My introduction to Science and Health happened while I was working in New Zealand as a research scientist. I met an amazing person, a woman in her 80’s, a well-known artist; a national treasure. She was loving and strong, exuding health and well-being. I wanted to learn how she approached life, because it was obviously working. I wanted to learn from her how to grow in spiritual beauty, instead of growing old and miserable.
She gave me a copy of Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy. I found a paragraph and re-read it for a whole day before I could make any sense out of it. This clearly was not going to be an easy read. But I went to her church, and kept studying and spending time with my wonderful friend. She knew something, and she kept pointing to this book.
My friend told me to throw out negative thoughts. I had never before considered that I had a choice on what to think about. My thoughts were just my thoughts, right? Even though I had spent many years studying engineering, physics, and chemistry, and working as a scientist, it never occurred to me that thinking about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable, could elevate my mind and experience. I decided to try experimenting with thoughts, and discovered this “divine Science” works for me.
The word “science” has evolved since Mary Baker Eddy’s time. In the 19th century, the word science was replacing “natural philosophy” in common usage. Science meant a study of the underlying truth or reality. Questioning and thinking were being applied in place of blind belief.
Mary Baker Eddy’s proclivity to God as Truth, and her understanding that truth replaces blind belief, caused her to term her method divine Science, or Christian Science.
In the 20th century, however, the rigor of the questioning and thinking became more concrete, in all fields of learning. I was trained to think experimentation came from something physical in the world. . We’ve come to think that having a measurement method is necessary for science.
Mary Baker Eddy used the word “science” in the sense that Truth was demonstrated by the healings that result from understanding all powerful Love.
There were many things in Science and Health that I found confusing. The concept was hard for me to get, and there were also words and references that were so dated that they had lost meaning or changed meaning.
If it was hard for me, a bookish nerd, to understand, how do other new comers to these profound important ideas read Science and Health?
I then moved back to the United States, and about 10 years ago, it was one of those Sundays, when I rushed to church. I wanted to stay home, and I was going to be a few minutes late, but oh well, it felt more right to go. An unknown woman marched right into church, late with me. I was feeling ashamed, but looking at her, I knew she had better things to think about than guilt.
I approached the woman after church and met Cheryl Petersen. Within minutes of speaking, I guessed, “You are revising Science and Health aren’t you?” And I offered my help with editing.
The study of Christian Science works as I walk a fine line between the philosophical and practical. I feel the blessings of God. I use divine Science to remember not to try to control or manipulate those blessings. I want to rely on God, Love, to keep out the fear that creeps in if I lose clarity.
There are seventeen chapters in Science and Health. The first chapter on Prayer describes how to prepare and receive infinite blessings that are naturally given to us by an all-powerful and loving God. We are warned that it is important to work hard and be willing to grow, even when it is uncomfortable. The chapter ends with a beautiful prayer, known as the Lord’s Prayer, along with a useful spiritual interpretation.
Reconciliation and Communion discusses atonement, describing it as being at one with God, Spirit, Love. This requires making choices on a daily basis to align with our spiritual truth, and not get sidetracked by the materialistic world. Jesus was a great teacher showing us the way and demonstrating Spirit, or Christ. An interpretation of Jesus’ struggles is given to help us understand his message. Love prevails over hate, sin, disease, and death.
The Marriage chapter can be read by anyone in a relationship. It points out that in divine Spirit, we don’t need conventions and institutions, but that marriage and other forms of commitment, can help us on our spiritual path here on earth. Advice on relationships is given, stressing the importance of honesty, respect, and compromise (with somewhat of a 19th century Victorian slant). Ultimately, creation unfolds and brings to light our true selfhood is perfect and eternal, with no pain or separation from God.
In the chapter, Investigating Psychics and Spiritualism, the reader finds an assertion that Spirit doesn’t mix with matter. Spirit/God is infinite, whereas matter, including human minds and bodies, is short lived. Readers find an argument against popular beliefs in the 19th century: that communing with spirits of the dead can bring healing. Readers also find encouragement to “empower ourselves with the thought that all substance is purely spiritual.” This leads a shift from the sick and limited egocentric view to an awareness of ourselves as one with divine Spirit, Love.
Chapter five, Power of Suggestion; Crowd Thinking, examines how the human mind can protect itself from being deceived by materialist suggestions or peer pressure. Chapter six is Science, Theology, and Medicine, fields of study all benefited by the metaphysical system of divine Science.
Physiology and Genetics tackles what we learn through the schools and media. While we keep learning, and because theories are constantly modified, we can unlearn that which deprives us of seeing our innate spiritual power. We read, “The supposed laws which result in weariness and disease are not God’s laws. The legitimate and only possible action of Truth is the production of harmony. Laws of nature are laws of Spirit; but human beings commonly recognize as law that which hides the power of Spirit. Divine Mind rightly demands our entire obedience, affection, and strength.”
Footsteps of Truth show the pro-active approach to divine Science. Truth is lived a step at a time. Our everyday life is infused with operative, functioning, working spiritual principles. The chapter Creation pushes the mind out of the restrictive notion that creation has a beginning and an end. We learn to advance toward the unchanging Truth of ongoing Being, while we stop clinging to changing truths.
Science of Being distinguishes between the metaphysical and physical. We read, “Metaphysics resolves things into thoughts and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul.” A sequenced dialogue closes the chapter, giving the reader a point-by-point paradigm of a thought process appropriate to today’s mass consciousness.
Some Misconceptions Debunked addresses rumors surrounding Christian Science. The chapters, Christian Science Practice and Teaching Christian Science specifically address proper instruction in divine Science and its mental treatment. The Review chapter involves the question/answer approach to understanding divine Mind and its power to guide, bless, and heal humanity, holistically.
A spiritual interpretation of the first and last books in the Bible is then given in the chapters Genesis and Revelation. Reality is a revelation or unfoldment of Love, rather than something quantifiable.
The last chapter in Science and Health is the Glossary, where we read the definition of God as: “The great I AM; the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-acting, all-wise all-loving, and eternal; Principle; Mind; Soul; Spirit; Life; Truth; Love; all substance; intelligence.”
Dr. Holly Shulman, Ph. D.