I am somewhat sceptical about Dawkins memes (see 'The Selfish Gene'). But let's consider for the sake of argument that he is right. Now considering all the wars and other suffering caused by 'our God is better than yours', could this be seen as attempt of God meme trying to survive by eliminating all the competitors by killing non-believers (like in natural selection)?

For those unfamiliar with Dawkins ideas. Dawkins postulates that genes as most basic evolutionary unit that does not have desire to survive. Simply those genes that didn't try to survive (by accident) compared to those that did try to survive (also by accident) didn't survive and the latter did.
He then applies same concept on ideas and songs and stuff that gets popular (he calls them memes) that these things try to survive, but do so as things in our minds, good ideas and nice songs live on while others get forgotten.

I think same applies to gods and religions - those religions that didn't try to impose and murder have been forgotten because those that did got more followers and became more dominant and now are most popular religions.
Let's take Judaism as example this religion at first didn't impose itself onto people of other religions, but the moment Jesus said Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, religion 'mutated' into more efficient form that now is looking for followers.

  • 2
    Hey, I've edited this a bit, but I think there are a couple of misunderstandings here, which I guess is why someone has downvoted you. Natural selection isn't generally considered to be about killing competitors (though it's original was somewhat Malthusian, this still doesn't entail such direct competition). Competition between memes can exist without, this is just a battle between ideas and need not harm humans at all. – Lucas May 15 '14 at 7:22
  • insert the word "causalities" ^^ – Lucas May 15 '14 at 7:28
  • @Lucas thanks for edit. Insert causalities where? Can it not be seen that Christian God is 'carnivore' while Buddha (not sure if this is right equivalent) is not. – Matas Vaitkevicius May 15 '14 at 8:11
  • Into my comment after "without". Do you mean one harms the person carrying it and the other does not. Or someone carrying a meme will hurt others not carrying it. There's been plenty of violence by Buddhists. – Lucas May 15 '14 at 8:21
  • @Lucas I mean killing all the non-believers looks like a 'winning strategy' (Dawkins) to become dominant god meme. – Matas Vaitkevicius May 15 '14 at 8:35

Note: I'm answering the question in the body of the question, not the question that comprises the title of this page.

Once you accept memetic evolution, I'd say yes, with the caveat that your language for expressing it over anthropomorphises (sic?) the meme. The idea that any genes or memes have a kind of will that drives them to replicate is foreign to Dawkins' thought; it's much more mechanical than that. Memes replicate with modification under selective pressure, with the resulting effect that they behave as though they are "trying" to survive.

The emphasis on eliminating competitors in your question glosses over the idea that memes exist in an environment, both physical and mental, and depending on the characteristics of that environment different features of the memes will be beneficial, thus it is not necessarily the case that a religious meme will ultimately turn vicious.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.