I have just finished reading “The God Virus: How religion infects our lives and culture.” by Darrel Ray. He expands on the Dawkins idea of memes and proposes that those who are religious are infected with a virus type meme that has its own replication as its main purpose. The virus is compared to various viruses that attack the health of humans showing a similarity in the workings of both. The different vectors for this viral meme are described as are the methods used by the virus (meme) to protect it.
It was a slow read in places because of the ideas being expanded on but has given me a lot to think about.
Darrel Ray is an organizational psychologist. He has written a couple of books relating to his work as well as “The God Virus”.
Among all the books by the "new atheists" Darrel Ray's The God Virus: How religion infects our lives and culture is unique in that it places focus on the methodologies of religion and the common techniques that give it power. It is like there are various different kind of cars but when you look under the hood you see that their engines are so very similar.
Religions are powered by people’s need for social interaction, help in crisis, relief from guilt (particularly sexual guilt) , and also major in the brain chemistry altering power of music, repetition and hypnosis. In other words all of those religious services leave people feeling different mildly euphoric and it is all associated with “god” and “god’s group”.
Ray, does a great job of clearly communicating why religion has so much power over people’s lives regardless of the particular theological content that any one religion may have while it grabs and holds them through extremely powerful psychological techniques. Combine this with meeting the needs for social interaction, guilt reduction, and help in a personal crisis and boom you have a business that is meeting the market needs of the consumer. But the consumer, as all consumers, must pay a price.