Answering
Mary Baker Eddy 


Disease is Unreal The Atonement
Miracles Old Man in the Sky
Conundrums Old Testament
Ultimate Fallacy Problem of Evil
Idealism Resurrection in the Flesh
Divinity of Jesus Christ Madame Blavatsky
Satan, Prince of this World



LogoDisease is Unreal

Although not herself in the 'New Age' category, Mary Baker Eddy was one of the founding seeresses of nineteenth century 'New Thought,' a movement pivotal to later developments. Though the Bible recounts miraculous healings, it in no way discourages sick people from seeing a doctor, any more than Elijah's miraculous feeding by ravens is intended to discourage people from planting crops, going to the store and buying food, etc. However, up until Mary Baker Eddy's life-time, it is unlikely that medical science as then practiced added very many years to anyone's life. Although the ancients espoused an empirical approach to medicine, many of the nostrums the doctors of antiquity pressed upon their patients,— such as blood-letting to relieve fever,— probably did little good to anyone and may have administered the coup de grace to many a weakened, debilitated patient. When learning was revived in the Renaissance, these ancient errors were revived along with whatever of good there was in this corpus of knowledge. The patient who avoided the doctor avoided also iatrogenic illness, economized on expenses, and was probably depriving himself of very little benefit. The same is not true today, and Mary Baker Eddy's 'Christian Science' has faded accordingly.

The ancient Roman natural historian Pliny accuses the doctors of killing people: "And then besides, there is no law in existence whereby to punish the ignorance of physicians, no instance before us of capital punishment inflicted. It is at the expense of our perils that they learn, and they experimentalize by putting us to death, a physician being the only person that can kill another with sovereign impunity." (Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, Book XXIX, Chapter 8). That's harsh, but also outdated. From its earliest beginnings, ancient Greek medicine embraced empiricism, and the founders of the various competing schools of thought were thorough-going materialists. Nevertheless medical science was a decided under-achiever for many centuries, reduced to futility by out-of-control theorizing. Galen taught his contemporaries as well as the medievals that disease was caused by an imbalance of the four humors in the human body, an erroneous, though resoundingly materialistic, idea which conveys no therapeutic benefit. Under the impulse of their theory, bleeding was the front-line treatment for many conditions. According to contemporary accounts, sufferers from the Black Death experienced at times bloody diarrhea, and coughing up blood. As if their affliction didn't cause enough blood loss, the doctors prescribed more: "The first notice on this subject is due to a very celebrated teacher in Perugia, Gentilis of Foligno, who, on the 18th of June, 1348, fell a sacrifice to the plague, in the faithful discharge of his duty. . . .In conformity with notions derived from the ancients, he depended upon bleeding and purging, at the commencement of the attack, for the purpose of purification. . ." (The Black Death, Justus Friedrich Carl Hecker, p. 45). It may be this brave and illustrious doctor fell a victim to his own prescription. However, the doctors ultimately got their act together and at present those who forego medical treatment are withholding from themselves many undeniably beneficial remedies.

Christian Science prayer is not petitionary, as is ordinary Christian prayer; the praying Christian Scientist seeks rather to cleanse his mind from the 'illusion' that there is disease, which can be pretty overwhelming, particularly if one is dying, painfully, of cancer. She teaches that "matter seems to be, but is not." (ibid., Kindle location 1598). She says, "Divine metaphysics explains away matter. Spirit is the only substance and consciousness recognized by divine Science." (ibid., Kindle location 3530). "The doom of matter establishes the conclusion that matter, slime, or protoplasm never originated in the immortal Mind, and is therefore not eternal. Matter is neither created by Mind nor for the manifestation and support of Mind." (ibid., Kindle location 3541). Disease is thus a "dream," an illusion: "It breaks the dream of disease to understand that sickness is formed by the human mind, not by matter nor by the divine Mind." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter XII, Kindle location 5017). She offers as an analogy to her method, the assurance any rational parent would give a child terrified of ghosts, that there are no ghosts:



  • “Would a mother say to her child, who is frightened at imaginary ghosts and sick in consequence of the fear: 'I know that ghosts are real. They exist, and are to be feared; but you must not be afraid of them?'
  • “Children, like adults, ought to fear a reality which can harm them and which they do not understand, for at any moment they may become its helpless victims; but instead of increasing children's fears by declaring ghosts to be real, merciless, and powerful, thus watering the very roots of childish timidity, children should be assured that their fears are groundless, that ghosts are not realities, but traditional beliefs, erroneous and man-made.
  • “In short, children should be told not to believe in ghosts, because there are no such things.”
  • (Mary Baker Eddy, Sermon, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter XI, Kindle location 4464).



Logo So that instead of offering a child suffering from recurrent ear infections antibiotics, the mother is to explain his pain is imaginary. But the Bible, as opposed to Eastern religions like Buddhism, does not teach that this world is an illusion, either in whole or in part, nor can reason confirm her thesis:

"This brings forward the next proposition in Christian Science,— namely, that there is no sickness, sin, and death in the divine Mind. What seems to be disease, vice and mortality are illusions of the physical senses. These illusions are not real, but unreal. Health is the consciousness of the unreality of pain and disease. . ." (Mary Baker Eddy, Rudimental Divine Science, Kindle location 133).
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The Atonement

Mary Baker Eddy's understanding of Jesus' nature and saving work was heterodox; it doesn't help that she considers sin a 'belief,' referring to "the belief called sin." (ibid., Kindle location 519). . .or understands its remedy to be instruction: "Both sin and sickness are error, and Truth is their remedy." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scripture, Chapter XIII, Kindle location 5828). The remedy is, not the shed blood of Jesus Christ, but to stop believing in it: "But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter XIV, Kindle location 6265). She never comprehended the atonement; she seems to deny the fall of man, and therefore also denies the divinely appointed remedy:



  • “One sacrifice, however great, is insufficient to pay the debt of sin. The atonement requires constant self-immolation on the sinner's part. That God's wrath should be vented upon His beloved Son, is divinely unnatural. Such a theory is man-made. The atonement is a hard problem in theology, but its scientific explanation is, that suffering is an error of sinful sense which Truth destroys, and that eventually both sin and suffering will fall at the feet of everlasting love.”
  • (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter II, Kindle location 347).



