Ellen & Christian Science

I like that Ellen DeGeneres has been very open about her Christian Science past. Christian Science was mentioned in a June 2002 interview with CBS, and it got a passing mention in her Nov. 2005 People interview. Ellen’s Christian Science upbringing is mentioned on her wikipedia page.

Ellen’s mother, Betty, is equally open about Christian Science and it’s role in the termination of her first marriage. A December 1999 article in USAToday discussing Betty DeGeneresmemoir mentions the role Christian Science played in Betty’s divorce:

[Betty DeGeneres] marriage to Elliott DeGeneres, father of Ellen, 41, and Vance, 44, was “almost completely sexless” and hampered by his devotion to Christian Science, which regards sex as a “material appetite,” she writes.

As a former Christian Scientist, I find it helpful that Ellen has been open about her Christian Science past. It makes me feel slightly less strange. If Ellen can announce to the world:

“I was raised very, very strictly with Christian Science. I didn’t have a shot or an aspirin or anything until I was 13 years old. We had to go to church, do testimonies every Wednesday night.”

Then maybe I can stand up and say I was raised a Christian Scientist too. I like Ellen’s perspective on God and religion as well:

I think all religion is based on what happens after this life. You live a certain way so that when you die, things can be good. But why can’t things be good now? Why can’t you understand that you’re in heaven now? That’s how I live. I believe in God. I think that God is everywhere. Every morning I look outside, and I say, “Hi, God.” Because I think that the trees are God. I think that our whole experience is God.”  via http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/450514-i-was-raised-very-very-strictly-with-christian-science-i

Our whole experience can be good now. I like that idea.

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Einstein & Christian Science

264971_700bChristian Science enjoys associating itself with famous people, great thinkers, and Albert Einstein. Einstein fits both aforementioned categories nicely, and what better way to give some merit to Ms. Eddy’s claims than to say one of the greatest minds of the twentieth century was somehow involved, intrigued, or interested in it.

The Researchers at the Mary Baker Eddy Library very diplomatically state that:

Much of the evidence of Einstein’s interest in Christian Science has proven unreliable or based on sources that can’t be verified. However, there is certainly evidence to suggest that Einstein had some interest in Christian Science. (1)

So yes, much of the evidence is unreliable, but of course Einstein was interested in Christian Science. The Library is careful to reason through anecdotal evidence and provide proper footnotes, including the oft-cited paper by William S. Cooper, Professor Emeritus University of California, Berkeley, On Albert Einstein’s Interest In The Metaphysics Of Mary Baker Eddy, (2)

Cooper’s paper is worth reading, in addition to citing anecdotal evidence — apparently Einstein attended a Christian Science lecture, he states

So far as I have been able to discover, Einstein never commented in writing on Eddy’s metaphysics, and in conversation spoke about it only in generalities.[16]

As far as Cooper can tell, Einstein never addressed Christian Science directly. A bit further down, Cooper concludes

… Eddy’s metaphysical system stands in general sympathy with his stated reservations about popular religious thought, concerns itself with the derivative character of matter, and shares some ground with some of his favorite philosophers. (emphasis mine)

Christian Science shares some parallel ideas with some of Einstein’s favorite philosophers. Given Ms. Eddy’s propensity to liberally borrow from various philosophical and religious dogmas I can hardly claim to be surprised.

Further Reading:


  1.  http://www.marybakereddylibrary.org/research/einstein
  2. https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1SePVIC-mFMAGJtzElow5B8K-Wbe9bKo4cj5h3XZLoG8

image via http://d24w6bsrhbeh9d.cloudfront.net/photo/264971_700b.jpg

Carl Sagan & Christian Science

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Someone shared above quote in a facebook group, and someone else pointed out that it is misattributed to Carl Sagan, but I like it anyway. Ms. Eddy often went off at length about The Truth, and her vision of Truth was Absolute. I find prefer Sagan’s views on the truth.

“The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true. We have a method, and that method helps us to reach not absolute truth, only asymptotic approaches to the truth — never there, just closer and closer, always finding vast new oceans of undiscovered possibilities. Cleverly designed experiments are the key.”


Carl Sagan on Christian Science & God

Carl Sagan’s last interview, part 1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jod7v-m573k) – shout out to Christian Scientists begins around the 3:00 minute mark.