My Karma Ran Over My Dogma
My Karma ran over my Dogma
An Enlightenment Critique of Scientology
by a Lifetime Member
February 25, 2006
This is a critique of Scientology by someone who was a member of the Church of Scientology for 34 years. My purpose for writing this is to share my views and critique of the philosophy and religion of Scientology. I owe this to all those who I assisted and supported and gave agreement to in my years as a Scientologist, whether they ever read it or not. "When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another ... a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation." -- Thomas Jefferson. By critique, I do not mean critical natter; I mean careful analysis. I like to think of this as an intellectual critique, but I leave that judgment up to the reader.
What I mean by an Enlightenment view is simply a viewpoint which is consistent with the views of the Enlightenment. Truly I am a child of the Enlightenment. It was this belief that led me to an initial acceptance of Scientology. Indeed, it was my devout hope that Scientology was the means by which the ideas of the Enlightenment would spread through society and the world. It was this hope -- perhaps dream is a better word -- which led me down a path of intellectual compromise and, finally, to disillusionment.
What do I mean by Enlightenment ideas? Enlightenment ideas are those ideas first spawned by Francis Bacon, then expounded and eloquently elucidated by Voltaire, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Immanuel Kant, Montesquieu, and others. It is the ideas which promote using reason to examine accepted doctrine; that it is a worthwhile effort to seek improvement in the condition of mankind; and that freedom of speech, freedom of choice, and availability of opportunity and options are necessary conditions for the improvement of mankind.
Scientology is an applied religious philosophy developed by L. Ron Hubbard and no one else. The Church of Scientology is that institution which advocates and administers Scientology. The stated aims of Scientology are a world without war, crime, and insanity. Most people by now have heard many anecdotal stories of the good, the bad, and the cuddly of the Church of Scientology. I will not unsay now any of the good things I have said about Scientology in the past. I do not dispute any of the claims of abuse inflicted by the Church: I have seen too many instances myself. Nor will I deny the existence of the subjective wins that so many, including myself, have had using Scientology. This is not a "my side is right, your side is wrong" essay. This essay will simply show, in my opinion, that while Scientology is useful, helpful, and beneficial in certain areas, the philosophy of Scientology and the application of its technology is inexorably on a collision course with the ideas of the Enlightenment. Scientology, in its unaltered state, is on a collision course with basic human rights, especially freedom of speech.
Mathematics can be described as using symbols to express processes, ratios, and relationships in the physical universe. For example, x" (x squared) in math means the process of multiplying the number that x stands for by itself. If I write 2x = 10, I am showing a relationship. In geometry, if I write 2 pi r (2 x 3.14 x the radius), I am showing the ratio and relationship between the radius of a circle and its circumference. Math is our mental tool for understanding these things in the world. One of the brilliant skills of L Ron Hubbard was the ability to describe complex social phenomena in simple terms. Scientology is effective at describing apparently complex social phenomena in a new, simple nomenclature. PTS, or potential trouble source, is a phenomenon which we all have probably observed at one time or another: a woman who is PTS to her abusive husband; a son PTS to his dominant mother; etc. Another is group think. Surely a mob's reactions are a perfect example of this phenomenon. Another is the ARC triangle. It is a very concise explanation of social interaction. All of these can enhance one's understanding and even increases one's capacity for understanding. There are many other examples of this. In some ways Scientology is comparable to social mathematics: it is a symbolic (in this case using words) representation of phenomena in the social environment. It is a workable way to facilitate understanding. This is fine so far; it is useful.
Dianetics and Scientology auditing are workable. After thirty-four years, my experiences and observations make me conclude that auditing is an art, not a science. But this is another matter. Scientology, as a means of easing upsets and stress in a person's life, in certain situations, does work. Scientology and Dianetics are effective social cures in different times in different places. This, too, is fine so far.
