Christian Science and rationality

I view religion and rationality as very separate. But with most religious ideas, I can at least grasp why people believe them. However, when it comes to Christian Science, I just don’t get it no-how.

A column on the local paper’s religion page by Adam Scherr (March 20, click here) urged inclusion of “spiritual care” in health coverage. He says his family “chose spiritual care for one simple reason—it is effective and results-based.” He tells of an arm injury: “Through my practice of Christian Science I was confident that I would see a healing result … I prayed and trusted that healing would occur.” He refused medical treatment.

I too had a recent arm injury, and it too healed by itself. But I hope Mr. Scherr never gets heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, or anything else that just doesn’t heal by itself.

Old joke: a guy stands on his roof as floodwaters rise. A navy rescue diver swims by and offers to carry him to safety. “No thanks,” he answers, “I trust in God, he’ll save me.” Then comes a boat, and he waves that away too; “God will save me.” Then a helicopter: same answer.

Finally, he drowns. Meeting God, he asks, “Why didn’t you save me?”

God replies, “I sent you a diver. I sent you a boat. I sent you a helicopter. What more did you want, schmuck?”

God sends us doctors. He sends us medicines, and treatments. And Christian Scientists wave them away.

How is that “spiritual” or Godly? To stay healthy, eating food also helps. Christian Scientists don’t refuse food. Why refuse medicine? Because, they believe, faith and prayer is effective, but medical science is all bunkum. That was the doctrine of their prophetess, Mary Baker Eddy, writing back in the 1870s, when the state of medical knowledge was in truth still primitive, compared to now. Refusing to recognize the advancement is absurd. And it’s funny how the extreme skepticism Eddy’s followers still exhibit toward medical science turns into extreme credulity when it comes to prayer.

The prehistoric average lifespan was twentyish. As late as 1900, it was only 31, worldwide. Today it’s about 67, and nearly 80 in developed nations. Christian Scientists hold that faith and prayer, not medical treatment, are the keys to health. So the huge observed improvement in health and longevity must have occurred because people in the last century became so much more spiritual and prayerful—especially in developed nations. Right.

A scientific study by W.F. Simpson has found that Christian Science believers – despite healthier life styles in some respects, e.g., regarding tobacco and alcohol – had significantly shorter lifespans than a comparable non-CS control group. What a surprise.

But I suppose that if you believe you’re going to Heaven, then dying sooner is no bad thing. Maybe that’s the rationality of Christian Science: getting to Heaven quicker.

My libertarian instincts say let them. Unfortunately, there is evidence (click here) that Christian Science beliefs have (for obvious reasons) helped spread contagious diseases. And then there’s the issue of their children.

13 Responses to “Christian Science and rationality”

  1. REI Says:

    What if you accidentally crushed a hornet’s nest and were swarmed and bitten numerous times, but then, realizing that you could not outrun them, you instead closed your eyes and started to pray, but to pray in a way not commonly thought of as prayer, and opened your eyes in about a minute to see all the hornets crawling around on their ruined nest ignoring you completely?

    What it you then continued to pray, but using a method not commonly thought of as prayer, and saw all the swollen bites vanish and perfect normalcy return within five minutes?

    Would you think there might be more to things than you had realized?

    I am a retired electronic designer and programmer, a very hard science type. Fifteen years ago, after a life of ignoring organized religion, I was healed of a likely fatal condition by the silent prayer of a co-worker who was a Christian Scientist. After I agreed to let him try to heal me, all symptoms vanished in less than twenty four hours.

    The healing, and the elevation of thought that accompainied it, were so incredible and amazing that I took up the study of Christian Science.

    It really works. You should look in to it. The best book ABOUT Christian Science is “Spiritual Healing In A Scientific Age” by Peel. For a quick take of the key details read from page 16 to the end of the chapter, and then read the part beginning on page 54.

    The book is out of print but is available on Amazon used books.

    It really works, and for very logical reasons. Any human can do it, and any human can learn it.

    FSR COMMENT: What if . . . ? What if God decided to stop torturing innocent human beings, some of them small children, with horrific diseases? What if human beings stopped indulging in infantile fairy tales and mumbo-jumbo (like Christian “Science”) and started confronting the reality of life and the world (as some have in fact done)? To repeat, I’m willing to let fools believe what they like. I’m not for burning at the stake anyone with religious ideas different from mine. But I don’t think they should be allowed to spread communicable diseases, or to deny their children medical treatment.

  2. REI Says:

    The hornet’s nest experience described above actually happened to me. The things that Christian Scientists do routinely are so unbelivable to those not involved in it that they seem totally impossible.

    If God is all powerful, how could mere humans possibly ease the suffering and torture inflicted on small children by him?

    The small child issue is addressed in the part of the Spiritual Healing book beginning on page 54. Other issues about God aflicting mankind is addressed in the material starting on page 16.

    A Rational Optimist should not fear knowledge that might enlarge his understanding of the world he lives in.

    After time in the Army, where I reached the rank of SSG, I went to college and spent my life designing circuit boards and writing code. I was always a mind over matter person until I hit a problem in my fifties that I couldn’t will away. I was healed totally within twenty four hours of a well diagnosed problem.

    I began studying Christian Science, and have mastered enough of it to do things that I would have never believed possible. I am healthier now at 70 than in my 50’s. My ability to design and implement have improved dramatically.

