The Endeavor to Handicap Truth
[Extract from a Lecture]
Edward A. Kimball
Member of the Board of Lectureship of The Mother Church,
The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts
The people of California are rejoicing over the achievements of Mr. Burbank, the illustrious citizen of this State who has wrought such wonderful transformations in the vegetable kingdom. It is estimated that the changes which he has already effected in the structure, tissue, and habits of many plants and trees will eventually add millions of dollars annually to the value of these products. The transformation of the potato plant, whereby it will not only increase its product, but furthermore will bear its fruit on the vine, instead of in the earth, is one of hundreds of marvels; but perhaps the one of most curious interest to the people of the Pacific Coast is the change effected in the cactus plant.
Nearly a million square miles of American desert are incapable of sustaining animal life because there is no rainfall to co-operate with the soil. The sage-brush and the cactus, the prolific offspring of this dry and desolate expanse, have never afforded sustenance to man or beast. Within a short time Mr. Burbank has not only transformed the fruit of the cactus so that it will be satisfying and nutritious, but he has also eliminated from the body of the plant the sharp spines which have heretofore rendered access to the fruit well-nigh impossible. Remembering that he is the first and only person in the world who has done these things, I ask you to consider this question: "Why did no one ever do them before?" The one answer and the one reason is that no one ever knew enough; likewise it may be said that for thousands of years none of the wise men ever knew enough to have a sewing-machine, a railway, or a telephone.
Mr. Burbank's discoveries have come to the world as a surprise. They have not only supplanted the old theories, and revolutionized methods and practices, but what is most significant is the fact that they are largely contrary to the books, contrary to the schools, contrary to the professors of horticulture and the theories of florists, and contrary to what have been called the laws of nature and the fixity of material things. He has changed tissue, structure, form, color, habit, size, and function, and has dominated many kinds of objectionable and offensive conditions and objects.
In order to do this it was first necessary for him to know somewhat concerning the essential laws that lie back of the entire work, and to discover the modus operandi which enabled him to transform, overturn, and rehabilitate. In doing this he came upon that which was before Adam, and which would have been available to Moses, Plato, Cicero, Caesar, Charlemagne, Napoleon, Shakespeare, Macaulay, Franklin, or Washington if they had only known enough to make the same discovery.
I speak of this celebrated man, who is awakening the world to the realization of possibilities that heretofore have been unknown or denied, — this man who is doing wonders for the potato plant and eliminating the spines from the body of the prickly pear, — because I am to speak also of an illustrious woman, whose discoveries and achievements are doing wonders for tormented men and women, and eliminating malignant cancers, inaccessible tumors, and other offensive objects and conditions from the body of humanity.
These wonders have been accomplished because Mrs. Eddy brought to light that which was existent before Adam or any one else; namely, the Science of being and the divine Principle thereof. It was essential also for her to discover the laws which govern in the case, and the rule or modus operandi of their action, and to demonstrate, by numerous and incontestable proofs, the verity of the discovery. After all this was done she published Christian Science to the world, and taught thousands of people concerning the Principle and practice of Christian Science Mind-healing, and it is interesting to note that in her earliest works, written thirty years ago, she propheticallv indicated such possibilities as are being wrought out by Mr. Burbank as well as many other changes that will yet take place. Now please observe a certain analogy presented by these two instances of discovery and proof. Like Mr. Burbank's achievements, Mrs. Eddy's message and proofs came as a surprise; they, too, were contrary to the books, contrary to the schools, contrary to the professors and their theories; contrary to what people have supposed they ought to believe, and they even seemed to be contrary to nature and its laws and to the inexorable trend of matter. They were contrary, indeed, to nearly everything except the law-fulfilling demonstrations of Christ Jesus and his declaration that God is, through law, the natural healer of the sick.
Never since the advent of the drugging system has it healed a single instance of malignant cancer. Owing to the discovery by Mrs. Eddy, and to the instructions which she has imparted to others, hundreds of malignant cancers have been healed through Christian Science practice.
