Monday, February 18, 2008

In Defense of Scientology (Peter Watts)

You think the Hubbardheads have political power? There's a word for the electoral chances of any political candidate who admits to being a Scientologist: "negligible". By an odd coincidence, the same word describes the prospects of any political candidate who doesn't admit -- nay, proclaim -- that they're a Christian.


W.M. Bear said...

Scientologists may not have political power but they certainly have a degree of cultural power. It's interesting. From it's inception, Scientology was oriented towards getting celebrity adherents and succeeded to some extent.

Most people (and this includes your run-of-the-mill "atheist") believe what they want to believe. Powerful metaphysical beliefs (and this includes the varieties of materialism), helps focus our minds and can seem to helps us get our acts together. The problem comes when people equate beliefs with certainty and start getting dogmatic about them, as though they were the ultimate and ONLY truth. This is the primary cause of virtually ALL conflict -- dogmatic beliefs about the true nature of God and the universe.

It's not the beliefs themselves, it's the dogmatism. And so we get the battle of dogmatic atheism vs. dogmatic religion in all its myriad variations....

mister ecks said...

"The problem comes when people equate beliefs with certainty and start getting dogmatic about them, as though they were the ultimate and ONLY truth. This is the primary cause of virtually ALL conflict -- dogmatic beliefs about the true nature of God and the universe."

very true, though personally i'd take dogmatic atheism over Scientology any day.

W.M. Bear said...

mr. e -- The point is, there are other choices. One can, for example, NON-dogmatically believe (as I do) in a kind of "presiding Intelligence" that generates (in a way possibly analogous to an infinite, sentient Turing machine) the material world. The ancients called this putative Being the Demiurge. In this scheme there are other things beyond and "outside" the Demiurge but that is probably as much of "God" as our limited minds can conceive.

People who talk about the universe being a kind of "computer simulation" are really referencing this concept (though most of them aren't aware of this -- there is an abysmal ignorance of metaphysics in this modern age, especially among American academics.)

The problem comes when people start issuing orders and pretending they came from this Being....

W.M. Bear said...

Also love that canonical picure of L. Ron Hubbard -- the light glinting off the upper right side of his head and hair -- Saint Ron....

wintermuse x9 said...

Please, Mr. Bear! Do not slander the saints of yore by that insidious comparative appellation! And to the devoted scientologists, it's figuratively, The Lord Our God, Elron! He is the "One Who Knows!" Yeah, right...Heh! 8^}


Watts has some very interesting thoughts on his blog about the anti-Scientology efforts of the Anonymous group and related issues, such as the real memetic and political, etc., power of mainstream religions, by a comparison of consequences, and opposition to same. I posted the following there, and would invite comment on same here ("revised and expanded" for posthumanblues--I apologize in advance for the length and possible tendentiousness, but a guy's gotta say whatta guy's...ah, you know!) {^8


Anyone considering the possibility that the "Anonymous" net group or "Project Chanology" might be "false flag" operations in part being conducted sub rosa by or on behalf of either mainstream Scientologists or some splinter or other factional group?

The tactics being employed may be such that they are intended to garner sympathy or some kind of "defense of scientology" by Anon group or other efforts to take actions that are not only likely to be ineffective, but also to be perceived as offensive, and it may be that the "defense of religion" and freedom of belief, from a mainstream religion or other is the intended goal, in order to try to inject not only publicity and some support for Scientology, but also to synthesize and/or justify a possible backlash, all of which could serve Scientology's more subversive and sophisticated efforts and goals in the long run.

I also think it should at least be considered, although Anon/Chan are most likely chaotic small time net based efforts, that perhaps we are seeing some other religious denomination demonize Scientology for the purpose of competive marketing or to increase their own "mind share" of the gullible and those in need of or prone to wanting some form of spiritual belief system that is not institutional or mainstream, in order to bring in those who might otherwise gravitate to Scientology.

Pretty speculative, I know, but religions, including Scientology, have been in internecine psyops and "warfare" long before now, so maybe that's an element of what we are observing. Ask yourself; just who benefits most and least from these kinds of semi-radical Anon or Chanology efforts over time? What purposes are actually served? What are the likely outcomes of these actions and behaviors as this scenario or "us vs. them" mentality and effort unfolds?

It seems Operation Clambake, and, etc., fairly long-term ex-Scientologists and those opposed to the horror that is Scientology (David Miscavige seems like a fairly devious, insidious Svengali or Rasputin type to me), do not support the Anonymous group or Chan, due to their anonymity, questionable tactics, and use of techniques, like the DOS attacks, that are, as one of the commenters here noted, a form of restriction and denial of free speech, even if you disagree with just about everything the Scientologists or mainstream religions teach and stand for, which are primarily negative in history and nature of effects on human culture at this time and long before now. I'd like to see some input on these ideas, if anyone cares to comment. Even if Anon/Chan are not any kind of "false flag" op, their effort and the consequences may just serve that purpose and have that effect anyway.

Just my 2.13 cents worth of speculation, FWIW. Opinions on these thoughts?

[Oh, and I agree with the less than literate gentleman 'tax scientology' that Scientology, indeed, should definitely pay their taxes, just like any other profit-making corporation, which is really what they are, as another commenter here noted, they require their "parishioners" (clients? consumers? victims?) to really pay to play their truly absurdist and sick space alien games, as good old L. Ron Hubbard structured the "religion" for pecuniary purposes and as a form of exploitative mind control and crass, power-hungry personal manipulation. IMHO.]