    You owe it to yourself to look into it.

  3. Kathy Says:

    I would like to let your readers know that Christian Scientists do not believe that medical science is “bunkum”. Mary Baker Eddy had great respect for physicians. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures she says, ” Great respect is due the motives and philanthropy of the higher class of physicians.” While you state that in the 1870’s medical science was still primitive, at the same time the teaching about God’s healing power, in Mrs. Eddy’s book, was healing hundreds of people (see the last 100 pages of her book – Chapter “Fruitage”)
    Christian Scientists choose to turn to God in time of need – for health and other problems – and they do not criticize those who choose other methods. They choose prayer because they have seen it work.

  4. Samuel Says:

    It is difficult for anyone to see God correctly, religious or otherwise. It often appears as though the religious must defend their God, or doctrines they feel come from God. It would we be wise if believers used both reason and faith. There are times in life to use reason and times in life to use faith.

    Christian Science views medicine as material, or matter, which according to “Science and Health,” Mary Baker’s Textbook, was not created by God; thus, Christian Science leans toward the extreme. Medical practioners lean toward matter, or nature, and assess the situation apart from God and spirituality. Are either wrong? There is nothing in this toybox we call life that is off limits. All things may be freely contemplated, employed, dismissed, etc. In conclusion, let me say that the experiment of life is to test the earth for truth. Is it possible for oxygen to disappear from our universe? All life will continue to exist as “energy is never created or destroyed.” Let us seek for that understanding, whereby we shall excell both religion and our feeble understandings of science.

  5. Dan Says:

    Thanks REI, Kathy – great examples of the post hoc fallacy that I can use in teaching critical thinking.

  6. REI Says:

    It is called Science because it can be demonstrated. You can demonstrate it too if you choose to learn it.

  7. PFC Conroy Says:

    To the guy saying Prayer healed him from serious illness in 24 hours I call bullshit. You know the rule of the internet, pics or it didn’t happen.

  8. Michael Says:

    In real science, experiments are repeatable or they’re not accepted (Do you remember the Cold Fusion results that no one could reproduce?). REI – Care to arrange a repeat of the experiment of the hornets under controlled conditions.

  9. REI Says:

    It doesn’t work that way, but I did have another hornet experience that I found interesting. I had built a special wood box for my greenhouse and then not used it. Months later I saw it and thought I might use some of the wood for another project. When I opened it I found a hornet’s nest with a number of hornets inside. They showed no interest in me and I closed the box and moved it outside where nobody would disturb them. I found another piece of wood and continued working. Several minutes later a hornet flew to where the box had been. I thought to it about where the box was now and it flew directly out of the greenhouse and directly to the box.

    I do believe that we are living in the ultimate virtual reality game. We do have unique self aware identities, but they are spiritual, not material. We are here for a purpose that is not easy to discern, and have to work it out. All the things that Jesus said are an amazing guide, as well as the works of Paul as he was led by the Comforter, the Holy Spirit.

    The reason that things can change instantly is that they are beliefs, not reality. When the belief changes, the apparent reality changes.

    Those interested in this might find this site worth reading.

    The best book ABOUT Christian Science is Spiritual Healing In A Scientific Age by Peel. Read from page 16 to the end of the chapter and then read the story beginning on page 54. To study it properly, get the Christian Science Textbook, Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy.

  10. CAKE IS A LIE Says:

    @ REI

    In that case… I BELIEVE I CAN FLY!
    *Jumps off bridge*

    Ahem. My point being, don’t you understand that the word beLIEve has the word LIE in the middle? Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Also: Pics or GTFO :)

  11. ACTUAL science fan Says:

    Christian science is a cult that is not even as old as mark twain.. the morons that follow it are empty headed nothings that deny real science, therefore their whole existence is a waste or all of our time

  12. doit2000 Says:

    Christian Scientists believe that we are living in the ultimate virtual reality game. When it was first discovered well before the computer era, it was described as the waking dream.

    They believe that we are intelligent self aware spiritual beings having a human experience.

    Since everything we experience here is solely a creation and projection of our mortal mind, a change in belief results in an instant change in the projection. Medical problems vanish instantly.

    Christian Scientists believe that there is a God who created everything, and is a spirit, and who is defined as pure unconditional Love and Intelligence.

    He sent a human into this experience, Jesus, to try to tell us how to make this experience a joy, and his message was to love our enemies, forgive 70 times 7, and overcome evil with good.

    As an electronic designer and microprocessor programmer, and a former Army Sergeant, I was a very hard science type when I encountered Christian Science.

    The healings I have experienced have convinced me that the insights described by Mary Baker Eddy in the CS Textbook Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures are correct, and are able to teach people how to heal themselves and others.

    Those who get so crazy in denouncing it seem to be acting out of fear that it might actually work, which apparently would endanger their set of beliefs and leave them vulnerable.

    It really works. Any human can do it.

  13. rationaloptimist Says:

    Dear Doit: I recently met a woman who said her parents were Christian Scientists.
    “How did that work out for them?” I asked.
    “Badly. Both died early of illnesses that routine medical treatment could easily have cured.”
    I am sincerely sorry, Doit, that you have somehow lost your rationality on this subject; I hope you never get an illness that your nonsensical beliefs cannot cure.

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