“Ms. Eddy claims “the time for thinkers has come” but if you think critically about Christian Science, or the Bible, you end up somewhere quite different than she intends. As someone shared on my FB feed this morning”
This quote, in a comment in response to a blog post, comes from a fellow ex-Christian Scientist blogger and is a variation on the theme of her own blog, a play on the famous (to Christian Scientists) quote: “‘The time for thinkers has come…’–which is great, unless you’re thinking critically about Christian Science.” (kindism.org) It got me to thinking about critical thinking and analysis of and about Christian Science.
Growing up, I really wanted to be a Christian Scientist; I was born into it, and I spent the first 40 or so years of my life trying. My parents were earnest students of Christian Science, as were both of my grandmothers. It was what I wanted to be, it was what I thought I had to be. Criticism of Christian Science was something I avoided reading. When I was confronted with criticism, it fanned the doubt that was always within me, and I didn’t like that. It challenged the comfortable cocoon of the insular world around me. Christian Science was, after all, perfect and infallible–in my cloistered little world. I avoided anything close to critical thinking when it came to Christian Science. Deep down, I think I knew it wouldn’t hold up, and that scared me.
It took a series of life-changing events to shake up my comfortable little cocoon.1 I was faced with the very undeniable evidence that Christian Science does not work as it claims to (to heal as Jesus did). It simply does not heal as Jesus apparently did. I never read of a failure on his part to heal, but I can point to many instances in my own life and of others where Christian Science failed to heal. As far as I can tell, Jesus was not afraid of those who didn’t believe, but Christian Scientists sure are. When a Christian Scientist gets sick, the cloak of secrecy is drawn around them, and often, non-believers–even if they’re close family members–are kept away for fear that their “negative” mental attitude (often referred to as ‘aggressive mental suggestion‘) will somehow impede or derail the ever so delicate ‘healing’. So fragile a house of cards Christian Science is that a mere negative thought can bring it all crashing down.
Christian Science failed my family tragically and gruesomely. When I turned away from Christian Science to seek medical treatment for a member of my family who was dying, I was excoriated by people I trusted and considered as close confidants. When a Christian Scientist or an apologist states that Christian Scientists “have a choice” when it comes to health care, that’s nice–but don’t forget to mention the massive peer pressure to conform (not go to the doctor); don’t forget the withering criticism and ostracism that will often follow a decision to forgo Christian Science treatment. That is a very real, and inconvenient (for Christian Science apologists) truth.
So, I say that if Christian Science works, why are Christian Scientists so generally resistant to any outside scrutiny of its claims of an ability to heal? Why the constant and irrational fear and secrecy when someone becomes sick? Why so incredibly defensive in the face of even the most mild criticism? Perhaps it is because deep down, Christian Scientists know it doesn’t work, that it is a house of cards ready to fall at any time at the most mere whiff of contrary thought. If you ask me, the fear Christian Scientists have of ‘aggressive mental suggestion‘ is just an excuse for the failure of Christian Science to heal. The tragic failures of Christian Science are undeniable.
I left Christian Science when I saw that it didn’t work, and that it didn’t hold up to any logical scrutiny or critical analysis. It is full of illogical contradictions, and requires nearly impossible feats of mental gymnastics to even come close to a full understanding of it. If something works, it can be proven.
“‘If Christian Science healing methods work as well as medical healing methods, one would expect to see Christian Scientists live as long as non-Christian Scientists,’ Simpson concluded. ‘However, this study has shown that this is not the case.'”2
If Christian Science truly works, that can be proven by something other than the anecdotal evidence largely offered thus far–by Christian Scientists. There can be genuine scientific proof, and it will stand up to critical analysis. So far, what little academic or critical analysis there is available on the effectiveness of Christian Science points more towards it being decidedly ineffective. As I’ve cited before, and do here again, a comparative analysis conducted by a scientist at Emporia State University in Kansas, found that graduates of Principia College (a liberal arts college for Christian Scientists) did not generally live as long as graduates from a demographically similar educational institution (University of Kansas – Lawrence)3. Admittedly, since this study was based only on publicly available information (lists of graduates of each institution and ages at death), and the study’s authors had no knowledge of the degree of Principia graduates’ adherence to Christian Science, one could easily poke a few holes in this study, and it therefore cannot be considered a truly scientific analysis. But, it does stand, at least anecdotally, as evidence of the ineffectiveness of Christian Science.
Put up or shut up, I say. Don’t run from the light of critical examination, if you’re so sure Christian Science works! If it works, there should be no fear of ANY critical or scientific examination of Christian Science. However Christian Science, or at least Christian Scientists, run from criticism and lash back at it with passive-aggressive missives, I think because thus far, Christian Science doesn’t stand up to critical or scientific analysis; rather, it dissipates in the face of it like a house of cards in a hurricane.
1 You can read all about it in my series of posts in the category “Death in my Family“.
2 Van, Jon. “Study: Christian Scientists Die Younger.” The Chicago Tribune. 24 September 1989. Web. 21 September 2013.