Logo She starts with a theological tradition that goes back to Augustine, which understands evil not as a substance or existing thing in opposition to God, but rather as a deflection of the human will away from God and toward lesser things. Every existing thing is good: "That evil, then, which I sought whence it was, is not any substance; for were it a substance, it would be good. . .And to Thee is there nothing at all evil, and not only to Thee, but to Thy whole creation; because there is nothing without which can break in, and mar that order which Thou hast appointed it." (Augustine, Confessions, Book 7, Chapter 12-13, Section 18-19, pp. 196-197 ECF). When Augustine was a Manichaean, he believed evil to be a real substance, a power in rivalry to God; he freed himself from this error by realizing moral evil is not a thing, but a turning away of the will from God: "And I inquired what iniquity was, and ascertained it not to be a substance, but a perversion of the will, bent aside from Thee, O God,. . ." (Augustine, Confessions, Book 7, Chapter 16, Section 22, p. 199 ECF). But this turning away is real; it is not illusory, nor was the fall of humankind illusory, and both have real consequences. Starting with a valid tradition, she goes off into orbit, denying altogether both that there is sin, and also the consequences of sin like disease and death. She denies sin, and also punishment.

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Miracles

As she sagely notes, "The universal belief in death is of no advantage." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, Chapter II, Kindle location 588). But Mary Baker Eddy demands the sick sufferer choose between healing by means of spirit or by means of matter, a choice the Bible, which does not teach gnostic dualism in the first place, nowhere demands we make:

"Having faith in drugs and hygienic drills, we lose faith in omnipotence, and give the healing power to matter instead of Spirit." (Mary Baker Eddy, Sermon, The People's Idea of God and its Effect on Health and Christianity, Kindle location 135).

The Bible records various miraculous feedings, such as God's provision of manna, bread from heaven, to Israel in the wilderness, and Jesus' Messianic banquets of loaves and fishes. It would be a mistake to interpret these events as showing forth a new, more 'spiritual' way of obtaining food, intended to discourage the customary pursuits of planting, about which it is said, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread," (Genesis 3:19), reaping, going to the grocery store, etc. Our bodies are "matter," not "Spirit," and ingesting poison will derange their operation just as surely as ingesting the antidote or remedy will restore order to the mechanism; but she has freed herself from that 'illusion.' Mary Baker Eddy did not believe in miracles, and did not propose that her acolytes beg God for one: "Christian Science is natural, but not physical. The Science of God and man is no more supernatural than is the science of numbers, though departing from the realm of the physical. . ." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter VI, Kindle location 1448). Christians believe that God heals sickness, not through the discovery of 'Christian Science,' but by His mighty power:



Logo To demand that God produce a miracle when there is no need for a miracle, because the grocery store is right across the street, is the offense known as 'putting God to the test.' However, Christian Scientists can in no way be accused of this transgression, because they are not demanding a miracle when they 'pray;' they only seek to clear their minds of the 'illusion' or 'error' that there is disease:

"Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind; nor can the material senses bear reliable testimony on the subject of health. . .Therefore the divine Principle of Science, reversing the testimony of the physical senses, reveals man as harmoniously existent in Truth, which is the only basis of health; and thus Science denies all disease, heals the sick, overthrows false evidence, and refutes materialistic logic." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scripture, Chapter VI, Kindle location 1562).

One might expect this massive denial to lead to disaster in all cases, however the secret about the world which kept secular medicine in business during long, dark centuries when they could do little good, is that most medical conditions self-resolve in fairly short order. In the interim, denial works about as well as anything else. However Christian Science does more, I suspect, than amuse the patient while nature heals the malady. Mary Baker Eddy herself was aware of the placebo effect:

"It is related that Sir Humphry Davy once apparently cured a case of paralysis simply by introducing a thermometer into the patient's mouth. This he did merely to ascertain the temperature of the patient's body; but the sick man supposed this ceremony was intended to heal him, and he recovered accordingly. Such a fact illustrates our theories." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scripture, Chapter VI, Kindle location 1967).

In fact, people can be cured, not only of imaginary ailments, but of real afflictions even including cancer, by no more than believing a sugar pill is medicine; this is the placebo effect, and it's mind over matter. Unfortunately the cure rate for a placebo is nothing approaching 100 per cent; it is not nil either.

To Mary Baker Eddy, all ailments were imaginary:

"Disease being a belief, a latent illusion of mortal mind. . ." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scripture, Chapter VII, Kindle location 2165);
"Tell him [your patient] that he suffers only as the insane suffer, from false beliefs." (ibid., Kindle location 5324).
"There is no disease." (ibid., Kindle location 5329).

In Christian Science, not only sickness, but matter itself, is no more than a false belief: "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." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scripture, Chapter VI, Kindle location 1629). Even death, she thought, was "caused by a majority of human beliefs that man must die. . ." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scripture, Chapter VI, Kindle location 2114).

