Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Christian “Science” and the art of the con

Well, this week, the Christian Scientists here in Harrisburg mailed out fliers about how they were going to have a healing talk down at their church, by Josh Niles (a supposed veteran which make me wonder why the local VA hospital isn’t empty).   There are few things I find more disgusting than theists making baseless claims on how they can heal people when hospitals are full, especially veterans’ hospitals and children’s hospitals.  The deceit that is involved is amazing for a religion that supposedly cares about the truth.

I shot them an email and asked for evidence of this healing, and why they can’t heal anyone who actually has been hurt.   They unsurprisingly directed me to the party line, and offered no reason why they haven’t healed amputees, people with documented cancers, etc.  The claim was “Christ Jesus had a remarkable healing record and Christian Science has an excellent record too.” Directly me at this “excellent record.” I pointed out that they had no evidence, and I received this in reply “You may recall that there was a multitude of sick people at the Pool of Bethesda and only one was healed by Jesus. That man was receptive to what Jesus said to him and was obedient and was healed.   The rest were “waiting for the moving of the waters”, a material approach of hope for healing and then only for some that made it to the pool.” The problem with this is that JC only talked to one fellow at the pool, who was just like the others. Why not speak to the others and heal them? And why doesn’t JC say “hey man, illness is an illusion, and only prayer in this certain way will heal you”, like the CS leader Mary Baker Eddy?

Well, how about we look at that “excellent record”?   As a background, Christian Science, aka the Church of Christ, Scientist and The First Church of Christ, Scientist,  is a sect of Christianity invented by various people and Mary Baker Eddy is the most famous of them.  She claimed that sickness is an “illusion”, is the result of thinking “wrongly” (aka blame the victim) and can be cured by prayer alone.   They also think that only their claimed spiritual world is real and that reality, this place that we inhabit is illusion.  I do have a lovely ladle of molten steel they might take a dip in if they are sure of this.  We also have the claim that CS is getting back to the “real” Christianity, a claim that many many sects make.

Incidentally, a word to advice to Christians (and other theists) who are reading this, ready to insist that CS isn’t “really” Christianity: think about how your sect compares with this one and how all of you have no evidence for your claims.  However, I will admit that Christian Science is only slightly less silly and bizarre than Scientology in my estimation ( just read about malicious animal magnetism, which is hard to distinguish from spiritual warfare, imprecatory prayer and thetans).

What is amusing about this is that the religion doesn’t say you can’t use modern medicine, but they claim that their prayers are better than it.  So, it isnt’ surprising that these are the stereotypical Christians who praise their god when it was the hard work of medical professionals who actually helped them.   Of course, they’ve managed to also murder children and kill themselves with this ignorance.  One might counter my claim of murder with claims that these people don’t know what they are doing, however, if their religion allows going to medical professionals, then they know that they have an alternative and one that works.  Either that, or they are truly delusional (delusion: a belief that is: certainty (held with absolute conviction), incorrigibility (not changeable by compelling counterargument or proof to the contrary),impossibility or falsity of content (implausible, bizarre, or patently untrue)  and should be considered as mentally ill as the next person who has delusions.  You’ll note that the common definition of a delusion has religion or culture as an out for such beliefs, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, other than to protect the sensibilities of those particular beliefs.

So, we have a religion that claims that they can heal, much like how evangelical Christian preachers who claim they can heal, practioners of other religion and practioners of various types of spiritual or energy healing.  We also have record of MBE making claim that she was not healed in order to attempt to seek damages from the city.

In 1898, MBE made this claim “”After my discovery of Christian Science, I healed consumption in the last stages, a case which the M.D.’s, by verdict of the stethoscope and the schools, had declared incurable, because the lungs were mostly consumed. I healed malignant diphtheria and carious bones that could be dented by the finger, saving the limbs when the surgeon’s instruments were lying on the table ready for their amputation. I have healed at one visit a cancer that had eaten the flesh of the neck and exposed the jugular vein so that it stood out like a cord. I have physically restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, speech to the dumb, and have made the lame walk.” – New York Sun, December 16, 1898

That’s quite a claim.  No evidence for it at all, but quite a claim. Then we have her make this claim “Until the advancing age admits the efficacy and supremacy of Mind, it is better for Christian Scientists to leave surgery and the adjustment of broken bones and dislocations to the fingers of a surgeon, while the mental healer confines himself chiefly to mental reconstruction and to the prevention of inflammation. Christian Science is always the most skilful surgeon, but surgery is the branch of its healing which will be last acknowledged. However, it is but just to say that the author has already in her possession well-authenticated records of the cure, by herself and her students through mental surgery alone, of broken bones, dislocated joints, and spinal vertebræ” – Eddy, Science and Health.  Pretty damn convenient, isn’t it?   And so very reminiscent of a con artist’s classic claim that the “real magic” will be taught last, after they’ve squeezed the money from the mark.  She also blamed the aforementioned “malicious animal magnetism” for her healing failing, and when her healing failed to cure contagious diseases, well, it was the thing to take the vaccine and pray about later.

We also have the Canadian Journal of Medicine and Surgery (circa 1899, starting on page 236)giving many quotes from Ms. Eddy, and their considered opinion of her nonsense (not that medicine was that much more coherent at the time). “Ignorance of hygiene is a blessing.”   is only one of the choice bits of ignorance Christian Science advances.

