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No Alternate Universe

A POPULAR science-fiction television program in some countries, Star Trek, sometimes depicts characters thrown unexpectedly into an ''alternate universe.'' This might be a place where things are radically and disturbingly different from what the characters know is right. They then spend the rest of the show trying to get back to the ''real'' universe. (They almost always do.)

It once occurred to me to use this as a metaphor for human existence, at a time when I was disturbed over the war and violence in many parts of the world. The enormity, as well as the apparent persistence, of this destructive activity perplexed me. How could I pray about an apparently turbulent universe?

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I started with what I knew to be true of God. As I've learned by studying and practicing Christian Science, God is infinite. He is perfect. He is divine Mind. All that He knows is good. He can't know anything that doesn't correspond to good.

By definition, a mind has ideas. Without ideas, it cannot demonstrate its own intelligence or its own creativity. The only true Mind is God; His intelligence and creativity are infinite. His creation, like Him, is infinite and perfect. The Bible teaches that man is God's idea. Man is created in God's image and likeness, and therefore includes and expresses all the attributes of perfect Mind.

The divine Mind, which is always functioning properly, does not have ideas that are in conflict. Rather, its ideas work together to bring forth God's purpose. God cannot generate one idea only to have it destroy or harm another. God's ideas must act in harmony.

These are absolute, spiritual truths. As they became real to me in my prayers, I felt ready to address news reports of the world's violence and hatred. These do not agree with the truth about God. It then occurred to me that war and hatred are analogous to the alternate universe of science fiction. Discord may seem real while one is embroiled in it. But ultimately we need to discover what is true. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, made this statement: ''The five corporeal senses cannot take cognizance of Spirit. They cannot come into His presence, and must dwell in dream-land, until mortals arrive at the understanding that material life, with all its sin, sickness, and death, is an illusion, against which divine Science is engaged in a warfare of extermination. The great verities of existence are never excluded by falsity.'' This is from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 543).

The book of Second Kings in the Bible describes Elisha, a prophet of Israel, who was under attack by the king of Syria (see chap. 6). When Elisha's servant saw a huge Syrian army surrounding them, he ran to Elisha in terror. But Elisha told him, ''Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.'' Elisha then prayed for his servant's eyes to be opened. After that, the Bible says, ''The Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha'' (verses 16, 17). The entire attacking army was made blind and brought to Samaria, a province of Israel. There, the soldiers again received their sight, and were peacefully sent home. The attacks on Israel stopped for good after that.

Note that Elisha didn't pray for the universe to be changed to meet his pressing need for protection. As a man of spiritual understanding, Elisha surely knew the universe is created by God and cannot be changed. What Elisha did was to pray for his servant's eyes to be opened-for this very fact to be made plain-in other words, for God's power to be felt. As this power became clear, the young man saw what Elisha saw. They had always been safe.

An interesting point about science-fiction characters is that they usually don't stray from the conviction that their own universe remains the actual one. No matter how confusing their current situation is, or how tempting it is to stay in it, they almost always persist in figuring out how to get home.

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Likewise, we need to persist in rejecting any evidence that is inconsistent with what is true about God and His universe of spiritual ideas.

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