Scientology is a system of beliefs and teachings, originally established as a secular philosophy in 1952 by author L. Ron Hubbard, and subsequently reoriented from 1953 as an "applied religious philosophy". It is most prominently represented by the Church of Scientology, which has aroused considerable controversy since it was founded in 1954.

A near-comprehensive list of Wikipedia articles that mention the Church of Scientology or related Scientology subjects may be found at List of articles about Scientology.

Table of contents
1 Origins of Scientology
2 Beliefs and Practices
3 The Church of Scientology
4 Controversy and Criticism
5 Related topics
6 External links

Origins of Scientology

Scientology was expanded and reworked from Dianetics, an earlier system of self-improvement techniques originally set out in the 1950 book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. By the mid-1950s, Hubbard had relegated Dianetics to being a minor sub-study of Scientology, although it is still promoted and delivered by Scientology organizations. The chief difference between the two is that Dianetics is explicitly secular, focused on the individual's present life and dealing with physical problems, whereas Scientology adopts a more overtly religious approach focused on dealing with spiritual issues spanning multiple past lives as well as the present day.

Although the word "Scientology" is nowadays associated almost exclusively with Hubbard's work, the word was originally coined by the philologist Alan Upward in 1907, who used it to characterize and ridicule pseudoscientific theories. It was re-used in 1934 in a slightly different form, "Scientologie", by the German writer Dr. A. Nordenholz, who defined it as "the science of the constitution and usefulness of knowledge and knowing". This is not greatly different from Hubbard's meaning of the word, "knowing how to know". However, it is not clear whether Hubbard was aware of these earlier usages. The word itself is a pairing of the Latin word scio ("know" or "distinguish") and the Greek word logos ("reason itself" or "inward thought"). It seems plausible that Hubbard's meaning derived, like that of Nordenholz, from a simple translation of these root words.

Beliefs and Practices

Scientology's doctrines were established by Hubbard over some 43 years from 1952 through to his death in January 1986, issued in the form of thousands of lectures, bulletins, policies, books and pamphlets. Most of the basic principles of Scientology were set out during its first 15 years of its existence, with Hubbard devoting much of his later life to the more esoteric upper levels (or "Advanced Technologies") of the Scientology belief system.

The central beliefs of Scientology are that a person is an immortal spiritual being (referred to as a thetan) who has a mind and a body, but is neither of these, that the person is basically good, and is seeking to survive. For details, see Scientology beliefs and practices.

The Church of Scientology

The Church of Scientology was first incorporated in the United States as a nonprofit organization in 1953. Today it forms the centre of a complex worldwide network of corporations dedicated to the promotion of L. Ron Hubbard's philosophies in all areas of life.

The Church of Scientology has been, and remains, a highly controversial organization. Countries have taken markedly different approaches to Scientology. The United States government regards Scientology as a constitutionally protected religion; other countries, notably in Europe, have regarded Scientology as a potentially dangerous cult and have significantly restricted its activities at various times. Scientology has also been the focus of criticism by anti-cult campaignerss and has aroused controversy for its high-profile campaigns against psychiatry and psychiatric medication.

For more detailed information on the Church of Scientology and the controversy surrounding its activities, see those articles.

Independent Scientology Groups

Although "Scientology" is most often used as shorthand for the Church of Scientology, a number of groups practice Scientology and Dianetics outside of the fold of the official Church. Such groups are invariably breakaways from the official Church and usually argue that it has corrupted L. Ron Hubbard's principles or has otherwise become overly domineering. The Church takes an extremely hard line on breakaway groups, labeling them "apostates" (or "squirrels" in Scientology jargon) and often subjecting them to considerable legal and social pressure. Breakaway groups avoid the name "Scientology" so as to keep from being sued, instead referring to themselves collectively as the Free Zone.

Free Zone groups are extremely heterogenuous in terms of doctrine - very unlike the official Church. Some Free Zoners practice more or less pure Scientology, based on Hubbard's original (Church-published) texts and principles but without the supervision or fee system of the official Church. Others have developed Hubbard's ideas into radically new forms, some of which are barely recognisable as being related to Scientology.

Controversy and Criticism

Of the many new religious movements to appear during the 20th century, Scientology is unquestionably one of the most controversial and disputed, virtually since its inception. The Church of Scientology has come into conflict with the governments of several countries (including the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany) numerous times over the years. Critical arguments against Scientology, as well as accusations of cult behavior, can be found in the Wikipedia article Scientology: Controversial Issues. This section includes examinations of:

  • Claims of "brainwashing" and mind control
  • Scientology's disconnection policy
  • Accusations of L. Ron Hubbard starting a religion to make money
  • Deaths of Scientologists
  • Scientology's actions against critics and enemies

Related topics

External links

Current news and discussions

Official Scientology sites Critical sites