Why do you think God couldn’t create matter?

QUESTION: Why does Mary Baker Eddy say God couldn’t create matter? How is that possible if He created everything?

First LastEric Oyama says: Whenever I have a question about God, I like to go back to the basics.  The Bible talks about God as Spirit, Love, perfect, unchanging, eternal and good.  And if God is Spirit, how could He create matter?  I don’t think He could, but then where did matter come from?

I had an experience that answered that for me.  While in college I was at a hardware store with my parents. I wasn’t feeling very well and sat near the door to a storage room. At that moment a cart passed by filled with panes of glass for windows. As I looked through the glass I could see an unidentifiable pink smudge in the glass. As the employee lifted each pane of glass off the cart and onto a shelf, the pink smudge started to take shape.  Soon I could see that the pink smudge wasn’t a smudge at all, but actually a rose bush on the other side of the glass.

I thought of my own situation. I had been praying to make myself not be sick anymore and I wasn’t getting anywhere. I realized it would be like looking at the pink smudge and praying that the flower come into focus. The flower, of course, was always just the way it was meant to be.  It  never had to recover from being out of focus.

With this new thought my prayer changed from kind of a “God, please fix my body” to “God, what do you see? What do you know to be true about me?” And with that, an answer came…that I was made in the image and likeness of God. That because God is Spirit, Spirit could only make me spiritual.  I suddenly “got it.” This is what had always been true about me. And I was immediately well and I got up and joined my parents.

To me, matter is just a mistaken or distorted view of what is real. It seems real, but it’s not.  And prayer helps us see what God knows to be true.

Eric is a Christian Science practitioner based in Los Angeles, California.

What do YOU think? Add your comment below.

Comments

  1. jeffrey says:

    I myself don’t get people that limit God if you believe in God that is wonderful but what is the problem with believing God is infinitely powerful and just as much knowledgeable knowledge comes from God so even if you think you have some smart reason for why God didn’t do that with regards to creating the universe and reality you’re just saying knowledge can defeat the creator of knowledge and and therefore you are abusing knowledge and wisdom God is so powerful how dare we try and put ourselves above him God is the creator of every atom and every string and every vibration down that string every particle in existence everywhere gives God praise why can’t we

  2. Alabama says:

    My CS practitioner suggested I read this article “Who Is Your Maker?” by Herbert Rieke http://www.cslectures.org/Rieke/Who%20Is%20Your%20Maker-Rieke.htm. Honestly, the article is so wonderful that I keep reading it over and over again. I read it to a friend, gave it to my husband to read several times now and told bits of the story to my son that I thought  he could grasp. The truth hits home powerfully through excellent explanations and examples– who God is and the unreality of evil. I think it speaks to this question of  why didn’t God create matter.

  3. XXX says:

    I love this discussion

  4. Jim Graves says:

    My, my, this is a crowded doorway!  It is a compelling one, too.  Our conversation has brought me back again. So, let me ask some questions.  David, I have been where you are, so to speak.  You assert that you are an agnostic.  Are you?  If we are correct, you are not and must eventually find this out.  If you are correct and we are not,  why do you continue with this dialogue?   We will eventually just come to an end.  My presumption is that you do good things.  Why?  I would guess too that you have had healings and if you would look back at your life, materially,  you would realize this.  I remember reading a book (my apologies to the author for I can neither recall her name nor the title).  She is a successful newspaper professional and she had been examining the subject we are addressing but more to your point of view.  In her final chapter she  expresses her conclusion.  She had been at an international conference of neurologists.  The two principle speakers were at the podium and one, an atheist, presented his arguments and said how can you, to the other guy,  conclude there is a God?  To which the other responded, simply, how can you not?  Walk outside, look around at the street; at the horizon;  into the infinite universe?  Is this not evidence?  Are these not at least clues?  All of which I have read in this dialogue seeks to support you.  Why? As to the question of material vs. spiritual life,  you argue well.  All of us are using a computer.  Probably all of us will eat breakfast.  Will drive somewhere in a car using gasoline and will sleep tonight.  Good, but so what?  If we think about things and know that Goodness (God) prevails.  If we feel good and know the Truth and experience things that go beyond the logic of mankind, healings.  Doesn’t this make you wonder what is going on?  Well, God is.  Why not?  If you would quiet for a while and think about things in a positive way and, as I believe they will,  good things happen,  you have been in touch with God.  What we know as the still small voice.  I have to say, it is GREAT!  Clamp down on your intellectual voice for a while.  Resist the temptation to debate.  Feel good.  Just feel and open up to the “still small voice.”  Then think simply about it.  If you can, irrespective of what philosophy you follow,  you have talked with God.  Yep, that’s  right, directly with God! Jim

    • David says:

      Thanks again to you all for your replies!

      Jim Graves, I am an agnostic, which means to me that I do not know the answers (though the dictionary is even more specific: “a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God”). I continue in this discussion because I still do not know the answers, I enjoy reading and appreciate the sincerity of responses from people like you, and I learn something about faith in such dialog.

      A perfect example, among the many heartfelt messages in this thread, is the one posted by “Alabama” at 12:08. It contains all that has long appealed to me about Christian Science; specifically, it’s similarities to my own still inchoate but non-Christian ideas about life and truth.

