Darrel Ray - The God Virus
Posted: 04 December 2009 01:03 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Dr. Darrel W. Ray is author of three books, two on organizational psychology. He has been a psychologist for over 30 years. After practicing counseling and clinical psychology for 10 years, his focus shifted to organizational psychology and consulting. A longtime student of religion, his latest book is The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture.

In this conversation with D.J. Grothe, Darrel Ray talks about religion being like a virus, elaborating on Richard Dawkins’ concept of the meme. He explains why the metaphor of God belief being like a virus of the mind is so useful. He details how religion is communicable, and propagated through vectors, just like biological pathogens, and why the rational “immune system” of children makes them more susceptible to the contagion. He explores why some people are immune to the God virus, and how to inoculate children from it, such as through exposure to many strains of the virus early in life. He describes the role that guilt over sex has in the success of the God virus. He discusses whether there is a skepticism virus, and why he feels atheism is a poor organizing principle, but why humanism is not. And he talks about the New Atheist agenda, and the best ways to engage in “public health measures” to protect people from the God virus.

http://www.pointofinquiry.net/darrel_ray_the_god_virus

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Posted: 04 December 2009 05:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The problem with Dr. Ray’s approach is that he narrowly applies his meme to religion, not realizing that it applies to all ideologies, including atheism, secularism, darwinism, communism, or any other ism that promises to provide the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

Blind faith (as opposed to reasoned faith) does not need a formal deity, it only needs to promise to answer questions of origins, human nature, an meaning.

I’ve written much on this if you are interested.  See:
The Atheist’s Caricature of Faith
‘Reason is the Devil’s whore’
Faith and Reason - Link Dump
The Weslyan Quadrangle III - Scripture and Reason

May God bless you wink

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Posted: 05 December 2009 06:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Daniel Sinclair - 04 December 2009 05:38 PM

The problem with Dr. Ray’s approach is that he narrowly applies his meme to religion, not realizing that it applies to all ideologies, including atheism, secularism, darwinism, communism, or any other ism that promises to provide the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

Blind faith (as opposed to reasoned faith) does not need a formal deity, it only needs to promise to answer questions of origins, human nature, an meaning.

I’ve written much on this if you are interested.  See:
The Atheist’s Caricature of Faith
‘Reason is the Devil’s whore’
Faith and Reason - Link Dump
The Weslyan Quadrangle III - Scripture and Reason

May God bless you wink

This reply screams of the mandatory, ad-hoc rebuttal.
Religion(the god-virus, or the concept of god, faith(!)) is far and away a different order than those other hackneyed, “usual suspects” you bring up.
No one needs to have total faith in communism, or Darwinism etc.. There is proof they exist. They have tangible evidence. Even if one doesn’t wish to follow those ideas, there is still proof of their existence.
The god virus, or the faith in god idea is not an ideology anyways. The religion that may surround that god is an ideology, but the mechanics of looking for a higher order is not an ideology. It is a virus!(not really, but it’s a good analogy)
Anyways I can tell by your book titles, and other nuances of your post that you’re probably not to interested in a rational discourse here. I’ll stop here, only adding that I hope your books, or Blogs, or essays made you some money. That would be the true measure of their worth, like lots of writings.

[ Edited: 05 December 2009 06:54 AM by VYAZMA ]
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Posted: 05 December 2009 07:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Daniel Sinclair - 04 December 2009 05:38 PM

The problem with Dr. Ray’s approach is that he narrowly applies his meme to religion, not realizing that it applies to all ideologies, including atheism, secularism, darwinism, communism, or any other ism that promises to provide the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

Er, you lost me there, Daniel. Since when does atheism, secularism or “darwinism” (actually called “evolution by natural selection”) “promise to provide the answer to life, the universe, and everything”? Your claim is quite an extraordinary non-sequitur. Indeed, even science, as embodied in the scientific method, does not promise such a thing. The only ideologies that promise it are religious.

Daniel Sinclair - 04 December 2009 05:38 PM

May God bless you wink

Quite.

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Posted: 05 December 2009 08:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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D.Sinclair-

May God bless you wink

You guys do this from time to time. I think you guys think this gets under our skin or something.
And by you guys, I mean the theists who come here with an axe to grind, or a sermon to preach.

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Posted: 05 December 2009 08:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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The premise of Dr. Ray’s thesis of religion being a viral like entity is, for me, intuitively obvious.  And I might be so bold as to suggest that religion be listed in the DSM as a psychological disorder.

However, I feel that the suggested method on how to counter or inoculate against this infection is a weak. Surely, confrontation is rarely going to work unless one is an expert in debate and verbal manipulation. I learned long ago in college that debates about religion were a waste of time and since then I have pretty much avoided any confrontation.

I feel that religion among adults is nearly incurable unless there is some traumatic incindent in a persons life that makes them vulnerable to new ideas. The mind ossifies with age and don’t confuse them with facts. And that leaves education as the only religion prophylactic (continuing the medical metaphors). The religious realize this with the continued effort at trying to get some form of religious education into public schools.

The proof of education as a panacea is the statistic of the inverse relation of education level and religiosity. With eduction the main thing to stress is critical thinking. A school that stresses critical thinking as a major goal could allow religious subjects to be introduced to which the students could apply their analytic skills. Religion does not have a chance in this environment and we have the additional effect of minimizing the nonsense of most of the “alternative medicine” quackery and other nonsense inundating daily life.

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The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due
to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.
—Havelock Ellis (1859-1939) British psychologist

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Posted: 05 December 2009 09:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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evenden-

The proof of education as a panacea is the statistic of the inverse relation of education level and religiosity. With eduction the main thing to stress is critical thinking. A school that stresses critical thinking as a major goal could allow religious subjects to be introduced to which the students could apply their analytic skills. Religion does not have a chance in this environment and we have the additional effect of minimizing the nonsense of most of the “alternative medicine” quackery and other nonsense inundating daily life.

