Religion As A Virus Of The Mind

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by Dante, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. Dante
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    Religion As A Virus Of The Mind: I didn't know Dawkins used this analogy. I am impressed with the succinctness of the analogy as I admire and agree with it's simple profoundness of meaning: "Religions are viruses of the mind."

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    here we have an interesting contextual discussion of...



    Memes are habits, skills, songs, stories, or any other kind of information that is copied from person to person. Memes, like genes, are replicators...Large groups of memes that are copied and passed on together are called co-adapted meme complexes, or memeplexes.
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    Some memes are almost entirely exploitative, or viral, in nature, including chain letters and e-mail viruses. These consist of a “copy-me” instruction backed up with threats and promises. Religions have a similar structure and this is why Dawkins refers to them as ‘viruses of the mind’.

    Many religions threaten hell and damnation, promise heaven or salvation, and insist that their followers pass on their beliefs to others. This ensures the survival of the memeplex. Other viral memes include alternative therapies that don’t work, and new age fads and cults.

    Relatively harmless memes include children’s games, urban legends and popular songs, all of which can spread like infections.

    http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/memetics/about memes.htm

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    Last edited: Aug 23, 2010
  2. Quantum Windbag
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    Does this mean you believe that an invisible, undetectable force controls human society?
  3. syrenn
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    I've seen a lot of strange stuff, but I've never seen anything to make me believe there's one all-powerful Force controlling everything. There's no mystical energy field that controls my destiny. It's all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.
  4. Mini 14
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    That's fine for the survival or spread of religion, but what of its origins?

    How is it that millennia ago, disparate tribes of people isolated from each other developed virtually the same concepts with regard to religion?

    I've always thought that the most vocal of the religious and also of the agnostic/atheists/non-believers spent so much time trying to explain their position not to convince the listener, but to convince themselves.
  5. Dante
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    Human nature? Maybe. :eusa_whistle:
  6. Dante
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    'mystical' being the operative phrase? :lol:
  7. Dante
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    The last part I agree with wholeheartedly. I've been on both sides.
    :redface:

    But I have progressed to being a non believer and that precludes most everything.

    Origins? Human nature, genes. Science is recently laying it all out for understanding. It would be exceptional if there were an isolated tribe that did NOT develop along the same lines.
  8. uscitizen
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    uscitizen Senior Member

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    What planet is that the Mormoans say god lives on?
  9. lizzie
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    lizzie Zen Warrior Supporting Member

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    Religion isn't meant to be an endeavor of the intellect, but is food for the soul. If humans were purely intellectual, I would venture a guess that we would be the biggest bunch of assholes that ever walked the planet- even more so than we already have a propensity for being. Our social/moral values arise out of religious belief in one form or another.
  10. uscitizen
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    uscitizen Senior Member

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    Fear, wars and hatred also arise out of religious beliefs.

    I get along a lot better with intellectuals than emotionally driven people.
  11. Mini 14
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    There was an isolated tribe found in the 20s in South America, I believe (maybe along the headwaters of the Amazon?). Anyway....they had their own religion, but had no knowledge of "an outside world" when they were discovered. The similarities to traditional religions was amazing..."heaven" is up, "hell" was down, there was a "God," penance, rapture, etc....I can't remember the name or the location of the tribe, but it was relatively recent (1920 at the earliest, I think).

    Human nature is a viable explanation....there is a drive to have a reason to be here, and a place to go after here. That is the one "scientific" argument that has always made sense to me.

    However, I'm a believer (hell, I KNOW), but I have spent a great deal of my life searching in non-traditional environments and finding my own answers.
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  12. Richard-H
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    The term Religion is too broad, it encompasses too large a vareity of philosophies.

    But, that being said, most do prey on the instinctual primortal fears that have been with man since the caveman days:

    Fear of Death
    Fear of Thunder
    Fear of Fire
    Fear of th Future
    Fear of predators

    I mean imagine being a semi-dumb animal living in a cave. You'd be scared shitless of everything.

    I guess that explains why so many conservatives are Religious.
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  13. lizzie
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    I get along better with balanced people. Having a good amount of intellectual capability, balanced by some emotional sensitivity seems to make a much better person as a whole.
  14. uscitizen
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    uscitizen Senior Member

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    I agree, however religion does not necessarailly contribute to being a balanced person.
    Unbalanced people seem to thrive on releigion.
  15. Dante
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    Ahh, the mind and the intellect vs the soul. :eusa_whistle:

    People have been "the biggest bunch of assholes that ever walked the planet" throughout most of human history. The exception prove the rule.

    We have developed beyond the need of religion. Religion has also given rise to the most horrific acts carried out by humans.:eek:

    The idea to respect a neighbor most likely predates religion. Survival depended upon it. Religious beliefs came about in ways that mostly have mostly benefited society at the expense of individuals. Religion as a virus is an interesting concept.

    What one initially takes from the use of the term 'virus' says more about one, than one consciously appreciates.
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  16. lizzie
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    Religion itself grows out of the creative and emotional aspect of human nature. Religion itself doesn't contribute to a balanced person, but the human qualities that arise from our emotional natures do. The religion is a result, not a cause.
  17. uscitizen
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    religion is often sought out and sold as a cure.
  18. CurveLight
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    The analogy is really weak because the "copy me" followed by "threats and promises" observation is not endemic to religion by any means. There is not a single area of life void of that mantra and the author is trying to segregate people of faith from people in general as a method of demonizing what comes down to a world ethos that is simply different than agnotics or atheists.

    Religion is the institution of trying to defend the indefensible. That is a neutral definition because it applies to what can be seen as good or bad and distinguishes people of faith from others without stigmatizing them.
  19. Dante
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    The isolated tribe shares almost all genes with everyone else.

    A drive is an emotional thing. It can have genetic links, but where in the genome and why is interesting, and science is just starting to explain some of it.

    This does not invalidate religion as a human construct. In some ways it makes religion, or better -- spirituality a more awesome phenomena to behold. Most religion-ists will never get that, just as most pseudo-intellectual libertarians will never get that ideals and ideas that spawn arguments about things like natural rights are human constructs, and therefore more amazing to comprehend than if they were god/nature given.
  20. Dante
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    Fear of Death: Existentialism:cool:

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