A deeper understanding of our solar system and of astronomy can be spiritually instructive. It can serve as a metaphor to help us better understand God and creation.
For example, Ptolemy, in the 2nd century, came up with a model of the solar system, based on Earth as its center. Because of this erroneous point of view, he hypothesized the existence of what are called “epicycles” to explain the motion he saw of planets.
Like astronomers before him, Ptolemy observed that planets changed their positions relative to the stars, moving across the night sky from west to east. However, he also observed that at times planets retrograde – move backward – from east to west. Ptolemy’s intricate, complex, and ultimately erroneous system of epicycles explains this retrograde motion when the Earth is used as the center of the solar system.
Centuries later, Copernicus, in the 1500s, realized that the sun is the center of the solar system. He needed to rely on scientific calculations instead of his material point of view, because from Earth, we still observe retrograde motion of the planets.
Scientists make continuous progress over time toward understanding Truth. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote that eventually “the astronomer will no longer look up to the stars, – he will look out from them upon the universe;...” (Science and Health, p. 125). Imagine an astronomer is on the sun, looking out. He or she doesn’t see retrograde motion of the planets, but sees that the planets progress on constant, continuous paths around the sun, never stopping or reversing their course. Planets are viewed from the sun’s perspective, the center of the solar system – a place from where it’s simple to understand the motion of the planets.
Ptolemy misidentified the center of the solar system and thus made what is actually a simple, orderly system seem complicated and erratic, adding epicycles on top of epicycles to explain simple planetary movement. Likewise, we can make our lives complicated and discouraging when we misidentify our focal point as ourselves or other people, instead of God, Truth. We can grow discouraged by what at first appears to be progress in our healing efforts and spiritual understanding, only to be followed by apparent setbacks. We might look at our lives and see only confusion and hopelessness. We may even postulate that there is no higher power or that God left, and that we must depend on our own cleverness.
In this complicated model of life, illness, wars, disasters, and accidents seem integral to existence. Deception, falsehoods, immoral and unethical behavior, selfishness and biological drive are seen as the means for the fittest to attain wealth, power, purpose, and privilege. You might say “epicycles of evil” are a normal part of this life model.
Mrs. Eddy says, “The cycle of good obliterates the epicycle of evil” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 270). When God is known to be the center and originator of all, we understand that there are in truth no epicycles of evil, but only constant good. Yet, if we still see life through the point of view of earth-based, material opinions and perspectives, we will experience “retrograde motion.” God will seem arbitrary, occasionally intervening, and incapable of controlling evil.
So we need a change in perspective. We need to understand that Spirit, God, is at the center of the universe, and to “stand” there with Him and view life as Spirit sees it. Eddy says, “An improved belief cannot retrograde” (Science and Health, p. 442). When life is seen from the right point of view, then our “improved belief” of life cannot even appear to recede or backtrack. We can only move forward to experience God’s continuous unfolding of good.
Christian Science shows clearly that God has given us only “cycles of divine light” – only harmonious, progressive action that has been unimpeded and unassailed, even if we ever held to a limited material perspective. The continuous unfoldment of good in our lives has been and always will be eternal. It was only a false earth-based perception that fooled mortals into believing otherwise.
To me, this is the perspective from which Jesus healed. This knowledge is where Christian healing happens. It is where we see and understand God’s complete care for us and the perfect harmony of our lives and the universe.
I’ve found that when my life seems complicated, or mistakes keep on repeating, then I need a change of perspective. I need to get myself out of the center of my view of life, and to see that God is at the center, to understand what He sees and knows. This has time and again lifted me out of illness, self-pity, and grief, and has given me new, inspired direction for my life.
We are not in an “epicycle of evil.” We have the gift of God, Truth, to see life from Truth’s vantage point where we find our lives are wholly good. This God-centered perspective lets us see creation as He made it: entirely and always perfect.