      “Alabama,” I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you wrote and the spirit in which you wrote it. Even if the dialog does “eventually just come to an end,” I will have been enriched by it.

      • David says:

        I meant to write “its similarities to my own…ideas” (without the apostrophe). <:/

      • Alabama says:

        David, I’m so glad my post was meaningful for you. I really appreciate your letting me know. I love this discussion too and want to thank you for asking the question that got it started, and also thank everyone who is responding! Our dialogue has meant a lot to me too.

        I’ve been on my own spiritual quest during the last few years, a heartfelt search for answers. Someone very dear to me has been quite ill and as a result I’ve done some deep soul searching.  What I’ve realized is that when you talk about anything spiritual — and by that I mean faith, love, truth, harmony, beauty, understanding and so on — it doesn’t translate well materially. You can’t hold love in your hand, weigh it, quantify it or apply finite measures to it. Yet, it is real. When we love and care about each other, we all experience it and appreciate it.  In your words David,  you feel “enriched” by this dialogue. Feeling enriched is also an intangible. Even though we can’t take the experience and box it up, it doesn’t make it less real. In fact, it’s very real because an experience that involves kindness or a new understanding is extremely more satisfying and meaningful than looking at the desk in front of us or the chair we’re sitting on.

        For me, God is this kind of intangible experience. When I imagine the most powerful, loving, good,  intelligent, kind, strong, wise  (I could go on endlessly with adjectives here) presence that fills more space than I can imagine and I think of these qualities as infinite, that to me is God. Sometimes I get caught up in language, trying to find the right words for God.  I love how Mary Baker Eddy describes prayer as “desire.”  Otherwise, you might think that if you weren’t down on your knees and folding your hands, you weren’t praying. How silly that would be, but that’s the kind of stuck-in-the-box thinking you get into when religion moves away from the spiritual and becomes codified or  materialistic.

        I can  relate to what Nina said about the visceral sense of Truth that erased her questions and the encounter that Moses had with God and afterward “the skin on his face shone.” When you make the connection with God and life goes better, your spiritual understanding starts to unfold. I remember one morning I woke up and my rib was out of place. I had some great plans for that day singing with friends. The idea of spoiling our day seemed so wrong . Yet, every time I took a deep breath, a sharp pain seized me. I had a strong desire to be well,  rejected the idea of  pain and  the simple thought came to me, “there is a higher power.” As I thought this, the bone popped back into place. Now granted, my experience pales compared to  Moses, but it sure made my day and I was very grateful. I had my “God moment.” It wasn’t a moment of faith. It was a moment of knowing there was a higher power and experiencing it. It all happened in a split second and sometimes that’s all it takes. With God there’s no effort. Effort is a physical, not a spiritual phenomenon. You become aware of God through earnest desire and through thought. When you connect with God and the right idea breaks in your thought, it’s as natural and effortless as breathing — and in my case as effortless as breathing should have been — and then was, once again.

        If you try to understand God in a physical way, you can’t because God  isn’t physical. That’s why you can’t do it — in the same way you can’t try to make “understanding” or “love” into something physical that you can hold in your hand.

         

         

         

         

         

  5. Alabama says:

    Sorry for the lack of paragraphs in my previous post.  When I viewed my response, it looked like double spaces between the paragraphs, so I deleted the “extra spaces.”  Oops.  Hope it’s not too hard to read.

