Superstition or Science?

SUPERSTITION is the enemy of science. It is one of the first mental states that scientists attempt to rule out of the laboratory, where rational, objective thought must be rigorously maintained. This standard does not always extend, however, beyond the walls of the laboratory into the general thought ofthe world. Superstition is not just a matter of black cats and Friday the thirteenth. It's more subtle than that. Superstition is a whole way of thinking about and approaching life and reality.

As a Christian Scientist I've given a lot of thought to the subject of superstition and have worked hard to rule it out of my own thinking. As a part of this process I looked up the word superstition in my dictionary and found the following: ``a belief or practice resulting from ignorance, fear of the unknown, or trust in magic or chance...an irrational abject attitude of mind toward...God....''

Since ancient times people have often tended to see God as some sort of mega-human in the sky, projecting onto Him the basest of human qualities, such astyranny, violence, vengeance, and capriciousness. They have then attempted with burnt offerings and other material sacrifices to placate their own concept of God. Even today natural disasters and other calamities are often called ``acts of God.''

Christ Jesus rejected completely this attitude toward God. He saw God as his loving and consistent Father, not as a temperamental and unpredictable tyrant before whom we must cower. His own submission to God was motivated by love and gratitude, not fear.

In spite of this consummate example, superstition and fear have not been ruled out of Christianity. Mary Baker Eddy, a devout follower of Christ Jesus and the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, recognized this and refused to accept an irrational or abject attitude toward God as the basis of religious experience. ``Superstition and understanding can never combine,''1 she writes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She also declares, ``The Christian Science God is universal, eternal, divine Love, which changeth not and causeth no evil, disease, nor death.''2

I was not raised in Christian Science but came to it as an adult. Although all my life I loved God very much, I was afraid of unwittingly displeasing Him. This fear terrified me and tended to paralyze my ability to make choices. I was always afraid that in spite of my best intentions I would make the wrong choice and bring disaster upon myself or others. My sophisticated and scientific university education did nothing to uproot this fear. Then I became a Christian Scientist. Through prayer, and study of the Bible and Science and Health, I began to see that a loving Father would never place His children in a no-win situation. He never says to us, in effect, ``Now walk down the street and do your best, but if you mess up and step on a crack, your world is going to fall apart.''

I came to love and understand St. Paul's assurance ``We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.''3 Gradually confidence and peace began to replace my irrational and abject attitude toward God.

So where does evil come from? Not from God but from the false, mesmeric sense of His absence, from the universal conviction that we are mortal, fleshlybeings living apart from our creator inan unpredictable material world where chance and misfortune are inevitable. We might say that, fundamentally, evil is a product of our ignorance of God's absolute supremacy and goodness and of man's actual, God-created selfhood as His spiritual likeness. But through prayer that springs from an understanding of what God and man really are, we can begin to gain dominion over evil in our lives and help humanity as a whole in this direction.

Nothing is more important in our experience than our concept of God and His creation. We who are citizens of a scientific age need to think about God scientifically, as infinite, supreme Spirit, as totally good. We have the right to cultivate and maintain a rational and purified state of thought, in which superstition and fear have no part.

1Science and Health, p. 288. 2Ibid., p. 140. 3Romans 8:28.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. John 4:24

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