Are some religions just memetic control mechanisms? | INFJ Forum

Are some religions just memetic control mechanisms?

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by Satya, Aug 2, 2009.

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  1. Satya

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    A meme could be thought of as a thought contagion or mind virus. It's the cultural equivalent to the biological gene and it follows Darwin's natural selection algorithm in much the same way our biology does. It's a basic cultural unit of information that is spread and self propagates using humans as its host. This excerpt explains it in a little more detail...

    So what do you think? Could people who follow certain religions just be hosts to a parasite that feeds on their desire to believe in something greater than themselves? Do religions often ensure their own survival by playing off human fears of punishment and ambitions for reward?

    A great essay which explores the concepts of memes was Theory of Power by Jeff Vale and it made this argument in regards to religion...

    So what are your thoughts?
     
    #1 Satya, Aug 2, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2009
  2. just me

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    Judging from the word "parasite", I would have to disagree with a brief explanation. I do understand your use of the word and its intent. That said, I can understand how one might interpret "religion" in the analogy used here. Morality or rituals could possibly be viewed as such, but that might possibly negate the use of "faith" as used in the definition. Just to further think along this line, does faith have to be part of this "meme"?

    The immediate release of neurochemicals may possibly be necessary for an animal's happiness. I see happiness as a state of mind moreso as I grow older. The short-term immediate happiness does happen often, but ultimate happiness seems to have an art to it. Individuality allows each of us to paint our own personal picture of what we see as happiness in our minds as we mature, regardless of what we are taught. Individuals greatly differ, as we know studying mbti and psychology. Some people are much more easily led down the path of their ancestors and friends than others, just as some people tend to question and try to discern what they feel to be truth or happiness.

    Eternal bliss is a great motivator and has been for many moons, but it just doesn't play that big a part in some people's ideals. That ability to see things and feel things the way they are instead of the way they appear or sound will lead some people down a path of helping others, for instance, with no regard whatsoever for that eternal reward; it has become a part of the picture they have painted in their mind to achieve happiness. Their living the way some see as religion is a spiritual mindset based on love for their fellow humankind. Love, too, is and always has been a great motivator.

    I would guess love and fear to be the two biggest motivators. If "to love"
    in this manner designated one to be spiritual, then they may have garnered what they needed from that which had been taught them into what religion is supposed to be all about. Thus, "feeding" from the "parasite" instead of the "parasite's" feeding from them.
    I shall give this more thought. Interesting, to say the least.
     
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  3. Wyote

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    Yep.
     
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    Satya

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    In this meme, faith supersedes reason so that humans cannot escape from the "parasite".

    But people who are infected with this "parasite" generally prefer one way to "help" people, and that is to make them a believer so that they too are infected with the "parasite". What more "love" can you give someone than leading them away from eternal punishment and towards eternal bliss? That way the "parasite" can continue to spread and the infected feel like they have genuinely helped people and shown them their love when in reality they have just spread the "parasite" to others.
     
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    Satya

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    ROFL.

    The first link provides a decent argument for why Buddhism may be excluded...

     
    #5 Satya, Aug 3, 2009
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  6. just me

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    I agree most people may want to do this to show their ultimate "love". There are those that can help others because that is the way they feel they should act, though they may be few and far in between, even knowing the one or ones they are helping will not change the way they feel toward their own given faith.

    I feel, mainly from personal experience with self, we are able to use reason with our respective faith, though that may possibly be or not be a rarity.
     
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  7. Wyote

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    True, Buddhism is far less dangerous in many respects yet it is still a group which segregates itself. It strives for unity which is a bigger step than most other religions. I should note that Buddhism has been pegged as not really a religion and more a philosophy, which is in part why it is far less of a threat at this point.

    "The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity. Buddhism answers this description. If there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism."

    --Albert Einstein
     
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    #7 Wyote, Aug 3, 2009
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    Satya

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    The argument could be made that humans are inherently kind and empathetic to one another, regardless of whether or not they are infected with the "parasite", and that the "parasite" simply adds stipulations to sharing this natural kindness and empathy by telling the people it has infected that they need to help spread itself to others in order for them to truly be good people. In essence, any help that is provided should be aimed at spreading the "parasite" no matter how small the chance.

