Thursday, May 04, 2006

Thinking About Scientology

The recent discussion on religion got me thinking about why Scientology is so ridiculed.

Although I don't really know a lot about their beliefs, from what I eard they do strike me as somewhat bizarre. Of course, many will argue that this is no more bizarre than ethical monotheism (i.e. the idea of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good God - which, in the interests of full disclosure, I believe in). I would not agree with this idea, but I also have not formed a good counterargument to, so I will not argue the point one way or another.

But it does strike me that even if we consider ethical monotheism to be normative, there is no reason why Scientology would be more bizarre than Hinduism or Mormonism. Yet, neither of those belief systems seem to evoke the scorn that Scientology does. I suppose that one might argue that Scientology makes more fringe-ish claims regarding empirical and immediately and obviously practical issues than, say, Mormonism; and it does not have the long history of Hinduism, but then what about Christian Science? The belief that all medicine is unnecessary and that all disease is the result of bad thinking infringes much more on most people's lives than a denial of the benefits of chemical treatment for psychological problems.

So why does Scientology get so much more reviled?

My theory is that it has to do largely with the fact that it seems like so many Scientologists are vapid, mega-successful celebrities, who joined most likely because they were bored, because they have no direction in their lives, and because they have already made so much money that there is little point in making more except as as a way of getting status.

I suspect that if the most famous Scientologists were a few Senators and Representatives, and some well-known CEOs, rather than John Travolta, Isaac Hayes, and Tom Cruise, people would not ridicule it as much. (Not saying that it does not deserve ridicule, just that I think it does not necessarily deserve it moreso than some other belief systems).

Of course, the fact that L. Ron Hubbard wrote Battlefield Earth may have something to do with it as well.

That is all.

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