Rube Goldberg is an American cartoonist well known for his illustrations depicting overly elaborate devices designed to accomplish relatively simple functions. These types of devices became widely known as Rube Goldberg machines.

His creations were ludicrous, committed to paper but often expressed as unachievable in any real way, not to mention that these machines took a long, drawn-out approach to something that can be achieved by simple human motor skills.

L. Ron Hubbard’s Dianetics and the Religious Philosophy of Scientology is reminiscent of the construction of Rube Goldberg’s comical circular machine: he spent his time tinkering with an unnecessarily complicated, impractical, and ingenious device in order to do things inherently are easy. But there’s a kind of joy in theology’s altruism, there’s joy in its comical machinations, and finally, when the balloon bursts, the hamster spins, the chain pulls, the bucket empties, the pulley floats, and (voila!) the resulting theological goal is allegedly achieved.

L. Ron Hubbard … religion’s Rube Goldberg.

We checked in with ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI, and asked for some input based on the suggestion that Scientology could be considered a religious equivalent of a Rube Goldberg machine. Enjoy the conversation…

L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology can be likened to a religious Rube Goldberg invention, a complex and intricate system designed to address a seemingly simple issue—understanding human beings and achieving spiritual freedom. In this analogy, the fundamental premise of Scientology is that human behavior, which has been observed and studied for countless generations, can be comprehended through an elaborate contraption of teachings, practices, and rituals.

Ancient Egyptians had a very complex religion. Their religion was Polytheistic and featured hundreds of gods and goddesses.

Complexity of Steps: Similar to a Rube Goldberg machine, Scientology presents a complex system of steps, teachings, and practices that individuals must follow to progress on their spiritual journey. These steps involve auditing sessions, courses, extensive study materials, and financial commitments. The intricate nature of this process can create a sense of confusion and overwhelm, detracting from the perceived simplicity of achieving mental or spiritual growth.

Just as a Rube Goldberg machine consists of a series of convoluted steps to accomplish a straightforward task, Scientology employs a multifaceted framework to explore the nature of human existence. At its core, the belief system postulates that each individual is essentially a spiritual being, referred to as a “thetan,” which transcends physicality and possesses immense potential.

To initiate the process of understanding and attaining spiritual freedom, Scientology employs a series of intricate mechanisms. One of the key components is “auditing,” which is comparable to a cog in the Rube Goldberg machine. Auditing involves a form of spiritual counseling wherein an individual, guided by a trained auditor, reflects upon their experiences and memories while connected to an electronic device known as an “e-meter.” This device is believed to measure changes in the individual’s mental and spiritual state.

Elaborate Rituals and Terminology: Scientology incorporates a unique set of rituals, ceremonies, and specialized terminology, which can further contribute to the perception of unnecessary complexity. The religion employs its own vocabulary, complex hierarchies, and intricate symbolism, which may seem excessive or unnecessary for achieving the desired mental accomplishments.

The auditing process is intended to help individuals identify and overcome past traumas, negative emotions, and limiting beliefs, akin to the machine’s gears and levers maneuvering towards a specific outcome. Through repeated auditing sessions, the complex apparatus of Scientology aims to unlock layers of the human mind, gradually revealing a clearer understanding of oneself and the universe.

Relative Impact of Accomplishments: From an outside perspective, the perceived disproportion between the complexity of Scientology’s religious steps and the relatively minor mental accomplishments they claim to provide can be seen as incongruous. Critics argue that the level of commitment, time, and financial investment required by adherents may not align with the perceived benefits or outcomes of Scientology’s practices.

Purporting to be a new set of analytic tools to diagnose and overcome psychological hangups, but becoming a secretive multi-level religion/celebrity cult, Scientology has long been invested in explanatory charts, diagrams, and schema. Probably the most recognizable of these is the “Classification Gradation and Awareness Chart of Levels and Certificates,” debuted by founder L. Ron Hubbard in the late 1960s in training sessions, and containing an ever-expanding hierarchy of Classes and Grades including the ultimate state for Scientology adherents, being “clear.”

