I work in a preschool, where there is a tendency for bacteria and viruses to abound. Science tells us to keep our hands clean, to avoid contact with people who are sick so that we don’t become sick as well. But how does a person get sick in the first place? Why does the first person to carry a germ get sick?
When I was growing up, my family attended one of two churches: Unity and Science of Mind. Most everyone I know is unfamiliar with both of these, so I’ll try my best to explain them.
Unity (which is not, and has nothing to do with, Unitarian Universalism) could be described as non-denominational Christan, except for one thing: many of its members don’t believe that Jesus Christ is a/the Saviour. There are two reasons for this: one, my parents and many of their friends from church do not believe in the concept of sin, and therefore, do not believe they need to be saved (from sin or anything else for that matter). Two, they believe that God is present in everyone, and Jesus Christ was not unique in this. They do believe he was a great teacher, leader by example, perhaps even a prophet of sorts. I happen to agree with them, on all of these accounts.
Science of Mind (which is not, and has nothing to do with, Scientology) is very similar, with more emphasis on practices commonly called “New Age “: meditation, visualization, and a progressive outlook. They believe in the power of prayer and meditation to both clear one’s mind in order to more easily receive God’s wisdom, and to affect change on the physical plane. These are also things I believe.
My point being, my parents had a profound effect on my current beliefs. I think people either go one way or the other: either they completely disagree with their parents’ take on religion and choose something else, or they accept those beliefs for the most part and continue the family traditions.
Because I went in the latter direction, I often think about both Wiccan/Pagan and Unity/Science of Mind answers to questions. So when I ask why we get sick, this is how I think about it:
Science of Mind teaches us to think of ourselves as perfect, whole, and complete. This is drastically different than the belief that humans are inherently flawed – a belief that is present in many religions worldwide. SoM preaches that because God is a part of all things, and we are all part of him/her/it, we cannot help but be perfect, whole and complete. Illness happens when we forget that, or when someone doesn’t know how perfect, whole, and complete s/he really is.
Wicca says that illness is a product of negative energy. When we are stressed, or just preoccupied, we are more vulnerable to negativity. There are spiritual exercises that one can do to keep negative energy out, but even when a person practices these, s/he may become preocccupied and forget to allow only positive energy in.
What do I believe? Both. They’re not mutually exclusive concepts, so I integrate both ideas. But I certainly wash my hands, too. I work with kids, after all.
What do you think? Are you more inclined to stick to the scientific explanations (and methods of preventions), or do you have a faith-based answer?