800 m.p.h. Deerflies?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Here's a story. You may have heard it before, but if not I'll tell you right away that the "scientific" facts aren't exactly correct, although they were believed to be true for a long time. It seems that many years ago an amateur naturalist, a parson actually, became captivated with how fast a particular insect was able to fly. On one of his regular outings, the man was amazed by this insect, the deerfly, and later published an account that it could travel at speeds approaching 800 miles per hour!

Once it was in print, the "fact" became commonly accepted: the deerfly was officially the world's fastest living creature.

In a book written in the 1950s, titled "The Role of Science in Our Modern World," George Russell Harrison uses this story to illustrate how, in his words, we're often "conditioned much more than we realize by uncritical acceptance of concepts that sound logical and ring true." The problem, of course, is compounded when what we have accepted is not true. Like believing in 800 m.p.h. deerflies.

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Mr. Harrison continues: "Even scientists accepted for years without question the statement [about the deerfly] ... until an especially thoughtful chemist, Irving Langmuir, decided to look into the matter. Langmuir was worried about the amount of energy that a tiny insect would have to store in his body to travel at so terrific a rate, to say nothing of the heat generated by air friction on the poor fly's head." Well, as Langmuir proved in actual tests, the deerfly is fast. But with an average top speed of 70 m.p.h., it doesn't even come close to the purported "world's record" (Pgs. 15-16).

The "uncritical acceptance" of things reported by the physical senses is a problem that not only has fooled people in small, and perhaps harmless, ways but also has seriously limited human experience far more than we may have recognized. For example, the physical senses tell us that reality is essentially material and that our lives are bound up in a physical construct that makes us liable to pain, sickness, weakness, injury, debility, and so on. The body is composed of matter, the argument goes, so our identity and individuality must be material. Yet material living is limited living. Materiality is destined to degrade. That's its very nature, and we can't escape it - again, according to an uncritical acceptance of what the physical senses report. This is what we're so often conditioned to believe.

But what happens if thoughtful people challenge that notion, that "fact" of material life and limitation? What if they bring intelligent discrimination to the issue based on something higher, based on the intuition and inspiration of spiritual sense - based on spiritual facts, spiritual reason, spiritual revelation? Then things begin to look very different. We start to see our individual lives as related to divine Spirit, God. We wake to the fact that God has actually created us in the likeness of divine Spirit. This means that our life, our being, is spiritual, not material. It means that we are not limited. We have the God-given spiritual ability to demonstrate freedom from pain, sickness, any limitation. Reflecting divine Spirit, immortal Life, our lives don't degrade. They progressively grow in grace, joy, love, strength, dominion.

Mary Baker Eddy, who established this newspaper, has written in the Christian Science textbook, "Spiritual sense is the discernment of spiritual good" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 505). Spiritual sense is the inherent capacity that enables us to discriminate clearly between what is divinely true - the spiritual, the eternal, the wholly good - and what is illusory, or false - the material, the mortal, the apparent mixture of good and evil. Science and Health also states: "The true theory of the universe, including man, is not in material history but in spiritual development. Inspired thought relinquishes a material, sensual, and mortal theory of the universe, and adopts the spiritual and immortal" (Pg. 547).

With spiritual discrimination and inspiration we see things in a new light. We're no longer conditioned by an uncritical acceptance of matter-based concepts - like 800 m.p.h. deerflies! We're actually knowing the truth. And as Christ Jesus told his followers, that makes us free.

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