But a person can learn many math formulas and do math problems in the classroom yet never make the connection between math formulas and the dynamic, ever-changing real world. So, too, can a person throw around terms like PTS or group think or ARC triangle and never make a valid connection to the dynamic, ever-changing real world. It is my view that Scientology, which has valid potential in applying reason to solve social problems, has become a substitute for understanding instead of a tool for understanding. Many Scientologists I know use their Scientology data so they do not have to think about life, instead of using Scientology as a system for analyzing life. They accept Scientology data as life, itself, instead of using it as a mental tool for understanding and developing their own judgment about life.
Once one has replaced one's own judgment of life with fixed data, one has passed from Scientology as useful data to Scientology as dogma. And when one surrenders his judgment to any dogma, regardless of how accurate the dogma is, one no longer "uses one's intelligence without direction from another," as Immanuel Kant once described freedom.
The Church of Scientology encourages -- and sometimes insists -- that Scientology be accepted as dogma. It is inherent in certain fundamental policies, most notably "Keeping Scientology Working." I won,t quote it here, but one can find it easily enough. In Scientology, doubt is a lower condition; instead one must have certainties -- and an unquestioning certainty about Scientology.
Scientology does not allow that, "If a man will begin in certainties, he shall end in doubts, but if he will be content to begin in doubts he shall end in certainties." -- Francis Bacon. "Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd." -- Voltaire.
It is precisely because Scientology is accepted as dogma that it has not become the hope of man. The dogmatic view promoted by the Church of Scientology and in the writings of L Ron Hubbard is that Scientology is the only hope for mankind. Because Scientology is the only hope of mankind, it must be contributed to. Because Scientology must be contributed to, it must not be resisted or hindered in any way. Because Scientology must not be hindered in any way, anyone who does hinder it is harming mankind. Anyone, especially a Scientologist, who questions Scientology's validity or the Church of Scientology is destructive to the future of mankind. And anyone who is destructive to the future of mankind is a suppressive person. Which brings this essay to Scientology's justice system, its most serious point of contrast with the Enlightenment.
"Strike me if you will, but hear me." -- Francis Bacon
It used to be that anyone who wanted to attack the Church of Scientology was a suppressive person. Now a suppressive person is anyone who the Church of Scientology wants to attack. The Church makes no apologies for attacking anyone who criticizes it. Because Scientology is the only hope of man, no criticism is allowed, because criticism will bring into question the absolute correctness of the dogma. The Church is correct in thinking this: criticism of anything about the Church of Scientology or criticism of Scientology will bring into question the absolute authority and judgment of the leaders and, therefore, the Church of Scientology, itself. It is no different in this regard than the Catholic Church was when it condemned Galileo. It condemned Galileo not because it thought his proof was wrong, but because his proof would destabilize its monopoly on the subject of Christianity, and its interpretation of Christianity to its followers. So, at no cost must the leaders be questioned. Any and all disagreement or dissent must be squashed. Freedom of speech can not be tolerated. It is simply too dangerous and destabilizing.
But this is not healthy for truth. My great epiphany was when I realized that what was true for me wasn,t true. Now that is a humbling realization!
"The ability to raise searching difficulties on both sides of a subject will make us detect more easily the truth and error about the several points that arise." -- Aristotle
"The right to speak freely is one of the necessary means to the attainment of the truth. That, and not the subjective pleasure of utterance, is why freedom is a necessity in a good society." -- Walter Lippman
"If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind." -- John Stuart Mill.
In Scientology, justice is define as an action the group takes against the individual in order to protect the group. But this does not define what is meant by "just." It is an incomplete definition; it only states that justice is what is expedient for the group. Clearly, actions which are done against individuals for the benefit of the group can not necessarily be called just. The twentieth century is rife with examples of actions and atrocities committed against individuals for the good of a group, and these can hardly be cited as examples of justice. Inherent in justice is equitable treatment dictated by reason, conscience, and tempered by a natural sense of fairness to all concerned. This is justice in Enlightenment terms. Justice is not simply actions taken to safeguard a position of power or to enforce dogma.
