Why Dianetics is better than the Bible

I am hardly a fan of Scientology, yet I find some humor in the fact that Scientology’s “holy book”, Dianetics, is better than the Bible in nearly every way. Here is my reasoning.

First of all, Dianetics is much more self-consistent than the Bible. One need only to examine a brief list of contradictions in the Bible to see what I’m getting at. This isn’t even a fair comparison for the Bible, really, as it was written by dozens of authors over hundreds of years. Dianetics, by comparison, was written by one author in a few years. Dianetics would have to be pretty terrible to lose out in this comparison, and the truth is, it’s not that bad. The ideas it espouses, while wrong and dangerous, are at least coherent and consistent. You can’t say the same for the Bible.

Dianetics was written long after the invention of the modern printing press, which gives it a huge advantage. It has been faithfully reproduced, word-for-word, since it was originally penned by L. Ron Hubbard. By contrast, the Bible was written long before the invention of the printing press, and it was savaged by over a millennium of hand-copying and translation between multiple languages. The end result is no one can really even be sure about what any specific passage in the Bible is even supposed to say, let alone what it means. Schisms between branches of Christianity have broken out over little more than which copy or translation should be considered canon and which is heresy.

Dianetics was written in modern English, and as such requires no translation for comprehension by a modern audience. Each word in it that you read is exactly what L. Ron Hubbard had intended. The Bible, on the other hand, has been pieced together from works written in Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. Any translation is inherently inaccurate, and multiple translations even moreso. Even worse, the ancient translations were done by people with an agenda, and for many of the books in the Bible, these are all we have left. They didn’t have any concept of modern scholarship, where the goal is to translate the work as accurately and true to the original as possible. So it’s really hard to even say what the messages in the Bible are supposed to be, whereas Dianetics, written originally in modern English and still readable in its original form, has no such ambiguity.

There isn’t even any agreement on which books the Bible is supposed to be composed of. Compare Catholicism and their Apocrypha, or the Eastern Orthodox Church. And that’s not even considering Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses. Dianetics, at least, has a single canonical version. There are no schisms about which text is supposed to be in it and which isn’t.

Face it, the comparison between the Bible and Dianetics is completely stacked against the Bible. Although, to be fair, the same would be true of any comparison between a modern book and an ancient one (this is why my arguments so far are thus more of a criticism on the Bible than a booster for Dianetics). The difference is that most ancient books are only the object of inquiry for scholarly study; no one is trying to base an entire belief system around them. Hopefully now you have a bit more insight into why I, and my fellow atheists, find religions based on ancient books so confounding.

10 Responses to “Why Dianetics is better than the Bible”

  1. tony ramster Says:

    i am atheist. and i do agree that Dianetics is easier to believe. because it more trust worthy. here are something, the people that was translating could have been bribed to write something else down. and if i am not mistaken i don’t think any one have the original text of the bible. so how can they make sure taht the translation was right?

  2. Gregory Maxwell Says:

    I don’t think Dianetics instructs its readers to kill anyone. … Actually, I dunno that you can call Dianetics any more harmful than most other pop-psychology books. Scientology (like other religious) can be dangerous, but dianetics is merely dangerous in so far as that it is a gateway to Scientology.

    (I read part of Dianetics eons ago long before everyone knew about scientology as a cult. It’s was pop-psychology drivel, but I recall it being less awful than most of its contemporaries.. Plus it has a spiffy cover!)

  3. Cyde Weys Says:

    Greg: You’re right, Dianetics doesn’t instruct its readers to kill anyone. That’s one of the nice benefits of modern society: the modern discourse has evolved to the point where that is not at all acceptable. The Bible and other various holy books, on the other hand, were written before this cultural elevation, and as such contain very barbaric ideas and commandments that they get away with because they are “sacred” and thus unalterable.

    All of this religion stuff is continually threatening to drag us back into bygone eras. It’s pretty scary. Some of the Islamist countries especially — they’re centuries behind the rest of the world in terms of gender equality, for instance.

  4. William Says:

    I think they could only be “behind” us in gender equality (and such) if they felt it was a good thing. What makes our views more right than theirs?
    The first response I can think of is that ours isn’t based on the half-witted, poorly transcribed rantings of people from a thousand years ago. But what is our viewpoint (presumably, that men and women should have equal rights) based on? Lack of relevant anatomical differences?
    Not a convincing argument, for sure, but I think it makes my point clear; we can’t reasonably apply our value system on someone else and expect them to change because they don’t match ours. That doesn’t stop us from trying, but still.

  5. Jeff V Says:

    Both books are dangerous when they are used as a tool by the wrong people (see also: Hitler).

    However, the Bible includes very entertaining stories; at least in the Old Testament.

    Also, the Bible is alluded to in an astounding number of paintings, pieces of literature, sculpture, etc. Therefore a thorough understanding of the Bible would lead to much more interesting thoughts than a thorough understanding of Dianetics…

    I vote Bible.

  6. drinian Says:

    Not having read Dianetics, does it use didactic storytelling at all, or is it just a pseudo-psych textbook?

    As Jeff V says, the Bible, at least, is a remarkable collection of stories that make up a significant chunk of the common Western heritage. I know that my life is better off for knowing of the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, a doubting Thomas…

  7. Kelly Martin Says:

    The mistake you are making here, Cyde, is in assuming that a religious text should be concise, clear, and unambiguous. That might be a positive characteristic of a scientific treatise, but it is a highly undesirable quality for a religious text.

    No, religious texts are ideally vague, general, and ambiguous, while at the same time uplifting to the spirit. Dianetics fundamentally fails in this regard; it’s not very uplifting and it’s actually quite tedious to read, unlike the Bible, which is a pretty easy read except for the boring genealogical recitations. Having lots of ambiguity and vagueness leaves lots of room for interpretation by the privileged priesthood, which means that the doctrine can easily be crafted to serve the situation without much risk of contradiction or conflict. Dianetics fails in this regard because it’s too rigid.

    I must also point out that Dianetics is not free of schism; there are a number of schismatic Scientologist groups (collectively, the Freezone) who allege that the Church has misinterpreted Hubbard’s wisdom in some way or another.

  8. Cyde Weys Says:

    Kelly: I wasn’t saying which was better as a religious text, just which was better overall as a cohesive book. I have rather little interest in what makes something a good religious book, because those same values tend to make it a rather bad book in general.

  9. Kelly Martin Says:

    Really? Aside from the boring genealogies I think the Bible makes for a pretty good read.

    I’m starting to think that your religious beliefs are coloring your perceptions.

  10. Kelly Martin Says:

    Jeff V: any book is dangerous in the hands of the wrong person. Especially if it’s big and thick, like an unabridged dictionary…