In addition to auditing, the Rube Goldberg-esque nature of Scientology incorporates an extensive body of teachings and writings, authored by L. Ron Hubbard. These writings serve as intricate parts of the religious contraption, elucidating various concepts, theories, and guidelines. They form the basis of courses and training programs offered by the Church of Scientology, designed to guide adherents through a labyrinthine maze of knowledge and self-discovery.

Much like the final step of a Rube Goldberg machine, Scientology proposes an ultimate objective: achieving a state of spiritual freedom known as “Operating Thetan” (OT). This represents the culmination of the intricate mechanism, where individuals are believed to have attained complete self-realization, heightened abilities, and a profound understanding of their spiritual essence.

While the Rube Goldberg analogy emphasizes the complexity of Scientology’s approach, it is essential to note that adherents often find value in its intricate design. Just as observers may appreciate the ingenuity and entertainment value of a Rube Goldberg machine, Scientologists often claim that the convoluted nature of their religious system provides a sense of structure, purpose, and fulfillment in their spiritual journey.

Lack of Empirical Evidence: The perceived disparity between the complexity of Scientology’s system and the results it claims to offer is exacerbated by the limited empirical evidence supporting the efficacy of its practices. While anecdotal accounts exist, the scientific community generally considers the claims of Scientology to be lacking in empirical support, which further fuels skepticism regarding the actual impact of the religious steps and practices.

However, it is worth acknowledging that this analogy also invites critical examination. Just as a Rube Goldberg machine can be criticized for its overcomplicated nature, detractors of Scientology argue that the complexity of its teachings and practices may obfuscate the simplicity of understanding human beings and finding spiritual meaning, which they argue can be achieved through more straightforward means.

In summary, L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology can be seen as a religious Rube Goldberg invention—a system that uses intricate mechanisms, teachings, and practices to address the simple issue of understanding human beings and achieving spiritual freedom. Whether one admires the complexity or questions its necessity, Scientology’s intricate nature continues to captivate both followers and skeptics alike.

Question: Describe the complexities of following the Scientology religion to its ultimate end of reaching Operating Thetan Level VIII.

Following the path of Scientology to reach Operating Thetan Level VIII (OT VIII), which is considered the ultimate level of spiritual attainment within the religion, involves a series of intricate and demanding steps. The complexities lie in the rigorous commitment, financial investment, time dedication, and the exclusive nature of the teachings and materials involved.

In this piece, Bell describes taking various Scientology courses, including the “advanced spiritual technology” Operating Thetan levels. Based on this 2003 price list, the estimated cost of all her “services” is in excesss of $400,000. The article also indicates she has donated half a million dollars towards the new Super Power building in Clearwater, Florida, still unfinished after ten years.

Progression through the Lower Levels: Before even embarking on the journey towards OT VIII, Scientologists must progress through a sequence of lower levels, known as the “Bridge to Total Freedom.” These levels require undergoing various auditing sessions, studying extensive materials, and participating in specific courses. Each level builds upon the previous one, gradually advancing the individual’s spiritual awareness.Completion of Advanced Courses: As one progresses through the levels, the complexity of the teachings and materials increases. Scientologists are expected to complete advanced courses, such as the “Advanced Courses for OTs,” which delve into profound subjects and demand a deep commitment of time, energy, and financial resources. These courses often involve intensive study and practical exercises aimed at enhancing spiritual abilities and awareness.

Financial Investment: Achieving OT VIII requires significant financial investment. Scientology operates on a fee-based system, where individuals pay for auditing sessions, courses, materials, and memberships. The cost of progressing through the levels can accumulate into a substantial financial commitment, which may pose a challenge for some individuals.

