Key Thinkers that Pre-dated MBE: Swedenborg, Berkeley, & Hegel.

This is part of our series Where did “Science & Health” come from? This post briefly covers Emanuel Swedenborg, Bishop George Berkeley, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.


Emanuel Swedenborg

Wikipedia tells us Emmanuel Swedenborg was a Swedish scientist, philosopher, theologian, revelator, and mystic best known for his book Heaven and its Wonders and Hell From Things Heard and Seen (Latin name De Caelo et Ejus Mirabilibus et de inferno, ex Auditis et Visis), published in 1758.

From the Swedenborg website, under ‘Cultural Influence’ they discuss

One of the most enduring movements involving spiritual healing was initiated by Mary Baker Eddy (1821–1910). Mrs. Eddy’s ideas, and even her very wording, are in some instances so similar to Swedenborg’s that many people have concluded that Christian Science is derived from Swedenborgianism. While Swedenborg never advocated exclusive reliance on spirit to heal the physical body (as did Mrs. Eddy), he did write voluminously on the interconnectedness of soul and body—an awareness that is now gaining ground in modern medicine. Thus Swedenborg’s influence continues to be felt today—especially among artists, spiritual seekers, and people who like to think “outside the box”!

It is worth reading The New York Times piece dated August 18, 1907 comparing Eddy and Swendenborg. In addition to offering an interesting analysis of their respective works, it also offers a side-by-side comparison of Swendenborg/Eddy.


Bishop Berkeley 

George Berkeley (1685 – 1753), aka Bishop Berkeley, was “an Anglo-Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called “immaterialism” (later referred to as ‘subjective idealism’ by others). This theory denies the existence of material substance and instead contends that familiar objects like tables and chairs are only ideas in the minds of perceivers, and as a result cannot exist without being perceived.”

BerkeleianismGeorge Berkeley’s philosophy of subjective idealism, which holds thatmaterial objects have no independent being but exist only as concepts in God’s mind and asperceptions of those concepts in other minds

I’m going to let the Basics of Philosophy sum up Berkeley’s view of reality:

There exists an infinite spirit (God) and a multitude of finite spirits (humans), and we are in communication with God via our experience. Thus, what we take to be our whole experience of the world is analogous to God’s language, God’s way of talking to us, and all the laws of science and Nature we see around us are analogous to the grammar of God’s language. There is, then, in this theory, no need to postulate the existence of matter at all, as all reality is effectively mental.

I suspect this is another case of Ms. Eddy took the idea and ran with it in her own direction, as can be seen when Ms. Eddy defines Man, in Science and Health, on p. 541.

Man: The infinite idea of Infinite Spirit; the spiritual image and likeness of God; the full representation of Mind the idea of Principle, not person; the compound idea of God, including all other ideas; the generic term for all that reflects God’s image and likeness; the conscious identity of being, as found in Science, where man is the reflection of God or Mind and therefore is eternal that which has no separate mind from God; that which has not a single quality underived from Deity that which possesses no life intelligence or creative power of his own, but reflects all that belongs to his Maker.


Hegel

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) was a German philosopher, he had much to say on a variety of topics.

There is an entire book alleging that Ms. Eddy took her ideas from Hegel. Mrs. Eddy Purloins from Hegel was written by Walter M. Haushalter and copyrighted in 1936. I have not read the entire book, merely skimmed the first few pages. Haushalter makes reference to Ms. Eddy’s ‘literary dualism’ -– something many have remarked on over the years, and anyone who reads the 1875 version of Science and Health will also wonder how Ms. Eddy turned out the 1910 revision. Ms. Eddy Purloins contains some true gems, on p. 4, Haushalter remarks

Often, after stumbling though a foggy swamp of subjectivism, one merges upon a page or half-page of terse, clear, brilliant metaphysics worth of a Kant or a Royce. It is this dualism ofcrude mythology and valid science, of wild chaos and stately order, of non-sense and sense, that exasperates.

Haushalter’s thesis is that Ms. Eddy copied her work from the Leiber Documents, a collection of works by Dr. Francis Lieber, a distinguished German-American publisher and authority on the philosophy of Hegel (4). According to Haushalter, one example of this plagiarism is none other than the Scientific Statement of Being, found in the 1910 version of Science and Health on p. 468. The following is from Ms. Eddy Purloins on p. 28:


Read more Swedenborg:

Read more Berkeley:

Read more Hegel: 

Timeline of Christian Science, Medical Advances & Historical Events (1920-present)

The following timeline is designed to put Christian Science after Mary Baker Eddy’s passing in context with medical advances and historical events of the day. Bolded events are of importance to the Christian Science movement, and the context in which they occur should be taken into account.

This is by no means an exhaustive timeline, merely a starting place for further exploration.


Timeline of Christian Science, Medical Advances, and Historical Events (1920 – present):

1920s

1930s

  • 1936: American Medical Association’s Council on Foods becomes Council on Foods & Nutrition; council offers AMA Seal of Acceptance to food manufacturers who pass advertising and content tests and who conform with Food and Drug Act; council encourages enriching milk with vitamin D to prevent rickets, and salt with iodine to prevent goiter. In 1938, it publishes The Normal Diet, containing the first authoritative dietary recommendations for Americans.
  • 1938: In April of this year, a six-member committee of editors and former editors of Christian Science periodicals was assembled “to discover just what Mrs. Eddy believed concerning herself with respect to Scriptural prophecy.” The committee was given access to Mrs. Eddy’s private correspondence, and published writings. (http://www.endtime.org/2ndcoming/2ndcoming.html)

1940s

  • 1943: The Christian Science Board of Directors published a statement that Mrs. Eddy regarded herself as having fulfilled Bible prophecy in the July issue of the Christian Science Journal.
  • 1948: The Destiny of The Mother Church, by Bliss Knapp is written. Controversy begins as Board of Directors sends letter pointing out its false views. Instead of revising it, Knapp left a trust with approximately $100 million (in 1990s dollars) to revert to The Mother Church if it ever published his work as ‘authorized literature’.

