By Clete Hux and Craig Branch
Scientology claims to be “an applied religious philosophy which recognizes that man is basically good and. . .provides exact principles and practical technology for improving spiritual awareness, self-confidence, intelligence, and ability. The word “Scientology” comes from the Latin word scio, meaning ‘know’ and the Greek work logos ‘the word or outward form by which the inward thought is expressed and made known.’ Thus, Scientology means knowing about knowing.” ¹
Dianetics is a key term in Scientology referring to a methodology used to “uncover the source of unwanted sensations and emotions, accidents, inquiries and psychosomatic illnesses, and sets forth effective handlings for these conditions.” Dianetics preceded Scientology and is a distinct but inexorable part of it.² Scientology is claimed to be a religious teaching which Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, discovered in his research of life which is grounded in Eastern religious traditions, especially in forms of Hinduism and Buddhism. ³
Sometimes Scientology is called the “Science Fiction Religion” because it’s basic worldview and mythology sound, a lot like a science fiction story. This should come as no surprise since Scientology’s founder was a science fiction novelist. In this article, we will outline the Scientology worldview, describe the doctrinal beliefs associated with that worldview, and contrast them with Christian doctrine.
THE “SCIENCE FICTION” STORY
Scientology claims that man’s true nature is that of an immortal spiritual being called a thetan. This true nature has unlimited god-like capacities . The thetan has a mind and animates a body. The thetan’s experience extends well beyond a single lifetime, and a person’s goal through Scientology is to properly understand and use its technology (tech) to realize his innate god-like self. Though not generally known to initiates, the worldview lying behind this belief involves a bizarre story as described by Richard Abanes:
Trillions of years ago, long before anything as we know it existed, there were countless immortal beings known as “thetans,” who found themselves bored with eternal life. In an effort to rid themselves of the doldrums, they decided to collectively create the universe and everything in it. Their hope was to have a realm in which to play the “Game of Life” and pass the time. But the thetans soon faced a problem on which they had not planned. As spiritual beings, they could not function within their physical creation. The thetans solved this dilemma by building bodies for themselves, the human form being only one of many different appearances. 4
But this is only the beginning. One of the most guarded secrets in Scientology, probably because it is so embarrassing and bizarre that it would significantly hinder potential converts is what Scientologists learn when they arrive at what they call “OT III” level of progression (see below). They are taught that,
Seventy-five million years ago a tyrant names Xenu (pronounced Zee-new) ruled the Galactic Confederation, an alliance of 76 planets, including Earth, then called Teegeack.
To control overpopulation and solidify his power, Xenu instructed his loyal officers to capture beings of all shapes and sized from the various planets, freeze them in a compound of alcohol and glycol and fly them by the billions to Earth in planes resembling DC-8s. Some of the beings were captured after they were duped into showing up for a phony tax investigation.
The beings were deposited or chained near 10 volcanoes scattered around the planet. After hydrogen bombs were dropped on them, their thetans were captured by Xenu’s forces and implanted with sexual perversion, religion and other notions to obscure their memory of what Xenu had done.
Soon after, a revolt erupted. Xenu was imprisoned in a wire cage within a mountain, where he remains today.
But the damage was done. During the last 75 million years these implanted thetans have affixed themselves by the thousands to people on Earth. Called “body thetans,” they overwhelm the main thetan who resides within a person, causing confusion and internal conflict. 5
Scientology purports to offer the remedy for this terrible human plight. By following their methods and using their tech, one can rid himself of these body thetans and achieve not only mental health but god-like control over reality.
Typical of the innate duplicity in Scientology, Hubbard claims that Scientology respects and is compatible with all religions including Christianity. They go on to say, “there is no attempt to change a person’s beliefs or to persuade him away from any religion to which he already belongs. “6 Yet Hubbard claims, “The whole Christian movement is based on the victim . . .A Scientologist is not a victim . . .we can win by converting victims. Christianity succeeded in making people into victims. We can succeed by making victims into people. “7 Scientology claims that it alone “brings man to total freedom and truth.”8 This is just another example of their institutionalized lying, or to use their terminology, “out flowing negative data effectively.” But now read the facts.
SCIENTOLOGY’S MAJOR DOCTRINES
With the above as our back ground, let us examine some major Scientology beliefs in more detail. It is appropriate, given Scientology’s man-centered focus, to begin with their doctrine of man.
Pride in the human heart deceives man into thinking he is something more than he really is. This is seen clearly in Scientology which teaches that man is basically good and virtually divine. As indicated above, man’s true nature is a “thetan” (immortal spirit) that exists beyond a single lifetime. According to Hubbard, the thetan exists somewhere within the skull of an individual and is more than eighty trillion years old.9
Thus, Scientologists believe in a form of reincarnation. When the individual body dies, its thetan reports to an implant station (one is on Mars), is given a stronger “forgetter” implant (an implant is a false concept that is forced on a person), and shot down to a body just before it is born. 10
Christianity’s view of man is different. Man’s basic nature is evil: “There is non righteous, no not one” (Romans 3: 10). Hubbard disagreed strongly with the biblical view. He said, “It is despicable and utterly beneath contempt to tell a man he must repent, that he is evil.” 11 However, the Bible teaches that man was created in God’s image (Gen. 1:26), fell in Adam (Rom. 3:23) and can be redeemed through Christ (Rom. 6:23; Jn.14:6). Reincarnation will not help our fallen state, and the Scriptures do not allow for its possibility (Heb.9:27). Plus, we are neither gods, nor part of God, nor can we become god-like (cf. Gen. 1:26-27; Psalm 100:3; Isa. 43:10).