The Bible nowhere so much as hints at teachings such as these. Why say, "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." (Proverbs 17:22), if medicine does no good? And how can the premise that disease is illusory be reconciled with scriptures like, "For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you." (Exodus 12:23). He did not smite them at all, if they only mistakenly believed they had been smitten. By her way of thinking, "In Egypt, it was Mind which saved the Israelites from belief in the plagues." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scripture, Chapter VI, Kindle location 1724). The Egyptians were asleep at the time they came under the influence of this illusory 'belief;' was it imparted in a dream?:

"And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead." (Exodus 12:29-30).

She explains, "The central fact of the Bible is the superiority of spiritual over physical power." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scripture, Chapter VI, Kindle location 1697). That is true enough, like the Muslims say, God is greater. But God is not greater than all because the things over which He rules are non-existent, which would not be so much having a kingdom as an imaginary play-pen.

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Old Man in the Sky

She was justified to chide those of her contemporaries who held to a childish idea of God as an old man in the sky, but it is would be surprising if she could discover no better sources of information than to think this the dominant view:

"Mortal man has made a covenant with his eyes to belittle Deity with human conceptions. In league with material sense, mortals take limited views of all things. That God is corporeal or material, no man should affirm.
"The human form, or physical finiteness, cannot be made the basis of any true idea of the infinite Godhead. Eye hath not seen Spirit, nor hath ear heard His voice." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter IX, Kindle location 3251).


Logo Mary Baker Eddy was an anti-Trinitarian, which fact alone puts her outside the fold:

"The theory of three persons in one God (that is, a personal Trinity or Tri-unity) suggests polytheism, rather than the one ever-present I AM. 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord.'" (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter IX, Kindle location 3256).

Perhaps as a consolation prize, she gives us an ersatz 'trinity' of three abstract substantive nouns: "Life, Truth and Love constitute the triune Person called God,— that is, the triply divine Principle, Love. They represent a trinity in unity, three in one,— the same in essence, though multiform in office: God the Father-Mother; Christ the spiritual idea of sonship; divine Science or the Holy Comforter." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter X, Kindle location 4204).

In terms of morals, Christian Scientists fall within the Christian orbit; they are generally well behaved folks. It should be clearly understood, though, that their theology does not track with Christian theology; their impersonal God is a god of love,— or rather a 'principle' of love,— but not of justice:

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  • “The crudest ideals of speculative theology have made monsters of men. . .The eternal roasting amidst noxious vapors; the election of the minority to be saved and the majority to be eternally punished; the wrath of God, to be appeased by the sacrifice and torture of His favorite Son,— are some of the false beliefs that have produced sin, sickness, and death; and then would affirm that these are natural, and that Christianity and Christ-healing are preternatural; yea, that make a mysterious God and a natural devil.”
  • (Mary Baker Eddy, Sermon, The People's Idea of God and its Effect on Health and Christianity, Kindle location 32).



LogoConundrums

The reader of 'Science and Health' can trace the history of past debates, won and lost, on the topic of 'mind-cure.' Say your best friends are Cesare and Lucretia Borgia, and they send over a special milk-shake, just for you. Pleased at their thoughtfulness, you drain the glass, then start to feel a little funny. What has happened? According to Mrs. Eddy, it is opinion which gives rise to disease; when a small-pox epidemic blows through town, everybody gets small-pox because everybody is talking about small-pox and thinking about small-pox; it's like a fad. "Sin and disease must be thought before they can be manifested." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scripture, Chapter VIII, Kindle location 2983). As a result, one should avoid speaking the name of the disease, much as the ancient Romans avoided ill omens: ". . .avoid speaking aloud the name of the disease." (ibid., Kindle location 5011). But then why does poison kill, when the victim doesn't realize he's been poisoned? Whose opinion makes it deleterious? The majority, it turns out:

"If a dose of poison is swallowed through mistake, and the patient dies even though physician and patient are expecting favorable results, does human belief, you ask, cause this death? Even so, and as directly as if the poison had been intentionally taken.
"In such cases a few persons believe the potion swallowed by the patient to be harmless, but the vast majority of mankind, though they know nothing of this particular case and this special person, believe the arsenic, the strychnine, or whatever the drug used, to be poisonous, for it is set down as a poison by mortal mind. Consequently, the result is controlled by the majority of opinions, not by the infinitesimal minority of opinions in the sick-chamber." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scripture, Chapter VII, Kindle location 2281).

There is a political righteousness to 'majority rule,' one must admit. Which makes you wonder, does rat poison work because the majority of rats believe it does? Who polled them, and what was the margin of error? If the majority rules in these matters, then 'Christian Science' is a hopeless quest in any case, because the Christian Scientist is liable to be the only one on his block who realizes that disease is unreal. He is in the minority.

Wags used to say of Christian Science, 'it's not Christian,'— Christian Scientists do not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, a sine qua non of Christianity in the eyes of the orthodox,— and 'it's not Science either,' which is true, unless one can reclassify German enlightenment transcendental idealism as 'science.' It is this latter ponderous enterprise which had 'discovered' that 'we give laws to nature,' etc. The experienced world is a machine that we build: "Mortal mind perpetuates its own thought. It constructs a machine, manages it, and then calls it material." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, Chapter XII, Kindle location 5049). Mary Baker Eddy felt, if indeed we create the world as Immanuel Kant and others thought we did, then we might as well make a nice one without dirt and disease. As it happens, we don't.

At the boundary line where this would pass over to insanity, she has an attack of common sense:

"One should not tarry in the storm if the body is freezing, nor should he remain in the devouring flames. Until one is able to prevent bad results, he should avoid their occasions." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scripture, Chapter X, Kindle location 4172)

Why? If matter isn't real, then it can't hurt you, right? ". . .but it would be foolish to venture beyond our present understanding, foolish to stop eating until we gain perfection and a clear comprehension of the living Spirit." (ibid., Kindle location 4917). 'How long halt ye between two opinions?'

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Old Testament

"And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7).

