way than is generally the case, is nowhere questioned; but that it can be exercised for the healing and redemption of mankind, according to a given Principle and a definite rule, is a fact not recognized or inculcated by any system save Christian Science.
Contrary to beliefs more or less widespread, let it be said that Christian Scientists do not fail to take cognizance of the difficulties which beset the race as well as the individual. They are not engaged in any superficial, altruistic theory. They claim to have common sense; and the history of this movement shows clearly that, as a class, Christian Scientists are eminently practical. The advantage which they have over other people is to be found solely in what they have gained of the true Science of Life and living, through the study of the Bible, and of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" and other works written by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
What is this Science? Do the theories of prevailing educational systems indicate or reveal it? All theories of general education are predicated upon the certainty and necessity of sin, disease, and death, and are self-contradictory. They have been accepted and tried for centuries, utterly in vain. With circumstances all in their favor, and supported by the overwhelming consensus of human faith and education, they have utterly failed. Under such beliefs, and uninstructed by Christian Science, living is tantamount to mere physical endurance and final chaos. Christian Science takes issue with all such theories and conclusions. It appeals to the higher nature, to reason and logic, and educates us in the Science of Life, the Science of real thinking, which is the greatest need of the age.
Ordinarily, human life is considered to be mere chance, manifesting the whim and caprice of instinct or desire. We have been taught to look out for our material needs, and we have been instructed in some of the sciences which are supposed to aid us in administering to those needs; but our thinking, which is the most important thing we ever do, has had no real Science to govern or exalt it, but has been based upon and fostered by systems which assumed and inculcated the theory that matter governs man. Christian Science reveals the fact that thought governs or misgoverns mankind, as the case may be, including the body; and that as we approach or attain a divine standard, the health and safety of the body are proportionately secure.
The Science of true living and true thinking is thus drawn from a higher source than that of mere ordinary human experiences. To investigate it required research of the most unselfish, painstaking, and persistent nature. Such was the research that Mary Baker Eddy entered upon and carried on for years. It culminated in the discovery of that Science which she named Christian Science. She saw the vast importance of distinguishing between the true and the false, between the real and the unreal. She observed the permanent nature of divine facts; and this led her to the conclusion that such facts constitute the immortality of man. How to understand these facts was not so difficult for her as was the problem of teaching others to understand them. We who are the beneficiaries of this Science, in common with the whole of mankind, can scarcely realize what it must have meant, fifty years ago, to awaken the world to the consideration of religion as Science, and of real Science as religion. All the prejudices of sectarianism were instinctively arrayed against such a proposition; and yet it promised nothing less than complete redemption for the human race. Even now, after all of Mrs. Eddy's great work, Christian Science is not universally accepted; but the signs of the times are portentous and inspiring. Why should they be otherwise? For Christian Science fulfills the hopes of the Christian world.
Does not its declaration that God is infinite cause, intelligence, Spirit, Mind, Life, Love, immutable, immortal Principle, the source and substance of all being, tally with our ideals of what constitutes the omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God of the Bible, and of all Christendom? If it does, then our ideals may, through Christian Science, take on a practical value; they may be brought out of the realm of speculation into that of actual experiment and demonstration. These definitions of God, virtually accepted by the whole Christian world, constitute the fundamental facts of the Science of true living, as revealed in Christian Science.
The apostle says, "Your life is hid with Christ in God." Christendom has accepted that saying; but it was not understood, and could not be, until the Science of it was revealed;
yet the whole Christian world agrees that God, the immutable creator of the universe, originates, sustains, and perpetuates His own creation.
The assumption that life is primarily in matter contradicts this profound conclusion. Besides this, such an assumption is not basic enough to satisfy the faculty of reason in man. It limits Life, and at the same time calls it infinite. It fails to explain what Life is, or how, according to such theories, it ever got into such forms. The only philosophy that satisfies in regard to Life is found in Christian Science, because Christian Science is not a theory. It shows that Life is the self-existent Mind, intelligence, supreme Being, which Christendom, in reverence and adoration, names God. This real Life, permanent, necessarily perfect, untouched by disease, sin, or death, is the only Life of man. He does not need any other, and could not have any other. The mortal who recognizes this fact is gaining something by way of education that tends to both health and peace. The Science of Life must be the Science of living which the whole world had sought, and sought in vain. Yet it is here obtainable by any person who desires to have it, and costs nothing beyond the preliminary steps of equipping one's self with the books which teach it. These books are the Bible, and "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. Like other books, they are made up of ideas; and this Science consists of ideas. In other so-called sciences thoughts, by way of instruction, pertain to material things or actions, or the employment or use of material things and remedies; whereas, in Christian Science, ideas themselves constitute both the means and the object of education, are the sole phenomena of this Science, and are the only remedies used to restore health or to prevent disease.