    That was what the second article was stating. Once a person accepts the premise that there is an afterlife, they can then use their reasoning to justify any sacrifice they make in life towards that end. However, using reason to justify faith still puts faith on a pedestal above reason and ensures the survival of the "parasite". People who do not simply accept the premise of an afterlife and choose to question faith will be considered "unreasonable" by those who do.
     
  9. OP
    Satya

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    What I want to know is how Buddhism manages to stay alive if it doesn't rely on indoctrination and the suppression of reason. Could its precepts truly be so based on what is that they need no Pascal's wager or illusion of supremacy to be recognized?
     
  10. slant

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    Basically, all of them. I wish there was a religion that encouraged homosexuality and abortion because we really need some population control as well. These religions were established in a time where babymaking was important...now babies can be found on the side of streets in poor neighborhoods.
     
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  11. Wyote

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    Seeking truth is the only merit which outlasts all others. The pursuit of truth is the only thing which does not in itself cause harm. Buddhism allows for such devotion. That's not to say that all Buddhists truly strive for it though ^_^

    [YOUTUBE]PqJpZOljjG8&feature=fvw[/YOUTUBE]
     
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  12. just me

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    That argument could be made, but it negates my prior proposal's trying to infer "even knowing the one or ones they are helping will not change the way they feel toward their own given faith" as being one that had been influenced by a faith-based religion's teachings already; acknowledging they still may have been(and most likely were) inherently kind and empathetic toward one another before said influence.
    The reasoning I mentioned was not to justify one's faith, but rather to reason with what one had been influenced with. One must prove in one's own heart, mind, and soul(reason); "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind what is that good and acceptable, and perfect will of God." The afterlife does not come into that equation and, for argument's sake, can become of little if no importance compared to how one treats others based on their new faith.
    Self becomes last; others, first.
     
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    #12 just me, Aug 3, 2009
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  13. OP
    Satya

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    Frankly, all that argument says is that people are free to choose for themselves. When people are presented with the premise that they will suffer eternal damnation if they choose otherwise, then they will reason with their "heart, mind, and soul" so to speak that they must comply with that choice simply for the possibility because if they don't and they are wrong, then they will suffer immensely. This is an illusion of freedom, generated by the "parasite", for the moment an infected individual questions the other merits of the "parasite", they are shot down by the others who have been infected.

    My evidence...

    [YOUTUBE]K8hYRN2nBgk[/YOUTUBE]

    [youtube]jXug5wioHDM[/youtube]

    [youtube]b2UASRoq3HM[/youtube]
     
    #13 Satya, Aug 3, 2009
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  14. just me

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    You need not cite evidence, as the exceptions are more what I speak of than the rule. I will agree most people to be influenced through religion with promises and/or fears regarding the afterlife in a manner to influence their decision-making process through fear and/or desire. As one of the exceptions, it is difficult to argue against the rule. I will state the possibility one of those things you cited from your source to be "illusions" cannot be proven without doubt to be false until the given time might arise. It is therefore a choice to call it an illusion, just as much as it is a choice to believe it. The future is not ours to know.

    I fear war, pestilence, famine, hunger, disease, and the likes will keep humanity in check. Abortion is a sad means of contraception and an uneducated excuse for birth control, though I can understand its use in
    bizarre rarities like rape, incest, and possible loss of life of the mother.
    :sorry: I know those who have had them and am sorry for the way I feel if it hurts anyone's feelings or reminds someone of a bitter past. No spider web: just wanted to argue another side that is not against all abortion.
    Sad the "meme" led us to this subject. However, the way I feel is a great example of how a person can reason with their respective religion and come to their own standard or belief.
     
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    Satya

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    An interesting thing about memes, as you may recall, I said that they follow Darwin's natural selection algorithm. That means that they can mutate and evolve in order to survive. The abolition of slavery and the end to the subjugation of women are relatively recent developments that modern interpretations of Christianity have had to evolve to accommodate. Homosexuality and abortion are modern issues which are forcing the meme to further evolve. Your personal interpretation could simply be a mutation of the "parasite". If the mutation takes, then that kind of "parasite" will prosper and spread whereas the older version will die out much like it did with slavery and the subjugation of women.
     
  16. IndigoSensor

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    Religion becomes a method of control, when it causes individuals who believe it to go out, and control others who don't fall in line with it.
     
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  17. OP
    Satya

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    But to what degree of controlling others? Is it really controlling others if you present them with the choice of following your religion or going to hell? They make the choice.

