In the United States, the Fourth of July is known for its pop, bang, and sizzle, but this year pyrotechnics of different proportions will usher in Independence Day.
That morning at 1:52 a.m. EDT, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft will hurl an 816-pound projectile to intercept with Tempel 1, a comet half the size of Manhattan Island that is 83 million miles away.
According to NASA's website, "Deep Impact is the first space mission to attempt to break the surface of a comet." The hope is that penetrating this dirty ball of ice and rock will divulge secrets of our solar system that were buried when the comet was formed billions of years ago.
For just over 13 minutes, the flyby craft, along with key ground and Earth-orbital observatories, will collect valuable data. Astronomers, both professional and amateur, are poised for molecules and atoms to fly, anticipating that a gaping hole the size of a football stadium will reveal information regarding life itself.
While I love the ingenuity of spacecraft meeting comet in distant reaches of our solar system, I think of how in the long run we must realize the essential spiritual nature of everything in creation.
From my perspective, the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, had the right idea. She recognized that God is Spirit, and, as such, His creation must be wholly spiritual. Nowhere does one find life-forms that propagate anything unlike themselves, and it makes perfect sense that God, as divine Spirit, couldn't create something such as matter that is completely unlike Himself.
In the Bible, James must have recognized the direct relationship between source and its outcome when he queries: "Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree ... bear olive berries? either a vine, figs?" He then observes, "So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh" (James 3:11, 12).
God, as divine Mind, is the sole cause and creator, so His universe must be made up of spiritual ideas rather than of atoms and molecules. This being the case, then atoms and molecules constitute a fallacious effect, rather than the infrastructure of life itself. While fascinating to know how things work at a material level, humanity would understand life better by looking to life's source, God, rather than to matter, which, even as some physicists conclude, will someday be seen as totally inert.
This is where Mary Baker Eddy's reliance on reason and revelation, rather than the material senses, served her well. Starting with the nature and essence of God gave her a sound basis for reasoning and convinced her that the material senses lie. She wrote, "The compounded minerals or aggregated substances composing the earth, the relations which constituent masses hold to each other, the magnitudes, distances, and revolutions of the celestial bodies, are of no real importance, when we remember that they all must give place to the spiritual fact by the translation of man and the universe back into Spirit" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," page 209).
Ultimately, she recognized that God perceives nothing material and that the material universe is only as real as one believes it to be. Time and again, she proved that by healing in direct opposition to material laws, including physical illnesses that looked hopeless.
So, the translation of man and the universe back into Spirit, which is accomplished in the mental realm, is greatly facilitated by recognizing the spiritual facts behind material phenomena. In other words, matter isn't the ultimate reality, but whatever form it takes hints at something that is.
For example, the planets circling the sun in individual orbits suggest God's order in operation. A mother gorilla protecting her offspring intimates the tender motherhood of the one Parent, God. Every animal has qualities that evoke a spiritual nature, derived from divine Spirit itself. Even the rock and ice of Tempel 1 indicate the existence of strength and solidity.
But in the final analysis, in order to discover the true constitution of any idea, one must look to Spirit, not to atoms. Mrs. Eddy goes on to promise, "In proportion as this is done, man and the universe will be found harmonious and eternal." So when science gets to the point that it observes only Spirit, no fireworks will be needed to prove that harmonious life has always existed.