FAQ

What is Christian Science?
How many Christian Scientists are there?
What attracts people to Christian Science?
Who joins Christian Science?
What do Christian Scientists believe?
Is Christian Science based on the Bible?
What does Christian Science teach about the origin of matter and “mortal mind”?
The Christian Science Church has published over 50,000 accounts of healing. Don’t these healings prove that Christian Science is the Truth?
If a Christian Scientist spiritually treats a problem with specific Christian Science prayer and gets better, doesn’t that prove that Christian Science is the spiritually scientific system of healing that it claims to be?

What is Christian Science?
Christian Science is a religion that claims to explain the spiritual science behind Jesus’ healing methods.
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Who founded Christian Science, and when?
According to the Christian Science Church, Mary Baker Eddy “discovered” Christian Science in 1866 after a fall on the ice that her doctor expected to be fatal. She asked for her Bible and began reading about the healings that Jesus had performed – and rose from her bed on the third day, healed and free.

Mrs. Eddy (then Mrs. Patterson) spent the next three years studying the Bible, during which God supposedly revealed to her the spiritual science behind Jesus’ healing methods. In 1875 she published her revelation in a book she called Science and Health. This book became the “textbook” through which her followers both study Christian Science and interpret the Bible.
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How many Christian Scientists are there?
Membership figures are confidential, but estimates as of 2001 place the worldwide membership at well below 100,000 Christian Scientists. This is a significant drop from 1939 census figures, which reported over 250,000 members within the United States. [See Rodney Stark, “The Rise and Fall of Christian Science,” Journal of Contemporary Religion 13(2) (1998): 189-214. Although membership figures are confidential, their continuing downward trend can be assumed from the declining number of churches and practitioners listed monthly in The Christian Science Journal.]
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What attracts people to Christian Science?
Christian Science offers some enticing promises: a “reliable” and “spiritually scientific” method for healing, victory over life’s circumstances, and guaranteed salvation – backed up by seemingly endless testimonials. These blessings are promised to all who are willing to study, understand, and apply the spiritual principles presented in Science and Health.
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Who joins Christian Science?
Christian Scientists tend to be well educated, financially comfortable, friendly people. They love God and the Bible as they interpret them, and consider their religion to be a spiritually enlightened form of Christianity.
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What do Christian Scientists believe?
Christian Science teaches that God and his creation are completely spiritual and perfect. Matter does not exist; it is an illusion to be overcome by understanding its nothingness. We are subject to the laws of matter (called “mortal mind”) only to the extent that we believe they are real. As we begin to understand that matter, including our bodies, is an illusion, we become increasingly free from the consequences of living under that illusion. Our experience begins to reflect that understanding in the form of healings.

Mrs. Eddy presented Christian Science as a scientific system of healing based upon spiritual laws that God had revealed to her. She taught that these laws must be followed – without deviation – if a believer wants to practice Christian Science with consistent success. She taught that Christian Science cannot be mixed with any other doctrine or spiritual healing system, and that it is incompatible with medicine.
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Is Christian Science based on the Bible?
No. While claiming to spiritually illuminate the Bible, Christian Science actually contradicts most biblical terms. (See the “Christian Science and the Bible” section of this site.)
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What does Christian Science teach about the origin of matter and “mortal mind”?
Christian Science never really explains where the belief in matter came from or why it seems to exist – it just does (seemingly), and it must be challenged at every turn as it constantly tries to convince us that our physical senses and environment are real. Christian Science teaches that mortal mind has no power, but also teaches that it can kill us if we don’t sufficiently guard against its “seeming” reality. If good thoughts can heal, then bad thoughts can harm – either innocently because of mankind’s individual or collective belief that matter exists, or maliciously through “mental malpractice.” For example, Mrs. Eddy claimed that her third husband was mentally murdered by the negative thoughts of one of her disaffected students. An autopsy concluded that her husband had died of heart disease; Mrs. Eddy identified the cause of death as mental arsenic poisoning.
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The Christian Science Church has published over 50,000 accounts of healing. Don’t these healings prove that Christian Science is the Truth?
Not necessarily. Healings, in themselves, do not validate a doctrine. Healings have been reported in many different churches and groups, both Christian and non-Christian. If the healings validated the doctrines of all these groups, then all of these groups would represent “truth” – which is impossible since many of them espouse very different doctrines.
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If a Christian Scientist gets well after treating a problem with Christian Science prayer, doesn’t that prove that Christian Science is a spiritually scientific system of healing?
Not necessarily. Christian Scientists tend to assume that, if their condition improves while they are treating a problem with Christian Science prayer, then it has improved specifically because of the Christian Science prayer. This may be — but is frequently not — the case. Some reported Christian Science healings are quick and/or spectacular, but most of them are not. Many of the reported healings sound (to people who understand the body) like the people who were “healed” simply went through a natural healing process (see example below) . Christian Scientists tend not to recognize the difference between healings of spiritual origin and of natural origin, because most of them avoid learning about physical symptoms and how the body functions.

The healings reported by Christian Scientists generally fall into four categories: healings of spiritual origin; relief of stress-related symptoms; natural healing processes; wishful thinking.

Healings of spiritual origin: Some Christian Science healings cannot be medically explained and strongly suggest a spiritual origin. These healings do not necessarily prove the validity of Christian Science doctrine (see answer to previous question).

Relief of stress-related symptoms: In a television interview, Christian Science Board of Directors Chairman Virginia Harris told Larry King that stress accounts for 60-90% of the cases that doctors see. (“Larry King Live,” 4 May 2001) If that is true, then most of the problems that Christian Scientists attempt to heal are probably also stress related. This raises the question, “If a problem is stress related, can’t any stress-reducing technique help it get better? Is the healing of stress-related symptoms through Christian Science prayer really the result of Christian Science “Truth,” or just an indication that Christian Science prayer can be used as one of many stress-reducing techniques?”

Natural healing processes: Many reported healings look like cases where the body went through its natural healing process. Christian Scientists don’t understand this because they usually know very little about disease and about how their immune systems function. For example, in an article published in the Church’s weekly periodical, The Christian Science Sentinel, a mother describes a healing that her son experienced after his face became swollen. [“Spiritual healing – a family affair,” The Christian Science Sentinel (July 23, 2001), 6-7.] She prayed all night for him and by the next afternoon saw dramatic improvement in her son’s condition. She said, “The removal of fear had a physical effect on Marshall. He was healed.” But was this a real Christian Science healing? It sounds like the child had an allergic reaction to something. As many who have had allergic reactions know, they often get better – without Christian Science or even medical treatment – over the period of a day. But because she apparently didn’t understand how allergic reactions progress, and because she was treating her son through Christian Science, this mother assumed that her son’s improvement was the direct result of her Christian Science prayers. The Christian Science Sentinel agreed with her assessment, and the healing was presumably added to the collection of “documented” Christian Science healings.

Wishful thinking: Some of the published healings are conscious or unconscious fabrications, crafted by people either in denial or desperate for success in their religion. For example, one practitioner published a glowing testimony in The Christian Science Journal about raising four healthy children in Christian Science. The only problem with this testimony is that she had five children; one died of cancer, so she just left her out of the story. [Caroline Fraser, God’s Perfect Child: Living and Dying in the Christian Science Church (New York: Metropolitan Books, 1999), 428-9.]
Many Christian Scientists give their religion credit for “healings” that should actually be categorized as stress reduction and/or natural healing. Based on these “proofs” of Christian Science, they refuse medical treatment for more serious conditions like cancer — and end up needlessly suffering and even dying.
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