Scientology As A Worldview

Written by Victor Stanley Jr.

In February 1954 the Church of Scientology was incorporated in California by L. Ron Hubbard.[1] While this date marks the beginning of the Church of Scientology, it does not denote the beginning of Hubbard’s efforts to start a religion. Those efforts begin in May 1950 with the publication of Hubbard’s book Dianetics, which means through the soul, and is claimed to be a science of the mind,[2] laid the groundwork for what would become Scientology. Scientology, like many religions, and specifically Buddhism, offers an explanation to humankind’s suffering, as well as a means to alleviate said suffering. In Hubbard’s book Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought he lays out what are known as The Eight Dynamics, Hubbard puts it this way:

There could be said to be eight urges (drives, impulses) in life. These we call DYNAMICS. These are motives or motivations. We call them THE EIGHT DYNAMICS… they are categories (divisions) of the broad game of life… The purpose of setting forth this division is to increase an understanding of life by placing it in compartments.[3] (Hubbard’s emphasis)

It is within the framework of these eight divisions that Scientology offers up man’s ultimate purpose for being. It is also within this same framework that one can see Scientology’s failure to provide logical and coherent answers to three essential questions. These three questions flesh out must be answered by any worldview that claims to hold absolute truths, they are as follows: 1) Who is man? 2) What is his purpose? and, 3) What is wrong with the world? Scripture answers these questions, Scientology does not.

Founder & History

To fully understand Scientology’s ideology one must first have a basic knowledge of who Ron Hubbard was, and a brief history of Scientology’s development. L. Ron Hubbard was born in Tilden, Nebraska on March 13, 1911. His father was in the U.S. Navy, and Hubbard would eventually do a stint in the Navy as well during World War II. He briefly attended George Washington University before being placed on academic probation; he never completed his education.

Hubbard eventually became a popular Science Fiction author throughout the 1930’s and 40’s, Hubbard is quoted as saying, “Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wanted to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion.”[4] Hubbard is reported to have made this statement in 1949, and the next year he published Dianetics, which, although not a religion itself, is the basis for Scientology.

The Dianetics movement swept through America with Dianetics reportedly selling 55,000 copies in its first two months.[5] Other stats show that within the first two years of Dianetics publishing 750 Dianetics groups started nationwide, as well as boasting a readership of 150,000 and 2.5 million followers.[6] By 1954 Hubbard had taken Dianetics from being a sort of alternative solution to dealing with mental health issues, and developed it into a religion founding the Church of Scientology in February of that year. Today Scientology has somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 active members worldwide, with around 55,000 of them being in the United States.[7]

Further reading into the history of Hubbard and Scientology will reveal Hubbard’s sordid past, his involvement with the occult, many apparent lies and deception, and many other facts that call into question his credibility. It will also reveal Scientology’s constant legal battles, lawsuits filed against the Church of Scientology, and a plethora of testimony from former members who speak of coercion, intimidation, and the cultic practices of Scientology. While all of this would serve to discredit Scientology on moral and ethical grounds, the focus of this paper is to show the shortcomings of Scientology on theological grounds when placed up against a biblical Christian worldview.

 

Worldview & Practices

Scientology, which, according to Hubbard, is a science of the mind,[8] has an anthropocentric worldview; this means that mankind lies at the center of its worldview. Key to understanding and assessing any worldview is to understand its view of man, God, Jesus, and salvation. Scientology’s thoughts on each of these help to provide the answers to the the three aforementioned essential questions to which a worldview needs to provide answers.

View of Man & Salvation

Scientology holds that man consists of three parts: body, mind, and thetan. The Scientology website provides an explanation of this division:

“The body is the organized physical composition or substance of Man, whether living or dead. It is not the being himself. Next, there is the mind, which consists essentially of pictures. Finally, and most importantly, there is the thetan. The thetan is not a thing. It is the creator of things. Of the three parts of Man, the thetan is, obviously, most important. Without the thetan, there would be no mind or animation in the body. While without a body or a mind, there is still animation and life in the thetan.”[9]

