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Religion Review: Scientology (Part 1 – Introduction)

January 3, 2013

In the scheme of religions, I think it can be said that more people have gotten a good chuckle over Scientology than in regard to any other religion. A lot is owed to South Park for making many of the crazier aspects of the religion almost common knowledge. Despite those bits that I am aware of, I don’t actually have a clear picture of what the typical Scientologist believes and practices. To draw an analogy, what I know of Scientology would be equivalent to knowing that Christianity believes a talking snake tricked people into eating god’s private fruit and that a seven headed dragon will cause the end of the world. So mainly out of curiosity I’ve decided to take a closer look at the religion of Scientology in what I can hope becomes a series of Religion Reviews.

To begin with, I’m heading over to the Scientology website and reading through the pages under “What is Scientology?” So far, it’s presented as “non-dogmatic” and very soft sort of personal spirituality that I can see on the face of it to be appealing to a fair number of people. I’ll share a few excerpts that I found interesting, in one way or another.

In one of the first few pages, the etymology and definition of the word Scientology is given:

The word Scientology is taken from the Latin scio, which means “knowing, in the fullest sense of the word,” and the Greek word logos, meaning “study of.” It literally means knowing how to know. Scientology itself is defined as “the study and handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, universes and other life.”

Not bad, knowing how to know. I’d venture to answer “logic” but I’m guessing they have something else in mind. Also, I’m not sure yet if the reference to “universes” was intentional but it wasn’t lost on me.

Moving on to the introduction to Scientology principles, the some of the core tenets don’t sound half bad. Such as: Humans are primarily immortal spiritual beings, we are innately good, and our spiritual “salvation” depends on ourselves and those around us reaching a kind of spiritual enlightenment. One page then makes this great sounding pitch:

Nothing in Scientology, however, need be taken on faith. Its truths are self-evident, its principles are easily demonstrable and its technology can be seen at work in any Church of Scientology. One need only open the door and step through.

Nothing taken on faith? That certainly sounds too good to be true! My expectation is rather that their standard of evidence just isn’t very high. Seeing their technology at work is an honestly tempting offer. After all, nothing like some hands-on investigation! I’ll reserve a trip to a Church of Scientology for after some more reading though.

In the interest of keeping this reasonable in length I’m going to break things here and will continue with more highlights from Scientology another time. Thanks for reading! 🙂

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