Author: William Sims Bainbridge
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The paper “Science and Religion: The Case of Scientology” constitutes a chapter in the book “The Future of New Religious Movements”. It discusses Scientology’s self-presentation as a ‘scientific religion’ and examines Hubbard’s relationship with the science fiction subculture when he was an active pulp fiction writer.
Bainbridge statistically analyses the results of a survey at a popular science fiction convention to assess Hubbard’s popularity among the fan subculture of the time.Hubbard’s popularity turns out to have been extremely low. Bainbridge attributes this in part to the fans objecting to Hubbard “[…] advertising science fiction dreams as if they were solid facts” when he used the pulp magazine “Astounding Science Fiction” to promote Dianetics.
It is interesting that this same objection that, 5 years later, motivated Greg Bear’s veiled attack on Hubbard in his novel “Heads”. In the novel’s introduction, Bear expresses his anger at, “The cults of true believers who try to have science and religion mixed into the same cocktail (Scientology is the obvious target here).”
Bainbridge concludes that Hubbard “[…] was regarded in his day as a passable, familiar author but not one of the very best. The subculture wishes it could forget him today.”
This assessment stands in stark contrast to the propaganda circulated by the modern Church of Scientology, which attempts to promote Hubbard as a prominent and well-loved author of ‘the golden age of science fiction’.
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