    How about if you find people who are in despair and thus vulnerable and offer them your religion as the answer? It's still their choice.

    What about if they teach their own children their religious beliefs? Is it controlling for parents to teach their children what they believe is the correct answer in life?

    Is it controlling to simply call those who don't follow your religion names like "pervert" or "abomination"? Just calling people names doesn't make them follow your religion.

    Is it controlling to offer members of your religion special treatment that you don't extend to those outside your religion? You aren't doing anything directly in that case.

    Is it controlling to legislate their morality? After all every citizen has a vote and if you choose to be a part of a representative democracy then you sometimes have to yield to the will of the majority.

    Is it controlling to go to war with practitioners of another religion if they are seen as a threat to your nation? National security is important!

    And if someone of a religion does go out and beat, kill, harass, torture, or do anything else to someone who doesn't live in accordance to their religion, then all the other practitioners of that religion will just tell you that those kind of vicious individuals were not true practitioners of the religion. Nonetheless, the message gets through. Follow the religion or else the extremists will get ya!

    What do you mean by control?
     
    #17 Satya, Aug 3, 2009
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  18. just me

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    Slavery has not vanished from the earth, though it may be "mutating" toward the total abolition of it. It may be more underground than before to try and hide itself. An attempt is being made to end the subjugation of women worldwide, but there are forces out there still fighting for the subjugation of women....unfortunately.
    You must forgive my forgetting the Darwin connotation you mentioned, as I do not give that much thought. I can give room for a type of "evolving" in the mente of humankind. I shall attempt trying to hold onto that concept for your thread's sake, if for nothing else.
    I do not see the end of the role of women as it was as a forced way of change in Christianity. I will cite, "There is neither Jews nor Greeks; bond nor free; male nor female; for all are one in Christ." I may have to edit that for its proper quote. I am surprised racism was not mentioned.
    Homosexuality may never influence religion as much as its feeble attempt to influence law. It was prevalent back in old Bible days: remember Sodom and Gomorrah? There has also been a feeble attempt to influence law regarding the use of illegal drugs and their legalization. Those issues raise the "morality" flag, which is not part of this thread and not indigenous only to religion; though that can be and has been argued in the past with much effort.
    Food for thought: could homosexuality and abortion be parasites of some part of humanity trying to force their way on the world and religion to rid the world of religion and/or morality so they can further mutate?
    I see this battle joining with other battles as a type of war fought without guns and bombs, further explaining why the fight against guns and bombs has entered the picture. Two views of how life should be are at war, silently being fought in our schoolbooks, courts, media, and our streets.
    It may be quite possible each side views the other as parasites, I could guess.
     
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    #18 just me, Aug 3, 2009
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  19. bamf

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    I've always questioned the difference between spreading religion and anti-religion...

    In essence both kinds are telling people how to live their lives and by what rules.
     
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    Controling others as in trying to make them live acording to someone elses will. Mostly by imposing laws in their view of the world (this forcing people to believe a certain way). If someone tell you "you are to believe, or you are going to hell" then that counts as control, because that isn't an option, that is saying "believe or else", which isnt a choice to me, that is fear tactics.

    If parents want to teach their children religious belifs that the hold, then it is their choice to do so. Most of the time, if religious zealots try to force it down on their children I feel very angry at them for doing so. Nevertheless, it is not my place to say how they should raise their children, no matter how much I disagree with it. They arent hurting their children, and the children to have an option to believe or not (though that doesnt always happen, and wont happen until they are teenagers or beyond). It is the parents choice and by me telling them to stop, makes me no better then if they had said something to me.

    Calling people names and being vocal by saying people who don't believe are "unworthy" or something to that effect, isnt controling. That is being single minded and prejustice against a group. They have a right to believe that (no matter how much I disagee). It only becomes problamatic if they attack me as an individual and try to control me that way, or to try to control us as a group. Of course it is possible people could take it too far and become "overly vocal" and begin distrupting peace. And why would it be wrong to extend special treatment to those in a religious group? All groups give special treatment to those in a group, there is nothing wrong with that what so ever.

    The last three examples you listed are methods of control, because that is trying to restrict people's livelyhoods as a group, which is unfair. I do understand that there is no way to see if someone is voting leglisation by their internal religious values or not. However, the outcome of such results usually are. I have no solution to that problem, I do however know that it is wrong. War is a method of control, you know that as well as I do, so is killing, touturing, ect.
     
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