In this video we are going to talk about faith and the religious beliefs of the Church of Scientology. Almost immediately, if any Scientologist were to bother to watch this video, they would feel challenged by what I just said because Scientologists don’t really think about their beliefs as beliefs in the same way that an astrophysicist doesn’t think about the orbit of the planets around the sun as a belief, but instead treats such ideas as scientific fact. Where the astrophysicist can actually use astrophysics to predict the exact speed, location and distance to any of the planets in our solar system, Scientologists are not as able to so easily predict the things their religion tells them about and that is actually one of the big differences between belief and fact.
I’ll soon be doing a video series breakdown of the various tenets and practices of Scientology, but before we get to that series, there are some even more fundamental principles about Scientology which I first have to lay out. I’ve linked in the description below the first of these videos, covering the timeline and development of Dianetics and Scientology. Now in this video we’ll take a good hard look at faith. Because make no mistake, Scientology is a faith-based belief system. In the same way that it cloaks its business model with religion and First Amendment privilege, it also cloaks its faith with pseudoscience. There are many claims made by L. Ron Hubbard that Scientology consists of scientifically developed techniques which were rigorously tested and which he guarantees will work 100% of the time on 100% of the people to whom it is applied if they follow his sometimes very vague instructions to the letter. Unfortunately, Scientology does not hold up to this kind of scientific scrutiny or peer review and so doesn’t even really try, instead choosing to cloister itself away behind barbed wire fences and gilt facades which look great but don’t prove anything.
Now don’t get me wrong because I’m not actually knocking the idea of faith. There’s nothing wrong with faith, religious or otherwise. It simply means putting one’s trust or confidence in something without necessarily having any tangible proof of that thing. We all have a kind of faith in things, even if those things aren’t directly related to God or religion. For example, many optimists have a faith that things will turn out alright, that people are basically good and given a choice, most people will choose a positive rather than a negative path. There are lots of good reasons to believe such things, but it is a leap of faith to speak in such broad terms about people and things we can’t so easily predict or know. No matter how many times we observe the sun rise and set, that does not mean it’s going to rise again. We may have faith that it will, but there is no concrete evidence that it shall always be so, especially since we already know that one day it will not. Whether that day is tomorrow or not is the question.
Now just to be clear, here is how Hubbard described Scientology:
“Scientology applied the exact methods of science to the problem of the human mind and spirit, and won. It means the study of knowingness. Its immediate result in application is the bettering of ability in individuals and groups. It is a practical religion for all denominations and doesn’t require faith in anybody until they have experienced something to have faith about.” PAB 61, SELLING
“Scientology is the science of knowing how to know answers. It is an organized system of Axioms and processes which resolve the problems of existence….
“This science is formed in the tradition of ten thousand years of religious philosophy and considers itself a culmination of the searches which began with the Veda, the Tao, Buddhism, Christianity, and other religions. Scientology is a gnostic faith in that it knows it knows. This is its distinguishing characteristic from most of its predecessors. Scientology can demonstrate that it can attain the goals set for man by Christ, which are: wisdom, good health and immortality.” Ability Major 1 – The Scientologist: A Manual on the Dissemination of the Material
It’s a bit of a semantics game in Scientology as to what Scientologists believe versus what they know. If you dig in deep, you’ll find there’s a whole lot of believing and not a lot of knowing. This all comes together in the way Hubbard actually redefined truth as a relative quantity which could be different from one person to the next to the next, thereby opening the door to the idea of “your truth” versus “my truth.”
Truth has been a topic of philosophic discussion for thousands of years and is not something I’m going to resolve here in this video, but I will say that Hubbard also shelved the entire discussion by saying that a principle is as true as it is workable and that was really the only measure to use. Well, that’s not very satisfactory, because you can have ten different explanations for why something works, be wrong about every one of them and still make it work. If I take an aspirin and say that it solved my headache because it coats the lining of my stomach with magic powder, I’d be wrong but the aspirin will still work. This is where Hubbard’s ignorance of the scientific process really stands out.
