Religion Virus, The
Why we believe in God: An evolutionist explains religion's incredible hold on humanity
An evolutionists insights into culture and religion reveals surprising answers. Why do people cling to 2,000 year old ideas?
Religions evolve, not metaphorically, but in a very real way. By applying "survival of the fittest" principles to religion, we can finally understand how religion became incredibly infectious to the average human, perfectly adapted to its "environment," your mind. Infectious ideas like the loving, personal father-figure God, the promise that death is not the end, the attraction of heaven, the threat of hell, and many others, are traced from prehistoric to modern times, to show why they survived while thousands of other ideas died out. The worlds religions have amazing parallels to biological life: They reproduce, mutate, and compete with each other in an ongoing battle for the survival of the fittest. Like biological life, 99% of the worlds religions are extinct, but the ones that remain are quite remarkable, the very strongest and best. More importantly, "survival of the fittest" does not necessarily mean survival of the truth, but rather the survival of the things people want to believe, whether true or not.
REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
This is a fascinating book that ranges from Hitler and Himmler through to whooping cough. A must read for religious and philosophical explorers. ~ Deb Hawken, Eternal Spirit
Seen through the lens of natural selection, religions can only survive if they are fitted to their environment, in the case the human mind. The goal of the book is to provoke a paradign in the shift in the reader's thinking about religion. The Scientific and Medical Network ~
- Why are some religions, like songs and genes, more successful than others? Why do some beliefs, like jokes and species, become extinct while others adapt and flourish? James shows us how genetic evolution and cultural evolution, though operating at different rates, are one and the same: information that finds a successful niche and contains within its message the means to produce in its host the motivation to reproduce itself. Religion is a robust virus of the mind. Recent science has gone a long way toward explaining the origin of religious belief in evolutionary terms, but Craig James has cracked open the mystery of its tenacity. Religion does not exist for us, it exists for its own sake, hijacking our instincts. Like a selfish gene or a parasite, the religion virus catches a free ride in the minds of our species, infecting our history and culture. What Guns, Germs and Steel did for anthropology, this book does for faith. It puts the pieces together into a fascinating, coherent model that makes sense! ~ Dan Barker, President, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Author: Godless (Ulysses, 2008), Just Pretend: A Freethought Book for Children, and Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher To Atheist
- This is a fascinating book, condensing the peculiar histories of religious texts and how decisions made hundreds and thousands of years ago still affect our cultural attitudes and beliefs to present a model of religion that can be used to understand nearly any institutional growth pattern. The book begins by exploring the model of memetics in general, then defines eight transitions of "lines of meme mutations," that Yahweh went through to become the monotheistic god we think of now when someone writes a sentence like 'In God We Trust' on something official-looking. Craig A. James has written an accessible book on evolution and religion that manages to explain memetics while being both funny and touchingSeriously, Craig A. James has written an accessible book on evolution and religion that manages to explain memetics while being both funny and touching. ~ Wes Unruh, author, The Art of Memetics, editor of alteratic.com (For the full review, see http://www.alterati.com/blog/?p=2208)
- Full of powerful, ground-breaking ideas, packaged in a deceptively simple, easy-reading style. James has created one of those rare books where, every few pages, I find myself thinking, "I need to send a copy of this to so-and-so." This is the most fun I've had reading non-fiction in a long time. ~ Phil Steele, Editor, Fragment and The Passion of Ayn Randâ€™s Critics