Religious Science

Science of Mind was established in 1927 by Ernest Holmes (1887–1960) and is a spiritual, philosophical and metaphysical religious movement within the New Thought movement. In general, the term “Science of Mind” applies to the teachings, while the term “Religious Science” applies to the organizations. However, adherents often use the terms interchangeably.

In his book, The Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes stated “Religious Science is a correlation of laws of science, opinions of philosophy, and revelations of religion applied to human needs and the aspirations of man.” He also stated that Religious Science/Science of Mind (RS/SOM) is not based on any “authority” of established beliefs, but rather on “what it can accomplish” for the people who practice it. Today the International Centers for Spiritual Living, the United Centers for Spiritual Living (which combined into the Centers for Spiritual Living in 2011) and Global Religious Science Ministries are the main denominations promoting Religious Science.

Main articles: New religious movements, Religion, and Science
See also: Christian Science, Christianity And Science, Church of Divine Science, and Religion and Science: Irreconcilable?

Founder's Church, Los Angeles

Founder’s Church, Los Angeles


Ernest Holmes did not originally intend for RS/SOM to be a “church”, but rather a teaching institution. In that spirit, many member “churches” have traditionally referred to themselves as “centers”. The mental healing work of Phineas Quimby was a source of inspiration to much of the New Thought movement, including RS/SOM. Ernest Holmes was especially strongly influenced by Emma Curtis Hopkins, a former student of Christian Science, especially her “Scientific Christian Mental Practice”, a direct precursor to Holmes’ “Spiritual Mind Treatment”, and by the writings of Judge Thomas Troward and Ralph Waldo Emerson, as he developed his own synthesis, which became known as Religious Science or Science of Mind.

Religious Science teaching symbol

Religious Science teaching symbol

In 1926 Holmes published The Science of Mind, which references the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Bible and Buddha. Holmes established the Institute for Religious Science and School of Philosophy in Los Angeles. This organization would later become the Church of Religious Science. Holmes had previously studied another New Thought teaching, Divine Science, and he was an ordained Divine Science Minister. He saw humans as being “open at the top”—that is, open to evolutionary improvement of consciousness in all areas of life. The concepts of “Open at the Top” and “New Thought” have inspired RS/SOM organizations and their teachings to evolve over the years. As stated in the book New Thought: A Practical American Spirituality, “New Thought still is evolving; it may yet be the point at which religion, philosophy, and science come together as the most effective combination to move the world to greater peace, plenty, health, and harmony. Many believe it might be the quintessential spirituality for the next millennium.” His teachings attracted famous celebrities of his time including Cecil B. DeMille, Peggy Lee, and Cary Grant.

Teaching and practice

The RS/SOM teaching generally incorporates idealistic and panentheistic philosophies. RS/SOM teaches that all beings are expressions of and part of Infinite Intelligence, also known as Spirit, Christ Consciousness, or God. It teaches that, because God is all there is in the universe (not just present in Heaven, or in assigned deities, as believed by traditional teachings), its power can be used by all humans to the extent that they recognize and align themselves with Its presence. Ernest Holmes said “God is not … a person, but a Universal Presence … already in our own soul, already operating through our own consciousness.”

The introduction to The Science of Mind text describes “The Thing Itself” (God or Infinite Intelligence), “The Way It Works”, “What It Does” and “How to Use It”. Although Holmes was criticized for not focusing much on love, he did say that “Love rules through Law.” (i.e., the Law of Mind or Cause and Effect) and “Love points the way and Law makes the way possible.” The “Law of Cause and Effect” simply states that every action has a consequence — creative, destructive, or neutral. It can be described as Jesus Christ stated “You reap what you sow” and “The bread you cast upon the water, comes back to you”. The Law of Attraction is one aspect of that Law. It differs from the Hindu definition of karma in that it is not related to reincarnation and that it happens in this life. Personal responsibility is a major tenet of RS/SOM.

RS/SOM teaches that people can achieve more fulfilling lives through the practice called Spiritual Mind Treatment (Treatment), or Affirmative Prayer. Spiritual Mind Treatment is a step-by-step process, in which one states the desired outcome as if it has already happened. In that way, it differs from traditional prayer, since it does not ask an entity separate from itself to act. It declares human partnership with Infinite Intelligence to achieve success. Treatment is to be stated as personal (first person), positive, powerful (with feeling), and present (is happening right now). The goal is to gain clarity in thinking that guides action to be consistent with the desired outcome. The Treatment is believed to set off a new chain of causation in Mind that leads one to act according to the good for which one is treating. Spiritual Mind Treatment, as currently taught in RS/SOM centers, contains five steps: Recognition, Unification, Realization, Thanksgiving, and Release. Some adherents of RS/SOM also use supplemental meditation techniques, including “Visioning”.