The other and even more significant idea Hubbard pushed off is this one: “Anything that isn’t true for you in Scientology, when you study it carefully, isn’t true.” That statement makes truth a relative quantity which changes from one person to the next. Yet if you are dealing with scientific principles, that’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.
Hubbard talks about how Scientology is a science of certainty, that it is an aim at a total know, K-N-O-W. On July 15, 1957 in a lecture called Scientology and Effective Knowledge, Hubbard discussed Buddhism and Scientology’s relation to it and knowledge in general when he said this:
“Well now, there hasn’t actually been any declared effort in the direction of total information and intelligence on the subject of man, regarding his whereabouts, which was an analytical, knowing, reasoning approach, having nothing to do with faith or belief, on the basis of take it or leave it – if it’s true to you, it’s true, and if it isn’t true to you, it isn’t true – since that time. And that is practically twenty-five hundred years ago.”
What he’s describing, of course, is the very definition of faith. As Senator Daniel Moynihan once said,”Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.”
In Scientology, there are many points of faith but there are three big examples which I’d like to go over briefly:
The Reactive Mind and Engrams
In 1950, Hubbard wrote Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health and he posited the idea of the human mind containing two parts: the analytical mind and the reactive mind. If you go into any Church of Scientology today, you will find Dianetics on display and being very actively sold to anyone who is willing to read it, and they’ll tell you it is the science of the human mind. They’ll tell you that by applying its techniques, you can be free of any and all stress, trauma and the pain of past losses by finding and eradicating past incidents containing physical pain and unconsciousness called engrams. What’s more, they’ll also tell you that the reactive mind is the single source of nightmares, unreasonable fears, upsets, insecurities and psychosomatic illness. That statement is literally on the Scientology website as I am talking. Now this is all fascinating and would be great news except it doesn’t happen to be true. It’s not even true within the world of Scientology, where Hubbard has vast and numerous explanations beyond the reactive mind for why people get sick, why people have insecurities and fears and nightmares. Just to name a few, there are anxietes from present time problems, worries from missed withholds and nightmares from evil intentions. None of these things are contained in the reactive mind or really have anything to do with it.
Throughout 1950 and 1951, Hubbard was personally inundated with people who couldn’t make Dianetics do what he claimed it would do and Hubbard’s answer was not to simply refer them back to the ultimately workable procedures he sort of vaguely described in his book, but instead to do further research and charge for classes and lectures which would give new and improved Dianetics techniques. There’s certainly nothing wrong with doing further research if you are a scientist, but you don’t then keep selling people the old techniques and telling them it’s the only workable technology. Imagine if you went in to buy a new cell phone and the salesman tried to sell you a telgraph machine. You can’t even fall back to the excuse that at least telegraph machines work, since there were plenty of instances where messages broke up or couldn’t get through at all. It’s an outdated and outmoded technology for that reason. Dianetics is in the same boat.
There is not and never have been any validated, peer-reviewed studies done to back up Hubbard’s claims. Anecdotes and testimonials do not constitute evidence in the scientific world. As social psychologist Carol Tavris told author Michael Shermer, “Every therapy produces enthusiastic testimonials because of the justification-of-effort effect. Anyone who invests time and money and effort in a therapy will say it helped. Scientology might have helped Isaac Hayes, just as psychoanalysis and bungee jumping might have helped others, but that doesn’t mean the intervention was the reason. To know if there is anything special about Scientology, you need to do controlled studies — randomly assigning people to Scientology or a control group (or a different therapy) for the same problem.”
