Christian Science
Christian Science is a system of thought and practice derived from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy
Mary Baker Eddy was the founder of Christian Science , a Protestant American system of religious thought and practice religion adopted by the Church of Christ, Scientist, and others...

 and the Bible. It is practiced by members of The First Church of Christ, Scientist
Church of Christ, Scientist
The Church of Christ, Scientist was founded in 1879 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, by Mary Baker Eddy. She was the author of the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Christian Science teaches that the "allness" of God denies the reality of sin, sickness, death, and the material world...

 as well as some others who are nonmembers. Its central texts are the Bible and the Christian Science textbook, Science & Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. In the textbook, Eddy describes the teachings and healings of Jesus as a complete and coherent science which is both demonstrable and provable through healing. Eddy spent the two years prior to the publication of Science & Health documenting evidence for the healing of various diseases and other physical ailments. In the chapter "Fruitage," accounts of healing verified as accomplished mainly by reading Science and Health are given, and the chapter was appended to a much later edition than the original. Christian Science asserts that man and the universe as a whole are spiritual
Spirituality can refer to an ultimate or an alleged immaterial reality; an inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being; or the “deepest values and meanings by which people live.” Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop...

 rather than material
Material is anything made of matter, constituted of one or more substances. Wood, cement, hydrogen, air and water are all examples of materials. Sometimes the term "material" is used more narrowly to refer to substances or components with certain physical properties that are used as inputs to...

 in nature and that truth and good are real, whereas evil and error are illusory aspects of material existence. Christian Scientists believe that through prayer, knowing and understanding, all things are possible for good through God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....


Mary Baker Eddy wrote that she learned the Christian Science method of healing as she recovered from an injury in 1866 after reading a Bible passage describing one of Christ's healings. She believed that Jesus Christ's way of healing is available to all people, now as much as in biblical times. After this recovery, she studied the Bible for many years and documented her understandings in the Christian Science textbook entitled Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, copyrighted in 1875 and still in print today. The Bible and Science and Health are the foundation for Christian Science beliefs. "She concluded that Jesus was the practical demonstration of the spiritual power, a master healer who saved humans from sin, sickness, and death. His miracles were 'natural demonstrations of divine power,' a force available to any one with correct knowledge."

Beliefs and practices

At the core of Christian Science is the claim that God and God's creation are entirely good and spiritual, and that God has made all things in his likeness. Christian Scientists literally interpret the Biblical teaching that God is both good and almighty, and follow this to what they believe is a logical conclusion; that any form of evil is God's opposite and so must necessarily be unreal. Hence sin, disease and death are illusions, which when seen through, can be overcome. Christian Scientists hold that the reality of being and of all that God makes is spiritual, not material. They see this spiritual reality
In philosophy, reality is the state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible...

 as the only reality and all else as illusion
An illusion is a distortion of the senses, revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. While illusions distort reality, they are generally shared by most people....

 or "error." Christian Science acknowledges that all people seem to be experiencing a material existence, but holds that this material existence ultimately yields to a true, spiritual understanding of God and creation. They believe that this recognition of spiritual reality is how healing through prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

 is possible.

Prayer, from the Christian Science perspective, does not ask God to intervene but is rather a process of learning more of God's spiritual reality—"awakening mortal
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

 thought," by degrees, to spiritual truth
Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...

. Christian Scientists show the effect of this spiritualization of thought in healing—physical, emotional, and otherwise. Health care
Health care
Health care is the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, illness, injury, and other physical and mental impairments in humans. Health care is delivered by practitioners in medicine, chiropractic, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, allied health, and other care providers...

 of those for whom Christian Science is the preferred mode of treatment is typically not attempted through drug
A drug, broadly speaking, is any substance that, when absorbed into the body of a living organism, alters normal bodily function. There is no single, precise definition, as there are different meanings in drug control law, government regulations, medicine, and colloquial usage.In pharmacology, a...

s, surgery
Surgery is an ancient medical specialty that uses operative manual and instrumental techniques on a patient to investigate and/or treat a pathological condition such as disease or injury, or to help improve bodily function or appearance.An act of performing surgery may be called a surgical...

, or other conventional methods but through Christian Science treatment, a specific form of prayer intended to spiritualize thought.

While there is no formal
A formality is an established procedure or set of specific behaviors and utterances, conceptually similar to a ritual although typically secular and less involved...

 compulsion on Christian Scientists either to use Christian Science healing or to eschew medical means, Christian Scientists avoid using the two systems simultaneously in the belief that they tend to counteract or contradict each other, as material medicine and Christian Science treatment proceed from diametrically opposite assumptions. According to Christian Scientists, medicine asserts that something is physically broken and needs to be fixed, while Christian Science asserts that the spiritual reality is harmonious and perfect and that any belief to the contrary needs to be corrected.

Mary Baker Eddy defined Christian Science in these terms: "...the law of God, the law of good, interpreting and demonstrating the divine Principle and rule of universal harmony." She saw it as "...the natural law of harmony which overcomes discord."
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, also holds that Christian Science is the Divine Comforter
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

 mentioned in the gospel of John.


