Monday, July 6, 2009

Christianity Through the Lens of Cognitive Science

Fascinating blog series, espescially for those not yet fully aquainted with "memes". Here's an excerpt:

A successful religion needs to have the qualities of a successful virus. In a changing environment, this means it must have the ability to mutate and adapt. In the past, religions spread largely by edict and conquest. This is how Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and into the Americas. Today, though, religion is perceived as an individual choice and religions must gain share by proselytizing or attracting adherents. For any religion to grow now, it must be something that people are motivated to transmit to each other one on one or in small groups. This is why, today, the religions that are gaining mindshare are those that have strong proselytizing mandates and high birthrates. In the current environment, Christianity has been able to produce offshoots that need no edict or conquest.

Significantly, the religions that are growing right now are ones with strong copy-me commands. Evangelical Christianity is centered on what Christians call the Great Commission: "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, baptizing them in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Ghost." In addition, just as the Roman church latched onto the strategy of competitive breeding (keep women home, sanctify a high birth rate), so Evangelicals have begun to explicitly add this form of copy-me command to the mix.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The fatal flaw in this argument is the use of the word 'religion'. Religion is man's attempt to reach God on man's terms. Relationship is him reaching to us, on his terms. Huge difference. Roman Catholicism, for example, is not 'relationship.' It is a man-made religion, using the buffet-style of Biblical precepts, picking and choosing which Biblical tenets to believe, and explaining those that are not Biblical as tradition. Well, Jesus hated tradition and man-made rituals. Latter-day Saints, too, base their beliefs on thoughts written by Joseph Smith, a liar and a cheat who taught man can become a god--when their men die, they go to their own planet and becomes the god of that planet, near Kolob, where God lives, and take as many wives as they can, making spirit babies who float around looking for solid Mormon households--this is why Mormons typically have so many children, to prevent the spirit babies from ending up in Gentile homes.
So you see, lumping evangelical Christians with religion is based on the faulty assumption that Christianity is a religion. It isn't. It is a relationship with the living God, the only one who can change lives in such a manner that it spread so rapidly, and continues to do so. May your eyes, too, be opened and your ears hear so that the truth will set you free.