By: Dr. John Ankerberg, Dr. John Weldon; ©2001
Scientology is a novel and eclectic religion drawing from Eastern philosophy, modern psychology and occult practice. It seeks to release human potential, free the soul and restore man to his original state as pure, immortal spirit.


(from Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, Harvest House, 1996)

Info at a Glance

Description: Scientology is a novel and eclectic religion drawing from Eastern philosophy, modern psychology and occult practice. It seeks to release human potential, free the soul and restore man to his original state as pure, immortal spirit.

Purpose: To “clear” the planet and free Thetans (eternal spirits in bondage to matter).

Founder: L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986).

Source of authority: L. Ron Hubbard, whose writings have officially been termed “scripture.” Claimed to be the only source for solving mankind’s problems.

How does it claim to work?: Through its “counseling” procedures (termed “auditing”), Scientology alleges that its methods offer the only final solution to mankind’s problems. Auditing “locates” and “resolves” “engrams,” or past traumatic experiences, that allegedly inhibit true spiritual enlightenment. Scientology claims that it can eventually free the human spirit from its bondage to the material world.

Scientific evaluation: While the specific religious tenets of Scientology are incapable of scientific evaluation, many or most of its stated beliefs capable of evaluation run contrary to most basic data in the natural and social sciences.

Examples of occult potential: Development of psychic powers, out of body experiences and other occult practice.

Major problem: The specific claims of Scientology in many different fields of study are inconsistent with known data; the extent to which Scientology has or has not reformed its past unconscionable methods of dealing with critics (according to Time, 2/10/86, p. 86, the Church had fielded as many as “5,000 ‘covert agents’ to harass opponents”); the rejection of the material world as a “illusion.”

Biblical/Christian evaluation: As an occult religion having specific theological beliefs contrary to biblical teaching, membership in the Church of Scientology is logically proscribed for Christians.

Potential dangers: The acceptance of false data carries its own consequences; the physical, psychological and spiritual hazards associated with occult practice; psychological harm from “auditing.”

Key literature: The books of L. Ron Hubbard. These include Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health; Dianetics Today; Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary; Science of Survival; The Church of Scientology and hundreds of other books, articles and policy letters. Periodicals include : Advance Source; The Auditor; Celebrity; International Scientology News. Hubbard Communications Office bulletins are abbreviated HCOB.

Doctrinal Summary

God: Purposefully undefined; all Theta (life); the Eighth Dynamic/”infinity.”

Jesus: A man who was not particularly enlightened whom the church invented as the savior of the world. Some Scientologists may classify Him as an “Operating Thetan” (OT): a person aware of his true nature and abilities.

Salvation: Enlightenment of the thetan as to his true nature and abilities.

Man: In his true nature, an eternal spirit being with divine powers (Thetan).

Sin: Falsehood or ignorance and especially that which opposes Scientology.

Satan: A Christian myth; redefined to include Scientological concepts.

The Second Coming: A misunderstanding of Buddhist teaching.

The Fall: Into matter and ignorance.

The Bible: Accepted as one of the world’s religious searchings, but as far as Scientology practices are concerned it is largely irrelevant.

Death: An inconsequential dropping of the body which all Thetans have experienced trillions of times.

Heaven and Hell: Christian myths, or mental implants from previous lives.

Practice and Teachings

The basic tenets of Scientology result from an eclectic mixture of Eastern philosophy, Hubbard’s personal research into a variety of disciplines and the “data” uncovered from “auditing.” Auditing is Scientology’s “counseling,” an extensive examination of the present life and the “past lives” of the initiate, the “preclear.” In one of its many definitions, Hubbard has defined Scientology as “the Western anglicized continuance of many earlier forms of wisdom.”[1] These include the Vedas, Taoism, Buddhism, Judaism, Gnosticism, early Greek civilization and the teachings of Jesus, Nietzsche and Freud. According to Hubbard, “Scientology has accomplished the goal of religion expressed in all Man’s written history, the freeing of the soul by wisdom.”[2]

Scientology divides the mind into two components, the analytic and the reactive, roughly parallel to the conscious, or rational, mind and unconscious, or “irrational,” mind, respectively. Experiences of extreme shock, pain or unconsciousness cause “engrams,” or sensory impressions, to be recorded in the reactive, or unconscious, mind. These mental pictures are the cause of our emotional and physical problems today.[3] They can be dislodged only through Scientology procedures.[4]

While these memory pictures are perfectly recorded, they lay dormant in the brain until re-stimulated by a similar incident. When re-stimulated, they cause conditioned, stimulus-response behavior that is counterproductive to the person’s well being. Thus, when the brain sees a similar situation to a past negative experience, even if it is not now a personal threat, it responds as if it were, producing inappropriate and self-defeating behavior. For example, a boy falls out of a tree just as a red car passes by and is knocked unconscious. Later, even as a man, red cars (even red things) may re-stimulate the episode in various ways and cause irrational reactions. This “engram,” therefore, may cause the man to refuse to ride in red cars, and he may get ill or dizzy when confronted with the possibility.

