Department or Program

Religious Studies


In the May of 1950, L. Ron Hubbard published “Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science” in Astounding Science Fiction magazine, setting the precedent for what would become one of the most controversial and misunderstood religions in the world. While contemporary Scientology usually appears negatively in the tabloids or debunking exposés, an investigation into the early days of Dianetics and Scientology reveals an evolution of Hubbard’s ideas and ideologies. This thesis considers how Hubbard used religious discourse to transform the self-help practice of Dianetics into the religion of Scientology. The conversion takes place post-War World II in a climate where new religions emerged and gained significant popular followings, due in large part to their ability to address the ultimate questions of the day. Although Dianetics was greeted with early success and even appeared on the New York Times best-seller’s list, dismissive reviews from health organization and critics led Hubbard to seek religion as a way of presenting his ideas and beliefs. By transforming Dianetics into a form of religious discourse and practices, like a creedal statement or set of ritualistic practices, Hubbard not only provided his readers, prospective followers, and skeptics with a new perspective from which to view and understand his theories but circumvented institutions like the American Medical Association and the FDA. Using recent scholarship on L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology and New Religious Movement, this thesis will explore and analyze Hubbard’s theories, Scientology and their place within the Western religious landscape.

Level of Access

Restricted: Embargoed [Bates Community After Expiration]

First Advisor

Bruce, Marcus

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages