The term “Science of Mind” was applied by the Holmes brothers to their experience and understanding of how it is that the mind can be consistently used to heal the body and change life conditions. They encountered the use of the word “science” through 2 streams of thought and work.
One was a British judge, Thomas Troward, who found in the 1880s and ’90s that when he applied the scientific method to the phenomena he was experiencing, he could derive principles that were consistently applicable. The other was a clockmaker from Maine, holder of several US patents for a variety of technologies, named Phineas Parkhurst Quimby. He, after experiencing relief from symptoms his doctors had said were incurable, undertook a 20-year study of the mind and its abilities, basically from 1832 – 1852, finally developing a method that was consistent across thousands of cases. He called it the “science of Christ” partly in the belief that it must have been the method used by Jesus as described in the New Testament, and partly because that was the only model of mental or spiritual healing known at the time. A patient of his became a student and lectured on his method of “mental healing” for several years, then, about a decade after his passing, revised the method to more directly conform to biblical narrative and formed what is now known as the Church of Christ Scientist.
The Holmes brothers had studied with her and knew that hers was a limited and not entirely accurate doctrine, rather than an application of science, and so looked elsewhere. They chose to focus on the mental aspects, rather than the spiritual. When he finally felt that he had the whole picture (after studying with Emma Curtis Hopkins in 1924-5), Ernest wrote his book and established a school, only finally succumbing to the idea of a church when his students said they would do it anyway and he realized that he needed to participate if it weren’t to go haywire under the direction of inadequately trained leadership.
Today we would probably call the teaching that emerged from their work a form of engineering rather than of science, but the initial research on which it is based did, indeed, use the scientific method to establish both the processes and the principles.