Chapter 2 – How Do You Know There Is a God
From Christian Science, Its Clear, Correct Teaching by Herbert Eustace
Before defining what God is, it is essential to establish how one may know that there is a God. Surely it would be a waste of time to talk about what God is, unless it were first understood that there is God. After having settled that question, it is in order to establish what God is, and why He is all that He is.
Blind Acceptance Inadequate
The average mortal, Christian or pagan, acknowledges in his own way, that there is a supreme something which he calls God.
The Christian, if asked, would probably answer at once, "Of course there is a God."
In times of stress, however, when the opposite of that which he means by God, good, presents itself as real, he has no means of combating the apparent reality of evil, because he does not understand why God is: hence he falters, and too often falls a victim to evil in one of its various forms, whether it be limitation, sickness, sin or death.
A mere sense of or belief in God is really of no permanent help or value. When most needed, it does not stand the test.
A blind acceptance of God will never completely satisfy. Reason must be satisfied in order to bring the certain knowledge that there is God. Because mathematicians have proved the laws governing numbers, this does not prove them for you. It does, however, beckon you on to prove them for yourself. The mathematician’s understanding is not yours, until you yourself understand mathematics.
Thus, in like manner, you must also settle each point in Christian Science for yourself. You must arrive at the point where it would make no difference to you if there were not another Christian Scientist in the World. You must so understand Christian Science, and its truth must be so vital to you that you would be satisfied to be the only Christian Scientist, if that were necessary.
It is useless to attempt to find a conclusive answer to any question outside of what constitutes yourself, and especially is this true of the profound subject: how you know there is God.
Sense Testimony Contradictory
To affirm that there is God because the testimony of the material senses declares the beauty and loveliness expressed by what you call nature beautiful flowers, gorgeous sunsets, and countless other expressions cannot bring conviction to you because the same mind and its senses that declare this loveliness, just as positively declare the opposite the flowers fading, the sunset dreary, and so forth.
A fountain cannot "send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter." (James 3:11)
Yet, if you accept the testimony as true in one instance, can you avoid consenting to it in another?
One appearance may be beautiful and harmonious, the other ugly, discordant and wretched. You are compelled, then, to lay aside what comes to you as nature in establishing that there is God.
Then you ask, if nature cannot help me to understand, do I not still see on all sides love and kindness, and all the excellent qualities of that which I feel God must be?
Am I not justified in declaring that these attributes of good could not appear to me unless there were God whence they emanated?
But is it not true that just as you are aware of these qualities so you are equally aware of the countless activities of evil, expressed as anger, envy, hatred, and so forth?
Can such contradictory testimony safely lead one anywhere? Again, can the same fountain send forth both sweet and bitter water?
In whatever direction you look, you find this apparent irreconcilable testimony of good and evil, life and death, presented side by side. The unreliability of the testimony of the material senses is self-evident.
In the matter of sight, for instance, there is no reliability. A straight stick extending partly out of clear water will appear bent.
The law of optics explains this, but the explanation in no way changes the fact that your eyes have, nevertheless, deceived you.
Two parallel rail-lines appear to come together in the distance. Your eyes declare what your reason denies.
So it is with all the five senses. None of them can be trusted.
Hypnotism has shown how unreliable the senses are, how they will declare as true whatever the mind of the hypnotist suggests to his victim, regardless of its absurdity.
Does not the victim of the hypnotist seem to agonize over a pain that is pure illusion? The senses respond to whatever the hypnotized mind affirms. And so on through an inexhaustible range of phenomena.
The testimony of two reputable witnesses in court is at times contradictory, especially in the case of a sudden accident or dramatic occurrence.
The courts recognize that the witnesses are not intentionally unreliable or deliberately misstating facts, but that the minds of different people react differently under sudden emotion and that the senses testify in accordance with the mind and not of themselves.
But however explained, the fact remains that the testimony itself is utterly unreliable. Of what value, then, is sense testimony in aiding you to establish the fact that there is God? If once proven false, can the senses ever be trusted?
In their testimony is no assurance, no peace, no proof that there actually is God.
Because of reliance on material sense testimony with its contradictions, many are faltering and even saying foolishly that there is no God. You, too, may be tempted to say there is no God unless you understand why God is.
Being convinced of the hopelessness of attempting to satisfy yourself on this question through anything that the material senses declare, you turn forever away from such testimony.
How to Find the Answer
Now ask yourself, what is there that I actually know of myself, that I am absolutely sure of, that is not dependent upon any thing to bear witness to it, that requires no justification, no verification, that just is?
There is one answer, and one only, to this question, and its conclusion is inescapable; one self-evident fact that defies refutation, before which all arguments are silenced forever, because there is nothing to argue against it.
It is, in Bible language, "The true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (John 1:9)
This light belongs to every man; it belongs to you. It has no relationship to the so-called senses. Ask yourself thoughtfully, "What is it?" You will answer with absolute conviction: It is the fact that I exist; that I consciously am; it is my consciously being.
This, I know of myself. It is not dependent upon anything apart from me. I am conscious of being. Of this I am sure.
When I say that I consciously am, I am not referring, even remotely, to anything that I might seem to be conscious of through the physical senses. It is in no way a reaction. I mean simply that I consciously exist, and that that existence requires no testimony or witness of any kind.