  6. Alabama says:

    David, I think we all struggle with this question.  I know I do. A similar question would be whether God created sin or evil. Most people believe that God is good and would say no, God does not create evil or sin. And you could ask, then how does evil or sin exist? If God is truth, then how do lies exist? You see, most theologians agree that in creating us, God also gave us free will. We can choose to love God or turn away from God. We can choose to sin or not to sin. We can choose to lie or tell the truth. When you try to create a reality on your own instead of seeing what God creates, you end up with something that is not God. You end up with something like evil instead of good or lies instead of truth. Or you may end up with a hybrid, a mixture of lies and truth because you allow yourself to see a little bit of what God is creating, but not all of it. You end up with a mortal mind instead of  unity with Divine Mind. Matter is the opposite of spirit. Matter is finite, rigid and solid. It does not think and it does not create. It does not love and it does not care about other people. Look at a dead body and a live body. What’s the difference? There is absolutely nothing spiritual at all about a dead body. Life is spirit and dead bodies have no life. If life is spirit and spirit is eternal, then is death real? No, it isn’t but we sure are convinced that death is real when we see a dead body, and the only reason we think it’s real  is because we wrongly believed that the body was the person. But it wasn’t. That life force, intelligence and love is absent from the body. Interesting how we say when a person dies that “they are gone.” On some level we knew the physical body wasn’t the person. Are nightmares real? You would probably say no, they are just figments of your imagination. They exist only in the mind, not in the “real world.” On the other hand, we believe that matter is fixed and real. We go on believing that until something “miraculous” occurs for which man’s material science has no explanation. A woman paralyzed for 20 years suddenly has feeling in her legs and walks. A person with fourth stage cancer is suddenly cancer free. All that changed was the individual’s spiritual or mental outlook. Thought is what changed. No medication brought about healing. I had a friend with stage four cancer who was suddenly cancer free and the doctor assured him that his healing had nothing to do with medical treatments the doctor gave him. He was not a Christian Scientist, by the way. However, he did find God. You can find these occurrences where healing defied matter all over the internet. These transformations are not just happening among Christian Scientists but I believe that healing occurs more  in Christian Science than in other religions. The reason is that Christian Scientists focus on spiritual healing. I know you have trouble taking the Bible stories as real accounts. However, similar miracles occur today when people turn to God. Do a Google search you’ll see what I mean.  Matter is not what it appears to be. Disease is only as real as you believe in it. When you can grasp that disease is unreal and can be destroyed by not believing in it, you begin to get a glimpse that matter is not real either. This is a tough question David. Your understanding of the idea that matter is not real and God did not create it — and this is true for all of us –  is limited by your lack of spiritual sense. It takes some real work, discipline and desire to develop a less human and more spiritual perspective of what we see as life. Believe me, you’re not alone in this question you posed. Mary Baker Eddy describes the three degrees, which are levels of awareness or consciousness in S&H pp. 115, 116. The first degree is physical: evil beliefs, passions, fear, depraved will, self-justification, pride, envy, deceit, hatred, revenge, sin, sickness, disease, death. The second degree is moral: humanity, honesty, affection, compassion, hope, faith, meekness, temperance The third degree is spiritual: wisdom, purity, spiritual understanding, spiritual power, love, health, holiness She says in the third degree, mortal mind disappears, and man in God’s image appears. If you can understand this, then you can begin to understand that God did not create matter. I know this is hard. Believe me, we are all in the same boat and spiritual understanding doesn’t happen all at once. It unfolds gradually. Just as a toddler doesn’t start out running but takes one step at a time, our spiritual progress happens a step at a time.  We are all “spiritual toddlers” in a sense, trying to gain greater understanding. Most of us don’t heal others instantaneously or raise the dead the way Mrs. Eddy did, and not many of f us have stories to tell like changing water into wine. Our spiritual mastery is not there yet, not consistently anyway.  However, if you have experienced spiritual healing or helped another through spiritual healing, it is a beginning step. On page 1 of  Unity of Good, Chapter Caution in the Truth, note where Mrs. Eddy writes, “Does God know or behold, sin, sickness, and death?” In so many words, she advises her students to leave this subject untouched until they draw closer to God and are able to testify by their lives. Only then will they gain true understanding of God and lose all sense of error. Matter is a form of error and that is why God did not and could not create it –  just as God did not create evil or sin. God is goodness, love, beauty, life, health, harmony and all that is perfect. That is the essence of God. It’s who God is, God’s very nature. How could anything that is not God, be part of God? There are degrees of understanding and most of us can’t yet comprehend the idea that matter is not real, that it is error and that God did not , could not, and would not create it. The idea is a very advanced concept.  However, we  get glimpses of this truth. This truth is certainly at work when spiritual healing occurs.

  7. David – I guess if there was an easy answer to your question, you would have already found it. It’s difficult, in some circumstances, to apply human reasoning to spiritual logic. For me, that’s where humility comes in. I don’t grasp everything about calculus either, but that doesn’t stop me from using the math I do know.

    If you were a friend sitting here at this coffee house while I tap on my smartphone, I’d stop and ask how you feel about the whole thing. Maybe you’re searching and deeply concerned. Maybe you’re satisfied being agnostic. If you feel the Bible is a collection of myths, then maybe Christianity is not for you. Whatever your response, I’d respect it.

    To be honest, I didn’t find that any of the replies here exactly answer your question or the original question above. I did find that most of them gave intelligent glimpses into how the law of Spirit, God, supercedes the material laws that apparently govern the universe. It’s like getting a great gift for Christmas, just not quite the one I thought I wanted. And that’s okay, because how often do other people really meet the needs of my heart? Satisfy the deeper longings? Nail the harder questions? In my experience, only God gets it right all the time. But I’m still happy to see the pile of presents under the tree on Christmas morning. Best wishes in your search, David!

  8. Jill says:

    Hi David,

    I have another possible analogy for you.  Picture life and all that we see as a 3-D movie on a huge screen.  We are actually observing and representing ourselves on the screen.  We are images on the screen.  The illusion that we look and feel and have texture is the form we appear in for our spiritual self, expressing God, to be seen in.  If we did not have a form how  could our spiritual qualities be appreciated and expressed without it?    The reason the illusion of matter is obviously a picture in thought is demonstrated through physical healings .  Like in the Bible when Jesus healed the man with the withered hand. Matt. 12:10 Well, his hand did not look like the other one.  It was most likely frail and not as substantial as the other.  When Jesus healed it, it was restored the same as the other.  In the medical field, it would have required physical therapy to strengthen it and build up the muscle.  Jesus instantaneously transformed it to the same appearance as the other hand.  So, it shows that the way it changed was through thought.  The hand did not actually change through physical manipulation. It changed through Jesus elevated concept of who the man really was.  An expression of perfect God.  A couple other proofs that matter is not real, is when Moses had the children of Israel walk across the red sea on “dry ground.” Exodus 14:16, 22  How was the ground dry after having been covered with water?  Because the physical picture is really an illusion.  The other Bible story about the borrowed Ax that the worker dropped it into the water and then it floated to the surface of the water and was retrieved. II Kings 6:5  If matter was real, the ax head would never have floated to the surface.

