One of the beliefs of materialism is that matter is actually indestructible. According to this belief a stone may one day crumble to dust, or it may become molten lava or a gas; but the atoms still remain. If the atoms are broken up, the elementary particles remain. Even if these disappear, they merely turn into light or other forms of material energy.
The belief that matter is eternal is among the basic errors which must be destroyed, if we are to overcome the influence of materialism on human thought. This belief must be specifically refuted and rejected, then replaced by an understanding of the eternal substance of Spirit. Through the overcoming of the error of belief in matter as substance and power, disease can be healed in Christian Science. Death can be overcome.
On page 278 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Mrs. Eddy writes. "The belief of the eternity of matter contradicts the demonstration of life as Spirit, and leads to the conclusion that if man is material, he originated in matter and must return to dust,—logic which would prove his annihilation."
Any hold that disease seems to have on human thought comes from the belief in the eternity of matter. In some diseases one form of matter seems to have been destroyed, but matter persists in another form. When one clearly sees that matter is not eternal but temporal because it is an illusion of the carnal mind, one can lift his thought above the false belief and break the hold of the disease.
The carnal, or mortal mind, is elementary error. It exists entirely as the supposition of a mind other than God. There is no such mind, but one who entertains the supposition comes to believe that the objects this false mind pictures in his consciousness are real. These objects begin and end, but their basic substance, matter, continues to govern thought as long as the supposition of a mind apart from God is entertained.
Christ Jesus proved by his healing works that matter does not dictate the conditions of man. And his ascension demonstrated the temporal nature of matter. His material body ceased to be, but it was not decomposed into other material forms. Not only was the body, which appeared to be his identity on earth, temporal, but the very matter which mortal belief would say constituted that body was temporal.
The material particles and forces which, in belief, would persist in governing the conditions of Jesus body through all the changes that might take place in that body's material forms, came to an end with the Master's ascension. The reason they came to an end was that they began with belief, with the supposition of a mind apart from God. They ended with the demonstration of the unreality of that belief.
One can overcome disease through an understanding of the eternality of Spirit, God. When one can understand that he does not live in a material body, but in Spirit as the image or reflection of Mind, he can examine his own thought and uncover the ways in which he is believing in matter as eternal. Then he can destroy the belief and demonstrate the health that is man's as God's idea.
In Science and Health, beginning at the bottom of the page referred to above, we find these words: "Matter, with its mortality, cannot be substantial if Spirit is substantial and eternal. Which ought to be substance to us,—the erring, changing, and dying, the mutable and mortal, or the unerring, immutable, and immortal?"
When we concern ourselves primarily with material personalities and material conditions, we are entertaining "the erring, changing, and dying." When we identify ourselves and others as mortals with material wants, material traits, and when we regard these as more than temporal, we are allowing the supposition of matter-substance to take hold of our thought.
If we measure our wealth in terms of material possessions, ease, pride, personal power, self-righteousness, self-will—all based upon belief in matter as the origin, substance, and identity of individuals—we must lose this false sense of wealth in order to gain a sense of spiritual substance. Christ Jesus showed us that the blessing of spiritual substance can come only through giving up reliance on material things. He said (Matt. 5:3), "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
One's liability to disease lessens as one gains the eternal riches of the kingdom of heaven. And this blessing can come only when we see matter as temporal and turn from it to that which is eternal. Then material wants and material conditions cease to motivate us. Material self-will that claims to persist in expressing itself as one's thought yields to spiritual desires and eternal fulfillment. And the belief that matter can persist in its control of the objectification of one's thought, the body, is overcome.
As we learn to identify ourselves with true substance, we lose the fear of disease. In fact, fear is the only thing we can lose. Our true identity is the eternal Christ, Truth, never dwelling in or subject to anything that is temporal. Our daily study and prayerful work to understand our true identity first give us dominion over matter and its conditions, then lift us above them into the demonstration of true substance. On page 468 of Science and Health, our Leader says, "Substance is that which is eternal and incapable of discord and decay."
Carl J. Welz