Think of a thetan as a soul, however, it’s more like a pilot with the mind serving as the conduit to the body; it also must be understood that a thetan is an extra-terrestrial being. The goal of Scientology is to free the thetan from the body, this is essentially salvation, and until this is achieved the thetan goes through a continuous cycle of reincarnation. In order to escape this cycle of reincarnation a person must go through a process, performed by a fellow Scientologist, called auditing[10] which is intended to help a person achieve what is called being Clear.[11]

A clear is a person who is free from all ailments, diseases, and handicaps, they have perfect vision, perfect hearing, and perfect memory recall amongst other things; essentially a Clear is a person who has reached such a state of self realization that they have become perfect.[12] Man able to achieve this state of perfection on his own because “the basic nature of Man is discovered in Dianetics… And that basic nature is discovered to be good.”[13]

For Scientology man is a spiritual being that is inherently good, but his understanding of reality has been corrupted, and he must, through Scientology, release himself from this corruption in order to achieve a type of perfection and his own salvation. This is all done so that he may truly live life.[14] Scientology’s view of mankind is contained within the first four of the Eight Dynamics, these four are: the urge toward existence as one’s self; the urge toward existence as a sexual activity (the sexual act and the family unit); the urge toward existence in groups of individuals; and the urge toward existence as or of mankind.[15] Its view of salvation is found in its effort to free man’s spirt, that is his thetan, from its false view of reality and its ills. This relates to the seventh dynamic, the urge toward existence as or of spirits.

View of God

The Scientology website states that, “Unlike religions with Judeo-Christian origins, the Church of Scientology has no set dogma concerning God that it imposes on its members.”[16] While Scientology does have a belief in a Supreme Being, an explanation of this being is never given. Scientology leaves the Supreme Being up to each person’s own personal idea of what the Supreme Being entails.[17] The eighth dynamic is “the urge toward existence as infinity… This can also be called the Infinity or God Dynamic.”[18] Still, even this reference to God in the eighth dynamic is more about man reaching a godlike state, and not about the personal creator God.

View of Jesus

Scientology teaches that Jesus was no more special than Moses, Buddha or other spiritual teachers. Hubbard puts it like this:

“…an enormous amount of what we call religion in this Western Hemisphere today was given to this Western Hemisphere directly by Gautama Buddha. It was filtered through the Middle East… what I am telling you is that these people handed on a torch of wisdom, of information, generation to generation… one of the people who handed it on was a man named Moses. And again it was handed on to a man named Christ. And he handed it on and even the Arab nations benefited from this through their own prophet, Muhammad… And these men 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…”[19]

For Hubbard all these men were simply “a shade above clear,”[20] and thus were able to offer great spiritual insights. However, Hubbard, and by extension Scientology, deny the deity of Christ.

Other Beliefs & Practices 

The other two dynamics not mentioned above are the fifth dynamic, the urge toward existence of the animal kingdom, and the sixth dynamic, the urge toward the existence as the physical universe.[21] These have to do with man’s interaction and understanding of the world around himself. Hubbard says that it is difficult to verbally communicate exact details of each dynamic,[22] and thus offers little in depth explanation on any of them.

In addition to auditing, adherents to Scientology must take classes in order to better learn the teachings of Hubbard. These classes and auditing all cost money, and that cost grows exponentially greater with each class that is taken and each auditing session one sits through. Despite Hubbard’s extensive writing very little is known about what goes on behind closed doors in the Church of Scientology. What is known has been learned through the numerous court cases the church has been involved in through which details were revealed in court documents.

Further investigation into Scientology’s beliefs would lead one to suspect that they have stumbled into a sci-fi movie rather than a religion. This is ironic considering that Hubbard started out as a Science Fiction writer. Scientology’s beliefs include a supreme alien being, falsely implanted memories called engrams, a separate type of thetan known as a body thetan, a theory of evolution, intergalactic travel, and space stations on Mars to name a few. Still, the basics of Scientology’s worldview have been laid out, and this allows for an assessment of its ability to answer the three essential worldview questions.

 

Critique & Assessment

Who is Man, what is his purpose, and what is wrong with the world; these three questions must be answered by any religion or philosophy if it is going to make truth claims that shape a worldview. Scientology is a man-centered religion whereas Christianity is a God-centered religion, thus they provide drastically different answers to these questions.

Who Is Man?

