November 29, 2012

Counterfeit Religions XII: Scientology

It’s not that a person needs to actively defend against this “religion” as anyone with a modicum of commonsense can see how loony it is, but I do so at the risk of snorts, giggles and outright mocking laughter. Apparently, there seems to be enough self-help nonsense in our self-gratifying society that this “religion” has managed to gain a substantial foothold with the do-it-yourself spiritual types. I guess in many cases science itself has replaced God in many people’s minds and I suppose this has something to do with Scientology’s popularity. The irony with Scientology though is that it is neither religious nor scientific. It is science fiction scam-boogery courtesy of science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard and his rabid fan base. Yes people, this religion came from techie eggheads.

It is not surprising Scientology is controversial. They are incredibly secretive of their “auditing” process mentioned in more detail below. They have been accused of psychological abuses through this process. It is interesting they also have continued run-ins with the IRS too. Many have also turned a jaundiced eye towards the business-like aspect of the auditing process but when attacked for this aspect they often turn the tables by pointing out the heavy hand used in the Catholic Church in the past.

The acceptance of Scientology seems to have gained its foothold through wacky celebrities who seem to have sway over the popular culture and what is considered trendy. The “Church” of Scientology was established in 1954 by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard. His father was an officer in the Navy often stationed overseas, so Hubbard was highly influenced by Eastern religions and religious thought. He was also interested in works on psychology like those of S. Freud. It is believed that these things influenced Hubbard's view. If they did, then it is easy to see that the resultant “religion” would be a syncretism of New Age Humanism, psychology and Eastern philosophies. By May of 1950 the book Dianetics was published. Hubbard’s motivation to write Dianetics was based on his observations while working at an overseas medical facility in WWII. Hubbard saw the mental suffering of injured people inhibited the ability to recover (duh). Dianetics ended up being an expose of his beliefs about human nature. In particular he describes how damaging experiences in past lives (reincarnation) are stored in a “reactive mind” and these experiences lead to irrational behavior. He then states that humans need to rationally and through reason release the baggage of past lives. This reeks of Gnosticism among other things.

The central idea of Scientology is that human beings are spiritual beings who are trapped in the material bodies. Souls are things called thetans and are immortal. They continue from one material life to another collecting things called engrams which are obstructions to the soul imprisoned by physical reality or MEST (Matter Energy Space Time). These engrams manifest in a person’s life through sadness, doubt, anger or negative thoughts, etc. Here I am not only seeing Gnosticism because of the idea of spiritual essence being trapped in the physical, I am also seeing hints of ancient Greek philosophy in general in the form of Platonism and a modern bastardization of self-help gurus. Scientology is to supposedly confront engrams and release them allowing liberation or a freeing of the mind.

Humans are born with the ability to think rationally and this ability needs to be harnessed to help remove the engrams from past lives…a religion of works if I ever saw one. As the thetan moves to liberation it moves through a series of steps called the Bridge to Freedom. Prior to the bridge a person is called a preclear and once the bridge is completed the person becomes a clear or the Operating Thetan (please note the change to capitalization of the name). The bridge can be made alone or with an assistant or counselor called an auditor. The auditor helps the person through the Bridge by asking questions and using specific verbal imagery (think psychoanalysis and regressive therapy). Auditors help people recognize their engrams. The auditor may also use a device called an e-meter which is literally a mechanical machine designed to find the “spiritual” engrams (I told you this was loony). This of course will come at a fee for the faithful (duped) adherents. For the poor or thrifty of the faith, these auditing session can become group therapy to save money.

I suppose the real draw and postmodern interest in this cult is the overlying creed (or screed) of Scientology which dovetails nicely with our postmodern and pluralistic culture. Scientologists believe that the practice of auditing can be followed alongside other religious traditions (pluralism). Additionally, many Scientologists celebrate Christmas and Easter, not because of a belief in Jesus Christ, but because these holidays would be considered part of the cultural norm (1 Corinthians 1-4, 1 John 2:15-17). I believe what we also begin to really see clearly here is Scientology’s syncretistic religion blending nature (i.e.: Yahweh/Baal worship).

They also believe in equality, diversity of character, non-violence, spiritual sacredness (which I fail to see anywhere in their religion), and human rights (a la Secularism/Humanism). Anyone that chooses to become part of the Church of Scientology will be asked to enter a purification stage that will release the toxins from the body. The adherent would then go through basic training that explains the basic tenants of the faith (brainwashing). In other words…you walk into this cult blind and they tell you what to believe as you pay them for it.

Scientologists also have their own holidays such as March 13 which is L. Ron Hubbard birthday.

Well, enough said about this belief system. It is just too loony for me to take serious or waste any more time expounding on. Hopefully you see its nuttiness too. Sorry Tom Cruise and John Travolta, I’m really not interested. Sadly, they couldn't even make their own symbol or icon original, they hijacked the Christian cross and mixed it with a star burst or Sol Invictus. Everything about this religion says ripoff or counterfeit, they even steal from other counterfeit religions like Gnosticism. Bummer.

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