Religious Science credo, adapted from Ernest Holmes “What I Believe“:

  1. We believe God, the living Spirit Almighty; one, indestructible, absolute, and self-existent Cause. This One manifests Itself in and through all creation, but is not absorbed by Its creation. The manifest universe is the body of God; it is the logical and necessary outcome of the infinite self-knowingness of God.
  2. We believe in the individualization of the Spirit in Us, and that all people are individualizations of the One Spirit.
  3. We believe in the eternality, the immortality, and the continuity of the individual soul, forever and ever expanding.
  4. We believe that heaven is within us, and that we experience it to the degree that we become conscious of it.
  5. We believe the ultimate goal of life to be a complete freedom from all discord of every nature, and that this goal is sure to be attained by all.
  6. We believe in the unity of all life, and that the highest God and the innermost God is one God. We believe that God is personal to all who feel this indwelling presence.
  7. We believe in the direct revelation of truth through our intuitive and spiritual nature, and that anyone may become a revealer of truth who lives in close contact with the indwelling God.
  8. We believe that the Universal Spirit, which is God, operates through a Universal Mind, which is the Law of God; and that we are surrounded by this Creative Mind which receives the direct impress of our thought and acts upon it.
  9. We believe in the healing of the sick through the power of this Mind.
  10. We believe in the control of conditions through the power of this Mind.
  11. We believe in the eternal Goodness, the eternal Loving-kindness, and the eternal Givingness of Life to all.
  12. We believe in our own soul, our own spirit, and our own destiny; for we understand that the life of all is God.

Core concepts

According to The Science of Mind, the ten core concepts of RS/SOM (as taught in the “Foundations of Science of Mind” class) are:

  1. There is One Cosmic Reality Principle and Presence in the Universe — commonly called “God”. All creation originates in this One Source. EXPLANATION: God is not one thing, but rather is an Energy Source or Infinite Intelligence present in everything in the Cosmos (i.e. everything seen and unseen in this and all other parallel dimensions of the Universe).
  2. God is threefold (triune) in nature, having three aspects or modes of being within the One: Spirit, Soul and Body. This is God seen as the Universal Macrocosm. EXPLANATION: The term “Universal Macrocosm” is another term for all dimensions of the Universe.
  3. Spirit is the great Causative Power of the Universe. The Word, or thought, of God eternally initiates the Divine Creative Process. In this process, Law is continuously set in motion to create, from the Unformed Substance, innumerable forms which follow the thought-patterns of Spirit. EXPLANATION: God consciously initiates creation with thought and thereby forms all things from unformed substance by using Its “Soul” (i.e. the impersonal Law of Cause and Effect — that is “What you sow is what you reap.” See further explanation in the second paragraph of this “Teachings and Practices” Section. Since God is in everything (see #1), humans include God; and humans can use that God-energy to create, on the human level.
  4. In the Infinite Nature of God, all conceivable Good is eternally available, ready to flow into human experience. Through some cosmic Process, this flow of Good is activated and/or increased by human belief, faith, and acceptance. The expression of this essential belief, faith, and acceptance is prayer. EXPLANATION: “Prayer” is “Spiritual Mind Treatment” (see third paragraph of this section, above). This is the main Religious Science technique to tap into God (defined in #1 as “present in everything” — i.e. Its “Infinite Nature”) to create all the good we desire on the human level, analogous to God creating on the Universe level (see #3). This requires faith in the knowledge that the technique is working right now.
  5. This is a Universe of Wholeness, Allness, Oneness. Spirit is a transcendent, perfect Wholeness that, in Its infinite inclusivity, harmoniously embraces all seeming opposites. EXPLANATION: Since God is present throughout the Universe these are some of the attributes of God.
  6. This is a Universe of infinite abundance, spiritual, mental, and physical. This Bounty of Spirit, this Allness of Good, is limitless and can never be depleted. EXPLANATION: These are some more of the attributes of God.
  7. This is a reciprocal Universe. For every visible form, there is an invisible counterpart. Everything in nature tends to equalize itself, to keep its balance true. EXPLANATION: This is the Law of Cause and Effect (See further explanation in the second paragraph of this “Teachings and Practices” Section).
  8. The Universe exists in the Eternal Now, each moment complete and perfect within itself. In this Universal Harmony, justice without judgment is always automatic, an infallible Universal Principle. There can be no place for Divine anger, unforgiveness, or punishment. EXPLANATION: God’s and human’s thoughts, actions, and manifestations can only occur in the present. The Law of Cause and Effect is always working. We make our “Heaven and Hell” experiences every moment in the present, with the choices we make. To the extent that mankind achieves the Divine attributes, it evolves into God’s attributes.
  9. Immortality is a Universal Principle, not a “belief’ or a bargain made with the Universe for good behavior. God knows only Life, its eternal continuity, evolution, and expansion. EXPLANATION: Religious Scientists know (rather than believe) that life evolves in this as well as all other dimensions, even after our souls make their transition into those dimensions. In this case, the term “Universal” means “no exceptions.”
  10. The mystic concept of the Cosmic Christ is not that of a person, but of a Principle, a Universal Presence … the Universal Image of God present in all creation … the “pattern that connects.” EXPLANATION: The term “Cosmic Christ” here is a metaphor for that God-like consciousness that was and is present in all the Prophets and other enlightened people who have and are using this Principle to assist in the positive evolution of mankind, society, and/or their own personal lives. “Christ” was not Jesus’ last name, but rather a title for an enlightened person, or “anointed one” that was created and given to him before the 12th century A.D. Early Hebrew kings were given the title “Christ.”


There are three major organizations for Religious Science: Centers for Spiritual Living, the Affiliated New Thought Network, and the Global Religious Science Ministries. The last organization represents Religious Science churches in the United States, Canada, Central America, South America, Africa, Europe, India, Australia, and the Philippines.

See also

Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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