Christian Science addresses the theological problem of evil
Problem of evil
In the philosophy of religion, the problem of evil is the question of how to explain evil if there exists a deity that is omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient . Some philosophers have claimed that the existences of such a god and of evil are logically incompatible or unlikely...

 by teaching that evil is unreal and an illusion. Neither Genesis, nor the rest of the canon ever mention Adam as having awakened. This awakening is considered to be the "Christian Science revolution in thought". Christian Scientists believe that if the belief in evil is replaced by the understanding of the true universality of good, one's perception will also change, rendering the question "where did evil originate?" meaningless.

Christian Science differs from conventional Abrahamic theology
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

 as it regards God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 as both Father and Mother. This does not refer to any anthropomorphic characteristics, but to a concept of God that has qualities traditionally considered feminine (gentleness, compassion, nurturing and so on) and qualities traditionally considered masculine (strength, support, protection etc.). According to Christian Science, every person in their true spiritual selfhood as created in God's image or as God's reflection, embodies these qualities as well.

While some Christian Science teachings are unorthodox from the point of view of conventional Christian theology (as in the rejection of substitutionary atonement
Substitutionary atonement
Technically speaking, substitutionary atonement is the name given to a number of Christian models of the atonement that all regard Jesus as dying as a substitute for others, "instead of" them...

 and of Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...

 as a place of eternal punishment), others are orthodox (acceptance of the Virgin Birth
Virgin Birth
The virgin birth of Jesus is a tenet of Christianity and Islam which holds that Mary miraculously conceived Jesus while remaining a virgin. The term "virgin birth" is commonly used, rather than "virgin conception", due to the tradition that Joseph "knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn...

, the Resurrection
Resurrection refers to the literal coming back to life of the biologically dead. It is used both with respect to particular individuals or the belief in a General Resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. The General Resurrection is featured prominently in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim...

 of Jesus). Christian Science is presented as a resurgence of primitive Christianity as a demonstrable scientific system.

Another way to illustrate the foundations of the theology of Christian Science is to consider the problems involved in the philosophy of dualism. Many belief systems posit a "god versus something else" or "spirit versus matter". Mary Baker Eddy in a sense followed the reductionism of her time, but instead of reducing all things to the material, she reduced all things to the spiritual.

Christ and the Trinity

Christian Science distinguishes between "Jesus" the man, and "Christ" the divine manifestation. In considering the question of the relationship between divinity and humanity in reference to Christ Jesus, it is important to consider the Christian Science definition of God as "The great I AM." "As a drop of water is one with the ocean, a ray of light one with the sun, even so God and man, Father and son, are one in being."

In Christian Science, Christ is the "divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error." Christ is completely divine and spiritual, but not material. Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

, the son of God, therefore embodied Christ to such a degree that he, and he alone, can carry the title Christ. As a corporeal being, however, he was not the totality of Christ. Christian Scientists argue that Jesus never claimed to be God and that he implicitly denied it in .

Mary Baker Eddy claims that her teaching reconciles Judaism and Christianity: ", Jew and Christian can unite in doctrine and denomination on the very basis of Jesus' words and works. The Jew believes that the Messiah or Christ has not yet come; the Christian believes that Christ is God. Here Christian Science intervenes, explains these doctrinal points, cancels the disagreement, and settles the question. Christ, as the true spiritual idea, is the ideal of God now and forever, here and everywhere. The Jew who believes in the First Commandment is a monotheist; he has one omnipresent God. Thus the Jew unites with the Christian's doctrine that God is come and is present now and forever. The Christian who believes in the First Commandment is a monotheist. Thus he virtually unites with the Jew's belief in one God, and recognizes that Jesus Christ is not God, as Jesus himself declared, but is the Son of God."

Mary Baker Eddy writes, "Throughout all generations both before and after the Christian era, the Christ, as the spiritual idea – the reflection of God – has come with some measure of power and grace to all prepared to receive Christ, Truth", and even today, the Christ continues to come to people, giving them a greater understanding of their wholly spiritual identity through healing and the destruction of sin.

The Trinity in Christian Science is found in the unity of God, Christ, and divine Science, or: "God the Father-Mother; Christ the spiritual idea of sonship; divine Science or the Holy Comforter." This differs from the traditional Christian view defined in the Athanasian Creed
Athanasian Creed
The Athanasian Creed is a Christian statement of belief, focusing on Trinitarian doctrine and Christology. The Latin name of the creed, Quicumque vult, is taken from the opening words, "Whosoever wishes." The Athanasian Creed has been used by Christian churches since the sixth century...


The Hereafter

There is no concept of eternal punishment in Christian Science: hell and heaven are both states of thought. Death is not necessary for the experience of heaven: heaven or harmony can be experienced here and now to the extent that one's thought is elevated to a spiritual level. Indeed, Christian Science teaches that death itself is an illusion, and that it can, and will, be ultimately conquered through the conquest of sin, as taught by Christ Jesus and exemplified in his life. A person who seems to die does not "go" anywhere: he/she simply adjusts to another level of consciousness which is inaccessible to those they have left behind. Mary Baker Eddy states "Heaven represents harmony, and divine Science interprets the Principle of heavenly harmony. The great miracle, to human sense, is divine Love, and the grand necessity of existence is to gain the true idea of what constitutes the kingdom of heaven in man."

Near death experiences are accepted by Christian Scientists as evidence of the hereafter, and have been known to them at least since the 19th Century. The modern public interest in near death experiences really only started with Raymond Moody
Raymond Moody
Raymond Moody is a psychologist and medical doctor. He is most famous as an author of books about life after death and near-death experiences , a term that he coined in 1975. His best-selling title is Life After Life.-Life:...