In recent times the Church of Scientology has declared as suppressive persons many people who criticized or simply objected to the actions of Church management. This is done in the name of justice. One wonders whether the growing group of declared Scientologists, and not the religion of Scientology, is "the world's fastest growing religion." But it is not the number of declared persons which is significant; it is the reasoning behind it.
Scientology is incompatible with Enlightenment ideas. The Enlightenment belief is that honest people, through reason and discussion, can reach a consensus beneficial to most. Justice is not simply what is best for the most number of people; it is what is right for the individual and right for the group, too. A just decision would be one that is measured in fairness to one and fairness to all, not one measured by the benefit or advantage it bestows upon a few or upon a majority.
Scientology justice policy is a procedural means that gives legitimacy to protecting the authority and reputation of the Church's management. It is not an enlightened, civilized approach to justice. It is an authoritarian tool of justice.
So, why did I hang around so long? I had the opinion that all the wrongs and failures of Scientology were due to misapplication of Scientology technology and administrative policy. I looked at the contradiction between the stated objectives and the workability of the technology versus the far from ideal existing scene in Scientology. I chalked up the difference to misapplication. For example, not too long ago a long time friend of mine was telling me of a win she had on course. This was a deeply profound realization she had concerning her relationship with her teenage daughter. I was touched at how a worrisome situation had been resolved for this mother and how hope had been restored to her life. But later that day I also heard of an incident of a Scientology celebrity's rude behavior on a morning news show. This actor, in his dissemination of Scientology, had apparently invalidated and chopped the communication of the host. As usual, the discussion of Scientology had centered on attacking psychiatry. It was a common dissemination approach: a low ARC (low or negative levels of affinity, reality and communication) promotion of Scientology by attacking or invalidating others. If, instead of this, the win of my friend had been communicated on national TV, there would be many more people wanting to find out more about Scientology. Instead, Scientology has become fodder for late night comedians and the butt of many jokes. I assumed that the people in charge of the dissemination programs were unhatted and misapplying the tech. I had the wrong premise.
The reason for the low ARC dissemination of Scientology stems from the dogmatic view of Scientology by the management. If the dissemination and expansion of Scientology is not tightly controlled, then management will lose control of it. If Scientology falls into the hands of the average person, then management will lose control of it. If Scientology is accepted into this pluralistic society, then management will lose control of it. The Enlightenment view would be to disseminate Scientology far and wide, to really get Scientology into the hands of people, and to let people, in their quest for freedom, use it. But this would not happen without questioning the dogma. The current management can only control Scientology if it remains a dogma.
So long as Scientology is under the control of an elite few, it will never be of lasting benefit to mankind. To be of service to mankind, Scientology must be democratized. By democratized, I mean it must be made opened for use, discussion and debate. It cannot be owned, monopolized and edited by a few people. There are some inherent contradictions in Scientology and these contradictions must be acknowledged and resolved. They will never be acknowledged or addressed by the management of an institution that enforces belief in a dogma.
I realize, of course, that by writing this I have crossed the Rubicon. However, I am not interested in starting a civil war, so will conceal my identity for now. I am well aware of the criticism that will be leveled at me. That I am a coward for not revealing my name or that I am paranoid if I think the Church will try to attack me. My answer to this is since I am only stating my opinion, and if the Church will not attack me, then there is no reason for the Church to know my name anyway.
It is my heartfelt wish than the usefulness of Scientology will not be lost. It will take an implosion of the Church before the management will ever open it up. Unfortunately, that implosion may manifest itself with charges against church officials, either for violating individual civil rights, for extortion, fraud or even obstruction of justice. It is only a matter of time, because the fair game practices conducted by Church management in order to suppress and harm its critics will not cease.
This page was last updated on March 11, 2006 by Kristi Wachter.