Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Statement on Scientology

It was yesterday eve whilst I was listening to the new System of a Down album that an acquaintance of mine came up me. This acquaintance began (rather randomly I might state) by saying how he had previously viewed Tom Cruise as a decent, fun-loving, and easy-going kind of guy, but no, he says, turns out he’s into all that Scientology crap. He then goes on to say what a load of nonsense it is and that he has lost any hitherto existent respect for Mr Cruise.

Knowing this acquaintance’s religious disposition I reply the following: “Sure scientology is just as valid as Christianity, is it not?” This only led him to strenuous denial and weak attempts to justify an absent rationality.

“Hey as long as they’re happy participating, and it is doing no harm to anyone else, then who’s to negate them that.” His in-grained narrow-minded stubbornness would, however, not be breeched, no matter what logic I could lather upon him.

This leads me to postulate that there is a great hypocritical irreverence aimed at Scientology from many fronts, the sort of irreverence that might be best pointed inward. I am mainly speaking in respect to organised religion here. I don’t mean to single out Christianity from the cauldron here, but do so because of its hegemonic status in the west and (in many ways a corollary of that) I am more knowledgeable about it than others.

Why is Scientology just as valid (or invalid) as Christianity?

One of the criticisms aimed towards Scientology from a Christian standpoint (and I’ve witnessed this) is that it is wrong because it doesn’t follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Surely it doesn’t take a huge step into the objective to realise that the simple reply from a Scientologist here is that Christianity is wrong because it doesn’t follow the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. Simple my word against yours conundrum here.

Scientology contains similar elements of abstract mysticism present in Christianity. Scientologists believe they are spiritual beings, and that life does not end at death, just like the Christian conceptualisation of an afterlife (you could say that both are ostentatious enough to call themselves immortal).

Does the short lifetime of Scientology make it invalid? Well Christianity had to begin sometime, it was young once too. Is Christianity more valid because it has been around for a duo of millennia? Does this train of thought lead to a hierarchy of validity based on time? Does that make ancient Greek religions more valid than Christianity?

You could argue that Christianity has a good message and it is beneficial to live your life by its values. To believe that entire sentence would be highly erroneous, but I will admit that the life of Jesus is surely a moralistic, righteous one that I wouldn’t castigate anyone for following fully and properly (although could the same not be said for honourable fictional characters such as Batman?). Scientology also has many principled facets such as the belief that all people are good and only certain aberrations leads them away from that point, this is basically a mass equality idea.

The main argument against Scientology is to do with the fact that a lot of celebrities enlist themselves into the doctrine and spend huge amounts of their huge amounts of money on it. Again, going back to an earlier postulation, if it makes them happy who cares? Let me highlight an example of the double standards here by stating one word: consumerism. I may go out and purchase a DVD, it’s not necessary to my survival, but I give money for it, and it makes me happy to have it and to watch it. Is this not the same thing as the financial exchange for mental beatitude present in Scientology?

What’s that? Scientology is a corrupt unethical entity just out for people’s money? How’s that make it different from corporations? Is Scientology different because it advertises itself as a non-profit organisation? Perhaps it’s just the same as corporations advertising their products as necessary and beneficial when they clearly are not?

Scientology also has the dogma of abstinence that Christianity is well known for. For one it is very vocal on the subject of drugs and their iniquitousness, the poison attributes which inflict the body. Funnily enough this is in direct contradiction with the Scientology ideas on freedom; I quote the following from the official Scientology website:

“Through Scientology, people all over the world are achieving the long-sought goal of true spiritual release and freedom.”

Freedom to take as many drugs as they possibly can take?

Well my comparison wouldn’t be complete without the elucidation of doctrinal contradictions now would it.

How about the sources of each religion’s belief system? The Scientology ‘bible’ is of course L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics, published in 1950. Does it have more validity than a book that has been constantly revised and interpreted for over a thousand years, and even who’s origins are highly open to question?

Now don’t go thinking I’m some Scientologist now, I’m nothing of the sort. In fact I view the religion as nothing more than a fallacious cult which only reinforces mystical faiths in a world overrun with them. But I do contend that its chastisement from Christianity is extremely hypocritical and that the argument thrown towards Scientology would be better served directed inward coupled with an open-mind.

2 Comments:

Blogger Miss Templeton said...

You make a fair case, although overlooking the chance to compare the aggressive recruiting methods on city street corners of the two systems. But it is your aside to Batman that reminds me of a great bit from John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces (a book you might enjoy, incidently):

You must begin a reading program immediately so that you may understand the crises of our age." Ignatius said solemnly. "Begin with the late Romans, including Boethius, of course. Then you should dip rather extensively into early Medieval. You may skip the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. That is mostly dangerous propaganda. Now that I think of it, you had better skip the Romantics and the Victorians, too. For the contemporary period, you should study some selected comic books...I recommend Batman especially, for he tends to transcend the abysmal society in which he’s found himself. His morality is rather rigid, also. I rather respect Batman."

3:59 p.m.  
Blogger Aaron Fleming said...

Ah interesting, I never thought about the propagating recuitment elements of Scientology, probably because I've never been subject to them, unlike Christianity's abhorrent evangelicalism.

Oh, and nice quote. And it's true, he does have a rigid morality.

4:17 p.m.  

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