's 1975 book Life After Life
Life After Life
Life After Life is a 1975 book written by psychiatrist Raymond Moody. It is a report on a qualitative study in which Moody interviewed 150 people who had undergone near-death experiences . The book presents the author's composite account of what it is like to die...

. Mary Baker Eddy writes that persons in the process of passing on may see and call the names of those who have passed before them. However, Christian Scientists do not believe that it is possible to communicate with so-called "spirits of the dead", and so do not believe in, or participate in Spiritualistic seances.


Christian Science teaches that prayer is a spiritualization of thought or an understanding of God and the nature of the underlying spiritual creation. The world as it appears to the senses is regarded as a distorted version of the world of spiritual ideas: the latter is the only true reality. Prayer can heal the distortion, bringing spiritual reality (the Kingdom of Heaven
Kingdom of God
The Kingdom of God or Kingdom of Heaven is a foundational concept in the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.The term "Kingdom of God" is found in all four canonical gospels and in the Pauline epistles...

 in biblical terms) into clearer focus in the human scene—not changing the spiritual creation but giving a clearer view of it. (An analogy would be adjusting the lens of a telescope or microscope until a clear image appears.) The result is healing. According to Christian Science there are not two creations, a spiritual one and a material one, but only a spiritual creation which is incorrectly perceived as material.

In the Old Testament, Christian Scientists point to the healing of a skin disease from which Naaman suffered, by the revelation of a propensity to anger on his part, and the development of humility instead ; and to the insistence of the mother of the child healed by Elisha that, contrary to appearances, her child was well when it seemed to be dead .

Christian Scientists believe that in the New Testament, Jesus is implying the existence of an underlying spiritual harmony that can be demonstrated through faith in its existence. They look to where Jesus calmed a storm through prayer and implied that his disciples could have done so also if they had sufficient faith, to where Jesus stated that a young girl who had apparently died could be well again if faith was shown, and to where he teaches that everything is possible through the prayer of one who believes.

Christian Scientists believe that prayer works through love
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. Love is central to many religions, as in the Christian phrase, "God is love" or Agape in the Canonical gospels...

 – in its Christian sense of unselfish, unlimited and unconditional awareness of the spiritual identity of another – and that this is the way Jesus Christ healed. Their aim is "to reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing" which, they believe, was lost after the early centuries of Christianity. They cite such Bible texts as ; in support of their contention that Christian faith demands demonstration in healing. This is a faith in the omnipotence of God, which according to the Christian Science interpretation of the Bible such as , logically rules out any other power. The Christian Science view, citing ; , is that Jesus taught that we should claim good as being present, right here and now, and that this will result in healing. Christian Scientists point to Jesus' teaching in that his followers would do "greater works" than he did and that a person who lived in conformity with his teachings would not be subject even to death, in .

An important point in Christian Science is that effectual prayer and the moral regeneration of one's life go hand-in-hand: that "signs and wonders are wrought in the metaphysical healing of physical disease; but these signs are only to demonstrate its divine origin, to attest the reality of the higher mission of the Christ-power to take away the sins of the world." Christian Science teaches that disease is mental, a mortal fear, a mistaken belief or conviction of the necessity and power of ill-health – an ignorance of God's power and goodness. The chapter on "Prayer" in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, gives a full account of healing through prayer, while the testimonies at the end of the book are written by people who believe they have been healed through spiritual understanding gained from reading the book. Christian Scientists claim no monopoly on the application of God's healing power through prayer, and welcome it wherever it occurs.

Christian Science does not teach that one needs to pray through Jesus Christ as a sole mediator. Christian Science holds the belief that Jesus of Nazareth was not God, but the Son of God. Therefore, the position held by literalists that one must pray through Jesus alone was not held by Mary Baker Eddy.


The basis of Christian Science healing is the view that "man" (the male/female spiritual being who appears as an individual human being) is the reflection or expression of God who is wholly good and perfect, and therefore man is perfect. Christian Scientists believe that God loves every individual, because God is the creator of all.

Christian Scientists believe that sickness is the result of fear
Fear is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger...

, ignorance
Ignorance is a state of being uninformed . The word ignorant is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware and is often used as an insult...

, or sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

, and that when the erroneous belief is corrected, the sickness will disappear. They state that the way to eliminate the false beliefs is to replace them with true understanding of God's goodness. They consider that suffering can occur only when one believes (consciously or unconsciously) in the supposed reality of a problem. If one changes one's understanding, the belief is revealed as false, and the acknowledgement that the sickness has no power, as God is the only power, eliminates the sickness.

Christian Science makes an important distinction between the healing of sin (or moral evil) on the one hand, and the healing of sickness or disease on the other. Mary Baker Eddy writes: "The only difference between the healing of sin and the healing of sickness is, that sin must be uncovered before it can be destroyed, and the moral sense be aroused to reject the sense of error; while sickness must be covered with the veil of harmony, and the consciousness be allowed to rejoice in the sense that it has nothing to mourn over, but something to forget."


Although it is not required, many Christian Scientists use their healing system as their first choice for treatment over drugs and surgery. They believe in following what they believe to be the example of Jesus, bringing the real or ideal man more clearly into thought. Christian Scientists believe that Jesus was "the Wayshower", a proof by example of the divine method of healing sin, sickness and death. According to the Christian Science belief, there are no limits to the type of medical conditions that can be healed through prayer.

