In collaboration with my fellow ex-Christian Scientist blogger at Kindism, I’m posting my answers to five common questions that many of us as former Christian Scientists are asked in one form or another by those who’ve never been Christian Scientists. Often, they’re baffled as to why anyone would believe in Christian Science and never go to a doctor.
We have also posed these same questions to other ex-Christian Scientists. Their answers appear in a series of posts on The Ex-Christian Scientist*.
1. How did you get into Christian Science?
I was born into Christian Science. Both of my grandmothers, and my grandfather on my mother’s side were Christian Scientists. On my father’s side of the family, the family was introduced to Christian Science by a friend of my grandmother’s shortly after my grandfather divorced her when my father was about 12 years old. I don’t know how or when Christian Science came into my mother’s side of the family. I do know that my grandfather on my Mom’s side died of untreated diabetes in the mid 1940s. That makes me third generation on both sides. My parents were both fairly solidly ‘in’ Christian Science, although while I was growing up, I wouldn’t characterize them as overly radical, as some people are.
2. Why did you stay ‘in’ for so long?
Good question, and one I ask myself frequently. Short answer: I desperately wanted to make/see it work, and it was my comfort zone; it was what I was raised to believe was true about life, the universe and everything.
3. What made you decide to leave?
I’ve often described my loss of faith in Christian Science as a ‘death by 1,000 cuts’, but finished off with one swift and hard blow. Circumstances surrounding the deaths of my parents six years ago largely due to their refusal to seek medical care, in addition to my own lifelong doubts, all combined to push me out. While I don’t necessarily know if my parents would still be alive had they made different decisions, I have no doubt whatsoever that they would not have suffered as much as they did had they sought medical treatment. Their illnesses and deaths, and others I’ve witnessed or read about, are stark and undeniable proofs to me that Christian Science does not work, and people suffer needlessly in pursuit of ‘healings’ that never happen. I will not allow myself to suffer that fate.
4. Why would anyone join?
Honestly, I don’t know. I guess it has an appeal because it promises anything and everything, even though it delivers little or nothing. It claims to be able to heal anything, and if someone is desperate, they’ll grab at anything that looks like a lifeline. Christian Science also has a veneer of intellectualism that I think is appealing to some people as well. I remember a non-Christian Scientist friend of my Dad’s remark once that he found Christian Science to be “very intellectual,” and that was appealing to him, as he generally found little appeal in religion. Fortunately for him, it wasn’t appealing enough to make him sign up.
5. Did you really believe?
Sometimes I think I did; most of the time, deep down, I don’t think I ever really did. I remember feeling fleeting moments of “I think I finally ‘get’ this,” but they were few and far between. From my earliest memories of childhood, I questioned things about Christian Science. It never fully made sense to me, despite my best efforts and ‘mental gymnastics’. I know I was one of those kids in Sunday School that every teacher must have dreaded–the one that always has the tough questions; the one that won’t just ‘shut-up and listen’. Class Instruction in the late 1990s, when I was in my early 30s, gave me a re-boot of sorts that lasted almost a decade, but the questions never really went away; I just pushed them aside. They were inconvenient truths that I didn’t want to deal with. I guess you could more accurately say that I really wanted to believe. I also remember thinking often that if Christian Science really did heal, why weren’t Christian Science churches overflowing with people, and hospitals empty?
As I reflect on my answers to these questions, I feel inspired to answer a couple more questions:
Do you think you’d ever go back to Christian Science? If so, what would make you go back?
No, not likely. The only thing that would make me go back would be verifiable and irrefutable evidence that Christian Science does heal. Some examples that would convince me: re-growth of a limb that was amputated; a healing of cerebral palsy, paralysis, or irreversible blindness or deafness; or the regeneration of a lost organ. I’m sure there are others, but these are what come to mind for me now. Bottom line, I would need to see the independently verifiable healing of a condition that cannot be healed by any form of mainstream or alternative medicine, or the body’s natural ability to heal itself, and where Christian Science was the only healing method applied. I do not believe for one nanosecond that I will ever see the proof I would need to see in order to convince me to go back. I recently wrote a more in-depth post on this subject.
Where are you now from a religions and/or spiritual perspective?
In a sense, I consider myself ‘agnostic with spiritual tendencies’. I believe in what I call a ‘higher power’, but it’s something that’s not fully defined for me; my sense of it is that it’s a collective intelligence of which we and everything else around us are a part. I have left not only Christian Science, but Christianity and all other organized religion as well. I do not accept the biblical version of ‘God’, and I question whether or not Jesus even existed. I generally follow what most people would call Native American spirituality, and attend ceremonies regularly. I guess you could say that spiritually I’m a ‘buffet diner’–I partake of what I need and what makes logical sense to me, and leave the rest behind.
- The Ex-Christian Scientist: a series of posts where other former Christian Scientists answer these same questions*.
- Kindism: the author of Kindism answers these questions.
- Emerging Gently: the story of my parents’ deaths and my own departure from Christian Science.
- Emerging Gently: a more in-depth post about whether or not I’d ever return to Christian Science.
*In the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that the author of this blog is also an editor and writer for The Ex-Christian Scientist website.