What do Christian Scientists mean by the word "God"? They mean what everybody means by that word: namely, the Supreme Being. Doing violence neither to general usage nor to scientific precepts, it may be said that the word God or its equivalent has from time immemorial meant to all peoples a Supreme Being. Even those who had gods many considered all but one lesser gods, no more than manifestations, instruments or creatures of the one sovereign Being, whether they called that mighty entity Jehovah, Zeus or Mithra. There has always been God, the Supreme Being, in human conviction. Why? The cynical psychiatrist will tell you that humanity believes in a mythical God and a fabulous heaven only because of an unendurable dread of the unknown and an intolerable fear of impending extinction. But the psychiatrist is betraying his own mental myopia. And when the scholarly philosopher insists that the Great First Cause is unknowable "because mind, being finite, cannot encompass the infinite," he is admitting his own inability to conceive of that which transcends his accepted limitations (S&H 189:18-24).
Again, why has humanity always had a Supreme Being? As little as people understood and as inarticulate as they may have found themselves in the presence of almighty Divinity, they did see – even if they did not analyze it – they did see that this complex creation about them and including them did not originate and does not operate itself, so that it must be the effect, result or manifestation of a godlike Cause or Creator. The religionist, the scientist or the philosopher, each being unable to account for his own existence in any other way, has been compelled to postulate a transcendent Producer, a prolific Principle or divine Esse. As little as they understood it, they intuitively grasped that much. They knew it in spite of their intellectual and emotional limitations.
Beyond that initial recognition, few have gone. Overawed by the magnitude of their discovery, they have hesitated to follow through, seeking refuge instead in such escape phrases as "the Inscrutable," "the Great Unknowable," "the Ultra-Rational." The divinely creative Being remained their none-the-less-evident God, so that He has dwelt forever with men, no matter how dimly they glimpsed Him and no matter how inadequately they may have construed His guidance. Which brings us to the question of what do you mean by the "Supreme Being" and how do you know that He exists? While you may intuitively feel that there is a One, the human being requires reason to confirm revelation if he is to enjoy the practical conviction of the divine Presence and set about demonstrating the nature of that Presence in everyday affairs.
Is it not obvious that intelligence is a prerequisite of law, order and harmony? With the advance of thought, even the materialists have had to concede that a mindless basic reality would be impossible in an orderly universe. The celebrated physicist, Dr. Arthur H. Compton, observes that it would be absurd to suppose that senseless matter could form itself into the involved universe of infinite variety which we find about us, and that such a creation clearly evidences a directing intelligence or Mind. Whether the things of human experience exist materially or mentally, the self-evident fact remains that there is an intelligible relationship between them. From the infinitesimal patterns of the atoms to the majestic constellations of the stars, there is an impressive coordination which is plainly indicative of underlying plan and purpose (S&H 192:17-19).
Nor could real thinking rest there. Progressive students in all fields have gone on to see and to say that this basic Principle, or Mind – if such it be – would have to be flawless in order to survive at all, since any element of imperfection in fundamental and essential being would mean its own deterioration, disintegration, decay. An imperfect principle – if such a thing were conceivable – would be self-destructive, the source of imperfection or failure. Following this line of reasoning to its only logical conclusion, it is readily seen that the perfection of cause must be manifest in perfection of effect (or creation), since cause must inevitably express itself according to its own nature (S&H 370:8-9). So we find our John Scott Haldane declaring that the apparent evil and imperfection of the universe can no longer be interpreted as evil and imperfection, but must be interpreted as imperfect apprehension.
Mankind finds itself in an intricate creation of immeasurable proportions, a universe of infinite variety which obviously does not create or run itself, and sees in this the inescapable implication of an unseen Creator. Creation declares a creator, a conclusion from which none dissents. Not only is intelligence manifest in this creation, but any examination beyond the most superficial shows that this production is not only Mind-directed, but Mind-created and therefore Mind-constituted. This implication is confirmed in experience by the fact that you can be aware of only that which consciousness includes. And that must be purely mental. You do not of yourself produce the things of consciousness, but entertain them – oftentimes involuntarily. You find yourself always and forever at the standpoint of effect, and thereby you are the living testimony of Mind as cause.
You have established that God is. Just by thinking, you are proving the presence of Mind. Indeed, you are that presence. You think in spite of yourself, whether you like it or not. Thought is spontaneous and, regardless of any construction which may be put on this activity called thinking, it still goes on independently of your personal volition, thus proving to you in a very clear-cut and practical way that you are not the source, origin, cause, motivator, producer or beginning of thought. Which implies what? That there must be, of course, a thinker, a consciously creative Principle or mental cause, and this Principle we call "Mind." This that is Mind unfolding perpetually in, through, by and as Mind, is all there is to you or to anything or anyone.