In this sense, we are all more or less conditioned “machines” that respond to our “operator” (the reactive mind). Scientology believes that this re-stimulation is fairly automatic. In other words, we are not free beings; we are slaves of an “aberrated” mind. Scientology maintains that through Dianetic or Scientology therapy we can be exposed to our engrams and “erase” them and become “clear,” in control of our behavior (“at cause”) rather than at the mercy of a damaged reactive mind (“at effect”).

Scientology also teaches that through reincarnation people have been accumulating engrams for trillions of years. In order to resolve hidden engrams, initiates must be mentally whisked back to re-experience the damaging events of their past lives. According to Scientology, each person is really a “thetan,” an immortal spirit who has been so damaged by engrams that he has forgotten that he is immortal and a thetan. Thetans have absolute control over bodies but, sadly, they think they are only bodies (a terrible fate) and hence they are bound by the “MEST” (matter, energy, space, time) universe. Each time a body dies, the thetan must enter another body, but he brings with him all his trillions of years’ accumulation of engrams. Thetans thus are no longer free but are in bondage to the material universe.[5] Scientology claims it can free the thetan. Many people have spent thousands of dollars to experience “freedom” from engrams.



The concept of God appears to be panentheistic or perhaps polytheistic depending on one’s view of the thetan. Panentheism refers to the belief that all finite entities are within but not identical to God. When Scientology defines God as “all Theta” (life) it indicates a belief similar to panentheism. However, Scientology also seems to grant thetans the status of ontologically independent existence. Thus if thetans, who are eternal, are considered to have divine attributes, or at least “infinite creative potential,” and if in some sense each thetan is a “god,” then a polytheistic classification seems appropriate.

What the Church refers to as “the Supreme Being” is purposely left undefined and does not become particularly relevant in Scientology theory or practice. It is variously implied to be or referred to as “Nature,” “Infinity,” “the Eighth Dynamic,” “all Theta” (life) and so forth. Usually the individual Scientologist is free to interpret this, God, in whatever manner he wishes.[6]


In their true nature, people are not the limited and pitiful bodies and egos they imagine themselves to be. They are thetans, whose fundamental nature is basically good and divine. They are not morally fallen but simply ignorant of their perfection. Their only “Fall” was into matter, not sin. How did this Fall come about?

Trillions of years ago thetans became bored, so they emanated mental universes to play in. Soon they became so entranced by their own creation and they were so conditioned by the manifestations of their own thought processes they lost all awareness of their true identity and spiritual nature.[7] In other words, thetans became hypnotized and trapped by MEST. Compounding the problem were the accumulation of countless “engrams” throughout trillions of years of existence. The final result was a materially enslaved entity existing as a mere stimulus—response machine. Today, only slavery to the reactive mind and bondage to the MEST universe (the physical body and environment) are what remain of once glorious spiritual beings who ruled the heavens.


  1. L. Ron Hubbard, The Creation of Human Ability (Los Angeles: The Publications Organization Worldwide, 1968), p. 177.
  2. Ibid., p. 180; cf. Church of Scientology Information Service, Department of Archives, Scientology: A World Religion Emerges in the Space Age (Los Angeles: U.S. Ministry of Public Relations, 1974), p. 3-17.
  3. Impact or injury must be involved for an engram to register, but “the engram is the single and sole source of aberration and psychosomatic illness,” L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics Today, pp. 43, 47; cf. pp. 37-106 and especially pp. 38-59.
  4. E.g., L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics Today, pp. 947-951; L. Ron Hubbard, The Volunteer Minister’s Handbook (Los Angeles, Church of Scientology of California, 1976), p. 551; cf. former 14-year-member Cyril Vospers’ comments in The Mind Benders (London: Neville Spearman, 1971), pp. 164-166 and by member Peter Gillham, Telling It Like It Is: A Course in Scientology Dissemination (Phoenix, AZ: Institute of Applied Philosophy, 1972), p. 26.
  5. See note 3 and L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology: A History of Man (Sussex, England: L. Ron Hubbard Communications Office, 1961), pp. 5-76, especially pp. 53-60 for a discussion of alleged evolutionary dynamics and the impact on one’s current life; cf. the discussion in Christopher Evans, Cults of Unreason (New York: Delta, 1973), pp. 38-47 and Roy Wallis, The Road to Total Freedom: A Sociological Analysis of Scientology (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977), pp. 103-104.
  6. L. Ron Hubbard, What Is Scientology? p. 200. On panentheism see Scientology: A World Religion Emerges, p. 21-24 with L. Ron Hubbard; Dianetics and Scientology Technical Dictionary (Los Angeles: Church of Scientology of California, 1975), p. 429; cf. L. Ron Hubbard, Ceremonies of the Founding of the Church of Scientology (Los Angeles: The American St. Hill Organization, 1971), p. 41; Reality magazine, No. 121, p. 3; L. Ron Hubbard, The Creation of Human Ability, p. 227; Advance, No. 35, pp. 14-15; No. 36, p. 6.
  7. See notes 5 and 6.

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