She complains, of the book of Genesis, that "it would almost seem, from the preponderance of unreality in the entire narrative, as if reality did not predominate over unreality, the light over the dark. . ." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter XV, Kindle location 6285). She 'solves' this problem with an allegorical interpretation. When that approach reaches the end of its tether, she warns, "the continued account is mortal and material: "The second chapter of Genesis contains a statement of this material view of God and the universe. . .it is the false history in contradistinction to the true." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter XV, Kindle location 6518). No Bible-believer, Mary Baker Eddy explicitly calls the Genesis account of Adam's creation from dust and subsequent fall into sin a "lie:"

"Because of its false basis, the mist of obscurity evolved by error deepens the false claim, and finally declares that God knows error and that error can improve His creation. Although presenting the exact opposite of Truth, the lie claims to be truth." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter XV, Kindle location 6534).

Like the Muslims do today, she has recourse to the 'higher criticism,' alleging that "the best scholars" distinguish two creation accounts in Genesis (only one need be discarded, the other has been allegorized). There's no denying the Old Testament is not her favorite part of the Bible. Ridding herself at one fell swoop of the curses of Deuteronomy 28, the plagues of Egypt, and the first man's formation from the dust, Mrs. Eddy reveals she is not much impressed with the God of the Old Testament:

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  • “The Jewish tribal Jehovah was a man-projected God, liable to wrath, repentance, and human changeableness. The Christian Science God is universal, eternal, divine love, which changeth not and causeth no evil, disease, nor death. It is indeed mournfully true that the older Scripture is reversed.”
  • (Mary Baker Eddy, Sermon, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter VI, Kindle location 1820).


  • “In that name of Jehovah, the true idea of God seems almost lost. God becomes 'a man of war,' a tribal god to be worshipped, rather than Love, the divine Principle to be lived and loved.”
  • (Mary Baker Eddy, Sermon, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter XV, Kindle location 6550).



LogoUltimate Fallacy

Death is one of the more popular fallacies, in her eyes:

"Can there be any birth or death for man, the spiritual image and likeness of God? Instead of God sending sickness and death, He destroys them, and brings to light immortality. Omnipotent and infinite Mind made all and includes all. This mind does not make mistakes and subsequently correct them. God does not cause man to sin, to be sick, or to die." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter VIII, Kindle location 2635).

What Mrs. Eddy says God does not do, the Bible says only God can do:

"Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; nor is there any who can deliver from My hand." (Deuteronomy 32:39).

She reiterates this point; is a favorite: "God is as incapable of producing sin, sickness, and death as He is of experiencing these errors." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter XI, Kindle location 4512). But it's not Biblical: "The Lord will make the plague cling to you until He has consumed you from the land which you are going to possess. The Lord will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation, with severe burning fever, with the sword, with scorching, and with mildew; they shall pursue you until you perish." (Deuteronomy 28:21-22). If He is "incapable" of these things, why does He threaten them?

Christian Science is part of a 'family,' not always a harmonious one, of new religions, some traceable to Phineas P. Quimby, all of which run into the same scriptural brick wall:

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Logo Problem of Evil

Part of the benefit, in Mrs. Eddy's eyes, of severing God (Spirit) from the world (matter) was in the matter of theodicy. Since the world we experience is an illusion generated by ourselves, God has no relation to natural disasters of any sort:

"They either presuppose the self-evolution and self-government of matter, or else they assume that matter is the product of Spirit. To seize the first horn of this dilemma and consider matter as a power in and of itself, is to leave the creator out of His own universe; while to grasp the other horn of the dilemma and regard God as the creator of matter, is not only to make Him responsible for all disasters, physical and moral, but to announce Him as their source, thereby making Him guilty of maintaining perpetual misrule in the form and under the name of natural law. . .The lawgiver, whose lightning palsies or prostrates in death the child at prayer, is not the divine ideal of omnipresent Love." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scripture, Chapter VI, Kindle location 1546).

In her system, matter was not created by God, "Matter and its claims of sin, sickness, and death are contrary to God, and cannot emanate from Him." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scripture, Chapter X, Kindle location 3462). If God is loving and good, why does He allow disasters?:



Logo Though she meant no harm to anybody, more than a few earthly pilgrimages have likely been cut short because of Mrs. Eddy. She insisted that people must not seek medical attention, which is like insisting that a starving person not visit the grocery store across the street, even if his wallet is full, because God fed Elijah miraculously by means of ravens. The point of the Bible story of Elijah is not that food is illusory or unnecessary. Just as Nation of Islam prophet Elijah Muhammed taught his people to read the Koran, even though the Koran does not confirm his unique doctrines,— a subversive contradiction; after his death, many of his followers made a bee-line to Muslim orthodoxy;— so Mary Baker Eddy encouraged her people to read the Bible, which does not confirm her doctrines; some of these people offer sincere, Christian prayers. When God's people call out to Him in sickness, and He nods His assent to their cries, He may heal them directly through supernatural, miraculous means, or via secondary causes, through strictly natural means. The body has been stocked with its own wonderful healing resources; the tires on a motor vehicle wear down with use, ending up bald and useless, but your feet, if you go barefoot, do not 'wear down,' rather the skin on the bottom of your foot gets thicker and tougher. Try to beat that! The rail-driving machine competing against John Henry inexorably wore out through use, while John Henry's muscles only grew stronger, up to a point. Nature is a great healer.

