So I’ll just finish the dialogue here… :)

Sometimes people experience a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore, and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief. – Franz Fanon

If you go to this URL – http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/washington-states-unconscionable-unconstitutional-child-protection-law/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=washington-states-unconscionable-unconstitutional-child-protection-law&utm_reader=feedly –  you’ll find a discussion on Christian Science taking place amongst people who, though well-meaning, don’t seem to really understand Christian Science as I know it, and I’m pretty sure are no longer interested in hearing what I have to say – I don’t think any further comments by me will be allowed into the party. So I figured I’d just finish the dialogue here. 🙂

Karen says:

Thanks, windriven and weing for taking the time to check out those sites and respond.

Thirteen years ago my CS mom was diagnosed with lymphoma and given two years to live. She had some choices to make. She’d relied almost her entire adult life on Christian Science – and had experienced many healings with it (if she hadn’t had success with CS, she wouldn’t have continued with it – she would have found something that worked for her – my mom is no martyr to religion). I told her that I would support her in whatever direction she chose to go – whether medical science or Christian Science. After a lot of thought, she chose to use medical science. She went through chemo treatments, and did what the doctors prescribed for her – although she never really became part of the “cancer culture” – if you know what I mean – she didn’t buy cancer-of-the-month calendars and magazines and stuff. She had some wonderful, caring doctors and developed a great patient-doctor relationship with them. The thought, then, was that they would prolong her life, but that the cancer would win in the end. After two years there was no trace of the cancer, and now, thirteen years later, she is still alive and kicking, and the doctors call her an enigma. At least one of them gives credit to her CS way of life for her healing.

I have experienced healings of:
– a doctor-diagnosed (and photographed) melanoma on my eyelid – by the time I got to the eye surgeon two weeks later, the melanoma had completely disappeared
– a puffed-up hand – blood tests that came back a few days after the hand deflated indicated markers for rheumatoid arthritis – the doctor wanted me to see a specialist, and after I told them that I’d called a CS practitioner and my hand was completely healed and fine, they were really surprised – that was 3 years ago and there’s been no return of the condition
– the natural delivery of my son after I’d been wheeled down to the OR for an emergency caesarean section (I’d asked my mom to call a CS practitioner for support) – just as the doctors were ready to slice me open, they all got surprised looks on their faces and started yelling “Push! Push!” – when my son was born one of the nurses started crying – she said she’d never been able to see a natural delivery and it was “so beautiful.”

Do I consider these healings miracles? Nope. They are completely natural – it’s natural to be healthy. And I’ve found that when I’m able to draw close to the power of Love, of Good – to fill my thoughts up with joy and life – I experience healing. Always.

Although I have much respect for medical doctors and their dedication to their patients – I have found CS to be the best and most efficient method of healing for me, personally.

Regarding the law exempting the children of CSists from medical treatment: Honestly, I can’t say that I know where, exactly, I stand on this issue. I know CS works. I’ve proven it for myself, and, I think if we’re honest we have to acknowledge that medical science is seriously flawed. But… I think that parents need to use common sense when it comes to the care and well-being of their children.

 weing says:

@Karen,
Let me see if I understand this correctly. Your mom was diagnosed with a lymphoma that had a poor prognosis. She received standard science-based therapy and is disease free 13 years later. Great. I have no idea what “cancer culture” is.

“a doctor-diagnosed (and photographed) melanoma on my eyelid”
Melanoma is diagnosed by biopsy not photographs. You had a skin finding suspicious for melanoma that resolved. You had a swollen hand and some abnormal lab tests and now your fine. You experienced the miracle of birth. You call all this healing. I call it living. That’s fine.
___

So that’s where the dialogue left off. I just tried to respond, but it looks like my post didn’t make it onto the board, so – seeing as how I have my own blog and stuff 🙂 – I guess I’ll just finish the dialogue here:

Karen says:

Yup. And if I were a medical doctor I wouldn’t be discounting these anecdotes, ignoring them and belittling them – if I really wanted to help my patients and bring them healing – without the adverse side effects that come from pharmaceuticals and the human error of medical science – I’d be asking myself what happened there – why was that woman with terminal cancer able to survive it? Why did her daughter’s puffed-up hand deflate after only two days, and the condition not reappear in the three years since then – after a marker in the blood test indicated rheumatoid arthritis? And why did the melanoma that her optometrist spotted on her eyelid completely disappear by the time she went to an eye surgeon two weeks later?

