Tom Cruise, Scientology, Christianity, and Hilarity
Whaaaat? How could anyone love someone for holding such ridiculous beliefs and being so outspoken about such obviously ridiculous beliefs? I mean Tom Cruise believes he has superpowers and that he is waging a war against an evil galactic overlord known as Xenu. That shit is nuts!
Sure it is nuts and that’s the point. Tom Cruise is still an awesome actor who picks mostly good roles and mostly good films with a few occasional theatrical bombs. Cruise really believes in his religion and by all accounts is a pretty decent human being. Yet no one, not even the most compassionate Christian will dispute that Tom Cruise’s beliefs are ridiculous. This is one thing both atheists and Christians can agree on.
I can’t tell you how many times I had conversations with Christian friends about a Tom Cruise film and my Christians friend brought up Cruise’s religious beliefs and how utterly ridiculous those beliefs are. No one is accused of attacking Tom Cruise personally or dehumanizing him for holding such unbelievable beliefs. He certainly isn’t stupid or anything either. I doubt very much that I could memorize all the lines Cruise can. And it isn’t just the actor’s ability to remember dialog. I don’t know much about Cruise, but I haven’t seen anything from him that would suggest that he was not an intelligent, caring human being. The fact is that we can acknowledge that Tom Cruise is an awesome actor and a smart, intelligent human being, who just so happens to hold some really ridiculous beliefs.
What I want to know is at what point did he start to believe this crazy stuff? How was he convinced that he has actual superpowers or at least the possibility that he could develop them? What argument was made to convince him that Thetans and Lord Xenu are real? I’m curious to know why people like Tom Cruise believe such completely and utterly ridiculous beliefs on insufficient evidence.
Sure I guess it is possible that I could be wrong and that Cruise is correct and that L. Ron Hubbard really did figure out the secrets to human consciousness. After all, Cruise is a very successful actor so he must be doing something right. But Scientology is probably not it. I can’t say with 100% certainty that Cruise is wrong, but Scientology is pretty improbable.
Here’s the reason I love him so much. Imagine you are Tom Cruise and that instead of holding the ridiculous beliefs of Scientology, you held even more ridiculous beliefs of one of the three Abrahamic religions. If you are a Christian, you don’t have to imagine this because you already do.
Christianity is even more ridiculous a belief system than Scientology. The evil galactic overlord Xenu at least lives in the same universe we do. While it is improbable that such an alien exists, it is mathematically probable that some aliens probably do exist somewhere. God isn’t even in the same universe as we are. Jesus is alleged to be magical. Much of the Bible obviously conflicts with known science and the stories of the Gospels are over-the-top silly. From an outsider’s point of view, Christianity is at the very least just as ridiculous as Scientology.
But like my view of Tom Cruise, I don’t think that all Christians must be stupid or necessarily unintelligent. Despite believing in and worshipping an imaginary dictator who allegedly allows for the eternal torture of billions of people for the sole crime of being human, I don’t think Christians are necessarily immoral people. Most Christians like Tom Cruise are decent human beings who genuinely want to help people. Cruise believes he has superpowers and that it is his moral duty to help humanity. Christians believe God has their back and that it is their moral duty to carry out God’s will.
I’m not questioning any one’s intelligence or their good intentions. I just think they are wrong and that their beliefs are ridiculous – because they are. I am curious though as to why people believe such obviously ridiculous beliefs. In this sense, I think Christians has an edge on Cruise. Christianity is everywhere and most people are indoctrinated at near birth to believe in that belief system. Society reinforces that indoctrination. There are churches on nearly every street corner which ring bells reminding people of their indoctrination. God is on our money and in our pledge. Our society gives respect to Christian leaders. By contrast, Scientology leaders do not get equal respect.
So while I sometimes struggle to understand how anyone could possibly believe in the ridiculousness of Christianity, there is that other part of me that gets it. Christianity has dominated our society. I can understand how it could seem like the most logical belief system in the world to someone who was raised from near birth to believe and who lives in a society that reinforces that belief even if they might not have been a passionate believer at one point in their life. But as an outsider, it really is difficult to believe that anyone could really take this stuff seriously.
Just as Christians have no problem laughing at Tom Cruise’s beliefs, I have no problem mocking the ridiculousness of Christianity… and Scientology. But that doesn’t mean that I am belittling Cruise. On the contrary, I think he is an awesome actor and I love almost all of his films. As a person, I have no reason to doubt that he has the best of intentions and really believes that he is helping people. I respect him, but not his beliefs. If I ran into him on the street, I would have to ask him how he could believe all this. What convinced him and why can’t he see that he has been brainwashed by a cult? Why can’t Christians see that they too have been indoctrinated into a religion not of their choosing?
On a lighter note, here is a parody campaign ad I made during the 2012 election which is only slightly relevant to this post, but it is hysterically funny if I do say so myself. Enjoy:
- Hello? Your Beliefs Are Ridiculous!! (skepticink.com)
- Demons, Witches, and Warlocks… Oh My! (skepticink.com)
- Don’t Praying For Me (skepticink.com)
- Protect Your Immortal Soul Today! (skepticink.com)
- Jamaican Christians Upset At Possible Competition (skepticink.com)
- Eliminating Religion (skepticink.com)