The Christian Science Church does not forbid the use of medicine by its members. An exception is the case of Christian Science Centers which may require certain employees to sign a statement of principles. Though Christian Scientists respect the work of medical practitioners, most of them prefer to use prayer and to rely on God. Christian Scientists who choose to rely on medical treatment for a specific problem normally give up Christian Science treatment for the period of treatment. This is because one treatment approaches healing from a material and the other from a spiritual perspective. Because the method of prayer includes denying the reality of matter and affirming the perfection of the individual – while medicine is used to fix matter and a person with a problem – these two means are seen as incompatible and indeed as tending to work against each other when used simultaneously. Most Christian Scientists are practical when it comes to using material aids such as vision correction, splints for broken bones, and dental services, and will use what seems appropriate at the time. However, numerous claims of healings of near- and far-sightedness, dental problems and broken bones have been reported in the periodicals published by the Church.

Mary Baker Eddy's views on this subject are as follows: "If Christian Scientists ever fail to receive aid from other Scientists – their brethren upon whom they may call – God will still guide them into the right use of temporary and eternal means." She also stated, "It is impossible to gain control over the body in any other way [divine Mind-Prayer]. On this fundamental point, timid conservatism is absolutely inadmissible. Only through radical reliance on Truth can scientific healing power be realized".


Christian Science might be considered as a form of theistic monistic idealism
In philosophy, idealism is the family of views which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing...

: there is but one substance
Substance theory
Substance theory, or substance attribute theory, is an ontological theory about objecthood, positing that a substance is distinct from its properties. A thing-in-itself is a property-bearer that must be distinguished from the properties it bears....

 which is God, Mind in whom all are embraced. The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy cites Christian Science as an extreme form of philosophical idealism.

Christian Science teaches the unreality of matter
Matter is a general term for the substance of which all physical objects consist. Typically, matter includes atoms and other particles which have mass. A common way of defining matter is as anything that has mass and occupies volume...

. Indeed, the central thesis of Christian Science is found in a short but tightly reasoned paragraph which begins: "There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter . . . [and it concludes]: Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual". The paragraph is read each Sunday at the close of worship. According to Christian Science, what is called the material world is a distortion of the underlying spiritual reality or divine idea, a distortion which can be dispelled through prayer and recognition of matter's unreality. Immortality
Immortality is the ability to live forever. It is unknown whether human physical immortality is an achievable condition. Biological forms have inherent limitations which may or may not be able to be overcome through medical interventions or engineering...

 is possible and indeed inevitable. The reality of each person is believed to be a spiritual idea only and not born of the flesh
In vertebrate animals, flesh is the colloquial for biological tissue which consists of skeletal muscles and fat as opposed to bones, viscera and integuments. Flesh may be used as food, in which case it is called meat....

. Therefore, sin, disease and death are illusions, as the material body is an illusion. Christian Science believes that Jesus overcame death as the ultimate demonstration of spiritual reality.


Christian Science teaches that the spiritualization of consciousness should have a practical effect on physicality, as well as on moral regeneration
Regeneration (theology)
Regeneration, while sometimes perceived to be a step in the Ordo salutis , is generally understood in Christian theology to be the objective work of God in a believer's life. Spiritually, it means that God brings Christians to new life from a previous state of subjection to the decay of death...

. This teaching was articulated by Mary Baker Eddy who rejected the "coldness" of traditional philosophy and emphasized the importance of spiritual love as well as abstract thought and the integration of thought and feeling. She taught that it is not enough to think true thoughts: our consciousness must be imbued with the love which is God, and furthermore, that love must be lived as well as felt. She referred to the futility of mere intellectualism, stating: "If we would open prison doors for the sick, we must first learn to bind up the broken-hearted. If we would heal by the Spirit, we must not hide the talent of spiritual healing under the napkin of its form, nor bury the morale of Christian Science in the grave-clothes of its letter. The tender word and Christian encouragement of an invalid, pitiful patience with his fears and the removal of them, are better than hecatombs of gushing theories, stereotyped borrowed speeches, and the doling of arguments, which are but so many parodies on legitimate Christian Science, aflame with divine Love".

Christian Scientists believe that people should love in a spiritual or Christian sense, in other words show agape
Agape is one of the Greek words translated into English as love, one which became particularly appropriated in Christian theology as the love of God or Christ for mankind. In the New Testament, it refers to the fatherly love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God; the term...

 love to others (as distinct from physical or material love). Loving, in Christian Science is seeing, understanding, witnessing to or upholding, and accepting as valid only the spiritual identity of each individual as God's likeness, expression, or idea. This spiritual identity consists of an individual's own particular reflection of the qualities or attributes of their Maker/Creator/God, such as love, purity, innocence, spiritual understanding, etc. In Christian Science terms, these are the real qualities that constitute our true spiritual being, eternally known to God and maintained by God regardless of what the finite material senses testify to. These qualities cannot be perceived materially but only through spiritual sense, which Mary Baker Eddy defines as "a conscious, constant capacity to understand God". This is an understanding of what God is and what humanity's relationship to God is.