    I hope this helps a little.

     

    • David says:

      I really do appreciate your taking time to respond, Jill, but references to the Bible don’t help at all. I think of it as a work of fiction, devised—like all works of art—entirely by the mind of human beings. I promise you that I mean no offense to anyone who considers it “the word of God”; I simply cannot accept its origin or validity as different from any other collection of tales of mythology.

    • Eric Oyama says:

      Great analogy, Jill! And those are wonderful examples from the Bible. I also like seeing the modern day examples of healing in each current issue of The Christian Science Journal, Christian Science Sentinel, and The Herald of Christian Science. Such a great reminder that the healing principle that was in operation then is the same law that is in operation now. The healing of the man with the withered arm reminded me of a healing I had years ago and I wrote about it in the October 18, 2004 Sentinel.

      http://sentinel.christianscience.com/issues/2004/10/106-42/gash-gone-in-less-than-24-hours

      • Annette-D says:

        Thanks for sharing your testimony, Eric.  It actually reminded me of another one in an article called, Existence–the Eternal Now, by Mark Swinney in the September 2006, Journal.  It’s a great article in general about the universe being spiritual.  He tells of a time he was eating fondue with his family, and one of them tripped over the cord.  Not thinking about it, he reached out and grabbed the hot pot of oil and stuck his hand in it.  There was no effect from that incident–not in that moment, or after.  Here’s how he explains what happened and why the oil had no effect:
        “Prior to this incident, I had been thinking deeply about how Mind, not matter, is man’s Creator. The concept of being created from a material basis had already begun to give way in my thinking to the understanding that we are only created by Spirit, God, and so our true substance is completely, eternally spiritual, not subject at all to material conditions or theories.”

        The whole article is really great on this topic.

    • Ruth says:

      Further to what Jill said am I right?  We know the good hand was not an illusion, in the instance of Jesus healing the withered hand!  If “the form” as Jill puts it, of a good hand is God’s expression of his own usefulness then it was ‘the quality’ of the withered useless one which was the illusion.

      The view of the Red Sea being a barrier to the progress to God’s children escaping imprisonment is the illusion.  So to my understanding the knowledge of God’s government of the universe always reveals correct ” form”.

      If  there is no substance in a false “form” which is what the senses show us…  seeing real substance can only be had from seeing out from God’s perspective of perfection as He/She created all-in-all.  ”All is infinite Mind”  MBE writes.

      Here’s an interesting statement….. Hope you relate to this David if not the rest of what I have tried to explain.  ”In fact what Einstein revealed”  Mark Sappenfield  writes in a recent CS Journal,  ”is that all matter in the universe is actually just imprisoned energy, lacking the forces needed to transform it.”   See his article on this subject,  The Children of Light in The Christian Science Journal February 2013 vol 131 page 6.

      I’ve learnt a lot reading what everyone has said… so good to be part of a discussion. Thank you!

  9. Joe says:

    Great analogy… I’m going to get some mileage out of that one. Thanks.

  10. Denis Hall says:

    I make the most progress on this difficult question when I remember that Christianity is a science. In the sciences of today, the scientist starts from an assumption. He then, through revelation (or if you wish, inspiration) and logic arrives at some conclusions as to the consequences of his assumption. He then proves the validity of his assumption by observing consequences which match his conclusions.
    Mary Baker Eddy was a scientist, and worked in this fashion in the late 1860s, before this mode of thinking was widespread. Several biblical authors had earlier glimpsed her starting point of one spiritual God before all else, but the logic of the consequences had not been well articulated. Eddy did that. Cool logic from this starting point – let alone biblical citations – leads to the conclusion that matter cannot be real. Eddy demonstrated the correctness of her assumption and its consequences of one spiritual God through her routine healing work.
    Eddy understood why physical healing was possible when Science stirred “the human mind to a change of base”. I think that Jesus thoroughly understood this logic and the consequences. Through this he demonstrated physical healing. I think that Jesus understood the difficultly of explaining the unreality of matter when he told his disciples, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (King James, John 16:12,13)
    Did energy always exist? If so where did it come from? Through inspiration and logic in 1905, Einstein, starting with the assumption that the speed of light is constant, showed that energy and matter are interchangeable (among other strange conclusions which have since been verified). If energy was first, then you logically get a material creation and you can forget theories about a spiritual starting point. If you assume a spiritual starting point, you logically have a spiritual creation despite any appearances to the contrary. Eddy correctly observed that you cannot have both starting points!

    • Eric says:

      Thank you for the reminder of what our starting point should be.

