Up until a few decades ago, genetic engineering, robotics, and nanotechnology sounded like the stuff of science fiction or at least the distant future. Now these fields are on the verge of breakthroughs that could profoundly alter life on earth. There are hopes that cures for many diseases, and extended life spans, will result through changing the makeup of the human body.
In a widely discussed article in Wired magazine, Sun Microsystems's chief scientist, Bill Joy, takes a penetrating look at new advances in computing power, physical science, and genetics, and makes a sobering prediction: "These combinations open up the opportunity to completely redesign the world, for better or worse. The replicating and evolving processes that have been confined to the natural world are about to become realms of human endeavor." With persuasive humility he continues: "Having struggled my entire career to build reliable software systems, it seems to me more than likely that this future will not work out as well as some people may imagine. My personal experience suggests we tend to overestimate our design abilities" (April 2000).
Scientific and technological advances have greatly benefited humankind, and there's more useful progress to be made. Accompanying this progress are voices like Bill Joy's that remind us of the moral and ethical vision required to steer the right course through this uncharted space of dazzling possibilities. And humility has led many thinkers, including scientists and researchers, to turn to enduring sources of spiritual wisdom for guidance. Again and again, such wisdom points to an inner path to health and immortality. The book of Proverbs in the Bible, for example, counsels, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life" (4:23).
With tenacious faith that this inner path was the way to health, Mary Baker Eddy explored the connection of thought and body in the late 19th century. She arrived at the conclusion that the body is governed by thought. That the way to care for the body is to keep thought on the loving intelligence, God, which creates and governs existence. "Life is, always has been, and ever will be independent of matter," she would write in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," "for Life is God, and man is the idea of God, not formed materially but spiritually, and not subject to decay and dust" (pg. 200). The understanding of God as Life itself - as Spirit, perfect and indestructible substance - transforms thought and heals the body.
Recently, the "Christian Science Sentinel" published a letter from a woman who told how a tumor had simply dissolved. She had talked with a Christian Science practitioner about the spiritual concept of life. A healing followed. She began to read the Bible and Science and Health for herself and found that she didn't have to live in fear of her body. "What a joy to learn that things did not have to go wrong," she wrote. "God made me healthy and whole" (April 3, pg. 21).
Spiritual healings of disease and discord keep telling us there are infinite possibilities in learning about God and His spiritual design of creation. We're not defined or controlled by matter. God is divine Love, which reproduces its own immortal qualities in creation. God has formed us as His unalterably good ideas - as individual expressions of Love.
Having a spiritual sense of life makes it natural to "keep our hearts" diligently - to conform them to Love. Moments when we trust God as the preserver of life, when we seek truth humbly, when we act compassionately, are moments of true spiritual progress. They are moments that take away the fear of disease and establish health.
It's encouraging that thinkers in every field of human endeavor are sincerely seeking, and sometimes struggling, to know how to go forward ethically with technological breakthroughs and scientific discoveries. As society faces these challenges, the humility of people in every field - including religion - will help us all find the best way to address the fundamental issues of life.
Articles like this one appear in 13 different languages in the magazine The Herald of Christian Science.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society