The Christian Science position on the nature of evil may be stated as follows: "Evil is a negation, because it is the absence of truth. It is nothing, because it is the absence of something. It is unreal, because it presupposes the absence of God, the omnipotent and omnipresent. Every mortal must learn that there is neither power nor reality in evil". This statement should not be taken as meaning that Christian Scientists ignore the belief of evil and its effects, but they do not see evil as either an aspect of God, or as a real power separate from God. Evil is not fundamentally "real" because it is not part of God's being or his creation. But it may appear to be real as a mistaken concept of God and man, and consequently must be "seen through" rather than ignored. Christian Scientists believe God and his creation to be wholly and only good.

To answer the question whether God punishes evil-doers, Christian Science teaches that any thought or action contrary to a person's God-given goodness results in some kind of suffering, just as the misunderstanding of a mathematical principle results in incorrect answers. The principles of mathematics do not cause the mistakes; rather, the mistakes are the result of a misconception of the principle. From God's perspective, evil does not exist because he/she has created all and it is good.


The claim of Christian Science to be scientific is based on induction (rather than, for example, on being able to produce falsifiable theories). Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "Christian Science must be accepted at this point by induction. We admit the whole, because a part is proved and that part illustrates and proves the entire Principle." (Science and Health, p. 461).

Because they are not biblical literalists, and because they regard the material world as fundamentally unreal, Christian Scientists have no intellectual problem with the theories of contemporary geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

, cosmology
Physical cosmology
Physical cosmology, as a branch of astronomy, is the study of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe and is concerned with fundamental questions about its formation and evolution. For most of human history, it was a branch of metaphysics and religion...

, or biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

--for example in regard to the origin of mankind, the literal occurrence or non-occurrence of a worldwide flood, or indeed the age of the earth itself. (However, they sometimes object to detailed descriptions of disease, as tending to reinforce the symptoms described in the consciousness of the viewer or listener, with the consequent danger of externalizing these mental images on the body as physical symptoms.) Christian Science periodicals occasionally cite developments in cosmology and physics as indicating how contemporary science is coming to an understanding of the illusory nature of time and materiality.

Christian Scientists are not creationists. They regard the story of the creation in the Book of Genesis as having symbolic rather than literal meaning. However, Mary Baker Eddy also believed that the theory of evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 wrongly portrayed man as mortal rather than spiritual: "Theorizing about man's development from mushrooms to monkeys and from monkeys into men amounts to nothing in the right direction and very much in the wrong." Thus, from the Christian Science point of view, both creationism
Creationism is the religious beliefthat humanity, life, the Earth, and the universe are the creation of a supernatural being, most often referring to the Abrahamic god. As science developed from the 18th century onwards, various views developed which aimed to reconcile science with the Genesis...

 and evolution are false as they both proceed from a belief in the reality of a material universe. However, Christian Scientists do not oppose the teaching of evolution in schools, nor do they demand that alternative accounts be taught: they believe that both material science and literalist theology are concerned with the illusory and mortal rather than the real and immortal. In fact, where it came to material theories of creation, Mary Baker Eddy herself showed a preference for Darwin's Theory of Evolution over others.
Likewise, Christian Scientists, as part of their endeavor to follow more spiritual lives in an apparently less-than-perfect world, do not abandon normal physical needs such as eating or being properly clothed.

Church of Christ, Scientist

Students of Christian Science are usually, though not always or necessarily, members of The First Church of Christ, Scientist (also called The Mother Church) in Boston, Massachusetts.

"On April 12, 1879, it was voted at a Christian Scientist Association to organize a church to commemorate the words and works of our Master, a Mind-healing church, without a creed, to be called the Church of Christ, Scientist, the first such church ever organized." At this meeting, "on motion of Mrs. Eddy, it was voted,--To organize a church designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing." "The charter for this church was obtained in June, 1879."

There are also Christian Science "branch churches." Each Sunday, church members hold services where citations from the Bible and the Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures are read by lay members of the church. These Readers are voted into office by the members of the church for a limited period of time (usually for three years). Churches will most often hold mid-week public Testimony Meetings, a time in which anyone can testify to what they believe to be the healing power of the Christ in their lives.

Christian Science churches maintain Reading Rooms in most major cities in the world, in which Mary Baker Eddy's writings can be read, borrowed or purchased, together with the Bible, related concordances and commentaries etc. Many Reading Rooms also have bound volumes that contain articles on Christian Science and accounts of healing spanning more than 125 years. The Christian Science church publishes a weekly periodical called the Christian Science Sentinel, a monthly publication called the Christian Science Journal, and the international, award-winning news web site, formerly a newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor.

Some Christian Scientists, after having had class instruction on how to heal effectively, become what are called Christian Science Practitioners. These are people who, after years of healing, go into the public practice of healing. Practitioners devote all of their time to healing and charge for their services. However, except under very special circumstances, they may not take legal action against patients for non-payment of fees. As with other health professionals, they are obliged to keep their patients' confidences and are instructed to make concessions in the case of indigent patients. It should be noted that there is no physical manipulation, or laying on of hands in a Christian Science healing treatment.

