Professor, Sociology of Religion
University of Lille III
III. HOW DO SCIENTOLOGISTS VALIDATE THEIR CREEDS?
Scientological writings provide some arguments to validate (legitimize) the Scientology religious doctrine of L. Ron Hubbard, which is called an applied religious philosophy. A reading of the argumentation shows that integration exists between Scientology and the ideals and practices of contemporary occidental society.
Scientology doctrinewhich is not conceived as a revealed morality but rather as the result of the right use of human reasontakes on the ideals and values of liberal society: individual success, a morality of competition between individuals in order to avoid savage behaviour, the rise of economic power and science and technology which provide improvements in personal well-being, faith in the continuous progress of civilization, in Man and his potential, in the possibility of harmony between personal aims and those of civilization as a whole. Faith in these ideals is justified by the nature of Man: Man is good and, consequently, aspires to that which is good, i.e., optimum survival. If he fails to become more powerful or to practice a morality which encourages progress in civilization, this is because he suffers from aberrations which can be cured by means of certain techniques.
To summarize, Man may return to the omniscience and omnipotence of the primordial spirits and produce a human race like that in the beginning of the world. This is a kind of regressive utopia which spiritualizes progress by making it a pilgrimage towards a world of perfect people which existed at one stage in the past. The Scientology doctrine appeals to Mans responsibility and offers him a choice between an increasingly savage society if they do not change and a powerful society without war or violence if they agree to treat their aberrations. We can see that L. Ron Hubbard proposes an ethos of personal responsibility, a way to happiness, efficiency, prosperity and personal development which is not far from the philosophy of the Enlightenment which dominates our highly developed societies.
Therefore, we can see how the Scientology doctrine corresponds to empirical reality as far as the content of Western capitalist societies is concerned. It also corresponds in its means of acquisition and structure. The method of religious training conforms to the learning methods used in most systems of education: lessons, courses, practical exercises. Scientologys doctrinal edifice resembles the knowledge adherents have already acquired: the members think it is rational (it is presented like a scientific proof with concepts, hypotheses and axioms) and scientific (there is a collection of thick books documenting the discoveries of L. Ron Hubbard together with his various experiments, mistakes, problems and results). The system also allows each person to acquire techniques which they can immediately put into practice according to a clear order of precedence with predictable results. This type of training is similar in form to the training that Scientologists received in their earlier school or university system.
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