Though in Mrs. Eddy's day going to the doctor was on the bubble, a thing which might be helpful, or not, today the balance has swung decisively in favor of this ancient, no longer fraudulent, profession; God may well heal His children through the doctor's skill. . .if they will walk through the door. Some afflictions are psychosomatic; there being no physical basis for the disease, there is nowhere to go but to the mind for a cure. These sufferers experience real pain and disability, but without any physical basis. Mrs. Eddy herself seems to have suffered from hypochondria; if a hypochondriac ceases to believe in disease, then he is cured! Even the 'placebo effect' is a natural process; somehow or other the expectant, hopeful mind can recruit resources to heal the body, I'm told, even after the people have been told it's a placebo! It is not, however, a sure-fire cure. The problem with 'mind-cure' is not that it never works; it does work some of the time, and for the 'worried well' it is no doubt a healing balm: their problem is worry and ceasing to worry corrects their problem. However it does not work all the time, and in some cases where it does not, a material medical remedy is at hand. In forbidding her followers to visit the doctor, she not increased their life expectancy as she hoped and believed, but has doomed them to the exclusionary use of methods which work some of the time, but not all the time; some people will fall through the cracks and become martyrs to an illusion.

Some of these techniques have crept into the church, through Norman Vincent Peale's 'positive' thinking,' and through today's 'prosperity' teaching. No doubt these habits of thought owe much to 'New Thought,' but no doubt there is some kernel of truth to them: there is such a thing as a self-fulfilling prophecy, and no coach would ever encourage his sports team to take the field with the certainty they are going to lose; will it then be any surprise when they do lose? However, in spite of containing some tincture of truth, these teachings are also in large measure unbalanced, unsound, and not Biblical. There is certainly no Bible basis for the claim that matter is unreal and disease illusory.

Some people want to find an 'evolutionary' development from the near universal human belief in demonic agency in disease, to the use of physical remedies. If you read the various diatribes reporting on a purported 'warfare' between 'science' and 'religion,' you will have encountered this viewpoint. But there is no tribe on earth so primitive that, if you query them as to a local herb useful for headache relief, or stomach-ache, or constipation, etc., they cannot provide what you ask. There is also no tribe so primitive they do not find a spiritual dimension to disease. There is no 'evolutionary' development; there is no tendency whatever for herbal cures to displace prayer. Both co-exist, at all places and times. Rather, human beings are a complex whole made up of many layers; there is a real, physical, material layer, which can in some ways be dealt with in isolation, but the spiritual layer is ultimately in ascendency. Realizing that even atheists would be well advised to go into surgery with a positive outlook, medicine should not despise the 'other' approach; but neither should the partisans of 'mind cure' despise the physical approach. We are a complex assemblage,— we have this treasure in vessels of clay,— and simplifying us into one thing or the other is not helpful. And in fact Mary Baker Eddy was herself somewhat inconsistent on this point, allowing her followers to set broken bones and the like.

The underlying metaphysical armature for Christian Science, that matter is unreal, is not a view taught in the Bible:

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LogoIdealism

With Immanuel Kant, German philosophy took a hard left turn away from the rationalist thinking of Liebnitz and his successors, into transcendental idealism. Kant realized, versus John Locke and others who believe we obtain our ideas about the world from our senses, that the mathematical and logical framework with which we construct our world cannot itself have been imported through the senses. The ancient philosopher Plato had realized the same thing, though to a much different outcome. To no one in the ancient world did it seem much of a conundrum that innate ideas, such as those of mathematics, prove useful in modeling the external world. Walking along, one finds a key; picking it up and trying it in the lock, the door opens! Success! So streamed through the open door the grateful hordes in antiquity; but Kant demands we throw the key back down, because we don't know where it came from or whose fingerprints are on it; besides it might have germs. Or maybe we can use it, but not to open the door; to draw pictures in the air, perhaps. Some people might say, that the keys fits the lock to perfection shows that it is the key for that lock; others might say, this must be a dream, otherwise how could the key fit the lock? It's impossible!— which is much like 'proving' that bumblebees cannot fly.

The crisis which required action was Newtonian physics. Kant could not abide the idea that our best, most scientific, ideas about the world, such as Newton's physics, are ultimately empirical, that we compare these idealized projections to our experience and accept or reject them accordingly. He reconfigured the physical sciences on, in his mind, a much more solid basis by proclaiming that they have nothing to do with the world out there, but only with 'our' world: we find law in nature, because we give law to nature. We are the law-givers, not God. There is, admittedly, some mysterious input from something 'out there,' but we cannot know what. His successors, such as G. W. F. Hegel, built upon this foundation. Some of the wildest things Mary Baker Eddy says, including her outright denial of the reality of the material world, were hum-drum common-places in those august German universities which retailed this material: ". . .the body is only an objectified will, the shape which the will assumes in the material world. . ." (Arthur Schopenhauer, The Complete Essays, 'Ethical Reflections,' Kindle location 5824). Of course these people had too much common sense to act as if they believed their own philosophy. That there is a real, material world out there is by far the most economical explanation for the phenomena, and especially of their mutually corroborating testimony, and so a few slashes of Ockham's razor shreds all rival theories, but that this could not be proven deductively and mathematically took it off the table for these people:

"Let me illustrate what I mean. Take any large, massive, heavy building: this hard, ponderous body that fills so much space exists, I tell you, only in the soft pulp of the brain. There alone, in the human brain, has it any being. Unless you understand this, you can go no further." (Arthur Schopenhauer, The Collected Essays of Arthur Schopenhauer, Halcyon Classics, Kindle location 6919).

