Suffering and the Problem of Evil
Written by: J. Gordon Melton
Scientology, like most religions outside of the Abrahamic tradition, does not recognize a problem of evil as such, namely the problem that arises because ofthe need to reconcile the existence of a loving and all powerful deity with the existence of suffering and evil.According to Scientology, God can be conceived of as the first Cause from which the universe originates, but is generally seen as that Ultimate Reality that lies ahead as the individual considers the ever-encompassing eight dynamics, the last of which is Infinity.In both instances, God is seen as largely transcendent and distant from this work, and not pictured as either concerned on a day-to-day basis with the world or actively interfering in human life.Like Deists, Scientologists do not engage in prayer and devotional activity and, like other members of other esoteric groups, would tend to relate to God by trying to attune their lives with the Divine.In either case, how one relates to the divine is purely an individual concern.
That said, Scientologists fully recognize the existence of suffering and evil on both the individual and group level, and a significant thrust of the church's life aims at the eradication of human suffering and the elimination of social evils.Scientology originated in L. Ron Hubbard's ruminations on the suffering of people he observed in places such as the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital, where he was a patient at the end of World War II.He offered his initial observations on evil in Dianetics: The New Science of Mental Health (1950).
Hubbard saw the mind as divided into two parts-the analytical mind and the reactive mind.The former is that mind that operates under most normal circumstances.It observes the world, thinks about what it observes, stores memories, solves problems, and reasons at an abstract level. However, in times of stress and trauma, the analytical mind is suppressed and the reactive mind takes over.The reactive mind is seen as acting purely in a stimulus-response mode.It observes what is happening, records complete three-dimensional images (including feelings) of what is occurring, and stores them uncritically in the unconscious, away from easy retrieval by the analytical mind.These images (called engrams) stored by the reactive mind can be activated by present occurrences that resonate with elements of those images.When activated, the engrams can bring to the fore feelings of pain and the spectrum of negative emotions that were stored when originally recorded.Activated engrams about which the analytical mind is unaware can cause a range of symptoms and dysfunctional behavior in the individual.
Engrams are stored in the order in which they are recorded on the mind's record of images and memories that accumulate through one's life.Scientologists refer to this record as the time track, and see it as containing a rather accurate record of one's present human life.The initial phase of Scientology classes and counseling (auditing) is concerned with revisiting the time track, removing the emotive content of the engrams, and erasing the effects of the reactive mind.