What is Scientology?

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Although several of the most central doctrines of Scientology are not unlike those of Judeo-Christian religions, many who are familiar with Scientology prefer the comparison to Eastern religions, particularly Buddhism. Yet, Scientology is truly unlike any religion that has preceded it. In fact and in substance it is its own religion with its own unique system of beliefs and practices. And, notably, it is the only great religion to emerge in the twentieth century.

Nonetheless, because Scientology is a relatively new religion, founded in the early 1950s by L. Ron Hubbard, to gain a clearer understanding of its religious teachings it is of benefit to compare them to the doctrines of several other well-known religions that are older and therefore more familiar to more people.

Perhaps the best place to start is with what may well be the most fundamental doctrine of the Scientology religion, the doctrine of the “thetan.” The cornerstone of Scientology theology is the belief that man is himself an immortal spiritual being who has lived through a great many lifetimes and has the potential of infinite survival. Scientologists call this spiritual being the “thetan.” The word comes from the Greek letter theta, theta, the traditional symbol for thought or life.

While the Scientology concept of the thetan may appear identical to the Judeo-Christian concept of the soul, it is not; there are at least three critical differences between the concepts.


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