***

One of the posters will be meeting with a senator to discuss legislation in Washington State regarding Christian Science  treatment.  I’m glad to hear he’s meeting with his legislators to discuss things that are important to him. I myself have very much enjoyed the privileges of United States citizenship – I was elected as a delegate to the state Democratic convention a couple years ago and enjoyed meeting other like-minded people. Through the years I have written letters and donated in support of financial aid for undocumented immigrants, environmental issues, Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders, the ACLU, Amnesty International, The Smile Train, and yes, universal health care – I don’t believe anyone should be denied the treatment they are told they need to survive just because they’re too poor to pay for it. I really hope the gentleman who visits with the senator today will address that, too – if he’s going to ask that people be forced to participate in the medical system, those people should also be provided with financial access to it, right? (I had a friend who was told the drugs she needed to take during her cancer remission would cost $30,000 to $40,000 a month! Holy shamoley! That’s crazy!)

***

Harriet Hall says:

@Karen
Christian Scientists believe that sickness is an illusion caused by mistaken beliefs and that the whole material world is an illusion, so why did you go to a doctor at all? Why does CS condone seeing a doctor for broken bones if they are illusory? I really can’t understand the logic and am hoping you can explain.

***

Karen says: Well, if you’re familiar with quantum physics you know that all of matter is pretty much nothing, right? And it’s been determined, in quantum physics, that our very thoughts effect our world. So really, even according to the science of quantum physics, our beliefs have power on what we experience here, don’t they?

Why do I go to a doctor at all? Well, honestly, I don’t much. I went to a doctor when I had the puffed-up hand because the people around me were really concerned by what they were seeing – there was talk of a serious infection, or an allergy – there was talk of death. And I was scared. So I went to the family physician – he normally jokes around with me when I come in – all my medical practitioners have a sense of humor, it is one of my requirements – but this time even HE wasn’t joking around. He said it looked like I either had a serious infection or rheumatoid arthritis, and he wanted to start me on drugs for both right away, and give me a blood test. I said I wasn’t interested in the drugs until I knew, for sure, what we were dealing with – but I’d have the blood test. Then I went home and called a CS practitioner – the confidence and assurance I heard in her voice was a huge help to me, mentally. The next day my hand was even more puffed-up, but by the second morning it had completely deflated. When I later called the doctor’s office for the results of the blood test, I was told there was a marker for rheumatoid arthritis and they wanted me to meet with a specialist. I told the receptionist I was completely fine now. She called a nurse to the phone. I told her my hand was completely deflated, and she was really surprised by this and told me that she guessed I didn’t need any further treatment right then, but to call if the condition returned. Which it hasn’t.

I am not conflicted about seeing a doctor when I feel the need – I don’t experience feelings of guilt  – I’m not worried about being excommunicated from any religion or anything – I am not, really, a very religious person. For me, Christian Science isn’t a religion or even an alternative health care system – it’s a way of looking at the world that’s brought a lot of good into my life. I don’t go to doctors much because I simply haven’t needed to go to doctors.

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On Consciousness: A Comparison Between Biocentrism and Christian Science

Home is the consciousness of good

 That holds us in its wide embrace;

 The steady light that comforts us

In every path our footsteps trace.

 – Rosemary Cobham, Christian Science Hymnal Supplement, #443

***

I just finished reading Robert Lanza’s book, Biocentricism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe. I found it thought-provoking and utterly fascinating. And as I was reading Lanza’s book, I couldn’t help but make comparisons between the ideas I was reading in it, to the ideas found in Christian Science.

