[extropy-chat] Islamic morons win yet again (resend 2)

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Sat Sep 30 19:41:15 UTC 2006

At 01:43 PM 9/29/2006 -0400, John K Clark wrote:
>Mike Dougherty Wrote:
> > Why denounce religion?
>Because it is a lie and because it has caused more human misery than
>anything else in history.

It is useless to denounce religion, and it is *not* the root cause of human 
misery.  Human reproduction in excess of what the ecosystem/economy can 
support *is* the cause of misery.

In the stone age the "wheel of war" rolled around like this.

1.  Population growth (or sometimes weather) caused the population to 
perceive bleak times a-coming.

2.  The perception turned up the average gain in xenophobic memes 
circulating in the population.  Xenophobic memes were often of a class we 
would now call religious, but in modern times related memes work just as 
well to motivate the leaders and warriors.

3.  Attack on neighbors.

4.  The resultant war(s) reduced the population enough that the burden on 
the ecosystem was reduced to the point the population no longer perceived a 
bleak future.

Go to one.  (Cycle time of about a generation.)

Easter Island was a case where war a few generations earlier would have 
been much better.  As it was the damage to the ecosystem was so bad that it 
took a population reduction of perhaps 95% to stop the incessant 
warfare.  The reason for the extreme overshoot might have been a lack of 
"seed xenophobic memes" I.e.,they lacked different religions to induce war 
sooner because of cultural homogeneity.


>You're right, attacking religion is one-sided, it embraces the clear headed
>side of thinking without dealing with its complement, stupidity.

Stupidity (or becoming irrational) is  a *feature* of the model in the 
phases leading up to bloodshed.  It is truly bizarre, but I make the case 
that there are times when the interest of a person and the interest of 
their genes diverge.  In this situation, the genes have built in mental 
modes that induce stupidity and non rational thinking.  (Yah gotta admit 
there are enough examples.)

>That's not
>to say religion doesn't have value for some people, the leaders of Iran and
>TV preachers in America make a very good living off of it.
> >  I would suggest that if you really wanted to disinfect a particular
> > strain of religious belief that you would have to understand the behavior
> > of the meme in much the same way the biological viral activity is studied
> > before it can be effectively countered with drugs.
>Religion exists for 2 reasons, one reason I understand and one I don't.
>Clearly religion would not exist if the fear of death did not exist, but
>there is another much more mysterious reason. How did preachers convince
>people that faith is a virtue?

Wrong questions.  The real question is "what situations in the stone age 
made those who could be infested with religion more likely to survive (in 
the gene centered inclusive fitness sense) than those who were not?"

>It's very easy to see why some human beings
>would want other human beings to believe this; but how on Earth did they
>convince them that an all powerful and all knowing being thinks the highest
>form of virtue is to believe in something when there is absolutely no damned
>reason for doing so? There must have been some very sophisticated Meme
>engineering at work to sell that load of crap.

Meme engineering was no more possible when most of the big religions came 
about than genetic engineering.  Now Darwinian selection at two levels *is* 
possible.  First, does the meme do well itself, second, do the people 
infested with it do better than neighbors.  Just plain old variation and 
selection will shape us some very effective religious memes.

Keith Henson

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