Just who has the mind virus?

Richard Dawkins gave an interview where he outlined his views about religion as some kind of mind virus (HT: Cale BT):

Skeptic: You also took a bit of flak for likening religion (I think specifically Catholicism) to a virus? Is that still your position?

Dawkins: Yes. I come to it through the analogy to computer viruses. We have two kinds of viruses that have a lot in common–namely real biological viruses and computer viruses. In both cases they are parasitic self-replicating codes which exploit the existence of machinery that was set up to copy and obey that kind of code. So I then ask the question, “What if there were a third kind of milieu in which a different kind of self-replicating code could become an effective parasite?” Human brains with their powerful communication systems seem to be a likely candidate. Then I ask, “What would it feel like if you were the victim of a mind virus?” Well, you would feel within yourself this deep conviction that seems to come from nowhere. It doesn’t result from any evidence, but you have a total conviction that you know what’s true about the world and the cosmos and life. You just know it and you’re even prepared to kill people who disagree with you. You go around proselytizing and persuading other people to accept your view. The more you write down the features that such a mind virus would have, the more it starts to look like religion. I do think that the Roman Catholic religion is a disease of the mind which has a particular epidemiology similar to that of a virus.

So let’s get this straight.  Dawkins is supposed to be some type of super scientist, but when it comes to detecting this “mind virus” or “disease of the mind,” he has nothing more than his armchair philosophy.  What’s even more interesting is that he must live in some type of bubble that renders him oblivious to the simple fact that the very same description/diagnosis could just as easily be applied to Gnu atheism.  So, if we are to follow Dawkins’ lead, and adopt his way of thinking, ought we not consider the possibility that Gnu atheism is a mind virus?

After all, not only does it fit his description, but there is even something more.

I give you……….


This is a place where thousands of Gnus hang out.  And here is what the front page typically looks like:

And what have we here?  Memes, memes, and more memes.

It really doesn’t matter when you click on that link, as you’ll almost always find the front page to be dominated by memes.  Hour after hour.  Day after day.  Week after week.  Month after month.  Year after year.  The Gnus continuously feed on a constant stream of memes.  They make them, they read them, they absorb them, they up vote them, and they propagate them.

Hmmm.  A community of people who digest a steady diet of memes accuses religious people of having a “mind virus.”  And like their leader Dawkins, they would probably be incapable to detecting the irony of it all.

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3 Responses to Just who has the mind virus?

  1. Bilbo says:

    I assume that Dawkins is a materialist. In that case, would he think that there is some physical entity (in our brain?) that causes religious beliefs?

  2. Bilbo says:

    I’m sure John Cleese would love to hear about the mind virus:


  3. Dhay says:

    Lest anyone forget, it’s not just Dawkins and Boghossian who are promoting that religion is a mind virus, but Daniel Dennett also:

    “Daniel Dennett is a philosopher and cognitive scientist who applies Darwinian evolutionary theory not just to species, but to ideas, and specifically religious belief. He believes religion hampers rational thought and ultimately damages our species. Professor Dennett told Stephen Sackur religion is a drug human beings need to give up. He also described it as being like “the common cold” and said humans need to be cured of it.”
    28 March 2013

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