I've had a passing interest in Scientology ever since reading Cyril Vospers book "The Mindbenders". But after South Park's episode entitled "Trapped in the Closet" i've been reading further. What makes people fall for such awful, third rate space opera? How is it that normal, right thinking people go for cults such as scientology, christianity, the moonies, islam & all the other myriad fictions that people spend so much of their time, resources and thought upon. I think it's education, or the lack of it.
At the moment here in the UK it's cool to hate science. Nobody turns a hair when someone says they have no idea how their car works, how their computer displays the web they surf, that they dislike mathamatics to the point of a numerical dyslexia, how they hate "chemicals" in their food (of course, they, their food and the whole damn universe is made of "chemicals"). The list goes on and on. I don't think this way of thinking is limited to the UK either. Over in the US the number of people who believe the christian creation myth is actualy the way the Earth is the way it is is frightening! And that they are forcing education boards to include creationism in schools is something america should be ashamed of. Add to this the poor quality and lack of enthusiasm shown by the teachers of the sciences and you can see why media studies has overtaken physics (by a huge margin) at A level. A recipe for disaster.
This is how these cults get a handle on our youth. Poorly educated, often with parents who are up to their necks in one of the religions, have no defense against these cults when they come into contact with them. A little decent grounding in a few of the sciences and the picture would be much different. Try and explain the scientology xenu myth to someone who has a "general reader" grasp of cosmology and geology and he'd laugh in your face. The same goes for dianetics and scientology's denouncing of modern psychiatry (and their personality tests & e-meters). Even a basic grasp of psychology would reveal their infantile writings to be the tawdry clap-trap it really is. Go to the paleontology dept. of your local university and mention the christian flood, see how far you get.
There will be many who will say that we must respect others beliefs no matter how stupid thay are and how much damage they cause. I can't disagree more. There have been more wars fought over people's fictional mythical beings than for any other reason. When people could have been fed, clothed and housed these cults build churches, mosques, synagogues, orgs. The money people earn is taken in tithe for their mythical deity. Babies suffer the mutilation of circumcision. And the nastiest con trick of all. That if you work like a dog in this life and give all your money to the church, then your reward will be in the next life.
Religion is just a form of social control. When man first started settling into communities and gave up hunting and gathering something new arrived. Inequality. All of a sudden there were haves and have nots. Also, one man could not break, till, sow, tend, harvest and store all the crops that came with agriculture. How could the haves not only protect their advantage but also use the labour of the have nots to their gain whilst all the time making sure no uprising occured? The answer was religion.
What can reach under the into the huts and inside the very thoughts of those to be subjergated? An omnipresent, wrathful god who sees all. Lets take a look at the ten commandments from the point of view of a succesful landowner / farmer in one of these new communities. His problem is to keep his elevated status whilst using the labour of the serfs around him. Always bearing in mind that he is vastly outnumbered and cannot, in the way a hunter would guard his kill, keep hold of his stores of harvested food by his own personal threat.
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
This is the new shit! All you old myths are superceded.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing
All your previous icons are superceded.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
No discussion, be it serious, in jest or as a swearword is forbidden.
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
We're going to have one day a week to reinforce this myth. By order!
5. Honour thy father and thy mother.
I've hoodwinked one generation. I don't want to have to keep doing it!
6. Thou shalt not kill.
Read as "Thou shalt not kill me!"
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Could be my daughter / wife. Hands off!
8. Thou shalt not steal.
Read as "Thou shalt not steal my stuff!"
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Your not to tell people what I actually do. If you do, you a liar! (& that's a no-no)
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, wife etc.
Because they may be mine. Hands (and thoughts) off!
OK, so there we are. Now to make all this stick we have stories told around the fire of plagues, storms and tempest, boils and a myriad of other very nasty things. Don't forget the good old work ethic. Your rewards to be reaped in the afterlife. Nauseating! Religion as a social control. Upholding the class structure and promising rewards that never materialise. Scientologists take note! You are promised the whole damn universe and immortality for only your life, friends, family, freedom, thought and of course money. More and more money. They get to the end and are told there's been a few mistakes and your going to have to start again. Oh, and by the way, start paying again too! It's at this point that many who reach scientology's OTVII realise there's something amiss and bail out.
Education (if the information had been available) would have protected those early communities from the barbarous control engendered by religion. It will protect you kids from cults like scientology (they will come accross it) and other cults. It will protect them from from the other more traditional cults like islam and christianity. And it will open your eyes too.
There is more wonder to be had in modern cosmolgy than all the creation myths rolled into one. And to stand and face the universe as a short lived primate, to start to grasp this wonderful universe we inhabit, to realise we only have one life to make the best of, takes more courage than to lean on the mouldy, corrupt crutch of cults / religion. Plus, it offers so much wonder, joy and sheer pleasure in knowing than any fictional, faith based myth can ever offer you.