Thursday, February 25, 2010

Scientology: Religion, Philosophy, or Cult?

After exploring I find its concepts interesting in it's deviations from other religions and yet it's use of other religions taxonomy and icons. For the only major religion constructed in the 20th century, at first glance the home page suggests a branch of Christianity with the cross in the title, use of the words "Church", and "God." Although later "God" is replaced with "Supreme Being," my first impression of this "new" religion was not of difference but of assimilation of many religions into one. The biggest difference between "conventional" religions and Scientology would be the focus or center of their religion. In Scientology, the center of the religion is the individual (Dynamic One), then family (Two), then society (Three), then species (Four), then the "Circle of Life" (Five), then the relationship of all living beings with nature (Six), then spiritual wellness (Seven), and finally Infinity (Dynamic Eight--the relationship with the "Supreme Being" and a sense of identity within the cosmos). "God" is last priority but the end goal. In other religions, the deity is the focus and man, family, and society conforms to the "wishes" of the deity. The views of scientologist can be seen in many current religions like Hinduism and Buddhism along with the current practices of psychology. The biggest question I have with Scientology: Cult or Religion? The foundation of this religion is based on other religions, scientific acceptable norms, and science FICTION novels written for to criticize current social times and entertain the readers. Maybe I should start a religion based on Star Wars? (Or is Star Wars and Star Trek already a religion?) Or even better, I'll start a religion based on another genre like comedies...laughter is the root to all happiness. When can you consider a philosophy about life a religion? Needless to say, although I believe in some of the Buddhist and Hindi views, responsibility for good works, and individual freedom...I'm still a skeptic due to its origin in entertainment...

1 comment:

UtahPirate said...

I want to preface this by saying I found your blog post to be insightful, but you're stuck on a point which really isn't as important as the real issue that should be taken with Scientology--that of ritual and spiritual abuse.

To be perfectly blunt about it, a religion's origins shouldn't be weighed at all, with regard to whether or not it's really a religion. Let's look at the three terms you wrote:

Cult: This refers to basically any non-mainstream belief, which includes Scientology, but it also includes Solitary Wicca (which eliminates any kind of group ethic). The definition of this word is broad enough these days that even the Roman Catholic church can be considered a cult. It's essentially meaningless. (Seriously, I looked this up.)

Religion: To be a religion, there are three tests: you have to have a philosophical belief which is held in a religious capacity; you have to have a centralized doctrine which all members can agree upon; and you have to be able to show that spiritual development occurs as a result of practice (usually by testimonial). Scientology has all of these.

Philosophy: This is nothing more than a collection of ideas about the way something is done, and in the case of religious philosophy it means the beliefs regarding the way that life should be lived. Scientology most certainly fits this.

So, to answer, Scientology fits the definitions of all three.

The problem with Scientology isn't in the spiritual side of their beliefs, but in the inherent danger which their leaders present in the form of an abusive role model. When one looks at the practice (as opposed to the preaching), one can clearly see that the core of the religion today is not in spiritual development, but in the millions of dollars collected each year from the people who use psychological techniques to trick themselves into believing that psychology is bad, and occasionally triggering psychosis (complete breaks with reality) in the name of spiritual development.

People commit suicide and die.

Scientology is dangerous.

The leadership of that organization is ultimately evil. Perhaps the ultimate development in that organization is the realization that they most certainly cannot deliver on what they promise, and that things change so often that it doesn't even remotely resemble what the founder, L. Ron Hubbard, envisioned.

It doesn't matter if they're a religion, a cult, or a philosophy. What matters is that Scientology doesn't work, and it hurts thousands of people each year, bilking them out of money they can't afford in the name of promising an end to pain (and in fact, it's nothing more than suppression of pain, which everyone knows will come back to haunt you).