Thinking doesn’t make it so

April 14th, 2013

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” All of us who have studied daily from the Christian Science textbook can probably recognize those words from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (see Act 2, Sc. 2, line 255). They appear in Science and Health as part of the epigraph (three keynote quotations for the entire book) just behind the title page. They sum up the Christian Science promise that we can think our way to health, happiness, holiness, and heaven. In philosophical and moral terms, they express the height of subjectivism and relativism.

Strangely, however, the epigraph quotations just before and after this one – Jesus’ words from John 8:32 about knowing the truth, and a poetic fragment by Mrs. Eddy that begins, “Thou hast heard my prayer” – refute subjectivism and relativism with their affirmation that truth and God are objectively real. Strangely as well, anyone who asks himself if all good and bad are merely thought up, whether or not he is a Christian Scientist, will have to admit he doesn’t believe they are. Nor does he live and act as if they are.

In a beautiful little essay he published for Good Friday, Andrew Klavan of PJ Media points out that “Hamlet spoke these words when he was pretending to be insane… [but] the position, as Shakespeare knew, is not only crazy, it’s make-believe crazy, because no one actually believes it…. You can’t make the argument for moral truth without God. If our conscience matters, it can only be because existence is a person and we are made in that person’s image.”

No, thinking doesn’t make it so. The existential reality of God and man, good and evil, sin and salvation, is already so; eternally so.

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