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Scientology Critique - University of Lille III France

Scientology Critique - University of Lille III France

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Published by Flower
In the following pages we propose to establish if Scientology constitutes a religion, taking into account the diverse definitions by which this term is currently characterized by the social sciences. Read more.
In the following pages we propose to establish if Scientology constitutes a religion, taking into account the diverse definitions by which this term is currently characterized by the social sciences. Read more.

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Published by: Flower on Mar 06, 2008
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03/25/2013

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The purpose of this consultation isto take stock of Scientology from a soci-ological viewpoint.The question is: Is Scientology a reli-gion and if so, which type of religion?We will try to provide elements of answers in this paper.We will also describe some aspects of Scientology as it appears to us today.Our presentation is neither polemic norapologetic.
i. I
S
S
CIENTOLOGYA
R
ELIGION
?
i.i. What Do We Mean By Religion?
This consultation cannot give rise to abasic discussion on the definition of reli-gion. We may nevertheless have an opera-tional viewpoint and agree on a minimumnumber of characteristics found in mostreligions. We are aware that this view pro-visionally ignores the discussion on thedefinition of religion imposed by newforms of religion. With Bryan Wilson wecan agree that a religion includes:
163
APPENDIX FOUR
Scientology
s
 Its Cosmology, Anthropology, System of Ethics& Methodologies
Régis Dericquebourg
Professor, Sociology of ReligionUniversity of Lille IIILille, France
 
• A cosmology in which the uni-verse takes on a meaning regardingone or more supernatural forces. Theconception of Man exceeds theboundaries of his terrestrial exis-tence. There is a before and an after.The finite character of Man is notaccepted.• A moral which stems from thiscosmology. It supplies directives andguidelines in accordance with thesuggested meaning of the universe.• Tools which put human beingsin contact with the supernaturalprinciple: prayer, religious cere-monies, techniques of meditation.• A community of followers,however small, which is capable of maintaining and reproducing thebeliefs and of managing the benefitsof salvation.The combination of these ele-ments makes it possible to distin-guish religions:(1) from deist philosophies, whichprovide a cosmology and a meaningfor existence but which are notintended to link human beings withsupernatural powers;(2) from individual magic,intended to obtain empirical resultsthrough the use of empirical tech-niques;(3) from deist organizations suchas
Freemasonry,
which acknowledgethe existence of the Grand Architectof the Universe but whose cere-monies are not directed to puttingMan in relation with Him.
i.ii. The Contents of Scientology
Scientology contains a cosmology,an anthropology, ethics, religiousceremonies, an auditing method,a method for purifying the body,training methods, a theory of commu-nication.
The Cosmology: The Supernaturalin Scientology
The founder, L. Ron Hubbard(1911-86), renews the thesis of pri-mordial spirits. He asserts that beforethe birth of the universe, spirits exist-ed, which he calls
thetans.
They werenon-material, massless beings withouttemporal limits, occupying no space,omniscient, omnipotent, indestruc-tible, immortal and capable of creat-ing anything. These intangible beings,along with the Supreme Being, creat-ed the universe. In doing so, they gotcaught in their own trap and got stuckin their creation—and especially inMan—i.e., in matter, energy, spaceand time (MEST, the physical uni-verse), even forgetting that they werethe creators. Thus they lost theirpower and omniscience and becamevulnerable human beings. Since thattime, they have returned, life after life,inhabiting different bodies. Today,thetans have forgotten their true spir-itual identity and believe they arehuman bodies. Hence, Man has a spir-itual origin: he is altogether a body, amind and a thetan.This is a gnostic version of the fallof perfect man into imperfection and atransposition of Greek drama, wherethe Gods interfere in human affairsand are trapped.
Churchof Scientology
164
 
A liberation must put an end to thesuccession of lifetimes. Scientologywants to bring man close to the state of original thetan.
The Dynamics and Ethics
Scientology deals with the drivingforce of the universe and the meaningof existence.
The universe is motivated by adynamic urge which is a force at the ser-vice of survival, the very principle of exis-tence. It varies among individuals andraces. It depends on physiology, environ-ment and experience. It influences thepersistence of Man towards life and theactivity of intelligence considered as theability of an individual, a group or a raceto solve problems related to survival.
The morality of an individual isjudged with regard to the actions whichhe accomplishes for survival. In such aperspective, goodness is what is con-structive, badness what is against sur-vival. One can see that Scientologyethics are not a set of recommendations(the Bergsonian idea of closed morals).They are the result of an understandingand interiorization of the meaning of life which acts as a personal compass. Itwould be an open moral system.In Scientology as in spiritualistgroups there is no “sin.” There are mis-takes which are destructive actionsagainst Man, family, society, God. Partof ethics is to spot and repair faults.The dynamic drive becomes morecomplex as the organism becomesmore complex. In a “normal” (unaber-rated) man, it breaks down into eightareas, corresponding to objectives:(1) The dynamic of self consists in adynamic urge to survive as an individ-ual, to obtain pleasure and to avoidpain. It deals with food, clothing, hous-ing, personal ambition and the generalobjectives of the individual.(2) The sex dynamic guides procre-ation.(3) The group dynamic governssocial life. It stimulates the conductintended to maintain the survival of thegroup to which the individual belongs.(4) The dynamic of humanityencompasses the survival of the species.(5) The dynamic of life pushes theperson to work for life in itself — i.e.,all living things, both plant and animal.(6) The dynamic of the physicaluniverse is the individual drive toincrease survival of matter, energy,space and time.(7) The dynamic of thought is theindividual urge to survive as thoughtand spiritual beings.(8) The dynamic of universalthought is the urge to survive for thecreator or Supreme Being. The first fourdynamics are connected with Dianetics.The others, added in the early 1950s, of metaphysical nature, are dealt with inScientology (cf., difference below).
The follower is invited to be in accor-dance with all dynamics. Checklists of self-exploration enable him to take stockof his condition on each. With the helpof a minister, he looks for means to rem-edy defective conditions.
Appendix Four
165

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