Bringing together non-believers …
What makes religion so powerful? How does it weave its way into our political system? Why do people believe and follow obvious religious charlatans? What makes people profess deep faith even as they act in ways that betray that faith? What makes people blind to the irrationalities of their religion yet clearly see those of others?
Religion is basically a virus, in every sense. There are five properties of viruses which are analogous to religion. Viruses infect people. They create antibodies against other viruses. They often take over both physical and mental functions and hide themselves from the host. They have multiple methods of transmission. They program the host to replicate the virus.
A great deal of early religious training is designed to insulate us from dangerous questions or ideas. Religious dogma has built in mechanisms for discouraging and even shutting down our capacity for critical thought. From the threat of Hell to guilt to separation from friends and family, religion – very much like a virus – attempts to protect itself from external threats to its propagation.
Viruses spread through “vectors.” For example, a mosquito is a vector for malaria. Religion is also spread through vectors, only we call them priests, pastors or youth ministers. A single vector can be responsible for an epidemic, as witnessed by the success of Pastor Lai, Pastor Muiru, Bishop Margaret Wanjiru etc.
Viruses must mutate to stay competitive in changing environments. Similarly, religion adapts to the cultural and scientific landscape. Galileo and Copernicus’ scientific discoveries were eventually incorporated into the Catholic model of the universe (though not without some wailing and gnashing of teeth). Even Darwin is grudgingly accepted today by some of the more progressive religions. Very few religions can remain virulent while demanding that women stay silent in church, or that children be stoned for disobedience.
Religious morality can be compared to behavioral changes caused by parasites such as the lancet fluke (Dicrocoelium), which drives its host (an ant) to climb to the top of a blade of grass where it is eaten by a cow, in whose belly the organism reproduces. Using this analogy, you can see that moral mandates which are peculiar to religious dogma are not beneficial to the host (the believer), but rather that they are designed for the benefit of the parasite.
Prohibitions on birth control do not benefit Catholics directly. But they do benefit the “Catholic Virus” by ensuring that already infected individuals will reproduce as much as possible, creating growth through both time and the population. Moratoriums on masturbation do not contribute to happiness or self-actualization, but they do create unassailable guilt which can only be relieved by “re-dedication to Christ” or other such religious rituals.
This is the virus which we want to destroy.
Are you infected?
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