      • Jim Graves says:

        ERIC AND OTHERS:  I too think this is a problem.  It was the problem which Jesus addressed.  It reminds me of thinking about a doorway.  As persons approach it they talk about it.  Perhaps they measure it and touch it. All of which do it no harm nor does it harm those who consider it.  Some consider it indefinitely.  I would have to agree that it is an interesting consideration, i.e., the doorway or, the problem.  And, I must say,  it still is for me.  However,  using my analogy, just walk through the doorway.  Do not stay with this problem.  One can leave it behind and accept what Christ was saying and showing us.  Life exceeds the doorways or problems we seem to encounter.  Getting to know God is the work of an eternity.  There are times when I go back to the door and think about it and I learn a little more about what Jesus was saying.  (How wonderful it is that he demonstrated this in simple terms, “look, bad hand, now it is a good hand.”  ”You can do this too,” he might have said.  Just walk through the door.  Have you not experienced healings? I have.  Can I explain them, exactly?  No.  I want to continue to expand my knowledge of God, of Jesus Christ, of Truth.  I want to know the Truth that makes me free.   So, for now I am moving through the door and beyond the door.  I may be back.  But, there is an infinite amount to learn.  God does allow us different pathways to the Truth and, I think, I am on one.  I do not want to stop too long at this door.  Keep learning!

        Jim

         

        • Eric Oyama says:

          Hi Jim,

          I like that analogy of the doorway. I’ve also used the analogy of the sun. We may not know everything there is to know about how the sun works and we’re still discovering new things but just because we may not personally know everything doesn’t keep us from getting up in the morning and using the sun to light our way, to grow the plants in the garden and enjoy the day at the park. In the same way healing can and does happen as well. You make a very good point about healing. I’m still learning things from healings I’ve had years ago. My not understanding the points realized years later didn’t keep me from having my healing back then.

          I’ve been thinking about a statement made by Mary Baker Eddy on page 107 of Science and Health. She wrote, “God had been graciously preparing me during many years for the reception of this final revelation of the absolute divine Principle of scientific mental healing.” And then farther along on page 109, “I knew the Principle of all harmonious Mind-action to be God, and that cures were produced in primitive Christian healing by holy, uplifting faith; but I must know the Science of this healing, and I won my way to absolute conclusions through divine revelation, reason, and demonstration.”

          I would think that because God is Love then this same Love that had been preparing Mary Baker Eddy for the reception of this revelation of scientific mental healing then this same Love is preparing each one of us as well. “Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals.” (page 12) One point that has helped me forward is the order of activity on how Mary Baker Eddy won her way to absolute conclusions. She said it was through divine revelation, then reason and finally demonstration. I’ve had to remind myself when reasoning through something and healing hasn’t happened to pause. I realized those moments of reasoning was just the human trying to find an answer. Albert Einstein sums it up nicely when he said, “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.” But starting with revelation, the humility of “not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42) gets me back on the right track. I find the revelation needed to get my reasoning in order and then comes the demonstration, a healing through prayer.

          Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this exploration.

  11. Annette-D says:

    In my study of Christian Science, I like to think it’s more helpful to use deductive reasoning–going from cause to effect–than it is to use inductive reasoning–going from effect to cause.  Why?  Because God is cause.  When I think of the synonym Principle–one of the 7 names used for God in CS–I think of cause, origin, source, so it makes sense to start there.

    The Bible says God is Spirit and is the creator of all.  It would follow that we, as God’s creation, made in His image and likeness, would have to be spiritual.  You could say that matter is the anti-Spirit.  If Spirit could have an opposite, it would be matter.  It doesn’t make sense that Spirit would make His creation from a substance that is opposite of Himself.

    If we start with a material concept of things, what the material senses perceive as effect, and try to go backwards to understand God, Spirit, it doesn’t make sense.  It doesn’t work.

    I too, like the definition of man on page 475 of Science and Health.  This couple of sentences backs up my reasoning, “The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God.  Matter is not that likeness.  The likeness of Spirit cannot be so unlike Spirit.”

    • Eric Oyama says:

      Thank you, Annette.

      This reminds me that as a reflection of God, all communication must be from God to God’s idea, which is each one of us. I like Isaiah chapter 45 verses 18 and 19. “For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”

      I have used this is when I run into something I don’t understand, and perhaps this is what the people in the Bible did, I turn my thought to God and ask God to explain whatever question I might be facing. Sometimes the answer comes in the form of a clear idea of peace, sometimes it comes as an analogy like the glass and the rose bush, sometimes it comes as a statement that someone might make or something I might read.

      I like page 1 of Science and Health. Near the bottom of the page Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Thoughts unspoken are not unknown to the divine Mind. Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.” I’ve found that we can trust this desire to understand to God and the answers that come back bring a change in our life. Sometimes the result is a physical healing, sometimes it is an adjustment to a relationship that was falling apart, or progress in our employment, or perhaps a sense of peace and calm where worry might have had full reign. I have found that going back to that first chapter “Prayer” again and again has helped me listen and hear what God is needing to say to me.

      So many great thoughts and questions here.

  12. David says:

    How is the question (whether God could create matter, and why MBE said God could not) at all related to the story of a rose bush not being seen in its true form?

