RE: implied or inferred memes

John Wilkins (
Wed, 22 Sep 1999 10:12:04 +1000

Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 10:12:04 +1000
From: John Wilkins <>
Subject: RE: implied or inferred memes
In-Reply-To: <>

On Tue, 21 Sep 1999 15:39:28 +0200
(Gatherer, D. (Derek)) wrote:

>It may
>not need to, though - it may be that the one triumphs over the other
>(think of the celibate Cathars, or the Shakers).
>Interesting examples, since the fate that befell the 2 sects was rather
>different; the Shakers disappearing through non-reproduction and the
>being physically repressed and in some cases actually exterminated. If
>remember my history rightly, Catharism proved very stubborn - despite
>celibacy and the danger of violent death, it was a couple of hundred
>before the last Cathars at Montsegur were destroyed.

The Cathars were growing at a rapid rate - as I recall, they had over
50% of the population in some regions. My point was that they would have
eventually reached a plateau, and would have ended up losing
population-share until the failure to breed was balanced by the
attraction of new converts.

But e'en so, the fact that Catharism was ended through massacres and
persecution is a case of cultural memes dominating biological ones as
>Incidentally, there is some evidence that early Chrisitanity was
>(notably the apocryphal gospels of St. Peter, St. Andrew and St.
>Thomas, all
>of which allude to the total sinfulness of sex and, in the latter case,
>undesirability of women).

The apocryphal gospels were in the tradition of the hermetic religions,
notably the Gnostics, which predated Christianity by around a century or
so. They obviously represent a parallel tradition to the "orthodox", but
I find it hard to believe that they are the "source" of Christianity -
which had many sources. It was highly eclectic, in addition to Jewish
influences (mainly the Pharisees, but probably also the Essenes and
their asceticism), there was Philonic Platonism (John's Gospel),
Herodotus (in Luke and Acts, influencing the eschatological tradition),
Roman Law (in Paul), and possibly Pythagorean mystery religions in
Revelation. And that's just in the NT. My favorite for an eclectic
theologian in the early patristics is Origen. Too bad he was dropped as
an heretic.


John Wilkins, Head, Graphic Production The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research Melbourne, Australia <mailto:wilkins@WEHI.EDU.AU><> Homo homini aut deus aut lupus - Erasmus of Rotterdam

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