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Middle aged heterosexual, WASP male. Semi retired, semi-sane and semi-serious. And endangered species and I'm not going quietly!!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Church of Allan - The Plain Truth About God

A serialization of the book, The Plain Truth About God.

Chapter 12. Thanks for the Meme-ories!

One of the great advantages offered by the Bible in replicating itself is a unique variety of strategies that will insure its survival. This method of self-preservation is closely associated with our whole enterprise of human culture.

This, in its simplest terms is a method of fending off the threat of death.

It is a survival mechanism that has found a way of promising survival in the face of the inevitability of individual death.

In other words, the individual may die, but we have immortality expressed as a soul continuing in lock step with the culture that nourished it.

Being a faithful follower of a religious group, our duty is to then to ensure our own survival by enhancing the long-term prospects for continuation of our beliefs and way of life.

In other words, the afterlife of the believer is strictly tied to the continuity of the Meme pool (or community) within that faith.

This strategy is offered to the reader of the biblical text, along with a stern warning on the likely outcome of failing to abide by the word of the text. (Hell!)

This is aligned to a particular set of strategies that reinforce the integrity of the biblical text and maintain continuity and cultural identity by filtering out undesirable interlopers.

The bible has within itself powerful instructions that re-enforce its own unique worth and the limits to be placed on foreign information or texts into the communities that propagate it.

The whole process of canonization for instance, reveals a complex interaction between the text and the community that it serves.

The propagation of the text and the founding of new communities to spread the text are linked to the survival of the reader and his or her own community (Meme-pool).

The Hebrew and Christian Bible, and the Koran, are full of admonitions about the duty to hand down their teachings, and by implication their text, to the next generation.

Secondly, the text contains a strong message of evangelization. The survival of the reader’s community depends on the production of new texts and new communities. This complex of strategies forms a powerful ensemble to ensure the accurate transmission of the text.

Communities based on the bible have a strong interest in conserving it unchanged.
Paradoxically, from the point of view of the bible itself however, its ability to adapt to new communities is an essential part of its success.

The fact that so much human ingenuity has been expended on ensuring that the bible does not change, and that such mutations have at times been physically rooted out, merely goes to show how strong the pressure is to mutate, and its potential for evolution.

After all, the interests of the text and those of its nurturing community may not always coincide, but since the Meme (text) can be considered symbiotic, rather than parasitic, its co-operation with its host ensures a mutual benefit.

Let me give you an example of this:

“The Bible is full of so many stories of a contradictory nature and moral purpose that every generation can find scriptural justification for nearly any action it proposes, from incest, to slavery and mass murder, to the most refined love, courage and self-sacrifice. Indeed, this has surely contributed to its survival.”
-Carl Sagan

A book to which both the Apartheid regime of South Africa and its most fervent opponents could turn to justify their positions may not offer simple moral precepts, but does ensure that both sides will own their own copies!

For the survival of “The Book,” its amazing capacity to sustain opposing camps is a very successful strategy.

The Bible contains more information than any one community can readily assimilate, especially as it may seems mutually contradictory or impossible to apply in a given situation.

What happens then is the formation of a canon within the canon where the community opts to read and follow a particular smaller set of instructions, read with its own particular interpretive slant.

This is an existence bound up with the identity, adaptability and continuity that the Bible confers.

Conversely, that continuity is bound up with, and depends upon, the continued existence of the Bible.

The community of readers sees it as its duty to ensure the survival of the book, but more than this, it sees the book as the guarantor of its own continuity and survival.

The book itself contains a whole array of strategies for survival, and in particular, is the record of an amazing feat of cultural continuity among the widely divergent communities of Jews.

They managed to retain a sense of themselves as Israelites and members of one “Meme-pool” or culture, protected by firm filters from external contamination.

Despite the evidence of all that might have led to its dissolution and destruction, the community has maintained itself……...! In addition, the text is also preserved!