    • Eric Oyama says:

      Hi David,

      I guess what I learned that day, and continuing to learn, is that we’re really made up of ideas. I like going back to part of an answer Mary Baker Eddy gave to the question, “What is man?” on page 475 of Science and Health. She wrote, “[Man] is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas; the generic term for all that reflects God’s image and likeness; the conscious identity of being as found in Science, in which man is the reflection of God, or Mind, and therefore is eternal; that which has no separate mind from God; that which has not a single quality underived from Deity; that which possesses no life, intelligence, nor creative power of his own, but reflects spiritually all that belongs to his Maker.”

      In this experience the glass was distorting my ability to see the rose bush clearly. It looked like that something was wrong with the glass. It wasn’t until the panes of glass were being removed that I realized that I was actually looking at something on the other side until finally I realized it was a rose bush on the other side. For me, the mistaken view, or the glass distorting my view in my thought, was that I was made up of material organs and that at any moment, or else exposed to certain conditions, this material body could then become sick and suffer. This insight about the glass caused me to stop looking and listening to what the body was saying about me and instead listen to what God was saying. Mary Baker Eddy says that “angels are pure thoughts from God, winged with Truth and Love, no matter what their individualism may be.” (Science and Health page 298). So, as I started listening to these angel thoughts about my identity being spiritual and good and these pure thoughts replaced the ones saying I was sick and suffering and quickly I was well and returned to normal activity. Hope this helps explain the thought process that was going on then.

      • David says:

        Thanks for your reply, but I still don’t see the connection between the questions posed and the answer provided.

        More important—to me, at least—is that your reply raises again the question that prevented me from accepting the fundamental premise of Christian Science: If it’s true that “man is the reflection of God, or Mind, and therefore is eternal; that which has no separate mind from God; that which has not a single quality underived from Deity,” then how is man capable of conceiving his own imperfection? CS tells us that such imperfect thought comes from Mortal Mind, but that is a “separate mind from God” and a “quality underived from Deity.”

        That question was never answered for me by any of the CS believers and practitioners with whom I’ve had contact since childhood, including my Father, my Grandmother, my high school girlfriend, and the several “experts” to whom they referred me, and it represents what seems to me to be an irreconcilable contradiction at the heart of CS.

        Thanks again, though, for taking time to reply.

        • Isabella says:

          I recently visited a symposium of lectures where notable neurologists talked to a large audience about the actual studies and researches on the human brain. What they told us is that in the human brain there is no place for self, for our Ego, what calls itself “I”. They say that it is but a so-called “self-model” that perceives the world through interpretation and makes itself believe that there was a receptor for what is seen and felt. Still there is no authority in the brain that is real and has an illusion, there is no little man in our head being fooled by this self-model. So in the end, the neurologist said, there is an illusion that nobody perceives.
          That’s the material view of the world for now. I think it comes pretty close to what Mrs Eddy describes as material mind. It is nothing and it is nowhere. A presumption without intelligence, the mere assumption that there could be a limit to Mind and Life, that there could be an opposite to God. It is nothing more than that. The assumption is not assumed by anyone. Therefore it has no root, no reason, no beginning and no end, and therefore it is probably so hard to grasp.

          The answer to “why did Mrs Eddy say God couldn’t create matter if God created everything?” is that there is no matter, not even energy-matter, no thought-matter, all is Spirit and what seems to be opposing God is part of what is described above, material mind.

        • jenny says:

          Hi David,

          I agree. It can seem like something doesn’t add up. Christian Science says there is no mind to create or see imperfection, yet we seem to experience and see imperfection. So where does imperfection come from? Why do we experience it, or to use CS terminology, “seem” to experience it?

          It sounds crazy, but the answer I’ve gotten as I’ve come to understand Christian Science better is that we don’t experience imperfection or matter. Now, you’re probably going to say: So what is it that I see? What is it that I feel and experience every moment of the day? And to that I would say, it still sounds crazy, but you are experiencing the only Life you have–divine Life, or God, which is purely spiritual and good. You cannot experience matter because it simply does not exist. And I truly believe that as we understand God better, this will become clear to each of us.

          In one of my math classes in elementary school, I solved a problem on a test that my teacher marked wrong. I did everything I could to try to convince her that I’d actually gotten the problem right. I showed her every step of my work. “See,” I said. “How could my answer be wrong?” And then she showed me where I’d applied a law of math incorrectly. Suddenly, the answer that seemed so right just moments before made absolutely no sense. I could see the correct answer clearly because I understood the laws undergirding my mathematical universe.

          And I guess that’s why Christian Science makes sense to me. Sure, I can say that I experience matter because it’s what I see, hear, feel, touch, etc.–apparently all the time. And yet, this can’t be true, because I’ve had dozens of experiences that show me that all of this stuff that seems to be real–pain, evil, suffering, conflict, and on and on–can dissipate *in an instant* with an understanding of what IS real. To the degree that I understand the laws of God, and to the degree that I keep my thoughts focused on the good, health-giving, utterly pure and loving nature of God, that’s exactly what I experience. To put it another way, when I start with the right laws, or from the right standpoint, I get the right answer–mathematically-speaking, and philosophically/spiritually-speaking.

