Re: Origin of Religion

From: Van oost Kenneth (
Date: Wed 25 Dec 2002 - 17:37:33 GMT

  • Next message: Van oost Kenneth: "Re: Structure and Religion"

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Gudmundur Ingi Markusson
      Hi meme list. I have only listened in until now. I am a graduate student at the Department of the Study of Religion University of Aarhus Denmark.

    >> Welcome! Enjoy the ride ! Take the bumbs also, but smile....


      Just this about religion and group selection. It is interesting that Blackmore has precisely this thought in her M.Machine (pp. 197ff), i.e. (if my memory isn't failing) that religion via its power to create cohesion and shape group identity (and ipso facto distinguish groups sharply from one another) might provide a non-genetic (i.e. memetic) way for group selection to work.

    >> Yes, maybe, but IMO religion is only one of the elements that can bound people

      together into a group. Good leadership, love, sexual attraction, and whatever can easily

      act as catalysator too.

      You will find that I am not that keen on that group-selection aspect, the survival- value is more

      important, if that is accompliched into the form of a group, fine with me, but saying that

      religion and only religion is the fact that matters, I don 't agree.


      Such ideas are not new. The French anthropologist Rene Girard (protagonist of mimetic theory) has ideas akin to these, i.e. that those groups that had functioning religious-ritual institutions had a better survival potential than those without such institutions.

    >> Yes, but Girard is more interested in the scape- goat- principle within religious texts as the

      catalysator for groupsbounding mechanisms.

      The survival rate is better within the understanding that each member has a terrible secret

      to hide, namely the murder on one or more individuals.

      Again, IMO this has nothing to do with religion as such_ the remerberance of the real

      murder became rituals ( to bound the group murderers together, to let them remerber what

      they have done) and later became a religion or something of that form_ in the same sense

      you can approach all- man- clubs and all kinds of others. All do have rituals, but none are

      religions, although some come close to it....


      The American anthropologist Roy A. Rappaport, with his semiotic-ecological-cybernetic approach to culture, also emphasized the role of ritual and religion in sustaining integrity in cultural groups. His work might be of interest to memetics since he focuses on cultural discourse (rules, norms, taboos, ritual prescriptions, etc.) as an organism that has to adapt to environmental conditions. His theory is that ritual and religion is the factor that enables cultural discourses to adapt, in the same way organisms do, to environmental perturbations. Should anyone find this interesting then check out:

      Interesting approach, will delve into it.





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