Consistently, said "soft pulp" can itself exist only in a mind! Mrs. Eddy believed, as did Schopenhauer: "'The world is my idea:'— this is a truth which holds good for everything that lives and knows, though man alone can bring it into reflective and abstract consciousness." (Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, Volume 1, Kindle location 246). Of course the German philosophers were not such dolts as to conclude, 'we give laws to nature; therefore I can throw myself off the barn roof and fly,' although one may fairly wonder why this is not a legitimate conclusion to their researches. One can ask, with the Mrs. Eddy's of the world, why on earth not? If the world is my idea, then I hold the copyright, and am allowed to make whatever modifications I see fit. Indeed the stubborn recalcitrance of 'the world' under this sort of regime might well serve as the reductio ad aburdum of German transcendentalism, as we are forced to conclude, 'the world is, after all, somebody else's idea, not mine.' This approach seems overblown; it is premised on the assumption we could not experience any world which did not have just these characteristic features, and yet every night in dreams we experience worlds which don't make sense, marked by unexplained dislocations of space and time. Pathological conditions like schizophrenia and Parkinson's disease can induce abnormal experiences which do not conform to Euclidean space or cause-and-effect sequence. While the mechanism is broken if people are experiencing these conditions, there is certainly nothing inherent in the human mind which prevents people from experiencing and describing these alternative worlds. We all can imagine such worlds very easily. We don't experience them, because the only real world is rational to a fault. Our key fits the lock. It's not our idea, it's somebody's else's.

While I can't speak for the reader, I must confess I am not able to go very far down the path with these people: "For, 'no object without a subject,' is the principle which renders all materialism for ever impossible. Suns and planets without an eye that sees them, and an understanding that knows them, may indeed be spoken of in words, but for the idea, these words are absolutely meaningless. . .The world is entirely idea, and as such demands the knowing subject as the supporter of its existence." (Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, Volume 1 of 3, Kindle location 868). Materialism is indeed impossible, but let us perform the 'thought experiment' of imagining all human life, indeed all sentient beings, to be wiped off the face of the earth by a monumental tsunami. Would the planets, thereafter deprived of an audience for their celestial dance, cease to obey the laws of planetary motion? Who but a voodoo doctor could expect such an outcome? It is impossible to imagine this catastrophic tragedy having much of any effect on them at all. These ideas about the world are not Biblical; Jesus did not go about curing people of the illusion that they were sick. For a time idealism was actually popular in some quarters of the church world; there used to be 'Christian Hegelians' and such folk. Has their tribe gone extinct? Most of them however did not jump out the window with Mrs. Eddy under the impression they could fly.

Walter Martin offers an interesting comparison between contemporary writing on Hegel and Mrs. Eddy's work: "'For Hegel and his true disciples there is no truth, substance, life or intelligence in matter; all is Infinite Mind. Thus matter has no reality; it is only the manifestation of spirit.  .  .We learn from Hegel that Mind is universal the first and only cause of all that really is.'" (quotations from 'The Metaphysical Religion of Hegel,' by Francis Lieber, quoted p. 113, The Kingdom of the Cults by Walter R. Martin.) Whether plagiarism or not, this certainly shows minds moving in the same orbit. These nineteenth century paradigms do seem to have been a real influence, although some older conceptions also peek through at times.

This nineteenth century development was not altogether a return to views already expressed by Plato in the ancient world, because Plato was sure the 'ideas' undergirded reality. The German idealists were quite sure these ideas could not undergird reality, because they certainly do condition our experience of reality (see if you can find the force in that refutation, dear reader; I confess I cannot). In a general sense, Mary Baker Eddy falls into the idealist category; her assumption that Spirit is real and matter only apparently so is not something she thought up for herself. Some of her beliefs about the world are essentially Platonic: notice there is an original, and a copy:



  • “The conceptions of mortal, erring thought must give way to the ideal of all that is perfect and eternal. Through many generations human beliefs will be attaining diviner conceptions, and the immortal and perfect model of God's creation will finally be seen as the only true conception of being.”
  • (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter IX, Kindle location 3304).



LogoThe "perfect model" corresponds to the Platonic ideas, as opposed to the maimed, distorted, and false, version we now hold. "The Scriptures imply that God is All-in-all. From this it follows that nothing possesses reality nor existence except the divine Mind and His ideas. . .Everything in God's universe expresses Him." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scripture, Chapter X, Kindle location 4199). The senses are engines of illusion: "Divine Science reverses the false testimony of the material senses, and thus tears away the foundations of error." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter X, Kindle location 3467):


Plato Home


LogoShe seems to accept the Origenist presumption of the pre-existence of the human soul:

"If we live after death and are immortal, we must have lived before birth, for if Life ever had any beginning, it must also have an ending, even according to the calculations of material science." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter XII, Kindle location 5429).

"Divine Science rolls back the clouds of error with the light of Truth, and lifts the curtain on man as never born and as never dying, but as coexistent with his creator." (ibid., Kindle location 6961). This is to deny the the creation altogether: "It can only be replied, that Christian Science reveals what 'eye hath not seen,'— even the cause of all that exists,— for the universe, inclusive of man, is as eternal as God, who is its divine immortal Principle." (ibid., Kindle location 6913). The creature cannot be "as eternal" as the Creator, who alone possesses what she tries to make the general condition:

"Which in his times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen." (1 Timothy 6:15-16).

She makes statements which seem to be consistent with pantheism or monism: "Spirit, God, has created all in and of Himself. . .Spirit is the only substance, the invisible and indivisible infinite God." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter X, Kindle location 4247), however she stridently insists she is not a pantheist. For instance:

"Divine Science explains the abstract statement that there is one Mind by the following self-evident proposition: If God, or good, is real, then evil, the unlikeness of God, is unreal." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter XIV, Kindle location 5933).

. . .which seems to suggest God is all that exists.

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LogoResurrection in the Flesh

The Bible tells of a man walking out the grave, in the flesh. By some people's way of reckoning, why would that be a good thing? Mary Baker Eddy did not see any value in a resurrection in the flesh:

"Human theories are inadequate to interpret the divine Principle involved in the miracles (marvels) wrought by Jesus and especially in his mighty, crowning, unparalleled, and triumphant exit from the flesh." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter VI, Kindle location 1525).

