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Actors Perform in "Splitting Infinity"
Robbie and Leigh in Jamie Pachino’s Splitting Infinity at San Jose Rep. (photo: Robert Shomler)

Serving as a spokesperson for Christian Science, much of my time is spent correcting inaccuracies and misconceptions about my faith that appear in the daily press and, rarely but occasionally, the entertainment media.  In one particular instance, however, I was pleased to find that few such corrections were necessary thanks, in no small measure, to the performance of one woman in Jamie Pachino’s stage play, “Splitting Infinity.”

The play explores the apparent conflict between science and religion; between those who rely solely upon mathematical and empirical evidence as a means of understanding the physical universe, and those who turn to prayer to connect with the infinite Divine. The characters employed include a Nobel laureate astrophysicist, her lover, a rabbi, and a devout Christian Scientist.

It would perhaps be tempting (if predictable) to pit one side against the other in this cosmic quest — the rational empiricists against the irrational religionists. And it might be equally tempting (and equally predictable) to create and cast stereotyped caricatures of the respective viewpoints presented. But this is not what I found in “Splitting Infinity.” Instead, I found that these characters actually had a lot more in common than not.

As I watched the play — paying particular attention to how Christian Science was both presented and portrayed — I was surprised to see a balanced, if not entirely accurate, presentation.

Sure, the scripting could have been better. For instance, none of the Christian Scientists I’ve ever known are categorically opposed to the medical profession, as was implied in the play. No Christian Scientist I know would ever knowingly allow their child to suffer. And no Christian Scientist I know would ever sacrifice their child in the name of religious dogma. That said, the woman who played the Christian Scientist did a commendable job of presenting a sympathetic character — thoughtful, intelligent, and caring.

What I saw in this character was a woman acting in consonance with her highest sense of right; a woman whose decision to rely solely on prayer for healing — and her expectation of healing — was born of her personal success in keeping her own diabetes at bay; a woman not unlike many of those in the audience perhaps facing similar challenges, similar crucibles, similar decisions.

The end of the play leaves the audience considering two symmetric if unanswered questions: Was the Christian Scientist betrayed by her faith in God? Was the astrophysicist betrayed by her quest to discover a Godless universe?

I won’t give away the ending (or my bias) by saying whether I agree or disagree with the answers presented, but I will say that I’m glad that Christian Science was at least included in the discussion. Rather than proliferating the idea that science and religion are absolutely and eternally incompatible, its practice has proven for me and countless others that, in the words of Albert Einstein, “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”


Eric NelsonEric Nelson lives in Hayward, California and serves as the media and legislative spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California. He also works as a Christian Science practitioner, helping those interested in relying solely on the power of prayer for healing.

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5 Comments

Thanks for sharing your perspective on the play, especially when the entertainment world can sometimes be somewhat harsh when it comes to portraying religion and those people who follow their religious beliefs. Makes one ponder and at least consider the compatibility of science and religion.

Looks like a very interesting play! Is it published?

Yes... definitely published... maybe 3 or 4 years ago.

I am so happy to see this discussion here. Like Eric, I have studied and practiced Christian Science for years and have experienced its healing effects. And I have never known any Christian Scientist to allow suffering or to be opposed to those in the medical profession.

Christian Science does acknowledge that the time for thinkers has come. I have been inspired by talking with thinkers of other religions and with those in the health care professions about the impact of spirituality on health and wellbeing and how prayer can be a consistent and effective force in one’s life.

The helpful part of these discussions is that it is not about trying to convert, persuade or shame others to believe in a certain way. It is joining with others in an ongoing and earnest search for Truth. And I hope we see more of these plays, more articles, more studies on this important topic.

Thanks for your comment Kim!

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