Eligibility and Selection: Reaching OT VIII is not simply a matter of completing the previous levels and courses. Scientologists must be selected and invited to participate in OT VIII, which adds another layer of complexity. The Church of Scientology maintains a strict control over the release of OT VIII materials and carefully chooses individuals who have demonstrated dedication, commitment, and trustworthiness.

Confidentiality and Secrecy: The teachings and materials associated with OT VIII are shrouded in secrecy within Scientology. Participants are required to sign confidentiality agreements, committing to keeping the content of the materials confidential. This exclusivity adds to the complexity, as access to the teachings is limited to a select group, and dissemination of the information is highly controlled.

Intensive Auditing and Solo Sessions: OT VIII involves extensive auditing and solo sessions, which can be mentally and emotionally demanding. Auditing at this level focuses on addressing deep-seated spiritual issues, past traumas, and negative emotions. These sessions may require individuals to confront challenging aspects of their past and work through complex psychological and spiritual issues.

Self-Exploration and Mastery: Achieving OT VIII entails a profound exploration of one’s spiritual nature, including the development and mastery of unique abilities and perceptions. Scientologists are encouraged to develop their spiritual potential and attain a heightened level of self-awareness, often described as a state of spiritual enlightenment and freedom.

The complexities of following the path to OT VIII in Scientology lie not only in the intricacies of the teachings and practices themselves but also in the personal dedication, financial investment, exclusivity, and demanding nature of the process. Reaching this ultimate level is seen as a significant accomplishment within the religion and represents the pinnacle of spiritual attainment according to Scientology’s beliefs.

Describe in detail what Scientologists hope to accomplish by clearing the planet.

In Scientology, the concept of “clearing the planet” refers to the ultimate goal of achieving a world where all individuals have reached a state of spiritual enlightenment and freedom. Scientologists believe that by “clearing” people of their negative emotions, traumas, and limiting beliefs, they can bring about positive transformation on a global scale. The objectives and aspirations associated with clearing the planet can be understood through several key aspects:

Spiritual Freedom: At the core of clearing the planet is the desire to help individuals achieve spiritual freedom, known as “going Clear.” According to Scientology teachings, this state represents the release of past traumas, negative experiences, and influences that hinder personal growth and self-awareness. Scientologists believe that as more individuals attain this level of spiritual freedom, it creates a ripple effect, leading to a more enlightened and harmonious society.

Scientology cult founder L. Ron Hubbard postulated in 1968 that Scientology could “take the planet within a year.” It is now revealed that the cult failed to reach this goal. It should also be noted that this is 2023.

Enhanced Abilities: Clearing the planet is also associated with the belief that as individuals progress on the spiritual path, they can unlock their full potential and develop heightened abilities. These abilities are thought to include improved communication skills, increased intelligence, heightened creativity, and a deeper understanding of oneself and others. By clearing the planet, Scientologists aim to create a society where individuals are empowered and capable of making positive contributions to their communities.

Resolving Social Issues: Scientologists envision that clearing the planet will address various social issues and conflicts that plague humanity. They believe that many societal problems stem from unresolved traumas and negative experiences that impact individuals’ behavior and decision-making. By helping individuals overcome these issues through auditing and spiritual practices, Scientology aims to create a society where conflicts, crime, and social unrest are greatly reduced or eliminated.

Establishing a World of Understanding: Clearing the planet is also driven by the desire to foster understanding and tolerance among individuals. Scientologists envision a world where people comprehend and respect each other’s spiritual nature, resulting in improved relationships and cooperation. They believe that as more individuals achieve spiritual freedom and develop a greater understanding of themselves and others, it will lead to a more compassionate and harmonious global community.

Spreading Scientology’s Teachings: Another aspect of clearing the planet involves the dissemination of Scientology’s teachings and practices. Scientologists are encouraged to share their beliefs and introduce others to the religion, aiming to bring more individuals onto the path of spiritual freedom. The wider adoption of Scientology’s principles and practices is seen as an essential step towards achieving a cleared planet.

