Re: Creating Religions for Dummies in 12 Steps

From: Robert Owen (
Date: Fri Jan 07 2000 - 20:01:20 MST wrote:

> In a message dated 1/7/00 6:02:41 PM Central Standard Time,
> writes:
> >
> > "[2] As a question for the Legal Department: Suppose "Extropianism"
> > were redefined as a "religion"; what protections and advantages would
> > this afford (at the price of some hypocrisy and double-think)?"
> ahem......scientology anyone?

Well, as a matter of fact your association is no accident -- I would call
it insightful. A little history:

       In 1950, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard published Dianetics: The
       Modern Science of Mental Health. [Published by The American
       Saint Hill Organization, Los Angeles. All page references are to
       this hard back edition.] The book is the "bible" for Scientology,
       which calls itself a science, a Church and a religion. Hubbard
       tells the reader that dianetics "...contains a therapeutic
       technique with which can be treated all inorganic mental ills and
       all organic psycho-somatic ills, with assurance of complete
       cure...." He claims that he has discovered the "single source of
       mental derangement" (p. 6). According to Hubbard, the single
       source of insanity and psychosomatic ills is the engram. Engrams
       are to be found one's "engram bank," i.e., in the reactive mind."
       An engram is defined as "a definite and permanent trace left by
       a stimulus on the protoplasm of a tissue. It is considered as a
       unit group of stimuli impinged solely on the cellular being" (p. 60

Note that the use of the term "psychosomatic ills" was used, quite
hypocritically, to avoid lawsuits. He really means "somatic, as in
"the protoplasm of a tissue" which is where pain receptions are
located. No, there is no remedy for death, here, but later Hubbard
conveniently rediscovered the "soul". And no, no reference to
cryogenics or nanotech, but then neither do Primitive Baptists with
their immediate resurrection by means of total immersion refer to
transubstantiation or the Eucharist. And how, in any scientific way,
would you proceed to distinguish "engrams" from "memes" with
respect to their utility as conceptualizations of the process of
"cognitive redemption"? Yes, it is possible to discriminate them
formally, but functionally? And no, there is no association with
Darwinian evolution or the "survival of the fittest". But Hubbard
claims that engrams are selected by a perfectly natural process
within the "cellular being".

Of course I am not equating "Scientology" with "Extropianism" in
any secular sense, but transformed into religious belief systems
their similarities would be much more salient than their differences.

You can read more at the "Skeptic's Dictionary" Website:


Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA

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