Daniel Dennett, in his book Consciousness Explained, says this: “The haven that all Memes depend on reaching is the human mind. But a human mind is itself an artifact created when Memes restructure a human brain in order to make it a better habitat for themselves.

The avenues of entry and departure are modified to suit local conditions, and are strengthened by various artificial means to enhance fidelity in replication!”

Susan Blackmore, (The Meme Machine) has pointed out that many religious beliefs exemplify Memic selection, especially those that advocate spreading “The Message.”

To quote Susan Blackmore: “Although old minds differ from young minds, and male minds differ from female minds, what Memes provide is an easily transferable store of advantages.”

In this context Christianity, Islam and Judaism are highly successful Memes.
Through the idea of a father-like God, they offer a sense of purpose, of security, and of belonging that is familiar and attractive to all humans.

At the social level, they provide cultural identity, legitimize social structures, and sanctify moral codes.

Like all good Memes, the religious ones protect themselves in various ways.

First they place absolute reliance on faith, which precludes any introduction of reason that would be detrimental to the Meme.

Secondly, they also have a naturally embedded “catch 22” situation.

** “This Meme says it is the Divine truth; so whatever it says must be true! Therefore it must be Divine truth because it says so and all competing memes must be the work of the devil!”

Upon detailed analysis of Memes, we usually see the following features that help it establish itself in the minds of its host.

1. Promise heaven for belief!

2. Threaten eternal punishment for disbelief!

3. Boost the believer’s egos by telling them they are “chosen” or “superior” to believers of false memes!

4. Disable the means to disbelieve by claiming that faith is superior to reason!

5. Establish itself as the “One True Meme,” usually by some sort of holy book containing catch 22 situations. (circular logic)

** “This Religion” is the one true religion.

We know “This Religion” is the one true religion because God has approved only “This Religion.”

God has approved “This Religion” because “This Religion” contains statements that say so!

Therefore we know what “This Religion” says is true because “This Religion” is the one true religion.

Most religions teach that they are the one true path to salvation and all unbelievers are cast into hell.

This is a doctrine known as exclusivist, and unfortunately, certain sects of Christianity went to great lengths to claim that they were the one true faith and the other denominations of Christianity were corrupt, (or even in league with the Anti-Christ).

To this day “Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus” (No salvation outside our Church) is still the official doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Now once it has established itself in the mind of its host, (congregation) a Meme needs to propagate itself.

Therefore, a successful Meme will contain instructions for some or all of the following:

A. Holy War - convert or kill all non-believers

B. Intimidation - threaten and discriminate against unbelievers!

C. Social isolation or “death to apostates.”

D. Encourage believers to breed faster than believers in false Memes!

E. Dis-information - spread lies about rival Memes. Demonize them.

F. The bigger the lie the more likely it is to be believed!

Now here comes the good part—we have had many centuries, even millennia, to perfect this way of thinking and have it down to a science.

(Not an “Art,” it is now at the point where it is a “Science.”)

These two types of self-referential statements, “propagate me” and “I am the only truth” provide the driving force for Memes to invade the minds of their hosts and spread throughout susceptible populations.

In addition, all religious Memes contain the instructions “help people who believe in this Meme, attack people who do not!”

And there you have it; an instant recipe for religious war!

Allan W Janssen is the author of the book The Plain Truth About God (What the mainstream religions don't want you to know!) and is available at the web site www.God-101.com

Visit the blog "Perspective" at http://God-101.blogspot.com

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Anonymous Shannon said...

That book sure sounds good. Think I'll get a copy!

Saturday, March 22, 2008 1:41:00 p.m.  
Anonymous Jonathan S. said...

I just read your article about Jesus, the New Testament, Gospel of Thomas, etc.
I am reading a book at the moment that I think may interest you.

I believe you can download a free copy from the Internet, otherwise it costs about $15 from Amazon.com It is:

The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore by Deepak Chopra

Saturday, March 22, 2008 5:41:00 p.m.  

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