The self-evident fact of conscious existence on your part is the basis of all your scientific and absolute conclusions. Like a mathematical axiom, it needs no proof, but proves itself or constitutes its own proof. It is the one element in human experience that is wholly divine, the only pure, changeless, indestructible thing in a swiftly changing phantasmagoria. It is the link which establishes man as inseparable from his creator, Mind (S&H 491:15-16). It is the long-sought magic touchstone, for no sooner do you see it as a fact that you exist mentally and only mentally, than thought passes spontaneously from effect back to cause and divine Principle is established as your very Being, the only Ego (S&H 195:18 only). "Know ye not that the Lord He is God; it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves?" (Psalms 100:3).
Effect, as the evidence of cause, must be of like nature; consequently, by your thinking, you are proving the nature of your cause to be mental, or Mind. Your existing as thought, to the necessary exclusion of all else, demonstrates your mental origin. And this you do in spite of yourself, but because of cause. The primal cause of all being, or Principle, in order to be, must be self-existent. If it included anything contrary to itself, if it embraced any flaw whatsoever, it would bear within itself the seeds of its own dissolution. It cannot be in conflict with itself but, in order to continue at all, has to be pure, perfect, absolute. Because Mind is that which is and must be all-inclusive, anything else would have to be is not. Mind can entertain nothing apart from or unlike itself. Its isness cannot be adulterated. No fraction of that which is true can be untrue (S&H 287:32 only). This Mind that is foundational must be divine or perfect, and so it is the law of perfection to all being.
"Principle" is a grand name, with unimaginable possibilities! First off, let's get rid of that shallow notion of Principle as no more than a static base upon which something rests. In explaining Principle, the hackneyed comparison with mathematical principle will never do, since the principle of mathematics is unliving. It doesn't do anything of itself, but is just something that we use to our own mathematical ends. Ah, but divine Principle! It is the omnipotent Do-er. You can't trifle with creative Mind as dynamic cause. It is not just an inert foundation. It cannot be disposed of as a theoretical source, origin or beginning. It is the living animus, the vital motivator, the irresistible energizer to all that is going on ('01. 9:4-5). Prolific Principle is not something to work with or by, but as.
Principle is Mind governing itself from the basis of its own perfect nature, guiding, directing and controlling all that is going on. Thus it determines all that could ever be meant by quantity and quality. Expressing itself as itself, it establishes perpetual equilibrium. The Mind that is thinking is all there is to the thought, so that it is forever in consonance with itself, maintaining the accord that is the harmony of being. The correlation of divine Principle and spiritual idea is the harmony that is produced by Principle, is controlled by it and dwells in it (S&H 561:14-15 & 304:16-17). Stability abides here. Principle knows only its own unchallenged doing, for there is nothing in addition to its infinite selfhood to oppose it, obscure or divert it. Unhindered, it prompts, engenders and impels all action according to its own divine intention. It is supreme and serene in its potency, so that it may be said that Principle is power and its manifestation of itself is the embodiment of all the power there is (No. 30:11-13).
And let it be kept well in view that Principle does not produce something else, called "idea," which forthwith takes on the character of another entity (Mis. 186:18-21). Not only does Principle govern its own idea of itself with intelligent intent, but Principle constitutes its idea. "They" are one and inseparable, though not interchangeable, cause and effect being dual aspects of Being. Because Principle and its idea is one, Mind is its own great cause and effect (S&H 465:17 only and Mis. 173:12 only). In short, idea is Principle manifest. What Principle is determines what Principle expresses as its idea of itself. Principle is not an implacable judge, but a warm and vibrant impulsion to be demonstrated. Thus God, as creative cause or prolific Principle, is the law of orderly, harmonious, irresistible, infinite progression or unfoldment to everything forever. "Underneath are the everlasting arms." (Deut. 33:27.).
Are you beginning to appreciate the importance of the synonyms for "God"? To stop with calling God the Supreme Being does not get you very far. To discover that He is Mind, is not enough, either. "Mind" is a wonderfully enlightening synonym. It is the most educational of them all. But to consider God exclusively as Mind, as that which thinks, is to have a cold, intellectual, mechanical (if not sterile) sense of God. It leaves Him without incentive, without substantiality, without joy or satisfaction. Why should Mind want to think? What can it think? Where is there any satisfaction in merely thinking aimlessly and automatically? That would be a woefully one-sided sense of God. You need all the synonyms to round out your definition. If you cannot use them with equal facility, you are getting a somewhat warped sense of the Supreme Being, a slanted view which would accentuate but one or a few of His aspects at the expense of the others. While each synonym embraces all the others, each is used to bring out a particular aspect, phase or function of that Mind which is inexhaustibly versatile.
