the ability to think critically requires as a first step overcoming
human constructs intended by their designers to inhibitor or preempt
meme for blind faith secures its own perpetuation by the simple
unconscious expedient of discouraging rational inquiry."
computer viruses, successful mind viruses will tend to be hard
for their victims to detect. If you are the victim of one, the
chances are that you won't know it, and may even vigorously
of all of the sects in the world, we notice an uncanny coincidence:
the overwhelming majority just happen to choose the one that
their parents belong to. Not the sect that has the best evidence
in its favour, the best miracles, the best moral code, the best
cathedral, the best stained glass, the best music: when it comes
to choosing from the smorgasbord of available religions, their
potential virtues seem to count for nothing, compared to the
matter of heredity. This is an unmistakable fact; nobody could
seriously deny it. Yet people with full knowledge of the arbitrary
nature of this heredity, somehow manage to go on believing in
their religion, often with such fanaticism that they are prepared
to murder people who follow a different one."
God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character
in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving
control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a
misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal,
pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously
malevolent bully." - The God Hypothesis, p. 31
"Natural selection builds child brains with a tendency
to believe whatever their parents and tribal elders tell them.
Such trusting obedience is valuable for survival: the analogue
of steering by the moon for a moth. But the flip side of trusting
obedience is slavish gullibility. The inevitable by-product
is vulnerability to infection by mind viruses." - The Roots
of Religion, p. 176
"There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody
else (parents in the case of children, God in the case of adults)
has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point. -
A Much Needed Gap?", p. 360
faith is on the march all across the world, with terrifying
consequences. Irrational faith is feeding murderous intolerance
throughout the world. It's time to question the abuse of childhood
innocence with superstitious ideas of hellfire and damnation."
many people, part of growing up is killing off the virus of
faith, with a good strong dose of rational thinking. But if
an individual doesn't succeed in shaking it off, his mind is
stuck in a permanent state of infancy, and there is a real danger
that he will infect the next generation."
the US, Christian obsession with sin has spawned a national
craze for "hell houses" -- morality plays cum Halloween
freak shows in which the evangelical hobby-horses of abortion,
and homosexuality are literally demonized."
stems not from some fictional deity and his texts, but from
altruistic genes that have been naturally selected in our evolutionary
is a lot older than religion. Even chimps live in family groups,
the mothers look after the kids, they work in teams, they compete
for status through "public service", by being good
leaders, by intervening to settle disputes. Altruism produces
mutual benfits for those involved."
Richard (2006). The God Delusion, 406 pp., Bantam
Press. ISBN 0-618-68000-4.
of The God Delusion in Lynchburg, VA, Richard Dawkins reads
excerpts from The God Delusion and anwsers questions at Randolph-Macon
Woman's College in Lynchburg, Virginia on October 23, 2006. This
Q&A features many questions from Jerry Falwell's Liberty "University"
students. In Richard's tour journal he says:
of the questioners announced themselves as either students
or faculty from Liberty, rather than from Randolph Macon
which was my host institution. One by one they tried to
trip me up, and one by one their failure to do so was applauded
by the audience. Finally, I said that my advice to all Liberty
students was to resign immediately and apply to a proper
university instead. That received thunderous applause, so
that I almost began to feel slightly sorry for the Liberty
people. Only almost and only slightly, however."
The New Replicators
new soup is the soup of human culture. We need a name for the
new replicator, a noun which conveys the unit of cultural transmission,
or a unit of imitation. "Mimeme" comes from a suitable
Greek root, but I want a monosylable that sounds a bit like
"gene." I hope my classicist friends will forgive
me if I abbreviate mimeme to "meme." If it is any
consolation, it could alternatively be thought of as being related
to "memor," or to the French word "mme"
(which means "same"). It should be pronounced to rhyme
Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes,
fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as
gene types propogate themselves in the gene pool by leaping
from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propogate themselves
in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via process,
which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation. If a scientist
hears or reads about a good idea, he passes it on to his colleagues
and students. He mentions it in his articles and his lectures.
If the idea catches on, it can be said to propogate itself,
spreading from brain to brain. As my colleague N.K. Humphrey
neatly summed up an earlier draft of this chapter: "Memes
should be regarded as living structures, not just metaphorically
but technically. When you plant a fertile meme in my mind you
literally parasitize my brain, turning it into a vehicle for
the meme's propogation in just the way that a virus may parasitize
the genetic mechanism of a host cell."
For more than three thousand million years, DNA has been the
only replicator worth talking about in the world. But it does
not necessarily hold these monopoly rights for all time. Whenever
conditions arise in which a new kind of replicator can make
copies of itself, the new replicators tend to take over, and
start a new kind of evolution of their own. Once this new evolution
begins, it will in no necessary sense be subversient to the
old. The old gene-selected evolution, by making brains, provided
the "soup" in which the first memes arose. Once self-copying
memes had arisen, their own, much faster, kind of evolution
took off. We biologists have assimilated the idea of genetic
evolution so deeply that we tend to forget that it is only one
of the many possible kinds of evoluton.
Some memes, like genes, achieve brillinant short term success
in spreading rapidly, but do not last in the meme pool. Popular
songs and stilletto heels are examples. Others such as the Jewish
religious laws, may continue to propogate themselves for thousands
of years, usually because of the great potential permanence
of written records."