Theta and Thetans
In 1951, Hubbard took a giant leap of faith and asked his Dianetics followers to do the same when he wrote Science of Survival and presented the theta-MEST theory. In short, theta is a non-physical, non-tangible spiritual life force. The physical universe in which we live consists of matter, energy, space and time or MEST for short. Hubbard claimed that theta, which cannot be sensed or measured by any physical device because it has no physical existence, animates and controls MEST and in fact, its mission in life is to conquer the physical universe. He also refers to theta as a Static, meaning something without mass, wavelength, time or position. He said a Static is “something which has no motion. The word is from Latin, sto meaning stand. No part of MEST can be static but theta is static. Theta has no motion. Even when the MEST it controls is moving in space and time, theta is not moving, since theta is not in space or time.”
Now of course the first and really only question here is “How could Hubbard know this?” How could he ever have sensed, measured or in any way interacted with something that he says exists and is real yet cannot be seen, heard, touched or tasted? He might as well have said that there are blue Smurfs from outer space who define who we are and control us. In fact, it would have been better if he had because if we did enough searching, we could eventually lay our hands on these blue Smurfs and have a chat with them. No matter how many psychometers or EEGs or biofeedback loops we stick in someone, we are never going to be able to measure their theta.
Shortly after making these claims in Science of Survival, Hubbard then took the next step and said that each individual person on planet Earth is not their human body, but instead is an independent unit of theta which he called a thetan. That is the Scientology word for a spiritual being. He said that thetans have been around for trillions upon trillions of years and that they cannot be killed and have amazing powers and abilities which can be rehabilitated through the practices of Scientology.
A spiritual existence is certainly a nice idea, but the bottom line is there is no real proof that this is a thing. It is an article of faith and one that most people gladly take. I have no argument with it personally and hope that it’s actually true myself. But I’m not so open minded on the topic that I’m going to let my brain fall out. There is nothing scientific or evidentiary about the existence of a soul or thetan. It’s a leap of faith every Scientologist makes, yet they then tell themselves that they aren’t really doing that. The basis of their belief is simply because Hubbard said it’s true. This is called an argument from authority and it’s a logical fallacy.
L. Ron Hubbard
The final big act of faith that Scientologists take is putting their trust in L. Ron Hubbard, a man who was proven to be a pathological liar nearly his entire life. From failing grades in college to a disastrous Naval career to polygyny and fathering children Hubbard claimed never existed, there was no part of his life he didn’t make great efforts to re-write once he became the leader of the Church of Scientology. If you listen only to Church accounts, Hubbard’s life was that of a genius philosopher who knew from the age of three that he was destined for great things and who was always searching for the key to unlock the mysteries of life and mankind. The truth is not anywhere near as grand. Hubbard was actually a self-obsessed con man and megalomaniac who had massive delusions of granduer. This is not to say there were not good things about him or that he meant everyone harm or that he was incapable of helping people. He was a complex individual. We know the truth about him now becasue all of the facts of his real life have not only been recounted by people who knew him but have been documented, from his actual college transcripts and war records to the files the FBI and IRS kept on him because he broke the law and was a fugitive from justice for all of the later years of his life.
Hubbard talked a good talk and had a personal charisma and presence which undeniably drew people to him and got them to support him, at least for short periods of time before his true nature came out and his supporters learned to keep their distance. This pattern repeats over and over again throughout his life. The only people in the world who still fall for his false history and tall tales are Scientologists, who each and every one have a vested interest in not acknowledging the truth. As philosopher Karl Popper put it, “If we are uncritical we shall always find what we want: we shall look for, and find, confirmations, and we shall look away from, and not see, whatever might be dangerous to our pet theories. In this way it is only too easy to obtain what appears to be overwhelming evidence in favor of a theory which, if approached critically, would have been refuted.” Karl Popper – The Poverty of Historicism
So these are three big leaps of faith Scientologists take. Don’t misunderstand me, because these are not the only principles that Scientologists take on faith. There are plenty of others and we’ll go over those in future videos. Maybe some of this information can help shed some light on why Scientologists say the things they do and act the way they do. And if nothing else, hopefully this serves to show how Scientology really is just another nonsensical belief system which cons people out of their money and time and can even cost them their jobs, their families and their life.
Thank you for watching.