Seven synonyms were not selected arbitrarily or on the basis of numerology or symbolism – that is, because they might correspond to the "seven days of creation" or because the number seven may signify completeness in the ancient writings. Don't take in any of these funny notions so often voiced in the Field. If you will just proceed scientifically, you will see how each synonym arises naturally in the analysis of divine Mind and how all are required to give a full sense of that infinite Being that could never be understood except as Mind-Spirit-Soul-Principle-Life-Truth-Love (S&H 465:8-10). It is imperative that we come to know God not merely in one aspect of our being, but in all of them.
This can be illustrated in a simple way. Suppose your brother is a lawyer by profession, that he has been elected Treasurer of your Church and that he is often called upon for Christian Science help. Someone comes to your door and asks for "the Attorney." You know immediately, of course, that the caller wishes to talk with your brother, and you may safely assume that his mission has to do with legal matters. The next caller may ask for "the Practitioner." It is still your brother that is meant and the request doubtless has to do with metaphysical work. Again, someone asks for "the Treasurer." It is the same brother who is sought, but this time in his capacity as a Church official. Whether visitors ask for the Treasurer, the Attorney or the Practitioner, it is your brother who must respond – not in part, either, but as an indivisible being, whether functioning in one capacity or another.
You do not say that your brother is several men, but that he is a many-sided person. Treasurer, Practitioner and Attorney are one and inseparable, though not interchangeable. Let us say that one of the callers has long known him through his legal activities. He may find it impossible to conceive of your brother as a practitioner or as a father or as a cook, for example. He cannot be said to really know your brother. Thinking of his Attorney as such exclusively, he must have a very distorted view of his character. While approaching him in a single capacity at a time, one must have a rounded view of his various functions or offices in order to understand and commune with him fully.
It is something like this with our synonyms for the word "God." While each embraces the other, they none of them mean exactly the same thing – or there would be no occasion for using them. Each brings out a different aspect of that Mind which is the same in essence though multiform in office (S&H 331:29-30). God is Mind and Mind is God, for God is the only knower; Truth is Life and Life is Truth, for Truth in be-ing is living and living is true; Truth is God, and God is Life, for that which actually is actually is, and its being is certainly not inaction. The persistent use of but one synonym would tend to restrict the sense of God to one only of His offices. To consider God as Mind only would be to have a coldly mechanistic sense of Him, and as something shadowy. To consider Him additionally as Spirit would be to establish His substantiality, but existence would still have no significance. Only as you go on to see that He must be Soul, too, can you have any inkling of the meaning of existence. So it is throughout the list.
The value of all the synonyms has just been emphasized, but it might not be amiss to point out the futility of trying to "learn" Science by rote. If you find it helpful to memorize the textbook definitions do not hesitate to do so; but remember that parroting the words does not indicate understanding nor bring about demonstration. It is surely more important to know what Mrs. Eddy means than to just know what she says, isn't it? Try reading a sentence, a page or a paragraph, and then ask yourself, How would I say that? She uses words only to convey ideas, and if you have gotten her idea in any particular passage, you are bound to state it in your own words. If you can't, it's sure proof that you haven't caught the meaning.
And let us not quibble over words, or we shall get lost in the jungles of semantics. The meaning of any word is determined by universal acceptance, and for all practical purposes, this is enough to know about words as words. The Christian Scientist cannot use words to state ideas without respect for their established usage. This is not to imply that the student should become a dictionary addict, by any means, since dictionaries are written from the standpoint of physicality always. There may be occasions when the dictionary should be consulted for the basic meaning of some word in order that it may be intelligently and effectively employed. But the Scientist cannot leave it there. He must amplify, clarify and transform that word, and every word, in order that it may serve the stately purpose of spiritual enlightenment.
Take the four qualifying adjectives which Mrs. Eddy's magnificent statement applies to the seven synonyms (S&H 465:9-10). How would you explain them if you were challenged on their meaning? Could you? If not, you do not understand them as you should. Again, have you considered each and every one of the synonyms individually in connection with all four of the adjectives? Have you considered the incorporeality of Truth? The infinity of Love? The supremacy of Soul? The divinity of Life? For the sake of brevity, we shall discuss these descriptive terms as applied to the first of the names of God:
God, as Mind, is incorporeal, divine, supreme, infinite consciousness.
