Homer Numan

Homer Numan

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Strange Beliefs


This is from today's Sunday Times:

''It asserts that 75m years ago an evil galactic warlord called Xenu rounded up 13.5 trillion beings from an overpopulated corner of the galaxy, flew them to Earth and dumped them in volcanoes and vaporised them with nuclear bombs. This scattered their radioactive souls, or thetans, which were then trapped and implanted with a number of false ideas — including the concepts of God, Christ and organised religion. These entities attached themselves to human beings and are at the root of our personal and global problems today. ''

So where does this rather strange idea originate? A script from the X-Files or Torchwood? Star Trek maybe?
Nope -- this is the core belief of scientology -- the world's fastest growing religion, which, despite it's name, has no connection with actual science. As of today, scientology has 120 000 members in the UK and over 10 million worldwide. To get that into perspective, that's the population of Ireland, north and south -- twice.

A further quote:

''Scientology has proved exceptionally robust and has grown steadily since its launch. In America it dominates entire towns and even in Britain some children have been brought up as Scientologists. What worries critics most is the religion’s secrecy and intolerance of dissent. Members who are critical of the church are declared “apostates” and are excommunicated and often cut off from family and friends who must “disconnect” from them. ''

The above paragraph sounds a lot more familiar. On this level, scientology begins to look more like 'normal' religions. Secrecy, fear of criticism, insularity, shunning of those who dare to question, all steming from the absurd idea that any one person can know more than another about 'belief.' In other words, the twisting of a religious ideal for the purpose of control over others.

Reading the first paragraph again, most non-scientologists would immediately dismiss this 'belief' as being lunacy. But is it?

50 million Mormons believe that a schizophrenic womaniser was able to translate the book of Mormon using magic glasses.
100 million Muslims believe that martyrdom results in the attentions of 50 virgins in the afterlife.
100 million Roman Catholics believe that bread and wine literally becomes the body of Christ.
30 million Jehovah's Witnesses believe that Christ returned to the earth in 1915 but appeared only to Jehovah's Witnesses.
100 million Buddhists believe that we are constantly reborn as a different animal until we reach a state of perfection.

Given this lot, does scientology really sound so daft? The only real difference is it's age.

So why do people believe this stuff? A major reason is irrational egotism, an inflated importance of the individual self. We really think that we're so important that we deserve not only a supernatural explanation for our existence, but an afterlife as well.

In the same paper today, I read that 35 million 'game birds' are bred in the UK each year, for the sole purpose of being shot for 'sport.' Presumably none of those birds are considered important enough to have any relevance in this great scheme called life. So perhaps someone can tell me why humanity has any greater relevance.
Other than a giant ego and an endless capacity for imagination, are we really any different?
Religious folk in particular appear determined to delude themselves that they're not really animals at all. Hello?

Read those beliefs above again and ask yourself if humanity is indeed the most intelligent creature on the planet.

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