Accepting our Evolutionary History does not Mean Rejecting …

Posted: December 17, 2014 at 9:46 am


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In these four sentences Professor Dawkins has described both the scientific view of the 'human condition', and the main motivations for following the Buddhist path.

Defying the tyranny of the genes All animals, including ourselves, have genetically programmed drives to eat, reproduce, fight for territory and mates, kill prey, help our kin and so on. These drives appear to our mind as attachment and aversion.

Manifestations of attachment include sexual desire, hunger and the need for security. Manifestations of aversion include fighting, fleeing and avoiding painful and dangerous situations. All these mental reactions have evolved because they gave our ancestors a selective advantage. They are, or were, essential for preservation of the individual and procreation of its genes.

Defying the tyranny of the memes

A meme is a delusional mind-virus which spreads by thought-contagion among people in the same manner that a computer virus spreads among PCs. Many cults have a memetic component.

The term 'meme' was coined by Richard Dawkins in the 1970's, but the idea goes back at least to the 1890's when Winston Churchill compared a certain religion (no prizes for guessing which!) to the rabies virus - 'as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog'.

If a religion or cult shows most of the following features then it is a pernicious meme:

On the other hand, if a religion is based on wisdom, tolerance, free enquiry, rationality and universal compassion, then it is a beneficial spiritual path.

Memes are 'intellectually formed delusions', as distinct from the genetically-programmed innate delusions. However, memes often interact with and derive their power from innate delusions. For example, the meme that infects socially-inadequate, sex-starved young men and causes virulent hatred against the infidel, together with a desire to become a martyr in order to have an eternity of sex with 72 virgins, derives its power from testosterone-fueled innate delusions of aggression and lust.

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Accepting our Evolutionary History does not Mean Rejecting ...

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Written by grays |

December 17th, 2014 at 9:46 am