Normally, one wouldn’t think of the literature of a sci-fi writer to be formidable for the basis of a religion. Maybe a cult following of fans, but probably not a religion. Even though most religions hold beliefs that might as well be turned into cheap, paperback sci-fi novels, the process usually doesn’t work the other way around.
Scientology has been the first “religion” to break these generally held guidelines. Is it a religion or is it just a new wave of groundbreaking honesty and irony? Many people, oddly enough, stand on both sides of the aisle.
Hubbard first wrote a self-help book titled, Dianetics in order to answer the question of why some people seem to be fuller of energy and vigor for life. Certainly people are not cheery all the time. He postulated that we store stress, fear, and all sorts of bad feelings in a part of our brains. These bad feelings can cause any range of mental or physical illnesses from depression to asthma. Hubbard wanted to find a way to clear the mind of these things that did not include taking prescription medicine. Ok, fine. It sounds a little sketchy, but we’ll go with it. I’ll admit that it is food for thought, and I’m always open to new ideas.
Do keep in mind that Hubbard is a science fiction author not a doctor or student of any form of the human brain or neuroscience. Also keep in mind the definition of the word “fiction.”
Here’s where it gets a little hairy: the reception of the books.
Professor John A. Lee states in his 1970 evaluation of Dianetics: “Objective experimental verification of Hubbard’s physiological and psychological doctrines is lacking.” Philosophy professor Robert Carroll points to Dianetics’ lack of empirical evidence: “What Hubbard touts as a science of mind lacks one key element that is expected of a science: empirical testing of claims.”
When professors and scientists call your work “pseudoscience” it’s pretty obvious that you’ve got a flaw.
Hubbard’s first books were published in 1950, and by 1953, Scientology, the religion based on these books, began… in New Jersey of all places.
What Scientology took from Hubbard’s self-claimed “religious” text is that the human race is forgetting what its purpose. Removing the “bad vibes” from people’s brains will help this. It’s all about help. This is what the group says, however there have been many discrepancies as to the true intentions of the church.
Lawsuits have been brought against the church. People have gone “missing” after leaving the group. One woman, Lisa McPherson, was found dead, and the church was to blame. There have also been cases of neglect brought upon families who refuse to give medication to their children who have illnesses.
Some countries have legally outlawed the “religion” altogether.
Celebrity members of Scientology, including Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Dustin Hoffman have been given positions of superiority.
For some female members of their organization, marriage and childbirth are declared as distractions from the church and are forbidden.
One well-protected story in Scientology involves the history of Earth. They believe that there used to be a warlord, Xenu, who blew up the evil in the world with hydrogen bombs. The fragments of that evil, “thetans,” are what have caused the slip of the human race that currently inhabit the planet.
But before we get too critical of Scientology, we must ask ourselves: what constitutes a religion. The group that some would call a cult has received this status legally in the United States. Scientology is legally recognized as a tax-exempt religion in the United States and some other countries. The Church of Scientology emphasizes this as proof that it is a legitimate religion. In other countries such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom, Scientology does not have the same status.
According to Legal Dictionary online, “… Scientology… does not propound the existence of a supreme being, but it qualifies as a religion under the broad definition propounded by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has deliberately avoided establishing …definition of religion because freedom of … was written in a manner to ensure flexibility… Thus, religion is not limited to traditional denominations.”
In comparison to the generally held beliefs of a zombie resurrected Jesus, miracles, the cycle of karma that always gives you what you deserve, reincarnation, a mystical figure in the sky, angels, and divine intervention, the thoughts behind Scientology aren’t that farfetched.
Many other religions around the world are guilty of the same charges mentioned previously (i.e. nuns being kept from childbirth, the senseless violence and lost lives, and illegalization in parts of the world).
If one is going to criticize the group/religion/organization/church/cult that is Scientology with no other excuse than that it is based on a book that makes no sense and seems to be only believed by the mentally insane, then one must also apply the same criticism to other religions. Just because they have been around longer does not makes them any less crazy.