The religion meme

From: Dace (
Date: Thu 07 Nov 2002 - 19:44:03 GMT

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    > From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    > What I said was that the memes of conquest were flourishing in the minds
    > people who have been indoctrinated in the memes of Christ. The minds
    > contain both sets of memes. The actions of the people who run the country
    > demonstrate which set was dominant. Even in my own mind, after years of
    > indoctrination by the Catholic Church, I was ready and willing to go out
    > kill people if my country asked me to. It was the years of indoctrination
    > that contained the memes of Christ. It was not the words of my
    > although they had been exposed to the memes of Christ, just as I had been.
    > Although they often said things like "There are no athiests in foxholes,"
    > and "We are God fearing men."
    > Chaplains were part of the makeup of every military unit. They often told
    > us the words of Christ. They read from the bible and preached sermons
    > on it. I can't believe you're not aware of all this. It's more like you
    > just want to twist what I say to mean something else. I remember one
    > chaplain telling me, "I only believe in two books -- the bible and the
    > manual for Courts Martial." But again, my point is that the military men
    > were all familiar with the words of Christ. Their actions were just the
    > actions of killers, conquerors and opressors. They were in the business
    > empire building. Their actions were anti-Christian.

    I know of only one theory that can explain this, and it was put forth by Barbara Ehrenreich in 1997 in her book, *Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War.*

    Ehrenreich's thesis is that religion began as a response to our status as a prey species. From time immemorial we were preyed upon by lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, bears, wolves, etc. The original "gods" were predator beasts. All the prehistoric religions, judging by the artifacts they left behind, equated gods with predator beasts. We gained our meat from scavenging the kills of the same animals that also preyed upon us. This is the origin of the notion that God gives and God takes away. Eventually we transformed from "man the hunted" to "man the hunter." But the trauma left behind from eons of being preyed upon remained with us. Religion began as a way of placating the "gods" in the same way that a lion was placated when it entered a human encampment. Just feed it the flesh of a vulnerable child, and it will go away. Religion originally meant nothing more than ritual human sacrifice, as a means of pleasing the "gods" in times of crisis. Gradually, as the trauma wore off, humans were replaced by animals or a symbolic part of the body, such as the foreskin. But another strand of human sacrifice lives on in the form of war. Approximately 12,000 years ago, when the trauma was still fresh, war provided an alternative means of sacrificing humans. This explains why, from the beginning, war has been essentially a religious enterprise. We are sacrificing our youth in order to please a "bloodthirsty" God. Christianity is the failed attempt to replace actual sacrifice with the symbolic sacrifice of Christ, to reenvision God as a "lamb." However, the meme represented by old-style religion is too deeply ingrained, and the Christian meme has remained dormant. Even those who consciously proclaim themselves Christian are unconsciously devoted to the ingrained meme of ritual sacrifice.

    Of course, it's impossible to convincingly impart Ehrenreich's ingenious argument in a few sentences.


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