'Exit from the flesh?' Hmmm. . .not what my Bible says, "Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing." (John 20:27). She is willing to concede a resurrection up to a point, but cuts it short at the ascension: "This dual personality of the unseen and the seen, the spiritual and material, the eternal Christ and the corporeal Jesus manifest in flesh, continued until the Master's ascension, when the human, material concept, or Jesus, disappeared, while the spiritual self, or Christ, continues to exist in the eternal order of divine Science. . ." (ibid., Kindle location 4236). This seems to make of the resurrection an annihilation rather than rising to life:

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Spirit Person The First and the Last
Elijah Dispose of the Body
Raise the Temple The Old Testament
Almost Persuaded Intermediate State
The Competition


LogoDivinity of Christ

A fundamental Christian doctrine is the deity of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus is God incarnate, God in the flesh. In spite of some willingness to use evasive language, Mary Baker Eddy did not really believe this. Here she seems to be trying to finesse the question:



  • “In divine Science, man is the true image of God. The divine nature was best expressed in Christ Jesus, who threw upon mortals the truer reflection of God and lifted their lives higher than their poor thought-models would allow,— thoughts which presented man as fallen, sick, sinning, and dying. The Christlike understanding of scientific being and divine healing includes a perfect Principle and idea,— perfect God and perfect man,— as the basis of thought and demonstration.”
  • (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter IX, Kindle location 3294).



Logo She understood 'Christ' to be the divine nature:

"This Christ, or divinity of the man Jesus, was his divine nature, the godliness which animated him. . .His mission was to reveal the Science of celestial being, to prove what God is and what He does for man." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, Chapter II, Kindle location 390).

'Christ,' or 'anointed one,' means 'Messiah,' but she imports her own meaning into the term: "He unveiled the Christ, the spiritual idea of divine Love." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, Chapter II, Kindle location 546). Her understanding of the divine nature: "Spirit:" = "the Life, substance, and intelligence of the universe," (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, Chapter II, Kindle location 400), is vague, impersonal and unsatisfactory from the Christian perspective. She understands Jesus' teaching to imply that this "Life" never mingles with sin and death, which she understands to rebut the "false doctrine," "that God, or Life, is in or of matter." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, Chapter II, Kindle location 406). She rather vaguely links the Holy Spirit to Divine Science, but this is not adequate to the evidence:



Logo Her closest affiliation is to Unitarianism, even though sometimes it seems like she is trying. As noted, she distinguishes between 'Christ' and 'Jesus,' making the latter a mere man: "The corporeal man Jesus was human." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter X, Kindle location 4215). Her 'Christ,' however, is not really the second person of the Trinity. She explains that "Jesus demonstrated Christ; he proved that Christ is the divine idea of God. . ." (ibid., Kindle location 4215). She takes the advent of the Messiah out of history, saying, "Christ, as the true spiritual idea, is the ideal of God now and forever, here and everywhere." (ibid., Kindle location 4571).

She elevates the rest of us to similar status alongisde Jesus: "Human philosophy has made God manlike. Christian Science makes man Godlike." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter X, Kindle location 3413). At times she seems to want to make all of us eternal in the fullest sense: "God and man are not the same, but in the order of divine Science, God and man coexist and are eternal." (ibid., Kindle location 4268). Who is truly eternal but God?:



LogoWhat saith the scriptures? Was Jesus no more than the first Christian Scientist, "the best man that ever trod this planet," (ibid., Kindle location 4605). . .or is He God in the flesh? She denies the possibility of an incarnation: "A portion of God could not enter man, neither could God's fullness be reflected by a single man, else God would be manifestly finite, lose the deific character, and become less than God." (ibid., Kindle location 4263). She certainly denies the reality of the incarnation: "The Christian who believes in the First Commandment is a monotheist. This 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, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter XI, Kindle location 4571):


Jesus is God

Who is Jesus?

The Son is God.


Your Throne, O God The Work of Your Hands Let Angels Worship
True God Express Image Visible and Invisible
For Himself Son of God Kiss the Son
A Son is born Honor the Son Only-begotten God
Pantocrator Believe on the Son Only Savior
The Dead were Judged Everlasting to Everlasting

Jesus is Jehovah God.

Jehovah of the Old Testament.

Jesus is Jehovah.


A Voice Crying Temple Visitor Stone of Stumbling
The Rock of Israel The First and the Last Lord of all
The LORD our Righteousness Holy, holy, holy Captivity Captive
House of David Answered prayers With all His saints
Israel's Savior Giver of Life Every Knee Shall Bow
Pastoral Supply I send you prophets Who forgives sin
I am He He is Lord Call upon the Name
Doxology God with Us Lawgiver
Great Shepherd You Only Lawful worship
Builder I AM THAT I AM Moses' Veil
Wine Press Lord Willing Secret Things
Boasting Excluded King of Israel Fount of Living Waters
Searches the Heart Till Death Do us Part Angel of the LORD
Take Refuge Has Reigned On His Forehead
Me Whom they have Pierced Stretched Out My Hands


Jesus is God.

Jesus our Lord.

Jesus Christ is God.


