RE: The religion meme

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Tue 12 Nov 2002 - 14:21:48 GMT

  • Next message: Vincent Campbell: "RE: The terrorism meme"


    Thanks for this Ted, it does sound somewhat plausible. Just one question- a lot of early religions also place their gods in the environment, sun, moon, stars, mountains, rivers etc. does this fit with the idea you've presented? I would think it should, environmental change beyond the control of early humans might easily lead to features of the environment which might be very significant when change occured (the Nacza and their famous lines, for example, not runways for spaceships but ritual pathways relating to the mountainous landscape that provided the arid plain with water).


    > ----------
    > From: Dace
    > Reply To:
    > Sent: Thursday, November 7, 2002 7:44 PM
    > To:
    > Subject: The religion meme
    > > From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    > >
    > > What I said was that the memes of conquest were flourishing in the minds
    > of
    > > 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
    > and
    > > 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
    > commanders,
    > > 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
    > based
    > > 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
    > of
    > > 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.
    > Ted
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > see:

    =============================================================== This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing) see:

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue 12 Nov 2002 - 14:27:51 GMT