For Scientology man is a spiritual being trapped in a cycle of reincarnation, disoriented, and confused about who he really is and why he exists. He must, through the practice of Scientology, free, reorient, and educate himself in order to live life the way it was meant to be lived. This so-called spiritual being is actually an alien, and its confusion is a result of falsely implanted memories. Scientology also believes man came about through evolutionary processes,[23] which makes him a cosmic accident. For the Christian, and according to scripture,[24] man is the creation of God, made in his image with inherent dignity and worth.

Apart from the fantastical nature of Scientology’s view of man, it leaves man with no inherent value. He lives numerous lifetimes with no purpose other than to simply exist, and even upon becoming a Clear man simply lives to exist at a heightened state. None of this provides man with an identity, in fact Scientology is mostly unconcerned with who man is, and instead focuses on what man is supposed to do. Hubbard says that “Scientology works,” that “we must work, all of us… to make Man civilized enough to be worthy of his freedom.”[25]

So man must actually gain worth in order to attain salvation. On the contrary the Bible makes clear that because mankind is not only one of God’s creations, but the crowning achievement of all creation, the all people are loved by him. Further more it states that no one is worthy of salvation, and that there is nothing man can do to be worthy of salvation.[26] Yet despite this scripture teaches that because mankind is valued by God he chose to save many apart from any type of merit.[27]

Where Scientology fails is its silence of who man is. It speaks of where man came from: evolution, and the thetan from a distant galaxy. It speaks of man’s nature: inherently good yet delusional and stuck in a cycle of rebirths. It even speaks of what he is to do: become a Clear through the practice of Scientology. Yet it never says who man is. Christianity says that mankind is the creation of God, his children, that he is loved and valued, and that he bears his father’s resemblance. The biblical worldview clearly identifies who man is, Scientology does not.

What Is His Purpose?

Hubbard succinctly states man’s reason for existence in his writings: “…the reason for existence is the same reason as one has to play a game—interest, contest, activity and possession,”[28] and again he says, “The goal of life can be considered to be infinite survival… Man is motivated only by survival.”[29] It becomes clear that for Scientology man has no other purpose other than to exist for the sake of existing, and that he must sustain his own existence by his will to survive. Scripture offers a different answer through the words of King Solomon who, at the end of the book of Ecclesiastes, evaluates all of life and draws this conclusion: “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man,” (Ecclesiastes 12:13 ESV). The Westminster Shorter Catechism restates this saying that, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”[30] It becomes clear then that, for the Christian, man’s purpose is to glorify God.

Ultimately for Scientology man is here to survive, and in surviving man is to seek pleasure and enjoyment. Hubbard emphasizes this is Dianetics:

It’s what Man does the he enjoys doing; it’s what Man does that he enjoys contemplating; it’s what Man does that he enjoys remembering; and it may be just the talk of things he knows he’ll never do. Man will endure a lot of pain to obtain a little pleasure… There is a necessity for pleasure, a necessity as live and quivering and vital as the human heart itself. He who said that a man who had two loves of bread should sell one to buy white hyacinth, spoke sooth. The creative, the constructive, the beautiful, the harmonious, the adventurous, yes, and even escape from the maw of oblivion, these things are pleasure and these things are necessity…Man, in affinity with Man [meaning himself not others], survives. And that survival is pleasure.”[31]

It is a very hopeless outlook on life that sees it merely as a game, or a striving to survive and in that survival seek one’s own pleasure all for the sake of itself. Scripture teaches that man’s ultimate joy, his ultimate destiny is found in the person and work of Christ. Paul points out that the pleasures of the world ultimately lead to death, but that eternal life is found in Jesus Christ:

“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:20-23 ESV)

Scientology offers a life of vanity and striving after wind[32] with no ultimate purpose in sight other that to exist and survive. Scripture reveals man’s purpose to be to glorify his creator, and to find life in Christ.

What Is Wrong With The World?

We need to be better educated, better governed, and better medicated, this is what is wrong with the world. If ignorance can be removed, and order put in place, and man’s ailments healed, then the problems of the world will be remedied. This is Scientology’s answer to the question. Hubbard says that if one only need to “Cause Man to lay aside his hates and listen. Freedom from ignorance is at hand. Perhaps that was the Kingdom of Heaven.”[33] He goes on to say that people who are ignorant elect rulers that are ignorant,[34] thus pointing to a lack of knowledge as a key factor in what causes the world’s problems. It also reveals a belief that if rulers were better educated, then nations would be better governed.