          It’s a radical concept to be sure. And maybe it seems deluded to refuse to ask the question, “Where does evil come from?” Or, “Why does there seem to be matter and Spirit?” Believe me, it’s something that I’ve struggled with–especially because the language we use to explain these ideas can feel so imprecise and dualistic. But all I can do is speak from my own experience here. And what my own experience tells me is that trying to understand the nature of evil or matter is a dead-end; nothing can come of it, because both are just that: nothing. But understanding the nature of God, and our God-created identity? That’s the substance of our lives, and it helps us see more clearly that there is only one spiritual reality, where we all live right now.

          • Eric Oyama says:

            Hi Jenny, I like the example you shared about the math problem. And I like your reasoning as well. Thank you.

          • David says:

            Jenny, what you’re describing sounds like faith, and I have a hard time accepting the inexplicable. I need to understand something before I can believe it, which is why I’m still agnostic: because there are some things I’ve come to believe simply cannot be known.

            I thank you sincerely for your thoughtful reply!

          • Amy says:

            @ David –

            I’m so glad you’re here. You are really making me think through things and be honest with myself.

            To be frank (and don’t judge me CS world ;) ), sometimes it feels like faith. But in my opinion, that’s not Christian Science. That’s me. That’s me when I’m just hoping something will get better, but not doing the real prayerful work. That’s me thinking about a problem but not feeling God in my life. And so far, those semi faith moments haven’t yielded a lot of good effects for me.

            I’ve had enough so called “miraculous” experiences (healed instantaneously when near death in a hospital after the birth of my daughter, my cat had cataracts for months and months and it was gone after I’d really felt close to God at a lecture–along with a growth on my neck, some low level depression and that same cat who’d had repeated bouts of respiratory infections and had one that night was perfectly well the next morning and has remained so in the 3 1/2 years since and a ton of other experiences), that it doesn’t seem reasonable to me that it wouldn’t be God. If it were mind over matter, I’m super good at it. ;) But I don’t buy that. Why? Because beyond reason, there’s a feeling that’s accompanied some of these healing experiences that I’ve never felt outside of these God moments.

            I recently had a really wonderful healing of a serious rip in one of my knees. It was so painful that I often didn’t get out of the bed for the majority of the day. One day I thought “I don’t want to feel like I’m 100 anymore” and I went to see a surgeon that a friend recommended. He examined me and told me the only option was surgery and that the reason I needed it was simply because of my age. Now I really felt like I was 100!

            I could’ve had that surgery, but if age is the only reason I had the problem, how could I prevent it from happening in my other knee at some point in time, maybe the very next day? I decided to pray about it instead. It was kind of slow going, but I made some progress. It all sped up, though, when I got involved in our Radical Acts project this summer. Really focusing on and living what Jesus taught turned my life upside down in a good way. Everything was new and my body soon caught up with my mental state.

            I’m not trying to force my ideas on you, but I did want to share…and thank you. You did me a big favor today.

          • I really appreciate the open dialogue going on here. David, I’m grateful for your honesty. Jenny, I just wanted you to know that your thoughts were expressed in a way that seemed very clear to me and helped me clarify my own thoughts on this topic.

        • nina says:

          David I’m grateful to you for pressing for an answer here.  And I want to dig a little into your sense that what Jenny is talking about is “faith.”

          I was raised an atheist, and have since experimented with different varieties of faith.  What’s commonly called faith brings comfort, but it doesn’t change human circumstances.   That’s because, as MBE said, “the human mind is a compound of faith and doubt, of fear and hope, of faith in truth and faith in error.”  My 292.  What’s commonly called faith is mostly human belief, and all it can do is collide ineffectively with other human beliefs like “I’m sick” or “I’m in trouble.”

          When you start working with spiritual understanding, though, you have an entirely different experience.  Even when I feel terrible about something (i.e. I have no “faith”), I can work through a Christian Science treatment and get results.  When you successfully pit spiritual understanding against human belief, you start getting a visceral feel for the nature and power of Truth.

          It’s this visceral sense of Truth that’s erased all my questions about why humans experience illusion.  When Moses came  down from Mount Sinai “the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.”  If you choose to have this intimate encounter with God — far beyond that pale and ineffective thing that humans call faith — I promise that this question will no longer trouble you.

          Thank you so much, David, for helping us all reach for a deeper understanding!

        • Mike says:

          Hi David,

          Here are a couple of things I’ve posted in the past that I feel relate to your question:

          But then another question, well, if we’re created in the image of this perfect god, and there’s no separation whatsoever, where does even the illusion of separation come from? I don’t have a suitable answer for myself, much less anyone else.

          I think it’s a good thing that you don’t have a suitable answer to this question. The question about the origin of mortal mind is not one that Mrs. Eddy really had any interest in providing an intellectual answer for. In one sense, Christian Science is a descriptive science rather than a complete philosophical system. As I see it, Mrs. Eddy’s terminology is the best she could come up with to give a sense of what she had experienced as a practitioner of Christian healing. Her metaphysics accurately analyzes the elements of the situation we find ourselves in as human beings and explains what happens in human experience when people become conscious of the presence and power of what Mrs. Eddy calls God and Christ. Her terms illusion, unreal, etc. are used deliberately to give a sense of what happens to elements of evil, limitation, mortality, etc. when one is really conscious of God’s presence. They simply vanish.

