Evolve or Go Extinct

The theory of evolution states that all living things change (evolve) over time due to natural selection. Strong, adaptable, or otherwise positively attributed individuals survive to pass on their genetic strengths to succeeding generations, thus strengthening their species and increasing its chances for survival. Species that are unable to adapt to change eventually die out.

Climate change (which has been happening since the Earth’s beginnings) is probably one of the biggest natural selectors around. Many species throughout history have died out when they were unable to adapt to changing climatic conditions. Highly specialized species are especially susceptible. Recently, I visited a unique hot-spring environment in the northern part of Canada, at around 60 degrees latitude. The plant growth in this area is similar to that found hundreds of miles farther south, and within the unusually warm muskeg ponds in this environment lives a particular warm water fish that could not survive where it does if not for the warm spring water. If that water flow were to stop, this fish would instantly become extinct because it is too highly specialized and would likely not be able to adapt to the otherwise harsh northern climate. The key lesson is, evolve, adapt, or fade into the oblivion of extinction.

This is no different for human institutions such as corporations, or churches and other religious institutions. While church attendance in many countries is declining, there are some churches that thrive and grow. These are churches that, keep “abreast” of the times, as Mary Baker Eddy famously (to anyone who is or was a Christian Scientist) admonishes the publishers of the Christian Science periodicals to do. Many of these churches tailor their services to their audience–introducing modern rock or hip hop music for youth services, having more traditional services for older audiences, and introducing multi-media components to their offerings. Some churches schedule their service times and availabilities to accommodate busy family schedules.

This world we live in is in a constant and ever accelerating state of change, and institutions that do not adapt do not survive–much like specialized species which fall before climate change. Such seems to be the fate of the Christian Science Church. The Christian Science Church is literally a barely living fossil from the 19th century. It is governed by an iron-clad rulebook that has not changed since around 1910. That’s 103 years ago! It’s church services are about as exciting as watching grass grow, and there is very little wiggle room in the format. The sermon consists of usually droll readings from the Bible (King James Version, using good ol’ 17th century English), and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (a 19th century fossil). It is a great cure for insomnia. The two places where there might be some wiggle room are the solo and the prelude/postlude, although Mary Baker Eddy does strongly recommend that the postlude/prelude to the services be organ music, so most churches stick pretty hard to that. In my parents’ own branch church it caused some controversy when it was suggested that piano or recorded music be used (organists being a somewhat rare and expensive species)…yeah, talk about big issues! Eventually, circumstances forced them into recorded music. I can’t count the number of Christian Science services I’ve sat through where the person playing the organ barely knew what they were doing. It was a travesty to music. Some churches experiment a bit with the solo, but most do not. The ones that haven’t capitulated and gone with recorded solos get by with willing folks who often can barely carry a tune in a bucket. There is about as much life and excitement in a Christian Science church service as there is in a morgue.

The whole institution of the Christian Science Church in many ways is firmly planted in the 19th century, despite it’s desires and efforts to exist in the 21st century. Yes, they webcast the Mother Church Services–oh yeah, that’s an exciting webcast! Annual Meeting is now largely an on-line affair (more by financial necessity, me thinks), and the publications are available on-line. But, as an institution, and as a faith, Christian Science is stuck in another time, a time gone by. There is little to no acknowledgement of the advances of science, or medical science. Medical care is still considered within the Christian Science community to be as fraught with peril as it actually was in the 19th century. Many of the modern off-shoots of Christian Science, such as the New Thought movement, readily acknowledge the effectiveness of evidence-based scientific medical care, and no mention is made of relying exclusively on prayer for healing–it is viewed as more of an enhancement or support. Not so Christian Science. While the Mother Church may claim that Christian Scientists are free to choose their care (and in essence they are), in practice that is not so. Peer pressure is strongly against such a choice–I speak from personal knowledge and experience. Also, many Christian Science-affiliated organizations, such as Principia (School and College) and Christian Science nursing facilities will not admit or employ anybody who even so much as takes cold medicine. The same conditions are often true for branch church membership. For many Christian Scientists, involvement in, or employment with Christian Science-related institutions and branch church membership form the base and often circumference of their lives. It did for me at one time. I kept any of my own forays into the world of medical science strictly “in the closet”. So yes, you can make your own choice, but make the wrong one, and you’re usually ostracized, or worse, fired.

If Christian Science is unwilling to change and evolve with the times, it will continue to atrophy and die away…becoming like the fossils of countless species of plants and animals that didn’t adapt to changing climate or other conditions throughout the many millennia of Earth’s history: cold, hard, and lifeless. If it continues on its current trajectory, I think Christian Science will become, in probably 50 or so years, another footnote in the religious history of the United States, much the way the Shakers became. Coincidentally, I believe much of the format of Christian Science church services, and especially Wednesday testimony meetings, are based on Shaker services and meetings. I recall this from a visit to a historical museum and replica village in Massachusetts many years ago.

