Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Religious Studies

Major Professor

Wei Zhang, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Dell deChant, M.A.


Scientology, Confucianism, Hubbard, Confucius, NRM


Scientology holds considerable interest for scholars of new religious movements. As such, this study aims to contribute new data and insight to ongoing theoretical work within this area of religious studies scholarship. Engaged in this inquiry are the similarities between Scientology, the new religious movement founded in 1951 by L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986), and the Chinese religion, Confucianism, which originates with the teachings of Confucius (551-479 BCE). Though Hubbard admits being influenced by eastern thinking such as Buddhism and Daoism in shaping his worldview, he specifically discounts Confucius as relevant in this regard. However, through comparisons between Scientology and Confucianism, this study demonstrates that there are significant and numerous instances of similarities between the two religions ranging from their worldviews to concomitant soteriologies.

In the cosmogonies of Scientology and Neo-Confucianism, for example, the world comes about from the interplay of two cosmic phenomena: 1) an ordering, non-physical life force, termed in this study as the quasi-transcendent and 2) the physical. All life, including human beings, occurs as the quasi-transcendent realm combines with the physical, creating three homogeneous, coextensive, and teleologically interdependent parts: 1) the quasi-transcendent domain, 2) the physical universe, and 3) the human sphere. Comparing both traditions further, human beings are innately good, endowed as such by the benevolent influence of their quasi-transcendent component. Error, or evil, is rendered no ontological status and is rationalized as confusion caused by the obfuscating effect of the mind's physical constituent upon its benevolent counterpart. Self-transformation occurs as the physical component of the human mind is purified restoring profound ontological awareness and cosmic creativity.

A notion absent in Confucianism, which could be assessed as a significant theological difference between these traditions, is Scientology's reincarnation theme. This aspect, however, is peripheral to the larger conceptual model that both these religions share.