I hear ya there. But engineered, inculcated, ossified societal systems(governments, economy, markets, industrialization etc.) have no vested interest in “critical thinking”. The set rate at which this type of education is distributed at is a small percentage.
The success of any Government relies on this ratio. Furthermore, Governments have a certain vested in interest in maintaining the status quo of religion.
This is no theoretical equation, it is obviously apparent, and has been for along time.(many centuries)
To introduce critical thinking for the sole purpose of preventing religion would be counter-productive to any governmental-economic system. And there are not too many other reasons to introduce it either-not that would have any benefits that aren’t already being served by the status-quo.

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Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

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Posted: 05 December 2009 10:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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VYAZMA - 05 December 2009 09:20 AM

I hear ya there. But engineered, inculcated, ossified societal systems(governments, economy, markets, industrialization etc.) have no vested interest in “critical thinking”. The set rate at which this type of education is distributed at is a small percentage.
The success of any Government relies on this ratio. Furthermore, Governments have a certain vested in interest in maintaining the status quo of religion.
This is no theoretical equation, it is obviously apparent, and has been for along time.(many centuries)
To introduce critical thinking for the sole purpose of preventing religion would be counter-productive to any governmental-economic system. And there are not too many other reasons to introduce it either-not that would have any benefits that aren’t already being served by the status-quo.

I cannot say that I understand the basis of your argument about the government-religion ratio in current times. But the theme seems to indicate a complete loss of hope and complete dispair for a rational society. For a freethinker the status you portray is like an atmosphere for a theist who looses his god and is suddenly without hope of heaven and a reason for existence.

Are we totally without hope for a rational society and doomed to the current inane mores? How depressing.

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The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due
to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.
—Havelock Ellis (1859-1939) British psychologist

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Posted: 05 December 2009 11:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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evenden-

I cannot say that I understand the basis of your argument about the government-religion ratio in current times. But the theme seems to indicate a complete loss of hope and complete dispair for a rational society. For a freethinker the status you portray is like an atmosphere for a theist who looses his god and is suddenly without hope of heaven and a reason for existence.

Are we totally without hope for a rational society and doomed to the current inane mores? How depressing.

I definitely have nihilistic tendencies. Don’t confuse that with depression though.
Rational Society is a very relative term.

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Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

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Posted: 05 December 2009 12:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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VYAZMA - 05 December 2009 11:58 AM

I definitely have nihilistic tendencies.

Indeed.  big surprise

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The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due
to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.
—Havelock Ellis (1859-1939) British psychologist

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Posted: 05 December 2009 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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evenden - 05 December 2009 12:07 PM
VYAZMA - 05 December 2009 11:58 AM

I definitely have nihilistic tendencies.

Indeed.  big surprise

What’s wrong with that? That’s not a bad thing.
You skipped over the meat and potatoes of my above comments anyways. There are relevant issues there. grin

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Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

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Posted: 05 December 2009 01:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Daniel Sinclair - 04 December 2009 05:38 PM

The problem with Dr. Ray’s approach is that he narrowly applies his meme to religion, not realizing that it applies to all ideologies, including atheism, secularism, darwinism, communism, or any other ism that promises to provide the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

Are you partly agreeing with Dr. Ray, in that you agree this applies to religion?

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Posted: 06 December 2009 09:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Oh man, Marxism is a so much better and more obvious and less amorphous example of this concept than religion or the god concept! Virulent, destructive, contageous, exploitive, counter-rational, dangerous. But it gets (as “communism) one fleeting reference. I smell (I’m choking on) bias and not rational factors here.
    For societies to survive, sexual behavior must be collectively regulated. It takes very powerful forces to accomplish that even partially. Cultural evolution - differential survival of societies - has picked religion in most cases to handle that task. That sounds like a reason, like it or not, we should let it survive or even encourage it. I’m an atheist, but I’m talking informed self-interest - maybe talking to a bunch of left ideological (figurative) suicide bombers. This is why I say liberalism is the death wish of Western Civilization.

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Posted: 09 December 2009 10:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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tech response:
Download size was 13.7MB.  At about 18:30 the podcast restarted, then continued as normal to the finish.
Looks like a cut and paste cock up.  I dont have further details but this is not the first time.  I think it unlikely that my N95 phone is to blame, anyone else experience this kind of thing?

Good podcast BTW.  The whole question of trying to inoculate against religion came across as a kind of proselytising, as compared to the positive fostering of critical thinking. IMO.  I would prefer no-one tell me (as a child) what to think anymore, having shaken off so much crap from the past.  Cant beat working it out for yourself!

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Posted: 10 December 2009 07:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Just wanted to say that I agree very much with the points made by evenden.

Education, of course, occurs in many ways, formal or informal, during both childhood and adulthood, and in settings ranging from face-to-face individuals to societal / media based.

And I think sometimes the debates that seem fruitless on their face serve as subtle forms of education, too, if not for the debaters, at least for listeners/readers.
Education, as any parent knows, happens indirectly at least as often as it does directly.

Haven’t heard this podcast yet, but I understand Dr. Ray will be speaking at the Atlanta Freethought Society in January.
I’m looking forward to hearing him in both places.

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Posted: 10 December 2009 09:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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What attracted my attention in the interview was Darrel Ray’s suggestion that child exposure to multiple religions hardens against the virus. I am planning to try out.
For adults, confronting with other religions may have some impact. For example, it is possible to convince a religious person to a simple notion: given the fact that most religions are incompatible the majority of mankind must held a false belive.

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