Other intra-church organizations

The Christian Science Joint Broadcast Committee formed in 1998 with the support of the branch churches in Phoenix, Arizona. Operations of telephone, internet and broadcast activities across Arizona have expanded ever since that time. Tucson, Prescott, Window Rock, and Phoenix have local access to national programming broadcast by the Christian Science Publishing Society
Christian Science Publishing Society
The Christian Science Publishing Society was established in 1898 by Mary Baker Eddy and is the publishing arm of The First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, Massachusetts. It is located, along with the Mary Baker Eddy Library, in the Publishing Society building at the Christian Science...


Other groups

Throughout the history of Christian Science there have been a small number of dissenting people that are unacknowledged by the Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 organization. Such dissenters often point to certain "estoppel" clauses of the last Church Manual issued by Mary Baker Eddy before her death which, had they been interpreted literally, would have led to a radical decentralization of the Christian Science Church. The issue has involved the Church in repeated litigation brought by dissenters, most prominently between 1919–22, when a group of Trustees of the Christian Science Publishing Society filed a suit against the Christian Science Board of Directors. The current controversies that exist within the Christian Science Church include the format of the weekly Bible Lessons and a debate as to whether, or to what extent, the use of the King James Version of the Bible should be replaced by that of more modern translations.

Social views

Christian Scientists generally defend the separation of church and state
Separation of church and state
The concept of the separation of church and state refers to the distance in the relationship between organized religion and the nation state....

 as affording a protection for civil freedom and religion. However, Mary Baker Eddy insisted on obedience by Christian Scientists to state laws in regard to health care. Progressive for her time, she was in favor of women's rights, and rejected the "corporeal punishment" of children. While she generally steered clear of politics per se, she stated her support of the Monroe Doctrine
Monroe Doctrine
The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to colonize land or interfere with states in North or South America would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention...

 as well as her opposition to imperialism and economic monopoly. The Christian Science Monitor
The Christian Science Monitor
The Christian Science Monitor is an international newspaper published daily online, Monday to Friday, and weekly in print. It was started in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist. As of 2009, the print circulation was 67,703.The CSM is a newspaper that covers...

, which she founded, has traditionally been a staunch defender of civil liberties
Civil liberties
Civil liberties are rights and freedoms that provide an individual specific rights such as the freedom from slavery and forced labour, freedom from torture and death, the right to liberty and security, right to a fair trial, the right to defend one's self, the right to own and bear arms, the right...

 and individual freedom; nonetheless, it also supported the prohibition of alcohol.

There are no specific references to homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

 in the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. Her writings prescribe the living of a morally decent life, which is not an explicit condemnation of homosexuality, but it may account for some of the discomfort with homosexuality seen within some Christian Science communities. There is some dissent among Christian Scientists as to what exactly the position with regard to homosexuality ought to be; in this matter, as in others (such as abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

), the Church chooses not to have an official position, as it is considered that each individual Christian Scientist should seek their own highest sense of right through prayer.


Controversies around Christian Science usually involve scientific, medical or theological issues.

Medical controversies

Most medical practitioners consider Christian Science a religion rather than a science. Critics point to epidemiological studies showing higher mortality rates among Christian Scientists than those using conventional medicine, and a lack of evidence for the efficacy of Christian Science aside from anecdotal evidence. A study was reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services headquartered in Druid Hills, unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, in Greater Atlanta...

. This study compared graduates of Principia College
The Principia
The Principia is an educational institution for Christian Scientists located on two campuses in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Principia School, located in West St. Louis County, serves students from early childhood through high school...

 to graduates of a Seventh-day Adventist
Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ...

 college (Loma Linda University
Loma Linda University
Loma Linda University is a Seventh-day Adventist coeducational health sciences university located in Loma Linda, California, United States. The University comprises eight schools and the Faculty of Graduate Studies...

). The Christian Science school's cohort had a higher overall mortality rate than the comparison cohort (though the dietary habits of Seventh-day Adventists may make them less susceptible to some diseases than the bulk of the population, possibly biasing the result).

There are cases of individuals who have died following their choice of Christian Science care over medical treatment; however, defenders of Christian Science counter that no similar burden is placed on medical science to explain those who die each year under conventional medical care, nor those given up as incurable by medical practitioners, some of whom recover after seeking Christian Science treatment. Defending the record of Christian Science, Robert Peel writes that "nosocomial illness--an umbrella term for a whole catalogue of infections acquired inside the hospital--has proved fatal to some patients who entered the hospital for treatment for a very minor ailment." Peel cites a 1978 estimation that of "32 million persons admitted to American hospitals each year, about 1.5 million develop some kind of nosocomial infection, and 15,000 die of it."

The CDC also reports on two measles outbreaks in communities of Christian Scientists: one in 1994 and one in 1985 in which three people died. These cases help inspire continuing controversy over religious exemption to vaccination requirements.
Mary Baker Eddy counseled that Christian Scientists should obey the law (respecting quarantine, for example) and that sometimes Christian Scientists will be examined by a doctor for informational purposes (although she disapproved of physical diagnoses, as tending to induce disease).

Health of children

With respect to children, two important rights are in apparent opposition – the rights of children to medical care, and the rights of parents to make decisions about the well-being of their children. The position that constitutional protections of freedom of religion allow parents to choose the method of healing which best benefits their children, contradicts court rulings which state that children cannot, on the basis of parental belief, be denied essential health care.