Lanza writes: “Take the seemingly undeniable logic that your kitchen is always there, its contents assuming all their familiar forms, shapes, and colors, whether or not you are in it… But consider: the refrigerator, stove, and everything else are composed of a shimmering swarm of matter/energy. Quantum theory… tells us that not a single one of those subatomic particles actually exists in a definite place. Rather, they merely exist as a range of probabilities that are unmanifest.”

A little later, Lanza writes: “Three components are necessary for a rainbow. There must be sun, there must be raindrops, and there must be a conscious eye (or its surrogate, film) at the correct geometric location… your eyes must be located at that spot where the refracted light from the sunlit droplets converges to complete the required geometry. A person next to you will complete his or her own geometry… and will therefore see a separate rainbow… As real as the rainbow looks, it requires your presence just as much as it requires sun and rain.” In other words, the answer to the question about whether a tree falling in a forest makes a sound if there’s no one to hear it, is “no.” A falling tree may make waves and vibrations, but an ear is needed to turn those waves and vibrations into sound. Lanza writes: “… without perception, there can be no reality.”

In her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, a book published back in 1875, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Belief in a material basis… is slowly yielding to the idea of a metaphysical basis, looking away from matter to Mind as the cause of every effect.” Eddy writes: “Metaphysics resolves things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul.” And further in the book she writes: “As mortals gain more correct views of God and man, multitudinous objects of creation, which before were invisible, will become visible.”

In Biocentricism, Robert Lanza points out that the “dividing line between self and nonself is generally taken to be the skin, strongly implying that I am this body and nothing else.” But Lanza believes this is a myth. “Nothing,” he writes, “is perceived except the perceptions themselves, and nothing exists outside of consciousness.” According to Lanza then, we are directly connected to whatever we see, feel, and hear – it’s not outside our consciousness, but a part of it – and there’s no separation between what we perceive and what we are.

Mary Baker Eddy would agree that individuals are not isolated beings, separated from the rest of the universe, but she has a different take on our connectedness to each other, and to all. “When the divine precepts are understood, they unfold the foundation of fellowship, in which one mind is not at war with another, but all have one Spirit, God, one intelligent source, in accordance with the Scriptural command: ‘Let this Mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.’ Man and his Maker are correlated in divine Science, and real consciousness is cognizant only of the things of God.”

Of western religions – Christianity, Judaism, Islam – Lanza writes: “No mention is made of other states of consciousness, nor of consciousness itself… except in mystical sects…” Ahem. Well. Yeah. This is simply not true. In her textbook (published in 1875 – long before Lanza arrived on Earth) for Christian Science – a denomination that is considered “Christian” by its adherents, and which they do not consider in the least “mystical,” Mary Baker Eddy mentions “consciousness” 80 times.

But I suppose we can make a distinction between the consciousness Lanza is attempting to explain in his book, and the consciousness Eddy refers to in hers. Lanza talks about the structure of the brain, and a physical universe. Eddy speaks of a spiritual consciousness – the consciousness of Mind, God – and provides a practical use for drawing our thoughts near to that consciousness: “When we realize that Life is spirit, never in nor of matter, this understanding will expand into self-completeness, finding all in God, good, and needing no other consciousness.”

“To succeed in healing,” Eddy writes, “you must conquer your own fears as well as those of your patients, and rise into higher and holier consciousness.”

Eddy provides us with a choice. She claims we can choose which consciousness, which perception, we want to accept as real in our lives – and that choice will determine our experience here. “Dear reader, which mind-picture or externalized thought shall be real to you, – the material or the spiritual? Both you cannot have. You are bringing out your own ideal. This ideal is either temporal or eternal. Either Spirit or matter is your model… If sin, sickness, and death were understood as nothingness, they would disappear. As vapor melts before the sun, so evil would vanish before the reality of good. One must hide the other. How important, then, to choose good as the reality!”