The Eyes of the Blind Thought it not Robbery Eternally Blessed God
Fullness of the Godhead Great God and Savior Faith in Him
Redeemed King of Kings Spirit of Christ
Destroyed by Serpents Lord of Glory Renewed in the Image
New Jerusalem's Lamp Now is Christ risen Upholding all Things
Light to the Gentiles My Companion Miracles
Prosecutors' Indictment Sun of Righteousness Thirty Pieces
Testator's Death Author of Life The Blood of God
My Lord and My God One Mystery of godliness
God was in Christ The Word was God Shared Glory
Omniscience Omnipotence Omnipresence
Change Not Yesterday, Today and Forever Whose Hand?
Not of Man Receive my Spirit Believe in God
Only Holy Sole Proprietor Priests
Walk on the Water




Logo Because of her false teaching on this point, Mary Baker Eddy cannot be classed with the 'prosperity' teachers, who probably learned a great deal from her, but rather with the cults and heresies. They are offering a teaching with is unbalanced, about the true and living God; she does not know Him:

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LogoMadame H. P. Blavatsky

Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky represents the competition, in a way. Mary Baker Eddy disliked her and her teachings, which were fundamentally materialistic, and all wrapped up with electro-magnetism, the aether, and other things of insufficient 'spirituality' to attract Mrs. Eddy's notice:

"No analogy exists between the vague hypotheses of agnosticism, pantheism, theosophy, spiritualism, or millenarianism and the demonstrable truths of Christian Science; and I find the will, or sensuous reason of the human mind, to be opposed to the divine Mind as expressed through divine Science." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scripture, Chapter VI, Kindle location 1444).

Both women attracted vocal and devoted followings:

"In America, prophets can be met with at every street-corner; in Europe, they are as rare as black swans." (Madame Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled and the Secret Doctrine, Complete Illustrated Edition, p. 76, Kindle location 2548.)

Though Mrs. Eddy warned against Madame Blavatsky's teachings, they make an interesting study in contrasts. A materialist to be sure, though her 'matter' is a fragment of ether, god-stuff, Madame Blavatsky was capable of writing, "The existences belonging to every plane of being. . .are, in degree, of the nature of  shadows cast by a magic lantern on a colorless screen; but all things are relatively real, for the cogniser is also a reflection, and the things cognised are therefore as real to him as himself." (Madame Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled and the Secret Doctrine, Complete Illustrated Edition, Kindle location 23764).

In Madame Blavatsky's thought-word, things which are different bleed into each other, and things which are the same differentiate. Her 'matter' 'graduates' into 'spirit:'

"But in the secret philosophy they are viewed as graduated. Though one and the same thing in their origin, Spirit and Matter, when once they are on the plane of differentiation, begin each of them their evolutionary progress in contrary directions — Spirit falling gradually into matter, and the latter ascending to its original condition, that of a pure spiritual substance. Both are inseparable, yet ever separated." (Madame Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled and the Secret Doctrine, Complete Illustrated Edition, SD p. 247, Kindle location 31077).

Both women were philosophical idealists in the end: "All this, teaches the hidden Science, is but the temporary reflection, the shadow of the eternal ideal prototype in Divine Thought. . ." (Madame Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled and the Secret Doctrine, Complete Illustrated Edition, Kindle location 25006).

Mary Baker Eddy warned about reliance on the human will, but in the end, both believe in its power; she speaks of "The patient's spiritual power to resuscitate himself" (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter XII, Kindle location 4626). Though she deprecates it, she ultimately relies upon this force: "By conceding power to discord, a large majority of doctors depress mental energy, which is the only real recuperative power." (ibid., Kindle location 4985):



  • “The effect of mortal mind on health and happiness is seen in this: if one turns away from the body with such absorbed interest as to forget it, the body experiences no pain.”
  • (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures, Chapter IX, Kindle location 3315).




LogoTo this extent Madame Blavatsky is a fellow traveler to 'New Thought.' She recounts the story of an Indian fakir who performs various magic feats, which he then explains by saying,

"'He replied, "I have only one means."
"'What is it?'
"'The will. Man, who is the end of all intellectual and material forces, must dominate over all. The Brahmans know nothing besides this.'" (Madame Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled and the Secret Doctrine, Complete Illustrated Edition, p. 471, Kindle location 15984.)

She notes, "We believe WILL-POWER the most powerful of magnets. The existence of such magical power in certain persons is proved, but the existence of the Devil is a fiction, which no theology is able to demonstrate." (Madame Helena P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled and the Secret Doctrine, Complete Illustrated Edition, p. 472, Kindle location 15995). Mrs. Eddy scorned the human will, but must ultimately acknowledge this limping, mortal force as a factor in her successes: "At the right time explain to the sick the power which their beliefs exercise over their bodies." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter XII, Kindle location 5017). Mind can indeed prevail over matter, even though pessimists fret that it is hope which is the illusion: "Hope is to confuse the desire that something should occur with the probability that it will." (Arthur Schopenhauer, The Complete Essays, 'Psychological Observations,' Kindle location 2163),— the trouble is, without hope in a recovery, there is little enough "probability" you will get well:

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Theosophy Modern Science
Table-Rapping Annie Besant
The Christian Alternative Astral Body
All Paths Converge Cosmic Mote
Sparks Ascending Bad Voodoo
Knowledge, Falsely So-Called Satan the Prince


LogoSatan, Prince of this World

Mary Baker Eddy doubted the existence of a real, personal devil: "We cannot bring out the practical proof of Christianity, which Jesus required, while error seems as potent and real to us as Truth, and while we make a personal devil and an anthropomorphic God our starting points,— especially if we consider Satan as a being coequal in power with Deity, if not superior to Him." (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, with Keys to the Scriptures, Chapter XI, Kindle location 4449). Satan is of course not "coequal" with God, he is a rebellious creature; but he is certainly "personal." She speaks of the devil as "personified evil" (ibid., Kindle location 4517), which is inadequate to the evidence. She objects: "If what opposes God is real, there must be two powers, and God is not supreme and infinite." (ibid., Kindle location 4528). Wicked men, who are real, oppose God, who remains supreme and infinite; and so may fallen angels:

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Angel