The servant of the Lord has made many statements that were considered inaccuracies in her day. For example:
(1) Germs cause cancer (Ministry of Healing, p. 313). In the 19th century, the scientific and medical establishment wholly rejected this. After all, they had firm evidence that germs, or as we would say today, “viruses” (a specific class of germs), could not cause cancer. On one hand, they noted that health professionals who were working with tuberculosis patients, (another infectious disease from bacteria, a second class of germs), were more likely than the general population to become infected with that disease, indicating the source of the disease was not viral. On the other hand, those health professionals working with cancer patients showed no higher incidence of cancer than the general population. This seemed to be irrefutable evidence for their position. However, today there is no question by medical science that germs in the form of viruses do cause cancer.
(2) Sister White talks about malignant poison-meaning a poison that causes cancer (Ibid. p. 327). This was not accepted by the medical profession of the 19th century. Indeed, tobacco smoking was considered a therapy for people suffering from pulmonary problems, especially asthma. It took until the second half of the 20th century before irrefutable evidence showed a link between lung cancer and the inhaling of tobacco smoke, and that it causes certain other cancers, too.
(3) Sister White claimed that masturbation enfeebled the mind (Testimonies to the Church, vol. 5, p. 91; Ibid. vol. 2, p. 470). This was laughed to scorn. However, some medical personnel are beginning to accept the possibility. In 1978, Dr. Carl Pfeiffer of Harvard University indicated that insanity could be caused from frequent masturbation (Zinc and Other Micro-Nutrients, Keats Publishing, Inc., 1978, p. 45). In 1991, Dr. David Horrobin of Oxford University concurred, saying that masturbation could cause the stimulation of such mental illness as schizophrenia (Zinc, Vitabooks, Inc., 1981, p. 8).
(4) Sister White was also scorned for talking about the amalgamation of animals and men (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, pp. 64, 75). We don’t laugh so loudly today. A few years ago it was discovered that a laboratory in Massachusetts was seeking to insert a human sperm into a cow’s ovum. There was no intention to stop on ethical grounds. Indeed, when we looked at the process of today’s genetic engineering, we recognize that animal genes are being used for various reasons. They’ve been successfully inserted into plants such as potatoes, tomatoes, corn and soybeans.
Sister White did not live to see the scientific verification of what she had written, but we are witnessing it today. The fact that certain scientific studies at this point appear to contradict the Bible should be no concern to Christians, for we have the Word of the living God. I pray that we will understand that we have the sure Word of God.