[ExI] Rick Warren on religion

Stuart LaForge avant at sollegro.com
Sat Dec 8 17:07:08 UTC 2018

John Clark wrote:

>> Religions are directly selected for or against based upon their
>> teachings.
> I think a religious meme (not gene) can be directly selected for.

Memes, like genes, do not exist in a vacuum. Either can only selected upon
when they are actively being expressed by organisms capable of expressing
them. Naked DNA in test tube is merely a relatively stable repository of
information as is a bible or a software DVD in drawer. It is only during
"runtime" that the gene, meme, or software is actively being selected for
or against.

> The
> meme that infected the 911 hijackers, that its a good idea to kill
> yourself if by doing so you can kill lots of disbelievers, has been very
> successful;

Has it? It certainly succeeded at its political agenda of attracting media
attention but I don't see it as very successful as a "replicator". Sure
out of the billions of Muslims, a few dozen perform suicide attacks every
year. But compared to the Islamic memes of washing your hands before you
eat or facing east to pray? Not so much.

Incidently, since the intent of facing east is to face Mecca, do the
Muslims in Asia face west? In the age of GPS you would think that Muslims
would be allowed or able to precisely face Mecca no matter where they were
on the globe.

> from the meme's point of view crashing a airliner into a
> skyscraper was a wise move in that it increased its chances of being
> reproduced in other minds.  A meme that says "if you believe in me you
> will get 77 virgins when you die but if you don't God will torture you
> for a infinite number of years" has obvious potential for reproductive
> success in other minds.

Part of allure of the "77 virgins" is due to the Three Wives Law in many
Muslim countries. If the richest men are entitled to three wives, that
seriously depletes the mating pool of Muslim women for the poorer males.
Those males must either resort to consorting with infidel women or endure
a great deal of sexual frustration and resultant aggression.

>> How is it not obvious that religion is a trait selected for by
>> increased reproductive success?
> Increased reproductive success of the meme not the gene, biological
> Evolution works so much slower than cultural Evolution I don't see how it
> could play a significant part.

Memes are like retroviruses in that they can replicate directly on their
own or piggy-back on the replication of their host. Religion, like wealth,
is a heritable trait that does not have a genetic basis. Therefore
Catholics largely give rise to more Catholics.

> The only important gene involved would be
> one for a tendency of very young children to believe what adults tell
> them, and that goes far beyond religion, without that we wouldn't have
> science or art or any of the other good things civilization brings. So be
> careful what you tell very young children because they'll probably
> believe you, possibly for life.

I agree 100% with this.

>> Therefore any religion that makes it a sacred duty to procreate is
>> certainly no spandrel.
> The reason Saudi Arabia is almost entirely Muslim and Israel is almost
> entirely Jewish is not because the two populations have radically
> different genes  (70% of Jewish men and 82% of  Arab men inherited their
> Y chromosomes from the same paternal ancestor) but because they have
> radically different memes. John K Clark 

The religious memes of Jews and Muslims are not that radically different
either. In fact correcting for translation, a significant portion of their
content is shared. The biography of the common ancestor you speak of is
explicitly described in both Torah and Quran. Abraham is Ibraham, Isaac is
Ishaq, and Ishmael is Ismail but the story is the same. The Jews hold
themselves to be the descendants of Isaac(Ishaq) and the Muslims claim to
be the descendants of Ismail(Ishmael).

Islam clearly evolved from Judaism just as Christianity did. A similar
pattern of religious speciation complete with violence is seen in the UK
with Catholics of Ireland and the Protestants of Northern Ireland.

Perhaps religion operates as a spoiler for genetic kin-selection allowing
closely related individuals to be in separate tribes and consequently go
to war with each other.

Stuart LaForge

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