Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Worst. Religion. Ever.

I had lunch with my brother, mother and grandmother today. Got into a disagreement with my sibling, Jon, over whether Scientology is dumber than Christianity.

My brother thinks they are equally dumb. Christ didn't rise from the dead just as Xenu didn't sacrifice thousands of people to a radioactive volcano, so both religions encourage you to repeat stories that are clearly false. And both are based on a moral system that at times seems arbitrary. Is the Christian prohibition against meat on Fridays any more or less sensible than the Scientologist's ban on psychiatry?

I say, basically, that it's a little bit less stupid to be a Christian than to be a Scientologist. I mean, yes, the mythology behind neither religion is true, but Christianity at least builds off of several thousands years of tradition. It has been a significant communal and cultural force that has dramatically shaped Western civilization, so by practicing it, a person joins a long and storied tradition.

Not neccessarily a proud tradition, unless you're a fan of Inquisitions, but a tradition nonetheless. It's a faith that has been forged by not just one guy, but a large community throughout the ages, and therefore it has value, even if it isn't spiritual value.

Scientology on the other hand is based around the book "Dianetics," a self-help tract written by a loopy sci-fi writer with a history of personal and psychological problems that used to be advertised on daytime television. Zoroastrianism it ain't.

If you'd like to read more about why Scientology is really strange, I'd recommend Laura Miller's excellent "review" of "Dianetics" from today's Salon. She delves into a lot of valuable information about L. Ron Hubbard's personal idiosyncracies and how they influenced his "religion."

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