In Scientology, man is basically good. What explains bad behavior, then? According to Scientology, stored in the subconscious mind of each human being are what Hubbard called engrams, which are supposedly the mental records of negative or painful experiences that have occurred in the past (including past lives). These engrams are the source of irrational and bad behaviors and psychosomatic ills. All of our personal problems, foibles, and limitations are the result of engrams being activated in our minds by the stimulus of similar events that cause us to react to situations in unproductive and harmful ways. One could say, then, that Scientology teaches that bad behavior is simply the result of poor mental health (and, of course, this lack of mental health owes its origin to the body thetans that attach to us).
Conversely, Christianity holds human beings by nature are fallen and sinful (Ps. 51:5; Rom. 3:10, 23; 5:12). Our bad behavior cannot be blamed on the implanting of engrams through various life forms. It cannot be blamed on anyone or anything but ourselves.
If our fundamental problem is poor mental health caused by engrams, then our salvation depends upon the eradication of those engrams. This is exactly what Scientology teaches. The solution to our problems is to become free (clear) of engrams. Of course, having engrams is a result of being in bondage to our material bodies (and reincarnation) and to the other body thetans that plague us.
For the Scientologist, engrams are released and mental health and freedom are gained through a process known as auditing, a process that can only be done through Scientology. Auditing involves a kind of psychotherapy. A “pre-clear” person holds two tin cans attached to an e-meter (electrogalvanometer) which is a crude lie detector. The auditor (a member of the Church of Scientology) asks a series of standard questions that are designed to uncover the buried experiences that constitute engrams. The goal is to eliminate the effects of the engrams by transferring them from the “reactive” (sub-conscious) mind to the “analytical” (conscious) mind where rational conclusions about the experience can be made based on learned Scientology axioms.
When a person is free of engrams, he is designated “Clear.” Scientology claims that a Clear is able to deal effectively with life and is free from the influence of past events. Scientology claims that a persons I.Q. will increase rapidly and he will rarely get sick (especially no psychosomatic illness). A Clear is able to perceive, recall, imagine, create, and compute a level high above normal.
But this is not the end. After all the work and money it takes to reach the prize of going Clear, Scientologists learn that they must go on to the next levels or else they are in grave danger of not surviving. Life is divided into eight dynamics. Clear only deals with the first dynamic: “the effort to survive as an individual, fully expressing one’s individuality.” But one must then pursue survival in the remaining seven dynamics: Family and sex; groups; mankind; all life forms, the physical universe; spirituality; and infinity or Supreme Being. It is this eighth dynamic that is Scientology’s concept of God. The practice of Scientology is to bring one to a new state where he can reach his own conclusions concerning the nature of God or Supreme Being. Thus, like many Eastern religions, salvation in Scientology is attained through personal spiritual enlightenment.
Antithetical to Christianity, Scientology believes in past lives or reincarnation so that engrams from past accumulated lives must be erased.12
Not only that, Scientology teaches that other thetans scattered from the event described in OT III, attach themselves in “body clusters” to a person and the expensive auditing in the OT stages are supposed to rid you of their engrams as well. It could be a never-ending and ever-costly program.
The upper levels of spiritual attainment are called Operating Thetan (OT). The OT is able to operate without depending on the physical universe and is “able to control matter, energy, space, and time (MEST). One can then exteriorize (astral travel) and read minds.13 So in essence, Scientology teaches that man’s thetan nature is god, being “at cause” over the MEST universe.