          Christian Science is the science of Christian experience. Lately I’ve become more and more convinced that when intellectual questions about Christian Science come up, the solution is to turn to the life of Jesus and the writings of early Christians in the New Testament. It seems to me that perhaps the main theme in the New Testament is the kingdom or reign of God breaking into human experience and wiping out the evils of mortal existence. This of course was seen in the healing ministries of Jesus and early Christians. Early Christians saw Satan as the source of the sin, sickness, and death that plagues humanity, yet the coming of the kingdom of God was a powerful, life-transforming thing — an experience that didn’t explain or justify these evils but wiped them out. As I see it, Christianity and its Science are fundamentally experiential, with Mrs. Eddy’s theology and metaphysical language describing what is in the final analysis the powerful experience of true Biblical Christianity and the presence of the Kingdom of God.

          The other post:

          In human experience, we are certainly confronted with abundant evidence of imperfection and much that denies the nature of God and His perfect creation. But we also in our present human experience see evidence of God’s nature and qualities being expressed. In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy says that “mortal existence is an enigma” or mystery (p. 70). As I see it, it was never Mrs. Eddy’s purpose to give an intellectual explanation as to how a false, imperfect concept of creation could even seem to arise in God’s perfect universe. She was led to speak of mortal existence and its attendant evils as unreal because of what she experienced in actual, concrete instances of Christian healing. In her own healing work, she actually became conscious of God’s allness, goodness, and perfection, and in this consciousness of God’s presence, the evils of discord and disease vanished into nothingness. Thus, in Christian Science the answer to the problem of evil and imperfection lies in the actual experience of healing, and that is where Mrs. Eddy’s logic about the reality of God’s perfect spiritual universe and the unreality of a false concept of that universe comes from. Mrs. Eddy felt it was useless to try to explain how a false concept of creation could arise when her experience was that the practice of Christian Science could in specific instances wipe out those falsehoods, thus ultimately wiping out as well the false perspective from which questions about the origin of mortal existence could even be asked.

          Many Bible scholars have noted that an important concept in the theologies found in the New Testament is the idea of the coming of the Kingdom of God, and that the life and ministry of Jesus (including the healings), represented the breaking in of the Kingdom, or reign, of God into human experience. When Jesus healed, the “reign” of mortal mind was wiped out very specifically and replaced with the conscious evidence of the reign of God expressed in health and harmony.

          Another point is that Christian Science teaches that a perfect child, or idea, of God can never seem to fall asleep, dream, or experience mortal existence, any more than God Himself can! Mrs. Eddy tells us that “the dreamer and dream are one” (see S&H, p. 530). But she also explains that the human consciousness we currently experience is more than mortal mind and its dreams. Human consciousness also includes to a degree an awareness of our true identity as perfect children of God. So we should never believe for a moment that our perfect spiritual identity has somehow temporarily fallen asleep or dreamed a mortal dream, or even seemed to! It is mortal mind that dreams, and its claim to misperceive our true spiritual identity can be proven false in healing! And Mrs. Eddy tells us that as this takes place, “the human consciousness rises higher.” (S&H, p. 297)

  13. Kristin says:

    Dear Eric,

    Seeing through the panes of window glass to the rose bush is helping me today. That’s a good question – did God create my material body – which at the moment is painful. I want to be and see my rose bush body. And what is it like? Vividly colorful, soft, symmetrical. It’s growth is sturdy. The petals of it’s purpose unfold beautifully. The bud is precious and sweet. The full bloom regal. It has built in protection from harm (functional thorns). There is no doubt or fear that it will bloom again even though trimmed down to the nubbins.

    I am appreciating a bowl of lovely pink camellias on my table right now. They are beautiful. And so is what you’ve shared.

    • Eric Oyama says:

      Dear Kristin,

      Those are great ideas. I also like going back Mary Baker Eddy’s answer to the question, “What is man?” on page 475 in Science and Health. Many times I have found it helpful to put my own name in where it says “man.” So, it would read, “What is Kristin? Kristin is not matter; she is not made up of brain, blood bones, and other material elements [including a material history that gets carried from one day to the next]. The Scriptures inform us that Kristin is made in the image and likeness of God.” Well, you can see what book has to say about who you are right now. We’re not having to get to this point, we’re already there.

      • Kristin says:

        Hi Eric and all! I am feeling a bit better today! Just returned from a work out. Yesterday I went deeper into the idea that I could remove or clean the panes of glass of my viewpoint to see myself as vigorous, bright and happy! As I do that my material body exudes health! I love the idea that God is streaming light through me and his colorful love, happy life, clear spirit are in my day now. I am not so worried about that big question as to whether God made my material body, or made my car or the planets or whatever, because as I see His spiritual creation my normal human life experience today is so brilliant! And that is such a clear indication to me that whatever God is or God made it’s soooo good.

        A few years ago I had a conversation with an Ivy League scientist who was studying the creation of the universe. He was not religious or anything. He said the material universe is basically made out of nothing. Atoms twirling around each other…and then what was in those atoms? His question, not mine. We concluded together that the universe is all thought. What we see and experience as matter is our perception of it. It was fun to shoot the breeze with him.

         

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