SOME people believe that expecting results from prayer is naive. Perhaps this is because they think it is not scientific, that it attempts to ignore or set aside the predictable results of physical law. What attitude did Christ Jesus take toward what are today regarded as scientific laws? Mary Baker Eddy1 remarks, ``Jesus acted boldly, against the accred- ited evidence of the senses, against Pharisaical creeds and practices, and he refuted all opponents with his healing power.'' 2 Jesus said, ``If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.'' 3 Can't this healing truth be understood in scientific terms?
One day our little boy stepped backward off the top stair and fell to the bottom. Although initially shocked, I found that I had a conviction that he dwelled safely in divine Love's care. A few days earlier, I had felt impelled to understand more clearly that my children were, in their true selfhood, God's offspring, safe in their native spiritual realm, where there is no possibility of accident.
I wasn't ignoring what had happened, or neglecting my son. Rather, I was recognizing a spiritual fact, and this was an effective prayer.
After I dried his tears, checked to make sure he was all right, and gave him a hug, he went off to play. The next day he mentioned that his back hurt when he moved a certain way. Gratefully acknowledging that in truth he had never for a moment been outside God's control, I again rejected the evidence of accident as inconsistent with the spiritual facts. Very soon he was jumping and rolling around as freely as ever.
By what standard do we properly judge whether evidence is scientific and correct? Must our eyes, ears, and other physical senses provide the only systematically dependable information about our status? What criterion aside from the physical senses themselves validates the senses' own claim to be the source of truth? Surely our standard of truth relates to our basic views of reality and substance. If our matter-based views of reality were to change, our concept of scientific evidence would change also.
In his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Thomas Kuhn focuses on instances in the history of the physical sciences in which scientific discovery radically altered the world view and premises of scientists.4 Perhaps the best-known case he cites is the Copernican revolution, which eventually resulted in a reversal of the widely accepted belief that the sun orbits around the earth. While Kuhn's discussion stays strictly within the context of physical science, his idea of a scientific revolution as a radically altered world view on which to base scientific practice is useful here. For anyone who adopts the viewpoint of Christian Science relating to prayer must undergo a radical change of thought in the way the universe is interpreted.
Christian Science teaches that in actual fact the universe is spiritual and perfect, harmoniously evolved by its Prin- ciple, God. From the vantage point of spiritual perception, man--the image of God, perfect Spirit--must be perfect and spiritual. Just as we have always had only one solar system, viewed differently at different points in history, there is only one ultimate reality of man and the universe--the spiritual reality, transcending the limited materialistic view. From this standpoint what the physical senses report appears less and less as solid reality. And from this standpoint Jesus' prayers and concept of truth were scientific.
It was Jesus' understanding of the spiritual truth of being that enabled him to control the evidence of the senses. Through deep, persistent contemplation of divine Love's allness, and of perfect Love's harmonious creation, we too can prove, with increasing effectiveness, that physical law and evidence are false beliefs about reality, not solid ``scientific'' facts.
By turning to the spiritual view of creation we can receive protection and healing. But the overriding significance of healing through scientifically Christian prayer lies in the realization that a scientific revolution is going on right in our own thought--as we progressively discover that we indeed dwell within God's perfect spiritual realm.
1 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 18. 3 John 8:31, 32. 4 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970). DAILY BIBLE VERSE When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 1 Corinthians 13:10