Is Jesus The Only Way To Heaven?

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.

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3 Responses to Is Jesus The Only Way To Heaven?

  1. Pete says:

    I think perhaps less numbers and more establishment and staying power, which perhaps on the face of it amounts to the same thing.

    If Scientology were to have contributed languages, scientific advances, nations, cultural shifts on a tectonic scale and general worldwide acceptance (not to mention war, famine, encouragement of disease and colonialist tendencies: lest we forget, fame isn’t always through the positive) then I dare say it’d be taken more seriously.

    It’s probably fair to say that, in their infancy, religious sects which have become part of larger, worldwide religions were, at best, not taken seriously and, at worst, persecuted cruelly.

    Scientology seems like the Paris Hilton of the Religion world: Imitated, fashionable, rich and untouchable, but generally shallow, pointless and insubstantial.

    It’s fairly unlikely that a scientologist communty will spawn a Michelangelo, J S Bach or John Coltrane, because it is simply too inward looking, self serving and exclusive where other religions, flawed though they may be have, at best, encouraged inclusivity, aspiration and success.

    This is not to absolve any one religious body or thought process from criticism. As you know, I find the fundemental basis of the vast majority of modern religious thought to be the most exquisite nonsense. But it’s nonsense around which a lot of people have invested a lot of history, and that’s something that doesn’t just go away.

    In short, if Scientology is around in 2000 years time (not that any of us will be there to find out at the rate all this snow is melting), it may have survived through offering SOMETHING substantial, good or bad, to chang the world in some way. I’m guessing it probably won’t…

  2. Ladyshambles says:

    I happened to be in the car on Easter Monday and as I appear to have a pipe-smoking pensioner trapped inside me, I was listening to Radio 4 to humour him.

    Up pops a programme about the legitimacy of Christ rising again and to prove this, they wheeled out a couple of Christian academics, who argued the case that Christ existed, he fell and rose again and spouted forth all sorts of gubbins to prove it.

    I was pissing myself so much, I had to pull over and switch to Radio 2. I mean, honestly. These people sounded like certified mentalists.

    Good for a laugh though.

  3. Richard says:

    I always listen to Radio 4 when I’m driving; it’s good at preventing temper tantrums at other drivers.

    As for talking-head theologians, they unwittingly do a good job of parodying academic professors. ‘I read it in a book’ isn’t good enough if that book was written thousands of years ago by people EVEN DUMBER than we are today.

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