Science facts and science fiction
Several news stories compete for our attention this month. The Higgs boson discovery, the revelation by religious scholars in Louisiana that the Loch Ness Monster is real and therefore proof that the Theory of Evolution is wrong (The Herald, Scotland, 24 June) and, of course, the BIG story: the marriage break-up of world famous Scientologist, Tom Cruise.
Which to choose? It’s a toss-up between the Higgs boson and Tom Cruise. (Unfortunately we can’t offer marriage guidance on this column, so we’ll have to stick to the Scientology aspect of the story.)
Can these phenomenal stories be explained in simply? Our thanks are due to the Guardian’s G2 ‘Shortcuts’ column for the following: “The Higgs Boson is an elementary scalar particle first posited in 1962, as a potential by-product of the mechanism by which a hypothetical, ubiquitous quantum field – the so-called Higgs field – gives mass to elementary particles. More specifically, in the standard model of particle physics, the existence of the Higgs Boson explains how spontaneous breaking of electroweak symmetry takes place in nature”.
Got that? Good. That should get you through even the most challenging pub discussion on the subject. Now we can move on to the advanced stuff, the minefield of theology and metaphysics that must be overcome before attempting to understand Scientology (or Tom Cruise, for that matter).
First let www.scientology.org explain why man is a spirit: “Ask someone to close their eyes and get a picture of a cat, and they will get a mental image picture of a cat. Ask them who is looking at the picture of the cat and they will respond ‘I am’. That which is looking at the cat is you, a spirit. One is a spirit, who has a mind and occupies a body. You are you in a body”.
All clear so far? Now here’s a quote attributed to sci-fi writer and founder of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard: “You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, start a religion”. Yes, it’s all beginning to fall into place.
Having got that sorted we’re ready to consider Scientology’s theory of human origins. We’ve learnt from the born-again brigade that evolution is only a theory. But according to Scientology even the stuff about Adam and Eve and the talking serpent is a bit dubious too.
What really happened is that 75 million years ago an intergalactic ruler called Xenu herded the populations of 76 planets together, dropped them into volcanoes, and vaporised them with nuclear bombs. The souls of the victims were then forced to watch a 3D movie for 36 days which implanted all sorts of misleading data into their memories. We are descended from them.
There’s a bit more to it than that, but we only get 500 words in this column. It’s covered in great detail on the internet though.
It’s almost as bizarre as believing in a virgin birth, the raising of the dead and the turning of water into wine. You couldn’t make it up, could you? Unless you were a sci-fi writer. Who needs facts when you’ve got faith and unquestioning belief?