Author Topic: [The Queen's Journal] The science behind Scientology  (Read 1088 times)

Offline mefree

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[The Queen's Journal] The science behind Scientology
« on: September 29, 2009, 05:57 »
http://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2009-09-29/postscript/science-behind-scientology/

The science behind Scientology
Examining the elusive nature of what makes up Scientology and its status in the religious community

By Alice Greenberg, Postscript Editor



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Since widely popularizing Scientology in the early 1990s, celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta have worked hard to bring the belief system into the spotlight. Despite the existence of over 700 Scientology centres worldwide, it continues to be shrouded in controversy and isn’t recognized as an official religion in many countries—including Canada. In a YouTube video of Tom Cruise’s interview about his religion—accompanied by the Mission Impossible soundtrack in the background—Cruise said only Scientologists have the power to save mankind from an impending intergalactic war. But beneath intergalactic wars and Tom Cruise, what Scientology actually preaches remains quasi-mysterious—a mix of substantiated facts with stranger-than-fiction twists.

Scientology was founded by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1952, making it the world’s youngest religion. Since then, it has attracted controversy from the public domain: it has been characterized as a fraudulent cult in the Marburg Journal of Religion and dubbed the ‘Thriving cult of greed and power’ by TIME magazine.

In 1981, 11 of the world’s most important Scientologists—including Hubbard’s wife Mary Sue—were found guilty of sabotaging more than 100 private and government agencies, attempting to obstruct their investigation efforts into this new and mysterious religion.

All of the Scientology churches and centres throughout North America contacted by the Journal declined to be interviewed.

On its website, the Scientology Church of Toronto attempts to explain the purpose of Scientology.

“The Scientology religion provides answers to many questions about life and death,” it says. “It encompasses an exact, precisely mapped-out path, through application of Scientology technology principles in an auditing session.

“Sometimes a person becomes interested by meeting a Scientologist and seeing that he has ‘something’ — a positive attitude toward life, certainty, self-confidence and happiness — which they too would like to have. Fundamentally, people get into Scientology because they want to improve something in their lives or because they want to help others improve themselves and thus create a better civilization.”

Despite claiming to retain millions of followers worldwide, Scientology is also heavily criticized by former members, including the actor Jason Beghe.

Beghe, who left the church in 2007, told an Australian television show that Scientology keeps members in the dark for a major period of time. “Only when you reach OT-III, which is a high level of study, do they introduce you to the Xenu story,” he said. In the story, an intergalactic ruler—Xenu—who has performed genocide on aliens on the 76 planets which he ruled. After being paralyzed, the aliens were put into space planes, which Hubbard described as being nearly identical to CD8 aircrafts. The aliens were dumped onto the planet Teegeeack, Hubbard’s name for Earth, around every primary volcano on the planet.

According to Hubbard, the essences of these aliens’ souls now form around human beings, causing them to experience negative energy and spiritual harm.

The Xenu story is only revealed to members who contribute large amounts of money and time to Scientology. Since being leaked to the media, the story has been actively denied by practicing Scientologists.

“Everybody has problems and troubles in their life and spiritual, emotional and psychological issues. Scientology understands the real source of these, which is that you’re inhabited by space aliens,” Beghe said. In an interview with TIME, Cynthia Kisser, the Cult Awareness Chicago-based executive director said Scientology is unlike any other religion practiced in the world today.

“Scientology is quite likely the most ruthless, the most classically terroristic, the most litigious and the most lucrative cult the country has ever seen. No cult extracts more money from its members,” she said.

Siphiwe Dubé, assistant professor in the Queen’s religious studies department said it’s difficult to say whether Scientology meets the requirements for a religion, since these standards are generally very fluent and changing.

“The requirements for what constitutes a religion is a question that baffles everyone who studies religion—at least in the academic sense,” Dubé said.
The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis.
-Dalai Lama

Raven

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Re: [The Queen's Journal] The science behind Scientology
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2009, 15:53 »
Question:
Quote
Siphiwe Dubé, assistant professor in the Queen’s religious studies department said it’s difficult to say whether Scientology meets the requirements for a religion, since these standards are generally very fluent and changing.


Answer 1: 
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In 1981, 11 of the world’s most important Scientologists—including Hubbard’s wife Mary Sue—were found guilty of sabotaging more than 100 private and government agencies, attempting to obstruct their investigation efforts into this new and mysterious religion.

or

its a cult if it does illegal things


Answer 2:
Quote
The Xenu story is only revealed to members who contribute large amounts of money and time to Scientology.


or
its a cult if its focus is not on helping or bettering its members.


Answer 3:
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Scientology is quite likely the most ruthless, the most classically terroristic, the most litigious and the most lucrative cult the country has ever seen. No cult extracts more money from its members


or

its a cult if its members are scared of it.

