Scientology gets a lot of press; most of it isn’t particularly serious. From celebrity gossip about Tom Cruise to episodes of South Park, most mentions of Scientology in the media range from the flippant to the confused.
This column will attempt to clear up some of the confusion surrounding Scientology, and demonstrate the religion’s basis in logic and reason.
Of course, to give previous commentators their due, it’s difficult not to be confused when confronted with a religion supposedly based upon science-and even more difficult not to be confused when it turns out that the religion in question is actually based on the theories of a science fiction writer.
L. Ron Hubbard, originator of the Church of Scientology, burst on the religious scene in 1950 when he published Dianetics. A less-known fact about the book, which purports to be a new system of psychology and the science of the human mind, is that the theory behind Dianetics was originally printed in Astounding Science Fiction, a magazine offering, as the name might suggest, entirely fictional content. As Dianetics is clearly based in fact, Astounding Science Fiction must have made a grievous error.
Another story, which is undeniably an unsubstantiated rumor, suggests that L. Ron Hubbard made a one dollar bet with Isaac Asimov, the famed science fiction writer, on which of them could write a book that would be the basis for an entire religion. It’s an interesting story, and derives from an anecdote told by someone who was a friend of Asimov’s.
Be that as it may, the religion itself has become a well-known one, if not one practiced as widely as others. The book What is Scientology?, published by the organization and based on Hubbard’s writings, is an invaluable resource for anyone curious to know what Scientology is all about. It details the scientific, factual, and exhaustively researched basis for the religion: That all humans are actually spirits known as thetans, and that it is possible to achieve a state of Clear, or emotional stability, through Scientology. The main tool used to measure progress is the Electropsychometer, or E-meter, which takes a reading of stress levels caused by reaction to a variety of questions posed by an Scientology auditor.
To my complete lack of surprise-after all, I haven’t yet progressed to anything approximating a state of Clear-my E-meter readings, on a very short test administered by a Santa Barbara-based auditor, indicated high stress levels related to every aspect of my life. Apparently, my “reactive emotions,” or those emotions based on suppressed memories, are not under my control.
Scientology is, perhaps, the answer. Of course, the machine’s needle, which indicates results on a small dial, registered the most stress (based on the explanation of its function I received) when the auditor stopped asking questions and began to talk to me about Scientology, which may or may not be relevant to the results.
Of course, this brief introduction to the meaning of Scientology is insufficient to obtain the details. What is Scientology? hints at information which is only revealed to those who have reached the highest levels of Scientology, and the auditor refused to elaborate. Apparently, the human mind is not able to comprehend this mysterious information until it has been prepared by reaching a state of Operating Thetan – the point at which a Scientologist gains control over not only themselves, but their physical environment. A more cynical person might suggest that the size and regularity of the donations provided to the Church of Scientology might influence the readiness of the human mind for enlightenment, but that, of course, is mere speculation.
The questions remains, however, of what this information might be. According to information obtained from the Church of Scientology under the Freedom of Information Act, the shocking secret behind Scientology is that humans are being prevented from reaching their full potential through the malicious machinations of Xenu, overlord of the Galactic Confederacy, who came to Earth (formerly known as Teegeeack) and killed billions of extraterrestrials beside a volcano. It seems that the souls of these murdered aliens cluster around humans, fogging their minds and retarding their spiritual growth.
As logical an explanation for human misery as this is, many have challenged the truth of Hubbard’s teachings, particularly misguided psychologists and other unenlightened mental health professionals. According to What is Scientology?, “a scant few among society’s ranks . . . were not quite so enthusiastic” about Dianetics upon its release to the public. Although the number of detracting “key members of the American medical/psychiatric establishment” were “pitifully small-literally measured in the dozens,” they continued to resist the idea that Scientology offered a better way of life.
Of course, not having progressed to the state of Operating Thetan, they haven’t yet been given full information or learned to suppress their reactive emotions-they would doubtless change their minds, were they willing to put in the time and energy to learn the truth about Xenu.