It is a self-evident fact to me.
It is purity itself, for in it is not a single element contrary to itself.
Like an axiom of Euclid, it requires no demonstration because it is obvious.
This fact of my consciously being is the one and only fact that, as a so-called mortal, I know of myself, wholly apart from any external evidence.
Of this one fact I am absolutely sure. It is a certainty that begins and ends in myself. I have the verification of it at all times and every moment.
It is the rock of Truth upon which I must begin to build.
Dependence upon anything else would mean dependence upon something external to myself that did my thinking for me.
As you have already seen, you cannot be sure of that which testifies to anything outside yourself. Such testimony is often deceptive and may disappear: but you cannot lose yourself and disappear to yourself.
You are positive of your own being, of your consciously being.
Everything must start from this certainty of your own consciously being. It is the one and only thing of which you are sure.
You must think from this standpoint.
Does not your very being consist of just thinking?
Thinking must be based on knowing. Knowing must be built up from the consciousness of your own existence.
It does not include any external evidence.
It is "the true Light" guiding every man.
It is the truth that is ever-present, and that always stands as the reality, even as in mathematics, two times two remains four, regardless of anything and everything that ignorance may say about it.
The Camel and the Needle’s Eye
When speaking of the difficulty to be experienced by those possessing riches in entering the kingdom of heaven, Jesus said, "Verily I say unto you, That rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 19: 23) Of course he was not referring to the possession of money or material things as such, but to a trust in the material sense of things, rather than in the Mind-sense.
He further said that it was "easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for [such] a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Matthew 19: 24)
Observe, he did not say it was impossible. He said the other was easier.
In using the word "easier," he certainly meant to imply that there was a way whereby the "rich man" might enter.
His illustration of the camel going "through the eye of a needle" explained how this entrance into the kingdom of heaven must be accomplished.
The old walled cities of the East had large entrance gates that were closed at sundown, but by the side of each was a small gate called the "needle gate," through which belated travelers with their beasts of burden could enter after nightfall.
However, this could be accomplished only by stripping the camel of its burden, thus enabling it to crawl through the gate to safety.
This comparison indicates how a so-called mortal, in order to start on the true solution of being, must first strip himself of every vestige of dependence upon material evidence, and base his understanding of being wholly on his own conscious existence, as the one foundation from which to begin.
Doing this, he lays "aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset" (Hebrews 12: 1) him and runs "with patience the race that is set before" him. Like the camel, the mortal can retain no material possession, no mortal evidence, to help him; he must lay aside every testimony of the senses, and turn to the only fact he is sure of, his own consciously being.
By so doing, he finds himself on firm ground, the ground of his only reality, his only true immortality, the ground that is immutable and eternal.
No single fact about the mortal is eternal, except his consciously being. This, of course, is not mortal, but immortal.
It is the rock alone upon which he can start to build. It is the Christ, the truth of being. No other foundation can endure.
The Immutable Starting Point
With this consciously being as the basic fact, what is the inevitable deduction? Or, more accurately, what is the inevitable induction, for in this reasoning, we take one step from effect to cause, an inductive step, to wit:
I could not consciously be, unless consciousness were a fact.
Then my consciously being is the irrefutable proof that consciousness is.
Consciousness, to be consciousness, must be conscious of something. That of which it is conscious is essential to it, else it could not remain consciousness.
Consciousness, then, is the necessary cause or basis of my being; and since my being is a fact, it is equally self-evident that consciousness is also a fact.
You have now established consciousness as that which is. In other words, you have discovered and established for yourself that consciousness is.
You are as certain of this as you are of your own existence.
You know that one cannot be without the other, that each is essential to the other and that, given one, the other spontaneously is.
This eternal truth is yours because it begins with what you know yourself, and "brightens" (Miscellany 253: 27) into the inevitable induction that consciousness is or you could not consciously be.
In Christian Science there is but one inductive step. Starting with the fact of your own consciously being, you (effect) induce consciousness as is (cause).
From this point on, only deductive reasoning is used deducing the nature of effect from the nature of cause. Effect is of no further value for reasoning purposes.
To again repeat, reason must be as satisfied in Christian Science as it is in mathematics. No one is asked to accept any statement without complete conviction.
No faith, no mere belief, as such terms are commonly used, enters into the reasoning. That is why it is incredible that, in this enlightened age, Christian Science is not universally accepted.
Were Christian Science in the realm of religious belief, people could be excused for not accepting it; but since it is the revelation of the Science of being, it would seem all are "without excuse," (Romans 1: 20) as Paul expressed it, in not accepting it.
Remember, however, you can make no progress in your understanding of Christian Science if you do not insist, at every step, upon having your reason thoroughly satisfied.
This reasoning from the fact of consciously being, to consciousness, is not new in one sense of the word. As long ago as 1670, John Locke logically established, for himself, the existence of a supreme being, but he could go no further. It was not until Mrs. Eddy discovered Christian Science that all deductions from this point could be correctly made and carried through to their ultimate conclusion.
In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy unfolds the reasoning so simply and logically that one who follows it cannot fail to be convinced.