Not much is known about Scientology as a religion. For many of you, all you know about the practice is what you see in the media and hear about in the press. You hear about celebrities joining or leaving the religion, and comedy shows regularly make fun of our beliefs. Many of you aren’t even sure it is a religion and wonder if the rumor that we believe in aliens instead of God is true.
Do Scientologists believe in God? We believe in God, but unlike other western religions like Christianity or Judaism, we do not have any specific dogma that our members are required to learn and follow. Rather, we believe that only by letting go of old mental issues and rising through what is known as “Dynamics” can anyone fully understand God.
It turns out, Scientology really is a religion in the traditional sense. We have many of the same values and ideals that other religions hold sacred. We want peace on earth, just like the rest of you. We believe that each person is in charge of our own happiness and that we can help you find it. We believe in the value of community outreach. But what are some of our beliefs? And what, exactly, are Dynamics, anyway?
What Is Scientology?
The word Scientology comes from a combination of scio, which means “knowing” in Latin, and logos, the Greek word for “learning.” Translated, it means “knowing how to know.” We believe that humans are spiritual beings who just happen to live in bodies for a time. We believe this concept is different from a soul and instead call it a “thetan.” Thetans have lived for thousands of centuries and will continue to live long after its current body is gone. In a sense, it is remarkably similar to the belief of reincarnation.
We are recognized as a religion by the United States Government and receive the same tax-exempt status that other religions receive across the United States. In fact, we meet all three criteria used by scholars to determine if an organization is a religion:
- A belief in some ultimate reality or Supreme truth that transcends our current world
- Practices designed toward communing with or understanding this Ultimate Reality
- A community of practitioners who come together with a similar belief
We consider our members to be parishioners, and we consider the counseling we receive to be ministry. Each church has ministers who help the rest of the flock with our spiritual needs and goals.
Scientology is based on the writings and research of L. Ron Hubbard. In the early 1950s, he published Dianetics: The Original Thesis, a book that went into detail about the mind. It was on the New York Times bestseller list for twenty-eight consecutive weeks. In the book, he outlined his discoveries and ideas, then went on to describe how we could use his techniques to diagnose and treat all kinds of issues, with the eventual goal of becoming “clear,” or free from the things weighing us down.
As Hubbard continued his research into the link between the spirit and the mind, he began sharing his research and developing techniques to help others. Eventually, he opened churches on four continents. He continued with his work and research until his death in 1986.
We believe that all life can be divided into different survival urges. We call these urges “Dynamics,” and believe that there are eight in all. The First Dynamic is also known as the Self Dynamic. This is the urge to exist just as ourselves. God resides at the Eighth Dynamic, which is also known as the Infinity or God Dynamic.
Dianetics is the technology that L. Ron Hubbard developed to help us overcome nightmares, fears, insecurities, and psychological illnesses. He taught that all these concepts lived in the reactive mind, and he believed that we could overcome these problems and reach a state of clarity.
Dianetics works by helping us reduce the hold the reactive mind has on us. By going back to the events repeatedly, the reactive mind eventually stops reacting, and the painful, old problem stops holding any meaning to us. After going through the procedure, are are free of the things causing us pain and often feel relieved and lighter.
We go through training to help ourselves remain free from our old pains released through spiritual counseling (known as auditing). The more trainings we receive, the higher the levels of scripture we have access to. The ultimate goal of participating in the auditing and training to reach a state called “Clear.” Once we have attained this, we’re free of all our old problems and pains.
How Does Scientology Compare to Other Religions?
Like most other religions, our goal is to help people become more aware of their own spirituality, find peace on earth, and help others find salvation. We have many churches around the world and offer pastoral counseling. We have Sunday services and perform weddings, funerals, and naming ceremonies.
Community betterment and social programs are a part of our foundational belief system. We have engaged in many international projects to help others, including setting up drug rehabilitation programs, global literacy programs, and a volunteer ministry program that helps bring relief to people in disaster areas.
We consider the works of our founder, L. Ron Hubbard, to be our scripture. With hundreds of books, several films, and over three thousand recorded lectures, we have a lot of information at their fingertips.
We even have a cross associated with our religion. Like the Christian cross, our version includes four small, diagonal rays between the arms of the main cross. The eight limbs stand for the Eight Dynamics that are a core belief of our faith.
We believe that we are all immortal beings who have lived many lives and will live many more. How our future lives go depends upon how we live our life now. We don’t necessarily believe in Heaven or Hell, but instead making the most of this world, since we’ll come back to it. Because of this, there is a deep sense of social responsibility and helping this world be the best it can be.
We believe that we have lived past lives and have been reincarnated many times. We believe the definition of reincarnation is to be reborn as another human being. We also believe that, until we’ve addressed the problems we had in past lives, we’ll never truly be happy in our current or future lives.
L. Ron Hubbard held religious figures of other faiths in high regard. He believed that Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha were all great leaders who brought wisdom to the world. He believed in religious tolerance, and that there was something of value to be found in all religions, and that many religions borrowed from each other over the centuries.
We believe that “God helps those who help themselves.” We think that each person has the answers they need to be happy and healthy in this life. Good and evil are particularly important ideas within our faith. Good, or constructive, actions help enhance survival while evil, or destructive, actions hinder advancement to the Eighth Dynamic.
We don’t believe that humans are sinful by nature. Instead, we believe that all people start out good, but through lifetimes of living, we commit harmful acts and become sinful. It’s only by going through the Dianetics procedures and confronting these long-held evils can we let go and be happy.
In the end, Scientology is a religion that often gets a bad rep in the press and other media. While there is still a certain air of mystery about the practices of the faith, the goal for us is to find peace in this life. As with so many other religions across the world, our hope is to help others seek truth and to become better human beings. We want to help make this world a better place.