Word of the Year

A Christian Science perspective: What Merriam-Webster's 2013 Word of the Year has to offer.

A popular dictionary, “Merriam-Webster,” reports that because of having the largest increase in online lookups, “science” was the “Word of the Year” for 2013. On its website, the publishing company’s editor at large, Peter Sokolowski, explains something of why this increase came about: “A wide variety of discussions centered on science this year, from climate change to educational policy. We saw heated debates about ‘phony’ science, or whether science held all the answers. It’s a topic that has great significance for us.”

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definitions for this special word include the following: “the state of knowing” and “knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws.” The dictionary also explains that when the word is capitalized, it signifies “Christian Science,” whose discoverer, Mary Baker Eddy, saw the word as relating to all of life, in the way that God with a capital “G” relates to all.

My experience as an engineer and as a Christian Scientist has pushed me to identify science with that which lifts us above materialism or material limits. That which is scientific enables us to feel more like masters over matter and less beholden to it. Obviously, it’s in this way that we feel we’re getting answers for our lives and not phony promises. The scientific breakthroughs that have particularly meant something to me this past year have included (1) the technologies that have simplified my life or added conveniences, and (2) the general, metaphysical laws my family has found that elevate our lives to a higher standpoint in which we can better stay safe, healthy, and productive.

Science is indeed most significant to our lives. Experience suggests that, to quote Merriam-Webster, there is something to discover of an “operation of general laws” that covers the issues of our lives, from health to happiness to relationships. But mere human observations separate from the divine basis for all life can indeed prove to be limited. For this reason, Mrs. Eddy gave Science that rests on divine truth a capital “S” and linked it to “Christian.” In other words, if it’s based on the harmony of God or divine Love, we’re finding something truly scientific, because it has answers for us, because it’s supportive, helpful – in fact, loving.

More than a century ago, Eddy saw what would make the 2013 Word of the Year a winner. She wrote: “The two largest words in the vocabulary of thought are ‘Christian’ and ‘Science.’ The former is the highest style of man; the latter reveals and interprets God and man; it aggregates, amplifies, unfolds, and expresses the ALL-God” (“No and Yes,” p. 10).

This isn’t just an intellectual curiosity for those of us who like words. What we discover of the divine Science of God’s universe improves our lives and equips us to help others. The 2013 Word of the Year points us to God’s answer for our lives every day of every year.

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