Now, to the average person, accustomed to rely upon matter, to speak of ideas as remedies for disease may sound like mystery; and, yet, all religion consists of thoughts or ideas; all the great things of the world are unfolded through right education, which is attained by study and consists wholly of thoughts. This being so, is there anything extraordinarily mysterious, or at all mysterious, in the fact that Christian Science heals the sick through revealing, by means of divine thoughts or ideas, the nature, the power, and the presence of God? If the ordinary mortal is expressed in his character, − that is, in his thoughts and education, − should it be considered incredible that the divine Mind could reveal itself through its own ideas? And if these ideas come from God, who is Mind, is it extravagant or unreasonable to expect enlightenment, and even improved health, through their presence and law?
Let me call your attention to the further fact that all phenomena or effects imply a cause. Our observation of the effects may be inadequate, and, indeed, must be so, when these effects are infinite; but, however we regard them, they inevitably imply a cause. Now, immeasurable or infinite effects in quantity and quality not only demand but actually require an immeasurable or infinite cause. Religionists speak of this cause in veneration, using the word "God." Material scientists think they are more scientific when they speak of "the great First Cause" as energy or force. But neither the one class nor the other, however divergent their views or expressions, can possibly deny the infinity of that cause; and the infinite must be indestructible. For this reason, religionists throughout all ages, even though they have not reasoned it out, have instinctively felt and said that God is eternal; and the materialists, driven to the last ditch by their own investigations, declare also that what they call force or energy, taken to be "the great First Cause," cannot be conceived of as beginning or ending.
The eternality of God, "the great First Cause," is therefore universally admitted. Now, eternality means certain characteristics which we can here consider, and, be greatly instructed. In this connection, let me speak of the fact that Christian Science has been criticized, and that Christian Scientists have been the object of attempted ridicule, because of their conviction that God is not the author of disease or sin, and that, consequently, disease and sin, which have no divine origin, are devoid of true existence. Nevertheless, this contention rests upon logic that is irrefutable, for if God is eternal, as all people admit, then God is not the author of any destructive thing; neither does He include within Himself the possibility or knowledge of any destructive or self-destructive element. To think otherwise is not only illogical and unscientific, but irreligious, and in the last analysis even sacrilegious.
I have asked you to follow along in this course of reasoning for a certain purpose; and that purpose I believe now begins to appear. It is that you may learn the naturalness of health and life, and the unnaturalness of disease and death. Perceiving, as I believe you must have done, as we have gone on thinking this out together, that God does not and can not include or conceive of a single destructive element or quality, you can see that a better understanding of God will mean more realization of the presence of God, and will tend to remove destructive elements and incidents from our lives. Thereby health and life will be not only more general, but more permanent. We have taken a step in the Science of Life within these few minutes; and I wish to call your attention to the fact that it has been a pleasant step; and none of us has suffered in taking it. I have not urged you to believe in Christian Science, and I promise you that I will not urge you to believe anything. The most that I ask of you, anywhere, at any time, in considering this subject, is to think. It goes without saying that thinking requires logic; for without consistency, without Principle or basis for thinking, and conclusions drawn by reason, there is no real thinking going on.
Just here, however, some who have turned their faces toward the light of Christian Science find themselves assailed by questions as to the reason for the existence, or seeming existence, of disease and sin and the rest of the train of destructive and afflictive human experiences. They accept the inevitable logic of Christian Science, but they naturally wonder about human experiences that, according to Christian Science, could not be either God-ordained or God-sustained. It is not strange that they should do so; but let it be said that if Christian Science is to be demonstrated, its rules must be followed. Its Principle must be perceived and maintained under all circumstances.
The mistakes that we make, even in the study of art, do not, or should not, engage our attention any longer than is required to correct them. Let us, then, take that same attitude toward the afflictive experiences of human existence. They are not of God, consequently they are not scientific, and not true in the highest sense. They are only true to our limited powers of observation, and because of our inadequate education. Having no existence in Truth, they must be classified as error.
The best and only satisfactory explanation of error is to show its unreality; and I ask you to consider this sufficient and final explanation. Permanent value must be the criterion by which we judge. With this criterion in view, greater improvements than are yet dreamed of will come to light; and, by the same token, things that are now accepted as natural will vanish under the revelation of the true naturalness of the existence that has its being, function, and law in God, the creator, who is wholly good.