Although Scientology is against the use of most medicines, it does believe that through the practice of Scientology a person can alleviate many of their illnesses. This is due to the fact that Hubbard attributes the majority of all sicknesses to the realm of psychosomatic ills, he says as much in his own writing:

“About 70 percent of the physician’s current roster of diseases fall into the category of psychosomatic illness. How many more can be so classified after Dianetics has been in practice for a few years is difficult to predict, but it is certain that more illnesses are psychosomatic than have been so classified to date.”[35]

So it is seen that Hubbard believes that Scientology itself acts as a medicine to cure the ills of the world.

The Christian worldview offers a different answer to the question: man does not do what he was created to do; he is alienated from God; he does evil deeds; and he is hostile toward God, the problem is sin.[36] Romans chapter 1 paints a vivid picture of man’s wickedness and hatred towards God, and that as a result of this condition mankind has subjected itself to pain and suffering, disease and sickness, and evil and corruption. Romans 3 drives the point home:

as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (Romans 3:10-18 ESV)

The problem with the world may be a lack of knowledge, but it is that it lacks knowledge of God, mankind has exchange the truth of God for a lie.[37] It may be that the world needs better government, but it is found in submitting to the lordship of Christ.[38] It may need to be better medicated, but healing is only found in the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus.[39]

Scientology says man needs a more in depth and intimate knowledge of self; Christianity says man must know God. Scientology says that through the self-realization that comes from the practice of Scientology man will create a better civilization, society, and government;[40] Christianity says that when a person has placed their trust in Christ they become citizens of his kingdom, which is not of this Earth, they are under his perfect rule and authority. Scientology says that healing comes through knowledge of self; Christianity says that the dead come alive in Christ.

 

Personal Engagement

Careful examination of the previous section reveals that Scientology attempts to answer the same questions that Christianity does, and in this it is seeking truth. The three worldview questions demand an answer, but they also require a fourth question to be asked: How can what is wrong be made right? Hubbard makes a profound statement concerning the need for belief in a god or supreme being:

“No culture in the history of the world, save the thoroughly depraved and expiring ones, has failed to affirm the existence of a Supreme Being. It is an empirical observation that men without a strong and lasting faith in a Supreme Being are less capable, less ethical and less valuable to themselves and society… A man without an abiding faith is, by observation alone, more of a thing than a man.”[41]

It is in this statement that Christianity and Scientology find common ground. Hubbard’s statement requires the existence of a god in order for morality, ethics, and values to exist. He even goes so far to say that without faith in a god man looses his identity and becomes less than human. It is here that the Christian worldview steps in and says that not only is there a god, but there is The God, the creator and sustainer of the universe. That in this God man finds his identity, his purpose, and the remedy to the world’s ills. The Christian would do well to show that Hubbard’s “Supreme Being” must be the God of the Bible, and that all morality, ethics, wisdom, knowledge, and truth are contained in him. If this is accepted, then one must also accept that this God became man, took on flesh, and died in man’s place that he might truly live.

Scientology seeks to give mankind relief from suffering, from ignorance, from confusion, and from oppression; it wants to show how what is wrong can be made right. Unfortunately, it only succeeds in offering up a vague and complex methodology for making wrong less wrong, and life more bearable. Christianity says that what is wrong is made right through the Cross.

 

Conclusion

Scientology ultimately teaches that man must become a Clear, that is he must become perfect in order to survive and find pleasure and joy in this life. Christianity teaches that there is one who is perfect, who has no ignorance, who is free from all manner of illness, psychosomatic or otherwise, and who rules perfectly. This person is Jesus Christ, and he imputes that perfection to those who place their trust in him. Thus the Christian achieves perfection and wholeness through grace from God, rather than from his own efforts and self-realization. At the end of Scientology is hopelessness as its truth claims and assertions fail to live up to their promises. At the end of Christianity is eternal peace, joy, and life.