Foreseeing the future, Eddy wrote in 1875: “The mariner will have dominion over the atmosphere and the great deep, over the fish of the sea and the fowls of the air. The astronomer will no longer look up to the stars, – he will look out from them upon the universe; and the florist will find his flower before its seed. Thus matter will finally be proved nothing more than a mortal belief, wholly inadequate to affect a man through its supposed organic action or supposed existence. Error will be no longer used in stating truth. The problem of nothingness, or ‘dust to dust,’ will be solved, and mortal mind will be without form and void, for mortality will cease when man beholds himself God’s reflection, even as man sees his reflection in a glass.”

***

…within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related, the eternal ONE. And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are shining parts, is the soul. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In Praise of Science and Technology

“Whatever furnishes the semblance of an idea governed by its Principle, furnishes food for thought. Through astronomy, natural history, chemistry, music, mathematics, thought passes naturally from effect back to cause… Academics of the right sort are requisite. Observation, study, and original thought are expansive and should promote the growth of mortal mind out of itself, out of all that is mortal.”

– from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy

 ***

My dad is 94 – he  was born in 1918. It’s mind-boggling for me to think about all that he’s witnessed and lived through in his life.  He was born near the end of World War I, and two years before women in the United States got the right to vote. He lived through The Great Depression, and served in World War II. He was around for the first radio broadcast, the first flight across the Atlantic, and the first “talking picture.” When he was born people used these things called phonographs to listen to music (I did, too), and typewriters to write stories (me, too!) – and if a writer made a mistake on a typewriter, she couldn’t just “delete” it – she had to type the whole *@#$%* page over again! (Yeah, the exclamation mark indicates some personal experience with this.) Toasters, yo-yos, television (we didn’t get our first TV until I was six or seven), color television (we didn’t get our first color TV until I was a teenager), duct tape, microwave ovens, Velcro, hula hoops, calculators, post-it notes, computers, personal computers, videos, phonographs, liquid paper, DVDs, CDs, i-pods, and our first launch into space and our landing on the moon have all come during Dad’s lifetime.  He is a piece of walking history. 🙂

In Prose Works (Miscellany, p. 345), we find an interesting dialogue about science and technology between Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science church, and an interviewer. The interviewer asks Eddy how she feels about the “pursuit of modern material inventions,” and Eddy replies: “Oh, we cannot oppose them. They all tend to newer, finer, more etherealized ways of living. They seek the finer essences. They light the way to the Church of Christ. We use them, we make them our figures of speech. They are preparing the way for us.”

Although I myself have sometimes considered Luddite membership – usually following a skirmish with my laptop’s recalcitrant hardware, or frustration over trying to figure out which icon to push on my new cellphone – this occasional desire to chuck my phone into the nearest river is not something that comes from my study of Christian Science.  It’s just me being me.

Christian Science is not at odds with science and technology.

In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “The mariner will have dominion over the atmosphere and the great deep, over the fish of the sea and the fowls of the air. The astronomer will no longer look up to the stars, – he will look out from them upon the universe; and the florist will find his flower before its seed.” Eddy published her book in 1875 – almost 100 years before man landed on the moon – yet she seemed able to foretell some of the advances in science that we have come to see. Pretty cool, ay? (Piece of trivia here: The wife and the mother of Alan Shephard, the first guy NASA shot into space, were both Christian Scientists.)

My Christian Science mom (born in 1927) is huge into quantum physics. I don’t mean that she’s formally educated in it or anything (she was a music major – my dad was the one educated in the sciences – he was a geologist) – but the concepts in quantum physics absolutely fascinate her. She’s got tons of books and videos on the subject – and gets great joy from contemplating that stuff.

