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Viruses of the Mind

by John J. Palazzini

In his essay, "Viruses of the Mind", biologist Richard Dawkins described religion as a virus. A traditional virus is a sequence of genetic information that invades an organism and uses the resources of that organism to further replicate itself; likewise, a memetic virus is a sequence of information, an idea, that invades a human's brain and replicates itself via that brain's communication with other brains. In order to be successful, a memetic virus must readily copy itself and resist removal from its host. The idea of God, an omnipotent, eternal being who demands worship from humans, is the shining example of such a virus. This viral nature of God ensures that the idea will continue to cripple mankind and prevent progress for as long as we exist.

Religions, which can be thought of as variations of the God virus, command their hosts to "spread the good news" to other brains. While it is true that there can be religions that do not seek to spread themselves to other brains, these religions, like those that command their hosts to commit suicide, quickly oust themselves from the meme pool and are of no further consequence; most religions do seek their own perpetuation and these are the ones that demand our attention.

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