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, the constitutional guarantee of protection of religious practice from intrusion by government has been used by Christian Scientists and other religious groups to seek exemption from legal requirements regarding medical treatment of children in more than three quarters of the states. There are statutes in 44 states which allow that children are not to be deemed neglected because they are receiving treatment by spiritual means according to the tenets of a recognized religion. While these exemptions take different forms and interpretations in different states, the effect has been to limit the ability to prosecute parents for medical neglect of children as a result of religious practice.

See Commonwealth v. Twitchell

'Spiritual' healthcare reimbursements

In November 2009, it was reported that the Christian Science movement had lobbied for the inclusion of a provision in the proposed legislation for U.S. healthcare reform that would allow for insurance reimbursement of affirmative prayer
Affirmative prayer
Affirmative prayer is a form of prayer or a metaphysical technique that is focused on a positive outcome rather than a negative situation. For example, a person who is experiencing some form of illness would focus the prayer on the desired state of perfect health and affirm this desired intention...

s, including those practiced by Christian Scientists. The legislation was sponsored by Sens. Orrin Hatch
Orrin Hatch
Orrin Grant Hatch is the senior United States Senator for Utah and is a member of the Republican Party. Hatch served as the chairman or ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1993 to 2005...

 (R-Utah), Tom Harkin
Tom Harkin
Thomas Richard "Tom" Harkin is the junior United States Senator from Iowa and a member of the Democratic Party. He previously served in the United States House of Representatives ....

 (D-Iowa), John Kerry
John Kerry
John Forbes Kerry is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts, the 10th most senior U.S. Senator and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the presidential nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2004 presidential election, but lost to former President George W...

 (D-Mass.), and the late Ted Kennedy
Ted Kennedy
Edward Moore "Ted" Kennedy was a United States Senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party. Serving almost 47 years, he was the second most senior member of the Senate when he died and is the fourth-longest-serving senator in United States history...

 (D-Mass.), the latter two representing the state where the church is headquartered. The House version of the bill ultimately was stripped of this provision, but it was reintroduced in the Senate version in December. Furthermore, the Senate version of the bill would prohibit discrimination against "religious and spiritual health care".

Theological controversies

Christian Science is sometimes criticized by some mainstream Christians for its theological differences. This is mostly due to its assertion of the illusory nature of the material world and of evil, its definition of "Jesus" and the "Christ", its explanation of the Trinity and its apparent de-emphasis on a personal, human-like, God, its rejection of the teaching of everlasting damnation, and its view of Jesus as the "Way-shower" rather than as one whose death provided for humanity's atonement for sin. Yet Mary Baker Eddy has much to say regarding atonement, dedicating a chapter, Atonement and Eucharist, to the topic in her seminal textbook. On p. 18 she states: "The atonement of Christ reconciles man to God, not God to man[.]"

Adherents of Christian Science cite the Bible (e.g. Mark 16: 15–18 and Luke 10:1, 9, 17) as an indication that belief in God should be demonstrated in healing. Mary Baker Eddy, however, was no biblical fundamentalist, and has often been criticised by fundamentalists who believe that the Bible is both inerrant (biblical inerrancy
Biblical inerrancy
Biblical inerrancy is the doctrinal position that the Bible is accurate and totally free of error, that "Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact." Some equate inerrancy with infallibility; others do not.Conservative Christians generally believe that...

) and free of internal contradictions. She wrote: "The decisions by vote of Church Councils as to what should and should not be considered Holy Writ; the manifest mistakes in the ancient versions; the thirty thousand different readings in the Old Testament, and the three hundred thousand in the New – these facts show how a mortal and material sense stole into the divine record, with its own hue darkening to some extent the inspired pages."

There has been internal controversy in the Christian Science movement regarding the status of Mary Baker Eddy herself. Some Christian Scientists claim (and others deny) that her appearance on the world stage was specifically prophesied in the Bible.

Some Christian theologians characterize Christian Science as a cult (also refer to external sites providing criticisms of Christian Science) although Mary Baker Eddy constantly turned her students away from any tendency to place her on a pedestal. A basis of such criticisms includes her comment in reply to a questioner who asked how she knew there ever was such a person as Christ Jesus. She replied "If there had never existed such a person as the Galilean Prophet, it would make no difference to me. I should still know that God's spiritual ideal is the only real man in His image and likeness." This is misinterpreted by opponents of Christian Science as Mary Baker Eddy downgrading the importance of Jesus, rather than making a basic metaphysical point, regarding a question doubting the historical existence of Jesus, raised by a Unitarian minister, Rev. Wiggin (ibid).

There are apparently contradictory statements on the question of the death of Jesus in Mary Baker Eddy's writings. However, since Christian Science teaches that death is an illusion, this may help to explain the apparent contradictions.


The Christian Science Journal
Christian Science Journal
The Christian Science Journal is an official monthly publication of the Church of Christ, Scientist through the Christian Science Publishing Society, founded in 1883 by Mary Baker Eddy...

and the Christian Science Sentinel
Christian Science Sentinel
The Christian Science Sentinel is a magazine published by the Christian Science Publishing Society. The magazine includes articles, editorials, and accounts of healings from a Christian Science point of view....

document instances of healing through the use of Christian Science prayer. Testimonies of healings reported in Christian Science publications are sometimes drawn from cases in which a doctor confirmed the initial condition and the subsequent healing, according to the testifier. The verification process requires the contact information for three people (one a member of "The Mother Church") who "have either witnessed the healing or can vouch for its accuracy based on their knowledge of [the testifier]," according to the Christian Science Publishing Society website.

