Re: Virulent Offshoots and Others

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Fri 03 Jan 2003 - 16:01:34 GMT

  • Next message: "Re: Virulent Offshoots and Others"

    At 11:48 PM 29/12/02 -0600, you wrote:

    >I concur with Keith Henson's analysis of Wahhabism as a virulent
    >offshoot of Islam, and add that Deobandi is another, less well known,
    >virulent offshoot. The question arises, however, to what degree ANY
    >"new" religion is an offshoot of existing forms (Christianity, from
    >Judaism, Islam and Mormonism from Christianity, etc.), although
    >Zoroastrianism is also in that mix. Some religions also seem to be
    >syncretistic blends of two major pre-existing forms, particularly
    >Buddhism (Hinduism and Taoism) and Sikhism (Hinduism and Islam),
    >and one wonders how the 'offshoot' theory deals with such examples. If
    >course, Hinduism finds its own roots in Jainism. The origins of the
    >Bah'ai faith are interersting, too, as it seems to be an offshoot that is
    >LESS virulent and more peaceable than its predecessors. Another
    >question is whether Protestantism was more virulent in its beginnings
    >than the pre-existing Catholic faith from which it sprung, if Shi'a was in
    >the beginning more virulent than Sunni Islam, and where to place the

    I think the factor that makes offshoots more virulent than their predecessors is that to spread to the point a new variation gets noticed they must have intense effects on their early converts, motivating them to extraordinary efforts to spread the "word." Intense personal effects don't always result in violence. I have not studied Bah'ai but I would expect it to have had intense internal effects on its early converts. You might note that the Druse and Bah'ai are not very large by comparison with the others in the general class.

    >It certainly seem that an overarching model of religious
    >mutation/selection/evolution is indeed possible, but such a model is
    >likely to be much too complex to be completely explained by a 'virulent
    >offshoot' theory, although such a theory would remain a major
    >component of any possible model.

    True. For example, while it has many sources, a major source of scientology is Crowley's OTO. That is still around, though not very active. A splinter group from the OTO was the Discordians (still around) and in turn that split off the parody "Church of the SubGenious." (Slack!) Most of the people fighting scientology on net are either open or secret SubG members, some of them are High Popes in the group.

    Keith Henson.

    =============================================================== 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 : Mon 06 Jan 2003 - 09:39:12 GMT