Consider, also, that an eternal cause or creator cannot be conceived of in a personal way; consequently, the real personality of God, or the real character and essence of God, must be Mind. There is no other word that so fully enlightens us, and enables us to see the perfect relationship existing between the creator and His creation. Besides this, the word "Mind" satisfies our intellectual cravings in another direction. It explains what we call thinking. Even though much of what is called human thinking is wholly unworthy of man and utterly unknown to God, yet even that semblance of thinking implies mentality;
and mentality means that somewhere in the universe, and, indeed, everywhere in the universe, is Mind, the cause and creator of all things; and therein lies the ultimate explanation of our power to think, which becomes more Christlike as God is better understood.
To the old way of thinking, it seems incredible that facts which are materially intangible should have actual value and influence. Yet the Founder of the Christian religion proved beyond all question that diseases, even of the most fatal nature, could be absolutely healed by the power of the understanding. He taught, however, that such power can be available to men only in proportion to their righteousness, their rightness in every way. He knew and declared that the power to heal is wholly from God, the divine Mind; and he said and showed by his own works that this power is natural to men and women in proportion to their understanding of or enlightenment on the true nature of God and His law.
In showing us what redemption through Christ is, Christian Science does not omit the healing of disease. Living the Christ-life involves us in the acceptance and practice of the Christ-healing. We have been accused of making too much of this healing; but it may be easily observed that such accusations generally spring from people who are in the enjoyment of excellent health. None of the afflicted who have been healed, or who are seeking healing through Christian Science, have ever accused us of making too much of the Christ-healing.
On page 291 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy writes: "Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind in which all the manifestations of Mind are harmonious and immortal, because sin is not there and man is found having no righteousness of his own, but in possession of 'the mind of the Lord,' as the Scripture says." It follows that the way to heaven is the way of education, in the highest sense of that word. We must think our way into heaven, and nothing can deprive us of or excuse us from that exalting and redemptive necessity.
Think what it means that a person could have been awake enough, alert enough, free enough, clear enough mentally, spiritually, to discover such a Science as this. This is exactly what Mary Baker Eddy did; and she did something more than that: her discernment ascended to the facts of being and revealed them, but it also descended to the present needs of mankind and met them. She saw that the omnipresence of God would have to be affirmed before it could be realized; and she also knew and taught that the rejection of all other seeming powers would have to be persisted in before full proof that good is all-powerful and Life is immortal could be obtained.
We are trying to be worthy of this gift of God to men. We would be unworthy of it, if we did not here and upon all other proper occasions express our gratitude, love, and reverence for the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. She established the cause of Christian Science on the enduring foundation of Christ-healing, where it stands and will continue to stand, a living and an ever rising monument to a character and to a career of achievement absolutely unique in history.
God is Life, and perpetuates His own creation. Jesus said, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." Mrs. Eddy says in Science and Health (p. 286), "God's thoughts are perfect and eternal, are substance and Life." We have been considering those thoughts here. They are easy to understand when sought in sincerity, because they are more natural to us than other thoughts, nearer to our real being than any other thoughts could be.
The Bible is the original revelation of the immortal relationship of God and man. Christian Science makes this relationship understood; and in doing this it removes condemnation, and establishes redemption in its stead. It shows beyond all doubt that the only final or possible sequence to a mistake is loving and complete correction.
Thus Christian Science, though more profound than all other so-called sciences in its possibilities, is much simpler in its teaching. It can be understood by every one; but any attempt to use it selfishly or for mere personal profit or ambition immediately cuts off its divine power. This Science shows unmistakably that the failure to classify disease and all other afflictive and destructive experiences, as error, tends to give them power and continuity. Can thinking men and women continue in such a course when once they see how it adds to their own sufferings and to those of the human race? To maintain the truth in the very face of erroneous human opinions and beliefs that are all but universal, doubtless requires courage; and the history of Christian Science, beginning with its Discoverer and Founder, illustrates step by step the sublime courage which was necessary to establish this Cause, and is equally necessary to perpetuate it. But courage in the right is a quality that has never been found lacking in our country; and it is not conceivable that the men and women of our time, when once they recognize the divine Principle of Christian Science and perceive its boundless scope and influence, to say nothing of its practical value, would reject it because courage is required in order to demonstrate its divine power. When all the bravery of the race is enlisted in the Cause of Truth; when moral men and women, never even tempted to lie or steal, find that they are equally untouched by the fears and suggestions of disease; when they are so mentally advanced, alert, and spiritually cultivated that they never give any power to any destructive element or action; when their fear of such things ceases, and their confidence in the divine facts of Science predominates, − when they thus gain and maintain the majestic humility of spiritual understanding, then they will walk the earth in the power of Science and in the dominion of its law, − the Science and the law of God, the Science and the law of infinite Life.
[Published in The Christian Science Journal, August, 1922.]