I'm really glad the Thetan OT VIII, etc. 'secret truths' are out on the net, just so that vulnerable noobs can check that crap out, and if they have any sense at all, stay very far away from the persuasive propagandists of these "new-age" belief systems of exploitation, just as they should research the origins and history of any "mainstream" religious or spiritual false belief system created by man.

Personally? I'm an agnostic, as even atheism is a basic form of UN/belief in a way, also, when you think about it. An anti-thesis, in a way. As just another human in the world, dealing with the samsara or detritus of the world and existence, and how and why to be a good person, without being hide-bound by some external, hierarchal belief system or "godhead" patriarchal or matriarchal concept that requires my emotional and intellectual submission to some mythical higher power, or that there is or is not any possibility of any non-human basis or "gods" or other "conscious" source as to the origin and nature of the complex multiverse.

I realized long ago that if you cannot prove a contention one way or another, and be able to establish by evidence some real, testable form of proof, truly, then agnosticism in general, while still seeking truth, whatever that is, or the experiential nature of reality, is my way and course of being and understanding, as it is beyond my personal capacity and means to resolve, and so I don't think any camp (belief) followers [god, gods, no god(s), aliens, or even just the nature of reality in the deepest sense of being able to define the actual origins, nature, or basis of reality causation] have the "real" answers, or that the philosophical and logical conundrum is known or possibly knowable, so I choose life, alone, without attribution or allegiance to any belief system of any kind, based on "deus ex machina" or conscious or directed mechanisms, nor do I reject such out of hand.

I simply _do not know_, and although I doubt religion, in general, provides any current or valid explanations, as it is primarily a human invention for social and cultural purposes or for getting through life on some level and to be able to "do the right thing," that's the best I've come up with so far.

I think early man, not knowing what the answers to these questions were either, and being even less able to rationally explore them, created answers in order to fulfill a need for some way of interpreting and relating to the "randomness" of the existential, harsh realities we faced, and still do, of being conscious, imaginative, intelligent beings.

And so, as Nietzsche once said, man invented God(s) and religion, mainly for survival and sanity purposes. If one cannot relate to the unknown, many find that even an invented or synthesized faith-based "theorem" is better than either nothing or trying to rationally deal with the unknown or unknowable without some firm beliefs as to our origins, nature, and place.

"Religion" may have been a natural evolutionary development as a form of group survival mechanism, and so to deny the power and purposes, even if in a sense untrue or created, is to deny the obvious, still existent need by most for same.

Belief, faith, and religion have and do serve many purposes for most in differing, personal ways. Even knowing, in effect, that we don't know, and striving for understanding or knowledge, is sort of a faith-based or "needful thing" in even atheistic or agnostic minds, as wanting and needing to know what's real, or not, is an aspect of what it means to be human, and to possess our kind of intellectual and consciousness drives.

We want and have a need to be knowing, seeking, and questing for whatever truth there is out there and in us to help make things more acceptable and less unknowable or purely random. That, in one sense, is what it means to be human and alive in the universe. We have a need to know; our efforts relate to "declassifying" or trying to reveal and unveil the mysterious, the unknown, and to refute, confirm, or really seek and need to investigate further the "supernatural" (which to me means the unidentified or unexplained only) in order to know and understand and use that knowledge to further ourselves individually and as a collective species with great potential and ambitions.

And to realize that potential, as best we can, and again for survival, continuity, and to evolve to higher levels in order not just to survive, but to succeed in realizing that potential and the possibility, as we hopefully can do so, to become truly and more than human.

I guess that means a form of transhumanist agenda and manifesto is what I'm expressing, while saying that belief and faith are fine, but not at the expense of reality, truth, growing personally and exploring what is, and what may be "out there" and inside of us, from the point of view of a kind of evolutionary enlightenment and necessary change without the old blinders of self-fulfilling beliefs or religious faiths that may hinder that purpose or limit what we can see, do, and know.

I choose science, a kind of Heisenberg uncertainty principle, rationality, and ambiguity in lieu of fact, proof, or testable, empirical evidence. I am kind of a "reality hacker," I guess. But, again, that's just my take on the matter; I could very well be wrong, misguided, or misperceiving the issues, and admit that possibility, also. Not knowing, and agnostic can do no less, or more.

As J.B.S. Haldane once said, to paraphrase, the universe is not only stranger than we know, it's stranger than we _can_ know, at least at this point in spacetime, with our primate heritage, and current level of evolution, consciousness, and relative levels of intelligence. The question at the heart of this debate does not have an answer that is acceptable to at least me. Not by any means and certainly not as yet.

Whosoever claims to know the "truth" of these matters has not as yet convinced me, at least, that they really know what they're talking about. In a sense, I ask myself, how possibly could they?

And that's not an easy place to reside within, or without, but I can live with the ambiguousness of that quite well, thank you.

What say you all?

wintermuse x9 said...

This comment was posted just after mine on Peter Watts blog:

"LOL. Anonymous is not the personal army of some religious group. As for Anon not being "organized", that is true. We have no leaders. However we are quite confident we can do serious damage to this illicit cult. We Are Anonymous. We Are Legion. We Do Not Forgive. We Do Not Forget. Expect Us."

[February 19, 2008 8:43 PM]

"We Are Legion" -- that's more than a bit disturbing, imho. Isn't that a biblical reference? Egads...