Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Scientology Article

Slate posted an article by Mark Oppenheimer today in which he writes that while it may be very weird, Scientology is not a cult. Okay.

He says,

Scientology is no more bizarre than other religions. And it's the similarities between Scientology and, say, Christianity and Judaism that make us so uncomfortable. We need to hate Scientology, lest we hate ourselves.

Superficially, I'll put a gigantic maybe on this claim. It's not that I'm sympathetic to any organized religions, but Judaism (and Christianity and Islam by lineage) stems from oral history traditions, folk tales that are in some ways indistinguishable from other mythologies of the time. These stories were used to cope with the wider world, to understand things that were not immediately understandable. Most moderate people in these traditions accept these stories as myths. The miracles and sensational aspects of these histories are not necessarily taken as fact. Of course, there is a a gigantic inherent difference between Scientologists and Jews - the Jews were enslaved and persecuted. Religious belief, or at least spirituality, becomes a necessity in times like these, lest people slide into nihilism. Scientology (and Oppenheimer himself makes this point) resembles a Pyramid scheme.

However, I do think people who claim that Israel has a divine right to exist and takes precedence over all countries are batshit crazy, as much as I think people who think the papacy speaks for God are nuts. People who burn down buildings over cartoons, likewise, crazy. The Church of Latter Day Saints was started by a charlatan. But none of these religions feature of a divine alien figure who bears a striking resemblance to King Bowswer.


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