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November 15, 2007 | Religion

The Stupidest Religion

In our society we aren't supposed to criticize religions for some reason. A religion is an ideology of sorts, and we are allowed to criticize most ideologies. But a religion is a special type of ideology that we can't criticize. Why? Well, the answer must lie in what distinguishes a religion from other ideologies. An ideology is a system of beliefs. A religion is a system of beliefs too, but beliefs that tend to involve faith and belief in the supernatural. Faith is basically a belief in something for which there is no evidence or can't be logically known. Supernatural events you can basically think of as magic. So, the rule must be: You are allowed to criticize ideologies, unless it is an ideology that believes in magic and things for which there is no evidence. Hmm. It's suspicious logic to me. I'm going to go ahead and be totally un-PC in this blog (like I haven't done it before) and criticize religion.

I have studied religions on and off for years, and had a particularly memorable experience when I took a basic religions class in college. We averaged about 2 weeks each on Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, different flavors of Buddhism, Christian Science, Mormonism and the Nation of Islam. All of these religions claimed dubious things, but most could generally deflect criticism by saying stories were symbolic, or that events happened too long ago to confirm or deny. There were always junior apologists in the room to point these things out. The exceptions were Mormonism and The Nation of Islam, which seemed comically and plainly false.

Mormonism claimed that their new gospel was translated from large golden tablets in the 1820s that have conveniently disappeared using regular looking rocks that only the founder could see signs on, that Native Americans are actually lost tribes of Israel (proven false genetically), and that the thrones of Jesus at the time of the second coming would be in Jerusalem and Nauvoo, Illinois. This is the town where the founder was lynched by an angry mob. I could go on but I'll stop there.

The Nation of Islam said that once the world was all black people, but the evil scientist Yakub distilled them to make white people, the degree of whiteness indicating the degree of goodness he had removed. White people are therefore inherently devils (this position has lately been moderated). Allah has allowed whites to rule for 6,000 years, but now is the time for blacks to reclaim their power. A giant UFO called a “mother plane” will soon pick up all the black people from Earth and bomb all the whites to death.

But neither of these have the same slap-you-silly absurdity of Scientology.

Scientology was founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1950 with the book Dianetics. Hubbard is himself an extremely interesting and sketchy character, once saying, "Writing for a penny a word is ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." It almost sounds like a quote straight from South Park. But I want to talk about his religion, not about him. Basically, the idea is that 75 million years ago, a space opera unfolded (that is the term used). The space alien Xenu, ruler of the Galactic Confederacy, was having overpopulation problems. As a solution, he took billions of people that lived on other planets throughout the galaxy, transported them to Earth in ships that looked like Douglas DC-8's, and dropped them in volcanoes and blew them up with H-bombs. God knows why you couldn't just gas them or shoot them out into space. Really anything could have been easier than coming across the galaxy to Earth to kill them. Anyways, so Xenu killed them. At that point, the souls of the blown up people came out of the volcanoes and were trapped by Xenu, who then subjected the souls to a thorough brainwashing (as if they haven't been through enough) by making them watch 36 days of a “three-D, super colossal motion picture.” It's not just colossal, it's super colossal. This motion picture viewing, known as the R-6 implant, bombarded the poor souls with confused images of contradictions like “wake, don't wake” and images of the Devil and angels and such. After brainwashing, the souls, known as “thetans” would wander confused for trillions of years. The thetans enter our bodies and cause confusion, and only Scientology can unknot the tangle – for a price, of course.

One way of untangling the knots is by “auditing.” In an audit a Scientologist will talk with you about past experiences. They have you hold onto two cans connected to a device called an E-meter. The E-meter is just a galvanometer that measures electrical resistance through your body, but Scientologists claim it measures your spiritual state. The E-meter is produced by the church and costs thousands of dollars somehow. The latest model is the Mark Super VII Quantum E-meter… ooh, sounds fancy. All of this spiritual enlightenment is very expensive. Estimates vary, but reaching the highest levels of Scientology definitely costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most other religions like it when you give the church money, but you can still technically be "saved" or "enlightened" or whatever the case may be technically for free. Can you imagine if you couldn't go to Heaven in Christianity unless you dropped 100 G's? It would cause another schism!

It seems with this blog we may have come upon an especially urgent reason to break the can't-criticize-religion taboo: some people are getting royally fleeced by conmen peddling promises of spiritual awakening. Those of us with a brain and a sense of decency can't sit idly by.

Famous Scientologists:
Tom Cruise
Isaac Hayes
John Travolta
Nancy Cartwright (voice of Bart Simpson)
Kristie Alley
Jason Lee
Lisa Marie Presley
Giovanni Ribisi
Greta Van Susteren

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