How does one achieve this alleged OT state? It takes a lot of money and time as well as a total surrender of mind and will to Scientology. To continue to move forward in Scientology one must pay for ever more expensive courses as one travels up “the Bridge” of Scientology. This Bridge consists of a series of steps called gradients. There are 10 gradients before one reaches Clear, and then there are 8 ascending levels of Operating Thetan (OT). Basically, this is a system of salvation by works by which one seeks to become part of God. Earlier, Hubbard claimed that “there are perhaps 15 levels above OT VII fully developed but existing only in un-issued note form, pending more peoples’ full attainment of OT VI and VII.” 14
Nothing could be more incompatible with biblical Christianity. As noted earlier, there is only One true God and he “will not share his glory with another” (Isa. 42:8). Moreover, since our problem is sin and not mental sickness, curing a person’s psychological hang-ups will not make them right with God. Only faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ can do that (Rom. 3:21-26; 5:1-11). Salvation cannot be achieved by any human effort. It is entirely a matter of God’s free grace to undeserving sinners (Eph. 2:8-9)
With regard to Jesus, Hubbard gave varying descriptions. On the one hand, he said that Jesus Christ was the Savior of Mankind and the Son of God. On the other hand, he is described as a legend and an implant placed in pre-clears a million years ago.15 Hubbard also denied the uniqueness of Jesus’ Messiahship. According to him, Jesus was just a messenger (Hubbard erroneously claimed that the word “Messiah came from “Messenger”) and there have been other Messiahs.16 Then again “the Christian church used implanting (a false concept designed to overpower and control)…They took over the Nicene Creed before the year zero, invented Christ (who comes in the crucifixion in R6, 75 M years ago, and implanted their way to power.”17 Lastly, Hubbard taught that neither Jesus nor Buddha were Operating Thetans. Jesus was, at best, “just a shade above clear,”18 and may have believed in reincarnation.19
In contrast, the Jesus of Christianity is the unique thteoanthropos, the God-man of history. He is fully God and fully man (Phil. 2:5-6,7). In the historical person of Jesus Christ all the attributes of deity dwell in bodily form (Col.2:9). He wasn’t simply a legend nor was he some kind of harmful “implant” forced upon a thetan as Scientology would have us believe. Not only is He the Second Person of the trinity, he is the one and only Messiah (John 1:1-18; 10:30; Col. 1:15-17; Matt. 28:19) who one day will come to judge the living and the dead (Acts 17:30-31; Rev. 20:11-15).
L. Ron Hubbard was all over the religious landscape in his teachings about God. He was clearly influenced by Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and the occult.20
Today Scientology appears to be monotheistic, stating that they believe there is a God or “Supreme Being,” not an impersonal force like in Hindu polytheism or pantheistic Buddhism.21 But this claim is misleading since they also state that they “make no effort to describe the exact nature of God.” Individual Scientologists are allowed to conceive of God as they wish. The most that the Church officially says is that “God is expressed as the Eighth Dynamic-the urge toward existence as infinity, as God.” Nevertheless, Hubbard’s “revelations” state, “[There are gods above all other gods and gods beyond the gods of the universes.” He also taught that man’s goal through Scientology processing is to arrive at the I AM (8th Dynamic) state himself. 22
This cannot be reconciled with the Christian view of God who is not an “urge” or an impersonal “dynamic,” but an eternal, infinite Person. This personal God is distinct from his creation and rules over it sovereignly. He can not be controlled or manipulated by any of his creatures. Rather, he governs and ordains whatever comes to pass and has the right to demand our worship and obedience (Dan. 4:34-35, etc.).
Scientology makes the exclusive claim that it alone can bring man to total freedom and truth. If this is true, then Christianity could not possibly be true. In every essential doctrine the two express different religions. Each has its own set of scripture, it own worldview, and each seeks to provide spiritual enlightenment. And what each teaches on these matters is incompatible with what the other teaches. Moreover, as we hope we have shown, the worldview of Scientology is nothing more than a fantastic science fiction story, and not even a very good one at that
1 Church of Scientology International, Reference Guide to the Scientology Religion, (Church of Scientology International, 1994), 1.
2 Church of Scientology International, What is Scientology?, 546.
3 L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology: A World Religion Emerges in the Space Age (Church of Scientology Information Services, 1974), 3-17.
4 Richard Abanes, Cults, New Religious Movements, and Your Family (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 1998), 79.
5 “Defining the Theology,” Los Angeles Times (June 24, 1990), A36.
6 L. Ron Hubbard, What is Scientology?, (Church of Scientology of CA, 1978), 201.
7 HCO Bulletin, (July 18, 1959).
8 A Description of the Scientology Religion, (Bridge Publications, Church of Scientology International, Los Angeles, CA, 1994), 57.
9 L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought (Los Angeles: Church of Scientology Publications Organization, 1972), 55.
10 L. Ron Hubbard, History of Man (Los Angeles: ASHO, 1969), 53.
11 Hubbard, Auditor s Bulletin, 31.
12 L. Ron Hubbard, Have You Lived Before This Life, (Dept. of Publications Worldwide, Letchw01ih, Hertfordshire, 1958), 15-20.
13 All of the above components of Scientology and those following can be found in many various Scientology publications such as What is Scientology?, 523-553; and Reference Guide to the Scientology Religion, 1-10.
14 L. Ron Hubbard, Advance! Issue 20 (August/September 1973), 6.
15 L. Ron Hubbard, Professional Auditor s Bulletin 31, quoted by Anderson, Repo1t, 150.
16 Hubbard, Phoenix Lectures, 27-28.
17 HCO Bulletin, (September 23, 1968) Class VIII.
18 L. Ron Hubbard, Certainty Magazine 5: 10, as quoted in Kevin Anderson, Repo1t of the Board of Inquiry into Scientology (Melbourne: Australia Parliament Government Printer, 1965), 150.
19 Hubbard, Phoenix Lectures, 27.
20 See the article by Craig Branch, “L. Ron Hubbard: The Man and His Myth,” elsewhere in this issue of Areopagus Journal.
21 See ww.bonafidescientogy.org
22 L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology 8-8008, (Los Angeles: American St.Hill Org, 1953), 73.