Re: RE[3]: virus: Hosts

KMO prime (
Tue, 15 Oct 1996 17:35:58 EDT

On Tue, 15 Oct 1996 05:13:59 +0000 "Hakeeb A. Nandalal"
<> writes:

>I was also attempting to form a model to explain why there is such a
>large disparity between the number of atheists and theists in
>Western societies like the USA. Why is it that a few people who are
>brought up under identical circumstances with everyone else tend to
>reject the "God meme" and are hence called atheists?

We might well conclude that religions employ more effective propagative
strategies than does science. Thinking in a religious mode is something
humans seem to do spontaneously while thinking in a sequential, analytic
fashion requires practice and is not easy at first. We might also take
into account the status of the memetic playing field at the time when our
hypothetical subject is born. I doubt that the probability that a child
born in 1996 will develop into an atheist is the same as for a child born
in 1906.

Is there anyone who reads this list who is under 15? I don't know if
there is or not, but there certainly were not any young people reading
this list or one like it in 1906. Granted the new channels that
facilitate the dissemination of atheistic, scientific, and other
"alternative" meme-complexes can also facilitate the propagation of
religious memes.

>I'm an atheist, but I don't consider my rejection of the "God meme" to
>be a conscious choice, I'm "aware" that, to me, that particular meme
>makes no sense and at whatever subconscious level, I've rejected it.
>emphasize my point : I can't "choose" to believe that 2 + 2 = 5 even
>I wanted to, I just "know" it's wrong.

Here's an example that I used to use in presenting some problems with
Pascal's Wager (which concludes that belief in God is the best bet in
terms of expected utility): Suppose someone comes into the class room
with a suitcase full of money in one hand and a handgun in the other.
Now suppose this person offers you a choice. If you can bring yourself
to believe that Bill Clinton is juggling candy bars right now, you get
the money. If not, you get shot. Obviously believing has the better
benefits package here, but can you just decide to believe something which
your experience and current knowledge indicate is not likely to be true?
The example seems to lend support to claim that belief is not a choice.
You can't believe anything you want.

Pascal's answer to this line of criticism was to say that even though you
can't change your beliefs in an instant, you can clothe yourself in the
rituals and behave as if you believed. Years of living this way will
bring about genuine belief.

>Why then when people are
>presented with a knowledge of history, geography and even
>the majority still harbour religious memes with only a minority making
>the connection and hence rejecting them?

I would answer that most people are not presented with sufficient
knowledge of history, geography, or science. Religious models are easier
to comprehend, more comfortable, and more widely endorsed in the
experience of most people than are scientific models.

Take care. -KMO