[1] Russell Miller, Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard (Toronto: Key Porter Books, 1988), 140-142.

[2] Walter Martin and Ravi K. Zacharias, The Kingdom of the Cults, Rev., updated, and expanded ed (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2003), 356.

[3] L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought (Commerce, Calif.: Bridge Publications, 2007), 37-38.

[4] “Religion: A Sci-Fi Faith,” Time, April 5, 1976, 57.

[5] Martin and Zacharias, The Kingdom of the Cults.

[6] Publisher’s Weekly, September 16, 1950, 1124.

[7] Janet Reitman, “Inside Scientology,” Rolling Stone, February 8, 2011.

[8] L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (Los Angeles, CA: Bridge Publications, Inc., 2007), 7.

[9] “Parts of Man, Thetan, Body & Mind, L. Ron Hubbard, Human Spirit: Official Church of Scientology,” accessed March 9, 2016, http://www.scientology.org/what-is-scientology/basic-principles-of-scientology/the-parts-of-man.html#slide3.

[10] The details of the auditing process are obscure do to Scientology’s extreme secretiveness, but it a process that is designed to remove a person’s delusions about reality.

[11] Hubbard, Dianetics, 13.

[12] Ibid, 13-24.

[13] Ibid, 11.

[14] Hubbard, Scientology, 107.

[15] Hubbard, Scientology, 38.

[16] “Does Scientology Have a Concept of God?,” accessed March 9, 2016, http://www.scientology.org/faq/scientology-beliefs/what-is-the-concept-of-god-in-scientology.html.

[17] Martin and Zacharias, The Kingdom of the Cults, 363.

[18] Hubbard, Scientology, 39.

[19] “L. Ron Hubbard on Past Religious Leaders & Religious Tolerance: Official Church of Scientology,” accessed May 9, 2016, http://www.scientology.org/faq/scientology-beliefs/religious-figures-of-the-past.html.

[20] Martin and Zacharias, The Kingdom of the Cults, 365.

[21] Hubbard, Scientology, 39.

[22] Ibid, 39.

[23] Martin and Zacharias, The Kingdom of the Cults, 366-367.

[24] Gen. 1:26-2:24 (ESV)

[25] Hubbard, Scientology, 3.

[26] Rom. 3:10 – 3:24

[27] Rom. 5:6-8

[28] Hubbard, Scientology, 53.

[29] Hubbard, Dianetics, 26.

[30] “The Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) by Various,” Ligonier Ministries, accessed March 10, 2016, http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/westminster-shorter-catechism/.

[31] Hubbard, Dianetics, 39-40.

[32] Eccles. 1:14

[33] Hubbard, Scientology, 2.

[34] Ibid, 2.

[35] Hubbard, Dianetics, 111–112.

[36] Rom. 1

[37] Rom. 1:25

[38] Col. 2:8-15

[39] Rom. 6;22-23

[40] Hubbard, Scientology, 3.

[41] “Does Scientology Have a Concept of God?”


Bibliography

“Does Scientology Have a Concept of God?” Accessed March 9, 2016. http://www.scientology.org/faq/scientology-beliefs/what-is-the-concept-of-god-in-scientology.html.

Hubbard, L. Ron. Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Los Angeles, CA: Bridge Publications, Inc., 2007.

———. Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought. Commerce, Calif.: Bridge Publications, 2007.

“L. Ron Hubbard on Past Religious Leaders & Religious Tolerance: Official Church of Scientology.” Accessed May 9, 2016. http://www.scientology.org/faq/scientology-beliefs/religious-figures-of-the-past.html.

Martin, Walter, and Ravi K. Zacharias. The Kingdom of the Cults. Rev., updated, and expanded ed. Minneapolis, Minn: Bethany House Publishers, 2003.

Miller, Russell. Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard. Toronto: Key Porter Books, 1988.

“Parts of Man, Thetan, Body & Mind, L. Ron Hubbard, Human Spirit: Official Church of Scientology.” Accessed March 9, 2016. http://www.scientology.org/what-is-scientology/basic-principles-of-scientology/the-parts-of-man.html#slide3.

“The Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) by Various.” Ligonier Ministries. Accessed March 10, 2016. http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/westminster-shorter-catechism/.

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