PETALUMA, CA, Jan. 16, 2017 – Jay Walker described it as “the greatest moment in the history of human imagination,” a period some 300 years ago when mankind first began to accept the idea that the sun, and not the earth, was at the center of our solar system.
“This, ladies and gentlemen, is the dividing line between faith and reason,” said Walker, an entrepreneur and founder of The Walker Library of the History of Human Imagination, as he described an illustration from the world’s first celestial atlas at the most recent TEDMED conference in Palm Springs.
“This atlas says the earth is spinning at about a thousand miles an hour. It says the sun is not coming up in the morning and going down in the evening… It’s also saying that the earth is traveling around the sun. There is no evidence for that is there ladies and gentlemen? Nobody feels the motion. Nobody feels anything is moving.”
In other words, said Walker, the greatest moment in the history of human imagination involved nothing less than “a complete rejection of [our] senses.”
This was not the first time, and certainly not the last, when a significant breakthrough in our collective understanding was prompted by someone’s willingness to not just imagine but also prove a reality above and beyond what our eyes and ears insist is true. Tempting as it may be to think that such radical insights are reserved for the likes of Copernicus and Galileo, however, we must not forget or neglect our own ability to look past the apparent fixedness of matter and discover something new about our place in the universe – a journey often involving “a complete rejection of our senses.”
Such a concept is familiar to me as a student of Christian Science, where I am continually challenged to seek out a fuller, more spiritual view of reality.
I recall a time at an earlier TEDMED conference getting into a conversation with a fellow delegate about my less-than-conventional approach to health care, and what I have learned about myself along the way. I told her about a severe skin infection I had that was making it pretty difficult to walk. Rather than investigating whatever drug-based remedy might be available, I chose instead to pray.
Sitting quietly in my living room, one of the first thoughts that came to mind was that of my innate purity – a purity I had learned from my study of the Bible that was both ordained and maintained by my creator, that infinitely pure, relentlessly loving, divine principle I call God. As I pondered this idea, I began to feel more at peace. The problem was, my body was still telling me something very different. Clearly I had a decision to make: Either I could accept what God, divine Mind, was revealing to me, or allow myself to be defined by what my body was saying.
Given that I had been growing in my practice and had been healed many times before, it felt natural, and completely reasonable, for me to simply accept what I can only describe as divine inspiration and reject all the physical evidence – similar in a way to knowing the sun is shining even when I can’t see it. Within a short time, the infection completely disappeared.
“In viewing the sunrise, one finds that it contradicts the evidence before the senses to believe that the earth is in motion and the sun at rest,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy. “As astronomy reverses the human perception of the movement of the solar system, so Christian Science reverses the seeming relation of Soul and body and makes body tributary to Mind [God].”
I can only imagine what it must have felt like so many centuries ago, grasping for the first time the earth’s relationship to the sun. I would have to say, though, that learning about my relationship to God and the impact this continues to have on my life feels even better.
Eric Nelson writes about the link between consciousness and health from his perspective as a practitioner of Christian Science. He also serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California. Follow him on Twitter @norcalcs. Continue the conversation on Facebook.