virus: Re: virus-digest V1 #50

Reed Konsler (
Wed, 16 Oct 1996 21:57:26 -0400

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

>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? Given that about
>every 1 in 10 Americans is an atheist [according to David Leeper], it's
>simple arithmetic to say that the probability that a newborn American
>will become an atheist is 0.1. If we have more data like the ratio for
>geographical location or demographic groups, the figure could be more
>specific and vary accordingly.

Religion is obviously very sucessful at propogating. It's like saying:
what is the probability of life arising on Earth. Well, obviously, it's
pretty damn near unity: given that we are having this conversation. What
is the probability that a fit organism will continue to procreate given a
similar environment? Pretty good, as well. What is the likelyhood that a
fit meme-complex will continue to propogate...also good, maybe about 90%

What would be interesting to explain is under what circumstances a fit
meme-complex or organism is not successful. The two that come quickly to
mind are a radical change in environment and competition (which, come to
think of it, is just a subset of the previous circumstance).

I think that's why David calls this a church. We are designing a
meme-structure capable of out-propogating the "God meme".

>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. To
>emphasize my point : I can't "choose" to believe that 2 + 2 = 5 even if
>I wanted to, I just "know" it's wrong.

Given that you can't determine why you believe something it doesn't follow
that it is inherent or natural. It also isn't a requisite or in some way a
basic structural inevitability...either way. I think you can say that the
mechanism is not apparent to you...but shouldn't that make you more
suspect? The major criticism we level against the religious is their lack
of self-reflection, internal consistency, and prediliction for "mysteries".
If you say "it just seems obvious to me" that sets off alarm bells in my
head. I'm in agreement about the conclusion...but not for the same

I don't personally perceive athiesm as a natural way of thinking. I mean,
even asking the question: is there a God? is, itself, sort of contrived.
It seems like the "natural" way of thinking would be completely
neutral...not a negation so much as a simple lack of conciouness that the
issue exists at all.

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

Athiesm is no more recieved truth than the various kinds of theism or
scientism or ism-isms ad infinitum.

>Has anyone come up with a model to explain the ratio?

Can't it be emergent? It just happens to be so today. There might be a
history that explains how it came about without a structural reason why it
must be that way. Why is the internet mostly in English? Why do the DNA
triplets code the way they do? Why are L-amino acids common currency in
biochemistry and D-amino acids so uncommon? Why do we have five fingers
and toes? Why are our eyes structured with the circutry in front of the
receptors, requiring light to pass through the neurons and requiring a
"blind spot" were the nerves can get through to the brain. Why do our
digestive and respiratory systems cross in our throats? Why does the
symbol "a" stand for a certian phonetic element?


Reed Konsler