Presented here is a non-exhaustive list of reasons, included in no particular order, of why I could never rationally consider myself to be a Scientologist.
1. Respecting False Beliefs.
I strongly believe that any religious and philosophical belief that is predicated on the notion that all theological views deserve respect is an affront to truth itself. According to L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology,
“Religious tolerance does not mean one cannot express his own beliefs. It does mean that seeking to undermine or attack the religious faith and beliefs of another has always been a short road to trouble.”
This is a significant insight due to the fact that Hubbard’s views and written works form the foundation of “scripture,” so to speak, for Scientologists. Several comments need to be made about this statement, however. First, the view that criticizing the religious beliefs has “always been a short road to trouble,” and that we should not do it is in stark contrast to the views expressed by Hubbard himself and the Scientologist Church. Several crucial doctrines relating to the afterlife, hell, the significance of religious leaders, and God are proposed by Scientologists and contradict the teachings of other theological systems and religions. Secondly, Hubbard himself was greatly critical of beliefs held by other people. For example, when he theorized his theory of Dianetics, a pseudoscientific psychotherapy theory, it was rejected by the scientific and psychological communities, including the American Psychological Association. Hubbard’s response was to demonize these medical and psychological authorities which, to me, seems to violate the notion that criticizing certain beliefs should not be criticized. There is no good reason to ever put religious beliefs or scientific theories above the realm of criticism. Although largely addressing different domains, both systems propose objective truth claims about the way reality is. Thirdly, Hubbard’s statement asks too much and requires me to violate my moral consciousness in order to upheld false beliefs. Personally, I believe that one ought not “respect” false beliefs for they present false views of the way the world is and therefore obstruct one’s journey to discover truth. Thus, I could never respect the false beliefs proposed by individuals pertaining to their theological and philosophical worldviews that I deem to be ostensibly false. Importantly, it is imperative that one makes a distinction between respecting the individual who holds to false beliefs and the beliefs themselves. I believe the former should be afforded the respect and dignity that any individual human being ought to. The latter false beliefs should be criticized in cordial and substantive manner that does not negate the dignity of the individual holding them.
2. L. Ron Hubbard is a Deficient Authority.
I believe that if one is to adopt a belief system that the founder of the system itself should be someone worth emulating. After all, no individual should place their faith and trust in someone who does not live up to a good moral standard, and is in fact morally deficient in several ways. If the founder of a religion is a questionable character then it is often evidence of ulterior motives, and that his or her views should not be trusted. In my summation Hubbard is certainly a deficient authority. His controversial views including his theory of Dianetics and his creations, such as the E-meter, are predicated on false scientific views about the nature of reality (including the way the world is and the human being). Hubbard made numerous dramatic claims about the efficacy of his theory of Dianetics in how it could result in the healing of numerous physical and spiritual ailments in human beings. A few independent studies by researchers discovered that none of Hubbard’s views and theories could be substantiated, including his concept of engrams, as well as alleged the efficacy of the E-meter. Hubbard’s several claims about healing individuals were also disputed due to the lack of appropriate scientific control, and the biased nature of the research and reporting. Additionally, Hubbard ran into trouble with the law in several countries, including a conviction of fraud, and subsequently fled as a means to escape imprisonment. Thus, for these reasons alone I believe that Hubbard does not deserve my respect and trust, and should be rejected as being an individual worth emulating in my own life.
3. Irrational View of Significant Religious Leaders.
Hubbard and the Church of Scientology maintain views of religious leaders and authorities that cannot be rationally sustained. They view these founding leaders, such as Christ, Muhammad, Buddha etc., as honorable and great leaders of the past. They view them in this light because of how they brought wisdom to the world, made human beings aware that there is a spiritual side to their existence, and showed that there is hope in that this life is not all there is. For example, Hubbard explained that these men (Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha etc.),
“I consider great spiritual leaders, because they gave to Man, on down through the years, the hope that life could go on, that there was a spiritual side to existence, that the business of barter and gain was not all there was to life.”
This might appear an attractive prospect within a contemporary spiritual climate that seeks after spiritual fulfillment at the expense of reason, as appears in abundance in New Age spiritually embraced within the west. However, the implications of such a belief are profound. First, it expects that followers view all these religious leaders in the same light, despite the fact that all of them held to dichotomous and mutually exclusive views about creation, the human being, God, the afterlife. There is no way to square the views of death and the afterlife posited by the Prophet Muhammad with The Buddha’s view of reincarnation. Similarly, there’s no way to square the exclusive teachings of Christ with the monism embraced by many Hindus. As far as I can tell, the only way to rationalize this belief is if an individual possessed special insight in the total nature of reality as a means to become cognitively aware that each and every one of these religious leaders held to a partial spiritual truth, and that by combining them one could see the “full picture,” so to speak. I believe that no living individual, from all four corners of the Earth, possesses this knowledge.
4. Unsubstantiated Spiritual Claims
The Church of Scientology makes a number of unsubstantiated theological and spiritual truth claims concerning the nature of human beings and God. One central belief is that human beings are immortal spiritual beings, referred to as thetans in their theology. Hubbard invented his own view of the “fall,” so to speak. The story is that some many trillions of years ago thetans became bored, and subsequently emanated mental universes for their pleasure to play in and amuse themselves with. The thetans became too attached to their creation and were so conditioned by the manifestations of their own thought processes that they lost all awareness of their true identity and spiritual nature. As a result human beings are trapped in “MEST,” an acronym for matter, energy, space, and time. Human beings are a sort of trapped creature often ignorant of their divine nature. Understandably, this is a rather big claim, but how does one know that any of it is true? Other than Hubbard we can not know. Additionally, Scientologists do not believe in heaven or hell but rather view death as a release of the soul from the body. Again, how do they know this? Well, because Hubbard thought so.
5. Problematic View of God
In the same light as my critique of New Age spirituality and why I could never consider New Age ideologies as rational, I find that Scientology’s view of God to be equally objectionable. A reading of the Church’s ideas of God presents a very unspecified concept. They refer to God in a number of ways including “the Supreme Being,” “Nature,” “Infinity,” “the Eighth Dynamic,” “all Theta” (life), and so on. Yet, in striking contrast, the Church purposely views God as undefined and not particularly relevant in Scientology theory or practice. This appears odds with the Church’s 7th dynamic, defined as the the urge to survive as spiritual beings, which if fulfilled, will lead the individual to “discover the true eighth dynamic, the creator.” According to the Church this creator is open to interpretation for believers.
In same light as I explained above, the claim that what and who God is is merely open to subjective human interpretation is an attractive prospect to many within the west seeking spiritual fulfillment. However, the implications of such a view are significant. First, if we merely hold to our own subjective creations of who and what God is, then what we really have is a god of our own creation, or a god made in our own image. Rather, if God is to exist then one necessarily quality is that it be the greatest conceivable being, a quality that seems obvious if we’re ever to attach a capital ‘G’ to the designation God. Additionally, why should we suppose that this concept of God, however undefined it is, is true?