What Is Scientology?

Wayne Jackson
Recently Hollywood actor, Tom Cruise, has provided considerable publicity for the movement called “Scientology.” Just what is the nature of this “religion”?

“There is talk these days about ‘Scientology.’ Can you explain what this religion is?”

Scientology is a cultish ideology that was the brain-child of L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986), a science-fiction writer, explorer, and retired officer who served in the navy during World War II.

While Hubbard was hospitalized for several war-related ailments, he began to reflect on what he perceived as “the human problem.” Out of this perplexity he eventually developed his “religious philosophy” that has come to be known as “Scientology.”

The various methods of achieving the Scientological goal have been designated as “Dianetics.” This term, and others in the unique lexicon of Scientology, were invented by minds burdened with confusion, mysticism, and a generous portion of science fiction. As one writer observed, the language of the Scientologist is “frequently cryptic” and “quasi-scientific.” Yet to those who ever are looking for something “new,” as were the pagans of ancient Athens (Acts 17:21), such sometimes is intriguing.

Scientology is a syncretistic system that involves a blending of oriental heathenism with a self-determining humanistic philosophy that presents itself under the guise of the “spiritual.” It is sort of a “religion” for the “non-religious.” While terms like “Creator” and “God” are used occasionally, the meanings attached to these words are light-years from the normal usages (certainly the biblical sense), and generally are cloaked in ambiguity. In fact, Scientologists are “free to reach their own conclusions as to God’s nature” (Encyclopedia Britannica, online version).

Here are a few of the identifying traits of the sect misnamed “Scientology.”

  1. There is some analogy between Scientology and Darwinism. An article published by Britannica states: “Like many thinkers before, Hubbard believed that the basic principle of human existence is survival.” The founder of this delusional movement wrote that, “life, all life, is trying to survive.” This, of course, was the chief thesis of Charles Darwin’s ideology, as set forth in his popular volume, The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, the subtitle of which was, The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle For Life.

    The biblical view of man’s goal, of course, is not mere survival (physical or otherwise) by means of an arrogantly motivated, self-help program that purportedly is designed to explore the “science of the mind.” Rather, humanity’s real purpose is to glorify God (Isaiah 43:7) by giving him due reverence and submitting to his will (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Such provides the key to the “abundant” life — now and in eternity (John 10:10; cf. 1 Timothy 4:8b).
  2. Scientology proposes a “technological” solution to human problems. Hubbard claimed that the “mind” is afflicted by a storehouse of images (designated as “engrams”) that consist of past negative experiences. These may be purged ultimately only by the skill of an “auditor,” who employs an “E-meter” (electro-psycho-meter) that measures the strength of an electric current that passes through the body. Eventually one’s tainted historical record may be eliminated and the candidate may reach the goal of being “Clear” — provided, of course, he has adequate financial resources to see the program to completion. The more money you’re drained of, the less historical baggage you’ll have.

    Apparently some Hollywood personalities, who particularly seem attracted to this mental “scientism,” already have reached the “Clear” zone — especially in the cerebral cortex (reasoning) region of the brain.
  3. This specious religion teaches an existential (self-appointed) approach to truth. Truth is not what it actually is; it is only what one personally perceives it to be. A Scientology web site declares: “A maxim in Scientology is that only those things which one finds true for himself are true.” Thus, there is no objective truth, according to this cult.
  4. Scientology teaches a form of reincarnation. The doctrine suggests that the “thetan,” i.e., the “spiritual self” (which reputedly can exist in this life independent of the body), may have indwelt other bodies billions of years in the past.

    In addition, Hubbard alleged that the interaction of the initial “thetans” eons ago, led to the creation of matter, energy, space, and time. This seems to suggest the concept of polytheism. Too, the cult’s founder believed that some human problems are the result of the influence of “extraterrestrial” beings. One might surmise they were from a galaxy far, far away — perhaps from the planet “Mug-wamp”!
  5. Hubbard entertained other bizarre theories that should have discredited him with reasonable people. For example, he taught that “pain” and “sex” were inventions of “psychiatrists” in an era multi-billions of years in the past. One can only wonder how the births of the “psychiatrists” were initiated.
  6. The cult founder suggested that he could achieve what he apparently thought Jesus Christ was unable to accomplish. That is, through his theory of “scientology” people eventually could arrive at a “salvation” of sorts. He wrote: “For countless ages a goal of religion has been the salvage of the human spirit. Man has tried by many practices to find the pathway to salvation. He has held the imperishable hope that someday he would be free.”

    Of course, if Jesus Christ did provide the solution to the salvation problem (and, as a matter of fact, he did – see John 8:32; 14:1ff; 17:17; Acts 4:11-12), then there was/is no need for the misguided philosophy of L. Ron Hubbard, and those who subscribe to his dogma have done so in vain.


One writer astutely observed that Scientology “is notable only as an example of the sort of mental and spiritual panacea so often resorted to in times of stress by those who are strangers to living faith” (Eric Sharpe, “Scientology,” The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, J.D. Douglas, ed., Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974, p. 889).