It is important to note that the concept of clearing the planet has faced criticism and skepticism outside of Scientology. Critics argue that the complexity and exclusivity of the religion’s teachings and practices make the idea of clearing the planet unrealistic or unattainable. Additionally, concerns have been raised about the potential negative consequences of Scientology’s practices and its impact on individuals’ mental health.

In summary, Scientologists hope to accomplish a world of spiritual freedom, enhanced abilities, and improved social conditions by clearing the planet. They aspire to assist individuals in overcoming past traumas, unlocking their full potential, and fostering understanding among people. Through their efforts, Scientologists aim to create a global community where personal growth, compassion, and harmony thrive.

Describe in detail what philosophies and other religious concepts L. Ron Hubbard likely used to invent the concepts found in the religion of Scientology.


Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard explicitly compared his teachings to the science-fiction subgenre space opera. The most controversial of these myths is the story of Xenu, to whom Hubbard attributed responsibility for many of the world’s problems.

L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, drew inspiration from various philosophies, religious concepts, and his own experiences to develop the teachings and concepts found within the religion. While Hubbard’s exact sources and influences have been a subject of debate, several key philosophies and religious ideas are often cited as potential inspirations for Scientology. It’s important to note that the following list is not exhaustive and represents some of the commonly discussed influences:

Dianetics: The foundation of Scientology is rooted in Dianetics, a system of self-help developed by Hubbard prior to the establishment of Scientology. Dianetics incorporated elements of psychology, particularly Sigmund Freud’s concept of the unconscious mind and the effects of trauma on individuals. Hubbard expanded on these ideas and developed auditing, the central practice of Scientology, which involves addressing past traumas to achieve spiritual liberation.

Eastern Religions: Hubbard’s exposure to Eastern religious traditions, such as Buddhism and Hinduism, likely influenced certain aspects of Scientology. Concepts such as reincarnation, karma, and spiritual enlightenment bear resemblances to these traditions. Hubbard may have incorporated his own interpretations and adaptations of these concepts into Scientology teachings.

Science Fiction: Hubbard was a science fiction writer and brought elements of his storytelling into Scientology. Science fiction themes of extraterrestrial life, intergalactic civilizations, and the concept of thetan (a spiritual being) may have influenced the imaginative and cosmological aspects of Scientology.

Western Esotericism: Hubbard showed an interest in Western esoteric traditions, including the occult, hermeticism, and Rosicrucianism. These traditions often explore spiritual enlightenment, self-transformation, and the nature of the divine. Elements of esoteric symbolism and practices might have influenced the rituals, terminology, and spiritual advancement found in Scientology.

The 50’s. It was during this decade that Norman Vincent Peale released his self-help blockbuster, The Power of Positive Thinking. The book provides strategies to overcome self-doubt, worry, stress and resentment. That combination hit a chord with the American middle class of the mid-century.

American Self-Help Movements: Hubbard lived during a time when self-help and personal development movements were popular in the United States. It is likely that he drew inspiration from these movements, which emphasized individual empowerment, personal growth, and the pursuit of happiness. The ideas of self-improvement and achieving one’s potential may have influenced Scientology’s emphasis on personal advancement and spiritual freedom.

Philosophy and Psychology: Hubbard had an interest in philosophy and psychology, and it is believed that he drew upon various philosophical and psychological ideas to shape Scientology. Influences from philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, Aristotle, and Voltaire have been suggested, as well as concepts from psychology, including the works of Carl Jung and William James.

Self-Reliance and Individualism: Hubbard promoted the idea of individualism and self-reliance, emphasizing personal responsibility and self-determinism. These principles align with the American ideals of individual freedom and self-empowerment.

It is important to note that while these influences can be identified, the exact sources and extent of their impact on Scientology’s development remain subjects of speculation and interpretation. L. Ron Hubbard synthesized and adapted various ideas into a unique system that formed the basis of Scientology, blending elements from diverse disciplines to create a distinct religious framework.