Article excerpt

Byline: Compiled by Charles Legge

QUESTION What does Scientology make of Darwin's theories?

SCIENTOLOGY is the 'religion' created by the sci-fi author L ron hubbard (1911-1986), which started in 1952. It has gained worldwide notoriety because of several A-list celebrities that adhere to its practices -- including John Travolta, Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley.

Hubbard's religion grew out of an early self-help system he developed called Dianetics.

In his book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental health (1950), hubbard clearly states a belief in a Darwinian system: 'It is fairly well accepted in these times that life in all forms evolved from the basic building blocks: the virus and the cell. Its only relevance to Dianetics is that such a proposition works -- and actually that is all we ask of Dianetics. There is no point to writing here a vast tome on biology and evolution. we can add some chapters to those things, but Charles Darwin did his job well and the fundamental principles of evolution can be found in his and other works. The proposition on which Dianetics was originally entered was evolution.'

However, when one looks at the evolutionary pathway that hubbard charts out for humans, a rather twisted view emerges. In A history of Man (1952), hubbard tells us that each cell in our body has an ancestral memory dating back to our evolutionary inception and that each trauma that our forbears suffered remains in our consciousness as the source of our psychological weaknesses. According to hubbard, a cosmic impact 'trillions of years ago' caused a single-celled organism to be formed called a heLPer (capitalisation hubbard's). when this cell split, it caused a major trauma that is the root of many of our problems.

The next evolutionary step is the CLAM, a 'scalloped-lip, whiteshelled creature', among the traumas this creature suffered was to 'get its shell stuck open and be unable to shut it'. next comes another shelly creature called the weePer whose 'plights are many and pathetic'. This weePer had two 'pumping tubes' which enabled the transition from sea to land, and which later 'evolved' into 'the eyes of a human being.'

Next we became defenceless sloths - a state which some say we have reverted back to. The penultimate step in our evolution is PILTDOwn MAn who had a rather nasty habit of eating his wife, no doubt the root of many modern day family issues. Our evolutionary path has not yet reached its conclusion - all being well we can look forward to moving on to the next stage and becoming Thetan!

Darwin would not have approved.

Richard Merrybrook, Scottish Borders.

QUESTION Compiled by Charles Legge Do the words 'cannon', a large projectile firing tube, and 'canon', a group of literary or musical works, have the same origin?

THERE are two distinct words 'canon' in english, although ultimately they are related. The older, meaning (ecclesiastical) 'rule', comes directly from the Latin canon which in turn came from the Greek kanon meaning rule. The root of the word is thought to be the Greek Kanna meaning 'reed' - the semantic link follows 'reed' - 'rod' - 'measuring rod' - 'rule'. The derived adjective, kanonikos, passed into ecclesiastical Latin as canonicus, which was used as a noun, meaning 'clergyman'; in Old French this became canonie or chanonie, and as it crossed into english its last syllable dropped off (owing Compiled by James Black to the influence of canon 'rule'). The underlying sense of canon 'clergyman' (13th century) is thus 'one living according to the rules of religious life'.

The military cannon takes its name from the Old Italian word cannone, ultimately it too is derived from the Greek Kanna for cane, or reed, and then generalized to mean any hollow tube-like object.

The word has been used to refer to a gun since 1326 in Italy, and 1418 in england.

Cannon serves both as the singular and plural of the noun, although the plural cannons is also accepted in America. …