1950s

1960s

  • 1963: Nancy Brewster, age seven dies of an undiagnosed condition, “probable malignant lymphoma” according to her death certificate. Her Christian Scientist parents did not seek medical attention for her.
  • 1967: Lisa Sheridan, age five of Cape Cod, Massachusetts dies of pneumonia. She had been sick for a number of weeks, and her Christian Scientist mother did not seek medical treatment for her. This case is the subject of a book by journalist Leo Damore, The Crime of Dorothy Sheridan.

1970s

  • 1971: MMR (Mumps, Measles, Rubella) vaccine became available. It is a combination of previously separate vaccines for each of these three viruses.
  • 1974: The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (Public Law 93-247) (also known as CAPTA) was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Nixon. Among its provisions was one that required states to insert an exemption into their child protection laws that protect Christian Scientist parents from prosecution if their children die or suffer harm due to the practice of Christian Science, or risk losing federal funding for child protection. As a result, most states adopt such exemptions into their laws.
  • 1977: Matthew Swan dies at the age of 16 months due to spinal meningitis after his parents unsuccessfully tried to treat him through prayer in Christian Science. His parents, Rita and Doug Swan, later left the Church and founded C.H.I.L.D., Inc.

1980s

  • 1983: The U.S. federal requirement for religious exemptions in CAPTA (see above) to prosecution under child protection laws was repealed. Despite this, more than 30 states still retain these exemptions in some form.
  • 1983: C.H.I.L.D. is formed to end child abuse or neglect related to religion, cultural practices, or quackery through public education, research, legal action, and a limited amount of lobbying. http://childrenshealthcare.org
  • 1984: Shauntay Walker, age four, dies of untreated meningitis after her mother, a convert to Christian Science, does not seek medical attention for her.
  • 1984: Monitor Radio is launched.
  • 1986: Robyn Twitchell, age two dies due to an obstructed bowel after his Christian Scientist parents did not seek medical treatment for him.
  • 1986: Amy Hermanson, age seven died from untreated diabetes, which her Christian Scientist parents did not have medically treated.
  • 1986: WQTV, a Boston-area television station is purchased by The Christian Science Publishing Society.
  • 1987: WCSN a shortwave radio station constructed by The Christian Science Publishing Society begins broadcasting from Maine.
  • 1988: World Monitor television program launched–broadcast on the Discovery Channel.
  • 1989: WSHB a shortwave radio station in South Carolina, built by The Christian Science Publishing Society, begins operations.
  • 1989: Ian Lundmann, age 11 dies from untreated diabetes after his Christian Scientist parents did not seek medical attention for him.

1990s

  • 1990: Ginger and David Twitchell are convicted of manslaughter in the 1986 death of their son Robyn. The conviction is later overturned by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court overturned the conviction, and this led to the repeal of the exemption in Massachusetts law to prosecution of parents who deny their children medical care on religious grounds.
  • 1991 – April: The Destiny of The Mother Church is published as ‘authorized literature’ by The Christian Science Publishing Society.
  • 1991: The Monitor Chanel is launched on May 15th.
  • 1992: Andrew Wantland, age 12 dies from untreated diabetes due to his parents’ refusal to seek medical attention for him.
  • 1992: The Monitor Channel ceases operations.
  • 1993: WQTV is sold to Boston University.
  • 1994: WCSN is sold to World Voice of Historic Adventism, Inc.
  • 1994: ‘Trade Edition’ of Science and Health is published.
  • 1996: McKown v. Lundman, 516 U. S. 1099, cert. denied (1996), is the first suit in the wrongful death of a Christian Science child to be presented to a jury. The higher court ruling that Christian Science ‘providers’ have a duty to obtain medical care for a sick child may make them less reckless in children’s cases. (via http://childrenshealthcare.org/?page_id=132, read more: http://childrenshealthcare.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/1993-03-fnl.pdf)
  • 1997: Monitor Radio is shut down.

2000s

  • 2002: The Mary Baker Eddy Library opens. Its underlying purpose is so the Christian Science Church can retain copyright over all unpublished writings of Mary Baker Eddy. This includes letters and articles not in the actual possession of the Church or Library.
  • 2004: WSHB, is sold to LeSEA Broadcasting.
  • 2009: The Christian Science Monitor publishes its last daily print edition on March 27th. As a cost-saving measure, it moves to an on-line platform, with a weekly news-magazine and daily subscription-based e-mail updates.

2010s

  • March 23, 2010: New York Times Christian Science Church Seeks Truce With Modern Medicine.
  • 2010: The Affordable Care Act, popularly known as ‘ObamaCare’ is signed into law, requiring all residents of the United States to carry ‘appropriate’ health insurance. It does not contain a suitable exemption for Christian Scientists regarding the mandate to carry health insurance. The exemption that does exist applies narrowly to a few groups such as the Amish and Mennonites.
  • 2010: The Christian Science Church unveils plans to redevelop the Christian Science Plaza in Boston.

Additional Timelines: