Re: God memetics

Anders Sandberg (
11 Jan 1998 22:15:49 +0100

"M. E. Smith" <> writes:

> Face it, since the God meme is as flexible as it is,
> meaning to some "the indescribable absolute
> underlying all reality", it will always have a place
> in the meme pool.

I think there is a more important memetic niche to be filled: personal
comfort. Here in Sweden most people do not believe in the Christian
God - but they believe in what they usually call "something". This
"something" seems to have the role of personal comfort, giving life a
meaning, somebody to pray to and hope will provide some kind of
afterlife. Most people (unfortunately IMHO) do not care about the
indescribable absolute underlying all reality (IAUAL) - it is so remote and
transcendent, and they want something to comfort them when life turns

Personally I prefer the IAUAL, even if I doubt the 'I' part. But I
doubt it would be an intelligent being, consciousness or even some
platonic abstraction like Truth - it is likely something utterly
non-comforting, like a Hilbert space.

> Why then do some people still react
> so emotionally when the mere subject comes up?

Good question. I have noted it myself that I get a bit irritated by
religion, and I don't like to have reactions I cannot trace (I want a
source-level debugger for my mind! :-). I think it is because it deals
with the major questions, those questions which every human *has to*
face (even if to hide from them) like what to consider the meaning of
life, how to deal with the world, how to find meaning. They provide
the motivational core of one's worldview, and questioning them sends
distress signals directly to the autonomous levels. Most of us have
not yet learned to become sufficiently relaxed and self-efficaous to
be able to disconnect this defense system and deal with it on a
rational level (it is hard, and has to be done with every core
belief. How many of us can really react rationally to critics?).

Note that this doesn't mean there is anything inherently wrong about
getting revved up about attacks on your belief system - sometimes that
anger is a great asset in defending it (I often notice I have a far
too rational and relaxed attitude in many questions where I ought to
get passionate instead in order to bring about the changes I
seek). The problem is that if we just have knee-jerk reactions, we
will never get anywhere. We need to refine our emotions and bring our
belief systems under control.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y