With the demonstrations of Mr. Burbank before your thought, I ask you to remember that a demonstrable science should not be ignored or persecuted simply because its phenomena are new and surprising; their explanation being contrary to the various theories, — the ways and means which have been tried and have failed.
Now that I am touching on these matters I am tempted by a few questions, which as I thus speak surge to the front with considerable insistence, and I will ask you to consider them incidentally. What would you think if the horticulturists of California were to ask the State of California, by its legislative act, to repress Mr. Burbank and his innovations? Failing to accomplish such an attempt, what would you think if they were to ask the legislature to require that before being allowed to practise his art, this man, who knows how to do these things, should be obliged to study the methods of, and pass an examination before, a State Board of Horticulturists, who never did them and do not know how to do them?
What do you think of the effort on the part of the medical profession to induce the legislature of California to prohibit Christian Science Mind-healing, which has accomplished the cure of practically every so-called fatal disease ? Failing to secure such prohibition from the legislature, what do you think of their effort to have the legislature require that the people who have cured malignant cancers shall be obliged to study the methods of, and be examined by, a State Board of Health, the members of which have never cured a malignant cancer and do not profess to know how to do it? Moreover, what would you say if you were quite familiar with the fact that the Boards of Health include both allopathic and homoeopathic professors, who disagree so largely among themselves, concerning theory and practice, that one school administers on an average a million times as much medicine as is administered by the other in each case treated?
The theories exploited by these two schools concerning the cause and cure of disease differ radically, and the antagonisms thereof are fundamentally irreconcilable. Nevertheless there are enough points of common agreement and common interest to enable them to tolerate the enforced membership of each other on the Boards of Health.
The theory of Christian Science concerning the cause and cure of disease is likewise radically different from those I have mentioned, and it certainly ought to be different if it is to succeed where they have failed.. The points of agreement between them and Christian Science are so few that the different systems cannot possibly co-operate, and we freely admit that an analytical examination would show definitely that Christian Science practice cannot be guided by the theory and practice of either school, and that to be guided by the theories of both of them would be simply impossible.
According to Christian Science, the drugging system, which takes no cognizance of the mental, spiritual, moral, or immoral nature of the patient, is ipso facto radically defective and inferior, and we admit that the adherents of that system would not be satisfied with the examination of a Christian Scientist, who knows that in the mental realm are the most potential causes of bodily impairment and degradation.
The practice of Christian Science projects upon the world the following inquiries: Is this practice beneficial; does it constitute a successful curative agency; is it equal to, or superior to, other systems that are tolerated or sanctioned; does it promise results that are to be desired, and does it to a reasonable extent fulfil its promise; and, finally, has a citizen of the United States a right to invoke its aid in case of sickness? The world, which needs greatly to scrutinize these questions and to make the most exhaustive examination of facts, is gradually getting its answer; and when the facts become familiar to the legislator he will discern instantly that a medical examination of a Christian Scientist would be incongruous in the extreme, and would be scientifically intolerable for the reason that the medical doctors do not understand the theory, practice, or success of Christian Science healing.
The medical professors know very well that Christian Scientists will not study nor imbibe their theories nor adopt their practice. They know that if they can induce a legislature to delegate to them the power to decide whether a Christian Scientist is competent to heal the sick or not, they will be able to exclude the exercise of such curative endeavor; and on the other hand we are perfectly willing to admit that if a Christian Scientist were to pursue such study, and assimilate the theories of the drugging system, his skill as a practitioner would inevitably deteriorate.
The pith and essence of all contention on this issue must be determined by recourse to facts. If the indestructible facts of Christian Science practice be considered and acknowledged, then it follows as a natural sequence that the value of the practice cannot possibly be enhanced by the proposed absorption of medical theories, and it is equally clear that it should not be hindered by them.
[Published in The Christian Science Journal, September, 1905.]