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Posted by on Mar 26, 2014 in Atheism, Christianity, featured, Scientology, Skepticism | 8 comments

Tom Cruise, Scientology, Christianity, and Hilarity

curiseEven though Tom Cruise is an outstanding actor who picks mostly good to great movies to star in, that isn’t the reason why I love him. I love him because he is such an outspoken Scientologist.

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:

  • http://www.skepticink.com/tippling Bryant Cody Rudisill

    Having been raised a Christian in the American South, I find it easy to be sympathetic towards Christians. My best friends are all Christian’s (I don’t actually have any atheist friends, they all moved away). But I also find it damningly difficult to not get extraordinarily frustrated by the typical Southern Christian. Most of these people don’t think about their faith in a critical light, but LOVE making everything they think or do a reason to mention baby Jesus.

    In fact, I’ve had to catch myself being a complete jackass. Someone will say, prayerfully, “thank you Jesus for this beautiful day.” And I’ll, under my breath, say “yes, praise you, allah.” Nothing sets them off harder than worshiping a “terrorist’s deity.”

    I do, however, disagree with you on one major point: Tom Cruise is not a good actor, and his role choices are painfully similar to one another.

    • Brandon Roberts

      well i think allah is just basically their name for god and i’m a christian and it’s still less funny than scientology

      • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

        How is Christianity less funny than Scientology? Christianity has a walking, talking snake not to mention zombies.

        • Brandon Roberts

          1. it’s not a zombie 2. let’s go over scientology an evil alien god thing named xenu killed alien people by dropping them into volcanoes and blowing them up with hydrogen bombs then caught their souls with electric fences than brainwashed the souls that posessed us while we were evolving from clams and that’s the reason we get sick psychology is evil and scientology is the only one that can cure illness oh and if you pay enough money you get super powers 3. your right christianity has some pretty weird stuff. but it was a talking snake and i think animals could talk with people in the garden of eden and a powerful being creating all this is not that weird at least we don’t make pay money to contunuie no more than 10% tithes 4. i’m not going to try to convert you cause you can believe what you want it does not matter to me

          • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

            Thanks, I think you proven my point.

  • johzek

    I think you have recognized that both childhood indoctrination and cultural ubiquity largely answer the question of why they believe. A skeptical attitude is not encouraged among the faithful and most probably do not have even the most basic scientific understanding of what we know of the workings of the universe to begin to question their beliefs. For them the imaginary is on par with the empirical.
    It is not so much a question of intelligence as having the requisite back round in science and logic (both its proper application and the many flaws in reasoning which we are prone to) and psychology. Even a person with this knowledge might just find it easier to not rock the boat rather than risk the ire of relatives and friends who simply do not know any better.

    • steve

      Unless you believe that Jesus Christ and that he died for our sins and admit that you are a sinner and ask him to forgive you and ask him to come in your heart and really believe it,you can beloved in any God you want but it’s not going to get you to heaven.There is only one God which is Christ in the flesh.

  • Joyous56

    I googled that I think I like Tom Cruise after all, and it led me to your blog. Very sane commentary. I was on the bus with all the haters a few years back, and thought he was a bit of a jerk, jumping on Ophra’s couch and all, But he has, after all, made some great films, apparently conducts himself well on set, is a kind person….and I kind of feel bad for him that his marriages haven’t worked out. Katie Holmes was a big mistake….too young, and probably too starstruck. Mimi Rodgers was too old and jaded. Nichole Kidman is gorgeous, but too shallow (at that point in her life) to deal with Tom’s big personality. Hopefully he’ll find a woman that is scientology approved, who can deal with all that is Tom Cruise. Personally, I wouldn’t want the job.