Unlike my mom, there are Christian Scientists who are actual physicists – and probably some of them are fascinated by the idea that the more you study matter the more you realize how little substance there actually is to it. From what I can gather most of the material world around us is actually filled with electrical fields and there’s more “space” between atoms than there is substance. So really, even from a physically scientific standpoint, matter doesn’t exist, or it hardly exists. (Sort of puts a whole new perspective on Mary Baker Eddy’s thought that matter is illusion, doesn’t it?) 🙂

I’ve often heard people separate religion and science, and talk about the two things like they are mutually exclusive. And I would agree that some religious people do seem to see science as the enemy.  Some religious folks have even gone so far as to consciously and deliberately make a war on science – and I find this appalling. (For a really enlightening read on this subject , you might check out wikipedia’s article on The Wedge Document – “The Wedge Document outlines a public relations campaign meant to sway the opinion of the public, popular media, charitable funding agencies, and public policy makers. According to critics, the wedge document, more than any other Discovery Institute project, demonstrates the Institute’s and intelligent design’s political rather than scientific purpose.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy)

But Christian Scientists are not creationists or Intelligent Design adherents. We don’t believe the first chapters of Genesis are to be interpreted literally, and don’t believe the world was actually created in seven days and seven nights. (For more about how Christian Scientists view creation, you might want to read the chapter entitled Genesis in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.)

In the battle between religious ideology and science, Mary Baker Eddy chose science. In Prose Works, she writes: “On the startled ear of humanity rings out the iron tread of merciless invaders, putting man to the rack for his conscience, or forcing from the lips of manhood shameful confessions, – Galileo kneeling at the feet of priestcraft, and giving the lie to science.”

Mary Baker Eddy believed her discovery of Christian Science to be a scientific one, based on a provable Principle that brings healing to the world.  And, even with my own limited understanding of Christian Science, I have been able to prove – to myself – that by resting my thoughts upon this Principle (God, Love, Truth, Life), I can experience healing in a dependable and consistent way.

And I guess this brings us to medical science.

Some of the best, most honorable and intelligent people I know, are medical doctors.  They are motivated by a desire to heal the world, to use their intelligence and talents to bring wholeness and well-being to others. And I’m so glad to be able to call a number of them my “friends.”  Some of them do remarkable work for their fellow man – and it stems from their love of humanity.

But medical science is not like physics. It’s not an exact science, with dependable principles and rules. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it seems to help people, and sometimes it kills them.  Medical scientists cannot make a guarantee that their science will cure its adherents, and that it won’t harm or kill them instead.

In the interview I mentioned earlier, the reporter asks Mrs. Eddy how Christian Scientists should look on health laws of the States regarding infectious and contagious diseases. Eddy answers: “I say ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.’ …  knowing…  that the fear of catching smallpox is more dangerous than any material infection, I say: Where vaccination is compulsory, let your children be vaccinated, and see that your mind is in such a state that by your prayers vaccination will do the children no harm.” Regarding the use of drugs, Eddy says: “I was dosed with drugs until they had no effect on me. The doctors said I would live if the drugs could be made to act on me. Then homoepathy came like blessed relief to me, but I found that when I prescribed pellets without any medication they acted just the same and healed the sick.”

The drugs we see advertised on television do not seem like something any sane person would want to get tangled up with. Loss of memory, diarrhea, dry mouth, vomiting, thoughts of suicide, depression, liver damage, rashes, death – these possible side effects of drugs do not make me want to run out and get them. I know – call me loopy –  but when my health and life are on the line, I’d rather turn to the method of healing that has consistently worked for me, than some lab-tested drug  that may or may not cure me, and could possibly kill me.  Tested with the scientific method, these drugs may be – but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll work.

Medical research has shown that certain emotions – fear, anger, hate – produce chemicals that can affect your physical health:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090304091229.htm
http://psycnet.apa.org/?fa=main.doiLanding&fuseaction=showUIDAbstract&uid=2000-13324-011

– and I think this research on the mind-body connection correlates well to the teachings of Christian Science which include the belief that our state of mind determines our human experience. On the first website I listed above, the research indicates that your emotions play an even bigger role than having basic needs. If I were a medical doctor I think  this is the kind of research I’d be interested in studying further. I’d be studying to learn why a placebo is often as effective as the actual drug, and looking into the connection between a person’s thoughts and emotions and their physical health.

Is Christian Science an enemy of science? Nay, nada, nope. Is Christian Science a science? Well, I guess all I can say about that is that in my own personal experience it has provided me with reliable, consistent, dependable results time after time.