Offline mefree

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Re: [The Queen's Journal] The science behind Scientology
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2009, 18:06 »
Dube' waxes philosophical in the second half of the article:

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"Different people have required different attributes in order to consider something a religion, but at least from my approach, I try to take as open an idea of the concept as possible—more of an anthropological approach, which argues that to a certain degree what religion is is only definable in the perspective of those who call themselves religious, so in that sense, pretty much anything can be considered a religion.”

Dubé said although theologists approach religion with an open mind, there are still certain inherent qualities that must exist to formalize a belief system into a religion.

“You can look at things like practice, ritual, scriptural foundation of sorts—whether oral myths or orally transmitted knowledge,” he said. “So even as some people argue that anything can be a religion—which is not an invalid argument because it’s such an open concept—we still recognize that religion deals with certain concepts like ultimate reality, attempting to answer what it is and what it looks like.”

Dubé said the notion of religious belief came to be extended to the ritual of watching baseball. “Baseball is obviously not a religion but it might have similar attributes. It has the aspects of ritual, people getting together, but at the end of the day the questions we ask from a religion and the questions we ask about a game of baseball are very different in nature,” he said.

Dubé said it’s difficult to determine whether Scientology is a cult or a religion. “We have to recognize that the world cult has a historical precedent, so we tend to speak of new religious movements as cults because a cult has a history of a certain religion defining another kind of religion as not being religious,” he said.

“The word cult has a very negative connotation and is considered in many senses inferior to religion. Cults are seen as a corruption of the real thing—which is religion.” Dubé said although Scientology has received some bad press, it’s not alone in its negative portrayal.

“I guess its just a reaction to this religious mosaic that we have and because Scientology is a new religion it had to deal with a lot more questions about what is it exactly and why it’s different from what we already have,” he said. “Some of the people who are inherent to this tradition have done certain things that to the sentiments of regular people watching television makes them question their actions—but that can apply to every religion.”

 Dubé said because people encounter others who are so ideologically different than them, as a result of colonial expansion, the rubric for what counts as religion has expanded.

“Even within different religious tradition different things have emerged that challenged what the orthodox belief of that particular tradition was,” he said. “Even in Christianity in medieval times emerged a belief that Christianity is not monolithic and that process of progression adds to the notion of the way someone understands Christianity in Southern Nigeria will be very different than how someone understands Christianity in Peru.”

Dubé said the proliferation of various religious traditions and encounters of different religions such as Scientology will help challenge traditional religions.

“Many new religious movements have many challenges with the notion of hegemony and of one world view—and they will be subject to much questioning because of this.”
The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis.
-Dalai Lama

Offline ethercat

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Re: [The Queen's Journal] The science behind Scientology
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2009, 18:30 »
Title misleading, there is no science in scientology, nor did the article even mention the word "science" in the text, except for stating that L. Ron Hubbard was a "science fiction writer."  The story would have been better called "The science fiction behind Scientology."  Didn't do much "examining" either.

Yawn, the Xenu story is so passé.  It was daring and cutting edge about 10-15 years ago.  I'd rather have seen exposure of something that doesn't prompt the "belief" argument that so easily slides down the slope of "you're persecuting a religion." 

Quote
“Everybody has problems and troubles in their life and spiritual, emotional and psychological issues. Scientology understands the real source of these, which is that you’re inhabited by space aliens,” Beghe said.

I would have liked to see a descriptive word for Beghe's tone of voice when he said this. 

Quote
“Different people have required different attributes in order to consider something a religion, but at least from my approach, I try to take as open an idea of the concept as possible—more of an anthropological approach, which argues that to a certain degree what religion is is only definable in the perspective of those who call themselves religious, so in that sense, pretty much anything can be considered a religion.”

So now the word religion doesn't mean anything anymore?  Siphiwe Dubé, assistant professor in the Queen’s religious studies department, might as well have saved his breath.  He didn't say anything that informed or added to the intrigue of the story.  Sounds like an apologist, or someone who needs to get out more.

In truth, I'm glad for any stories that aren't pure propaganda, but I wish for something a little more recent than 1981 to cite as abuse.

And Raven, I completely agree with you.

Now, reading the comments, I find, interestingly enough, I can agree with Steve the scientologist from Toronto, when he says:
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It seems the author, for the most part, read about Scientology from what was on line, and did not bother to do much real research.

It's a sad thing when the comments are better researched and written than the article.

Edit: I see I also agree with wil thompson from London, when he says:
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scientology (I do not dignify the cult by using the upper case)
though I find it interesting that he doesn't dignify himself either, spelling his own name in all lower case too.   :D
« Last Edit: September 29, 2009, 18:33 by ethercat »
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Offline mefree

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Re: [The Queen's Journal] The science behind Scientology
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2009, 19:26 »
Yes. Poorly researched and maybe a little too careful?

Not to mention, Dube' is definitely out of touch with her subject here.
The ultimate authority must always rest with the individual's own reason and critical analysis.
-Dalai Lama