The folks at the local CS church gave me links to their publications and claimed that this was evidence of their “excellent record” of healing.  All of the stories are anecdotes.  They “verify” these by the following : “Include names, telephone numbers, and e-mail (or post office) addresses of three people who would be willing to verify your testimony. Verifiers should be people who know you well and have either witnessed the healing or can vouch for your integrity in sharing it.”

Hmmm, almost as good as what the Catholic Church does.  Now, I wonder, do Catholics and Christian Scientists agree that each other’s healings have happened or do they question them for the same reasons that I do: that there is no evidence at all for them?  One can see the testimonials at the CS website and in the Science and Health book by Eddy. It is most curious that no one is identifiable and that no evidence is given to corroborate such miraculous claims. Now, compare this to the claims of healing by a certain Indian fellow, Mohan Joshi.  Update: I do have a name, Margaret McCain La Grange, and that hallelujah, a “black spot” was miraculously removed.  Pish and tosh about the people who have had limbs blown off by IEDs, when Ms La Grange had a “spot” removed.

The CS did claim to have done an “empirical” study on their healing methods and released this paper: “An Empirical Analysis of Medical Evidence in Christian Science Testimonies of Healing, 1969-1988”  Unsurprisingly, the research was at best….questionable. There are no medical records offered as evidence and claims of medical follow up to confirm the healings are no where to be found. In addition to this, there was no data on how many healings failed to compare with the claims of success.  This, as my alert readers know, is simply confirmation bias written as a paper.  This review of the paper underlines this quite well.   One example is that the CS claimed 5 healings of pneumonia over the period of  20 years.  There is no information on how many healings failed, which would at least give a total population that was supposedly treated by the CS method.   Considering that UNICEF has that 920,000 children died from pneumonia in 2015, one can be relatively comfortable that quite a few more died in that 20 years before better treatments.  And we have 5 supposedly healed out of what a generous guess would be 18.4 million?  And still no evidence that it even occurred.  The report also points out that they mentioned no successes in known fatal diseases and plenty of dead children to show that the healing fails. ( it is no small irony that MBE died of pneumonia herself)

These believers are at best simply willfully ignorant and selfish, at worst con artists who make their money making false claims and getting people dead.  That nice lady at the Christian Science Reading Room is pedaling trash.

Addendum:

I asked my correspondent at the local CS church this in response to his claim here “Perhaps you or a loved one is seeking healing.   You may be interested to know that Christian Science healing is written down in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy and is available in bookstores and online, and will be available at the lecture along with the Bible.”:

Now, I have no one who needs healing, but I will ask you this: heal Charlie Gard, the dying child in England. I will hope that I am greeted by the wonderful news that he is happy and healthy and his parents are not grieving. I’m not paying you money to do so, but if you are decent human being, you’ll do this anyway.

Here’s betting a thousand quatloos that nothing will come of this.

Addendum: 7/27/2017  This was the pathetic response from my CS correspondent to my above request ““Wow.Best wishes for peace, harmony, and happiness. C Palenz”

What a complete failure.

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10 responses to “Not So Polite Dinner Conversation – Christian “Science” and the art of the con

  1. “By an act of will we can alter facts!”

    This belief seems to be the unspoken rallying cry not just of religious wingnuts but a growing sentiment throughout the Left about all kinds of issues.

    It is worrisome.

  2. Why wasn’t Mary Baker able to will herself to lengthen her stay here on earth? It should be easy, right?
    That Jesus, who Christians claim is god, could only heal one person when he didn’t require any material resources but words points to a failure in proportions that I don’t want to imagine.

    • Because people aren’t putting the crucifix in the right orifice. Don’t you know how Christian Science works? You have to turn the crucifix upside down and then push it up your nostril. Then you have to keep pushing, and pushing. If you push hard enough, at one point you’ll stop feeling pain.

      • heh. I will have to admit, when I saw crucifix and orifice, I had a hell of a flashback to when I read The Exorcist. Yuck. 🙂

        These people do act as if they’ve had lobotomies. This is the answer to my poor little CS when he couldn’t provide any evidence or heal that child in England: “Wow.

        Best wishes for peace, harmony, and happiness.

        C Palenz”

        Quite pathetic.

  3. more claims and of course no evidence offered by my corrrespondent: “When one of our sons was fourteen, he saw how realizing what God would not say to His child can lead to healing. He was high jumping and fell, with obvious evidence of a broken arm. A coach ran out to attend to him and told my son to stay still while he got a vehicle to transport him.

    As our son lay on the ground, he closed his eyes and turned to God in prayer. He said his prayer began something like this: “God, what am I supposed to think?” The message immediately came: “You know I didn’t do that.”

    To our son, that was a response to his prayer. So he reasoned, “If God wouldn’t say I am hurt, nor cause such a thing, what would He say?” The answer came that he couldn’t ever be separated from the spiritual perfection God made him to reflect.

    The next day, a surgeon’s X-ray showed that while two bones in our son’s arm had been severely broken in several places, all the fractures had been perfectly set and were rapidly healing. No surgery was required. The surgeon remarked that he didn’t know anyone who could have set all the fragments like that.” https://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/1uexsnecxm0?s=e

    hmmm, what hospital? What’s the surgeon’s name? Where are the xrays?

    It’s a shame that people are so very very gullible and who have no problem lying to others.

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