In Popular Culture

  • In Jeffrey Eugenides
    Jeffrey Eugenides
    Jeffrey Kent Eugenides is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer. Eugenides is most known for his first two novels, The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex . His novel The Marriage Plot was published in October, 2011.-Life and career:Eugenides was born in Detroit, Michigan,...

    ' The Virgin Suicides
    The Virgin Suicides
    The Virgin Suicides is the 1993 debut novel by American writer Jeffrey Eugenides. The story, which is set in Grosse Pointe, Michigan during the 1970s, centers on the suicides of five sisters. The Lisbon girls' suicides fascinate their community as their neighbors struggle to find an explanation for...

    (1993) (ISBN 0-446-67025-1), Chase Buell's father is a Christian Scientist.
  • The title of a 2011 off-broadway play, The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures
    The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures
    The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures is a 2009 play by American playwright Tony Kushner. The world premiere was directed by Michael Greif at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, opening on May 15, 2009 in previews and running through June 28...

    , makes reference to Science & Health.
  • In the TV show Curb Your Enthusiasm
    Curb Your Enthusiasm
    Curb Your Enthusiasm is an American comedy television series produced and broadcast by HBO, which premiered on October 15, 2000. As of 2011, it has completed 80 episodes over eight seasons. The series was created by Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, who stars as a fictionalized version of himself...

    , the episode The Benadryl Brownie (2002), features a character who is a Christian Scientist.
  • Mark Twain
    Mark Twain
    Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

     wrote a pejorative
    Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

     essay on Christian Science in 1903.
  • Mr Leonard in The Night Watch
    The Night Watch (Waters novel)
    The Night Watch is a 2006 historical fiction novel by Sarah Waters. It was shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize and longlisted for the 2006 Orange Prize. The novel, which is told backward through third person narrative, takes place in 1940s London during and after World War II...

    , best-selling novel by Sarah Waters
    Sarah Waters
    Sarah Waters is a British novelist. She is best known for her novels set in Victorian society, such as Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith.-Childhood:Sarah Waters was born in Neyland, Pembrokeshire, Wales in 1966....

     (Virago 2006), now filmed, is a professional Christian Science healer in London.

See also

  • Adventure Unlimited
    Adventure Unlimited
    Adventure Unlimited is a UK charity based in Brighton. Commonly known as AU, Adventure Unlimited aims to enrich the lives of children and young people, especially those who are disadvantaged, through outdoor education and adventure....

  • Christian Science Hymnal
    Christian Science Hymnal
    The Christian Science Hymnal is a collection of hymns sanctioned for use in Christian Science services including Sunday services and Wednesday evening testimony meetings, as well as in occasional informal hymn sings...

  • Christian Science Herald
  • Christian Science Reading Room
    Christian Science Reading Room
    400px|left|thumb|A typical storefront Christian Science Reading Room on the main street of a suburb of Boston. The window displays a lamp, a large Bible open to the current reading, and copies of Science and Health....

  • Christian Science Pleasant View Home
    Christian Science Pleasant View Home
    The Christian Science Pleasant View Home is an historic senior citizen residential facility located at 227 Pleasant Street in Concord, New Hampshire, in the United States, It was built in 1927 by the Christian Science Board of Directors as a retirement home for aged Christian Science practitioners...

  • Christian Science practitioner
    Christian Science practitioner
    A Christian Science practitioner is an individual who follows the practice of healing through prayer according to the teachings of Christian Science...

  • List of Christian Science tenets, prayers, and statements
  • List of Christian Scientists (religious denomination)
  • List of former Christian Science churches, societies and buildings
  • New Thought
    New Thought
    New Thought promotes the ideas that "Infinite Intelligence" or "God" is ubiquitous, spirit is the totality of real things, true human selfhood is divine, divine thought is a force for good, sickness originates in the mind, and "right thinking" has a healing effect.Although New Thought is neither...

  • The Principia
    The Principia
    The Principia is an educational institution for Christian Scientists located on two campuses in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Principia School, located in West St. Louis County, serves students from early childhood through high school...

  • Augusta Emma Stetson
    Augusta Emma Stetson
    Augusta Emma Stetson was an American Christian Science leader, born in Waldoboro, Maine She studied at the Blish School of Oratory in Boston, and in 1884 received the degree of Doctor of Christian Science from the Massachusetts Metaphysical College...

  • Jewish Science
    Jewish Science
    Jewish Science is a Judaic spiritual movement comparable with the New Thought Movement. Many of its members also attend services at conventional synagogues....

  • Joel S. Goldsmith
    Joel S. Goldsmith
    Joel Solomon Goldsmith was a author, teacher, spiritual healer, mystic, and founder of The Infinite Way movement.- Early years :...

Further reading

External links

Authorized by The First Church of Christ, Scientist
Church of Christ, Scientist
The Church of Christ, Scientist was founded in 1879 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, by Mary Baker Eddy. She was the author of the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Christian Science teaches that the "allness" of God denies the reality of sin, sickness, death, and the material world...

 or the Christian Science Board of Directors

Dissenting, secessionist or independent groups

Alternate Source for Denominational Text Book

Additional Online Resources

Criticism of Christian Science from atheist, Christian, and other perspectives

Wikimedia sister projects
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