Let’s play a game of two truths and a lie. I’m going to tell you three stories, and you need to tell me which one is a lie.
An all-powerful force spoke from the heavens and made a deal with a human man. The deal was that the man, and all of his descendants, must cut off their foreskins and in return they would receive the land of Canaan forever. It made sense at the time.
The same all-powerful force was angry with humans so he sent his only son, in the form of a human, to die. Once this spirit/man was killed, humans were exonerated, so long as they pray to the same guy they killed and his dad. His body and blood can still be eaten or drank in the form of crackers and wine.
An evil galactic dictator sent immortal spirits to Earth through a series of devious acts. He erased their memories, and [skipping a few steps here] these spirits ended up as what we, today, call human beings.
I assume most of you probably picked Story #3. Obviously, I am relating the stories of Judaism and Christianity in the first two, but what you may not know is that the third story is an abridged version of Scientology, a religion derided by many as fake. But what makes it any crazier than any other religion? What makes the Scientologist belief that our earth used to be called Teegeeack any wilder than the notion that a man (or woman) in the sky created this entire planet in six days?
Think back to the two truths and a lie exercise for a second. Let’s say your entire brain had just been erased and you literally have forgotten everything you’ve ever learned about religion. Are you sure you would still pick the third option as the lie? What if we went back to ancient Rome and told some Centurions about how Jesus died for their sins? They’d probably feed you to the lions because of your radical ideas. Two thousand years later, Christianity is the world’s biggest religion. Is that because it’s the right one, or because the right people (the ones with swords and money) believed in it?
There are many tenets of Scientology that seem crazy when you read them on Wikipedia, but on a scale from 1 to Gary Busey, where do they fall comparatively? Scientologists believe that our life forces are known as “thetans,” and that they’ve been alive for millions and millions of years. Pretty nuts, right? What about Hinduism and Buddhism, both of which believe in reincarnation. And what about Christianity? Christians believe we all live one life and when we die the spirit beings inside of us either live in heaven or hell for eternity. Scientologists believe that the psychoanalytic practices of dianetics (which are far too complex to get into here) are the basis of religion and mental health. Muslims, Jews, and Christians, just to name a few, believe the act of praying can convince God to do good things for you. Truthfully, is any one crazier than the others?
Even those of you who believe in science have to admit that the Big Bang Theory (or whatever you believe) takes an amazing amount of faith. How did we get here? How long has our planet existed? Are we alone? These questions are literally impossible to answer with any certainty, but humans have been doing it for as long as we’ve been around.
While I cannot be sure, I would be willing to wager that every society in history has had some sort of answer to how we got here. How many of these stories are even nominally similar? The Aztecs had a different story than the Mongols who had a different story than the Romans, and they probably are all wrong. I may be the minority here, but I think that telling someone their crazy beliefs are crazier than my crazy beliefs is kind of a dick move. Having faith that God made earth in six days, or being sure that Xenu had something to do with it, is fine if that’s what you think. Once you start criticizing, persecuting, and killing people over these beliefs though, you’ve gone too far.
Willing to die for your beliefs is noble. It may not be the smartest thing to do, but if you are dedicated enough to truly sacrifice yourself then I, personally, think that’s morosely beautiful. But willing to kill others for those beliefs is unequivocally wrong. Scientology is probably not right, but who knows what really is. Until then, I’ll just stick to watching Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman.
By: Andrew Eckhous
(Photo by Chan Mya Soe under a Creative Commons license)