One thing that struck me at the time of the notorious Tom Cruise scientology video was how comfortable people felt mocking Scientology and Scientologists in ways they wouldn’t dream of applying to other, older forms of religion.
Scientology gets an absolute hammering, and rightly so. All that stuff about Theta waves and the pseudo-scientific E-Meter is particularly worthy of criticism.
However, setting aside for a moment the fact that L Ron Hubbard is reputed to have declared an aim to start a religion in order to make money, I start to wonder what the difference really is between saying something like “I hate Scientologists”, which appears to be socially acceptable, and “I hate Muslims”, which certainly isn’t.
Can one set of superstitions be less valid than another? Aren’t all belief systems that fly in the face of evidence equally worthy of challenge? I don’t know the answer, but I’ve asked the question a lot, and people often respond by saying that Scientology is SO CRAZY that it’s a special case.
I’m not convinced. After all, the basis of Christianity is that if you don’t believe in Christ’s eternal love, you are punished with eternal hell. Interesting. This is less crazy than the E-Meter how?
I think it’s a numbers game. If there were one billion Scientologists, some of whom perhaps willing to kill to defend the name of L Ron Hubbard, I’m not sure that such distinctions would apply. I guess that once sufficient numbers of people believe something stupid, or enough people have believed something stupid for long enough, it achieves legitimacy regardless of the irrationality of it.