The dictionary definition of "incorporeal" is: Not materially formed or physically embodied. That is not good enough for our purpose. In Christian Science, "incorporeal" means: illimitable, or irreducible to a finite outline. Is it not evident that the Psyche is forever boundless, non-spatial, immeasurable? It would be unthinkable to try and compress consciousness within a finite form, or imprison it materially, to restrict awareness to dimensional proportions, chronological boundaries or degrees of actuality (S&H 262:9-16). The extension of awareness is without limit. Consciousness is never included in anything, but is inclusive always of everything. Mind is the one Incorporeality.
Divine? The basic meaning of this word according to general usage is: holy, sacred, inviolate. Isn't Mind just that? No material object can get into consciousness. Awareness can include nothing but the strictly mental. Mind is always just pure Mind, sanctified and inviolable. The psychical cannot be adulterated with the physical. Mentation is utterly incorruptible. The essentially mental can include nothing but thought. Mind is wholly Mind. It is mentally pure and purely mental. Its purity is its divinity, and in its allness it is the law of mentality to all things, totally precluding the unmental or material (S&H 325:10-19). The one Divinity enforces purity.
How can Mind be "supreme" if Mind is All? Supreme over what? "There is none holy as the Lord, for there is none beside thee." (I Samuel 2:2). Mind is supreme in the sense that it governs its own manifestation of itself in every respect. Being All-in-all, it excludes all else, establishing its own supremacy. Governing. directing, controlling its own formations without interference, it is a law unto itself (S&H 209:5-6). Mind is the one Supremacy.
If we do not immediately grasp in some measure the meaning of the word "infinite," as inexhaustibly spontaneous, irresistible, dynamic, boundlessly expansive, and so on and on, we have only to consider for the briefest moment the mental nature of Being – as it is right now making itself known by way of fetterless thinking (S&H 258:13-16). The present action of Mind is without start or finish or interruption. Infinity is easily understandable as pure Life, as the activity that is incorruptibly mental. Progressive unfoldment, appearing as your own thinking, is showing forth this very instant the infinity of Mind. This that is awareness is Mind knowing – and essentially, the one boundlessly versatile consciousness is continually unfolding in forms of beauty and utility. This is Mind defining its infinity. Mind as the one Infinity is the law of eternal action to all.
With nothing possible beyond illimitable Divinity, Mind rests in the serene confidence of its own free activity (S&H 127:8 only). It can conceive of nothing contrary to itself and so is not in conflict with itself. The allness that is infinity, therefore, spells omni-potence. In its onlyness, this is the power that is the unlabored motion of divine energy (S&H 445:20-21). "Thine is the power and glory forever."
If action is a fact, it is uninterruptibly the fact. This means perpetual motion in every conceivable capacity. Being is the one indivisible, interminable activity that we call "omniaction." (S&H 283:4-6) "And this is Life eternal."
Wherever anything is known to be, it exists consciously and so declares the presence of Mind. Infinite and therefore all-constituting awareness testifies to consciousness as omnipresence (S&H 471:18-19). "Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?"
Consciously including the reality of all things and continuously explaining (revealing) itself, Mind is the infallible and complete knower, or Omniscience. Nothing could be known to exist except by way of conscious recognition, so that nothing is hidden from the tender concern and intelligent consideration of Mind (No. 16:1-3).
As our books point out, because God is All and by nature perfect, perfection is the universal law and the only law (No. 30:11-13). God is the law in the sense that He manifests His own character throughout His infinite expression of Himself (S&H 370:8-9). Practically speaking, the recognition of Divinity makes divinity the law to all that consciousness entertains. Thus it is that man lives by divine decree. Mind determines that all shall be psychical. Love makes everything lovely, loving and loved. Truth maintains incorruptibility. Life vitalizes all. Spirit entrenches substantiality. Principle provides harmony. Soul beautifies.
The "New Tongue" is not the substituting of arbitrary meanings for accepted definitions. In no way is it the distortion of human language standards. Least of all is it a game of symbols, poetic imagery or literary gymnastics. If our use of words was not anchored in objectivity, we could not reach those to whom they are addressed. It is simply that spirituality cannot confine itself to the literal or finite definition of a word, but must expand that definition to include infinitely more than physicality could imply. The basic meaning of a word is that point of contact where the curve of infinity touches the straight line of finity, but from that point on, Mind must carry thought onward and upward and outward to ever higher and broader meanings. This is not only translation, but transfiguration (Hea. 7:6-10).
More and more we see why "God's being is infinity, freedom, harmony, and boundless bliss!" (S&H 481:3-4).