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6 thoughts on “Evolve or Go Extinct

  1. Nope. Mostly my life is about work, keeping my bills paid, making sure Princess Feline gets fed, spending time with friends, getting outside, and enjoying vacations to new and exotic locations I’ve never visited. I have honestly never been happier in my life than I am now, and anyone who knows me will attest to that–especially those who have known me for a long time. I have a few posts that go into my current spiritual path (“My Church” and “No Need for Collection”)–give those a read before you pass judgement.

    What you read in this blog is a very tiny slice of my life that I choose to share here. To say that this is a reflection of my life in its entirety would be like walking into a large dark room and making a judgement call on what’s in that room based on the little bits that are illuminated by the flashlight you’re carrying. This blog is about my experience in and emergence from Christian Science, and that of anyone who chooses to share their experience via a guest post. That’s all it will ever be about, and once I’ve said my peace on the subject, I’ll end it. I’ve actually considered that very thing several times already.

    Yes, this is an uncompromising critique of Christian Science, and yes, some of the emotions I express are raw–I’m being honest with my experience, and I don’t expect everyone to ‘like’ it, nor do I particularly care if anyone does or not. For the record, I’ve received a lot of positive feedback on this blog.

    I started this blog as an outlet for my emotions regarding what I’ve witnessed in my own life. Writing about it has helped me to process it, and deal with it in ways Christian Science, and its penchant for avoiding any sort of talk about problems never could. It’s not always done up in a nice pretty package with a bow on top. Many of us fight battles others are unaware of, so I’ve learned it is unwise to pass judgement too quickly on others based on a few things you see, hear, or read. I could easily pass harsh judgement on you based on your rather snippy comment here, but I won’t. My mother raised me to be better than that. I doubt, however, that others would necessarily be so kind.

    I do write about other things in other forums. I’d link to them here, but that would end my anonymity. Sorry.

  2. I love blog reply trolls, don’t you?
    So this speaker wishes to impose a silence on anyone who has something to blow off about Christian Science. Whereas I have no doubt mr. emerging gently behaves exactly as miss dawn seeker wishes, in his real life; he saves those musings and unresolved thoughts and issues for this blog, which I think is entirely appropriate. He blogs anon; he really does not want to get in anyone’s face about this.

    Miss Seeker, if you wish to troll, give my blog a try. It is far more polemic than this one, yet I too, do not carry this into any other part of my life as I have no wish to offend my friends and family. However I really, really, really! need to blow off somewhere and if an anon blog is not the place, then you need to positively name it, rather than just reject the idea of doing something like this.

    I, as you, for many years after leaving, had no ill will to CS, MBE or TMC. Not for many years, 30 maybe, when something happened that woke up my critical thinking abilities and I started applying them to Christian Science.

    As a result, I am having a field day picking her life, her problems, her book, and her church apart, and examining them for flaws inconsistencies and hypocrisy. What I found was astounding in its rigid social views, megalomania for controlling her church and followers for 100 years, just plain ornery and wrong thinking on the part of the leader, not to mention the slew of spin-offs that have developed and are making huge inroads into the everyday thinking of today. Some of this is actually good; but some of the stuff being dragged forward is actually not so good.
    There are dangers lurking for those who new age without applying logical thinking skills.

    I dare you to take me on, LOL!

    • MK–I agree with much of what you say here. I have seen, especially on the Christian Way forums, that the Christian Scientists and their apologists who make appearances tend to be snippy and defensive. That is often the way of Christian Scientists when their religion is subjected to critique. However, I would not characterize our friend “DawnSeeker” here necessarily as a troll. If I felt that this was a trollish comment, I would not have approved it for posting. Our friend here appears to be a CS apologist, nothing more. Trolls are a very special breed of internet flotsam, and our friend doesn’t sink to that level, or even try. I would enjoy seeing a defense of CS that does not involve attacks on the critic, however. I have yet to see that.

      • OK. Not a troll. She is ‘respectfully’ going to another’s blog to tell them what to do with their life – and what not to do. Just because there were no insults or unpleasant language doesn’t affect the response to her comment.

        I guess I am very allergic to rebukes from CS apologists. Even a gentle one (as most of them are) is irritating to me to the point of itch, LOL. I guess I did not realize just how sensitive I am to CS rebukes, no matter how mild it may be.

        I decided to look up troll since our definitions are so far apart. Wikipedia:
        “In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

        There is a difference of opinion about the intent; miss dawn may not have intended to cause an allergic response, but as an adult, if she does not have the insight to see what effect her comment will have on others, she is indeed insensitive.

        I had an emotional response to her reply, whether she intended it or not- and that was something like.”where does she get off going to someone else’s blog and,
        a. criticizing them, and
        b. telling them what to do. and what not to do.”

        So, in case anyone ever reads her comment, there is a third party here, pointing out the ever-so-slightly trollish direction of her response.

    • If that is your wish, consider it done. Note to readers: some comments on this post refer to the deleted comment. I have only made the requested deletion. My policy is to only delete comments that I have approved for posting at the request of the commenter.

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