Re: MEMES: superstitions

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Wed, 22 Jan 1997 15:03:38 -0800 (PST)

> "Joel 'Twisty' Nye" <>

> The success of the Satan meme is not trivial... notice that even the
> recent "Freddy Kruger" and "Jason" flicks depict their villians as
> being "Straight from Hell." It's one thing to blame things on "Sin"
> as those obstacles we let stand between ourselves and God... Yet, it's
> a much more powerful suggestion to say that there is a malicious
> intelligence that is stalking us, bent on the goal of our destruction.
> Extropians usually want to disempower superstition. I for one
> wouldn't mind seeing the start of a discipline called "Y'shuaism"
> which would be everything Christianity was meant to be, without
> the superstition and judgementality. (One can be a disciple of
> Jesus' teachings, similar to Confucianism, without the need for
> the Divine mythos that was later built around it. Jesus was a
> healer, not a rabbi or soldier, and his only true "diety" is that
> he was a "son" of the "God is Love" equation.)

Superstition, myth, aphorisms, dogma, and the like /are/ successful.
Even as an unwavering advocate of reason, I can see their value in a
few contexts: * Teaching children how to behave in terms they can
understand and use while they're in the process of learning why; * To
supply shortcuts, rules of thumb, that can be used to make timely
decisions about newly-encountered situations when there isn't time for
rigorous analysis; * To provide examples (in the form of myths) to
explain principles.

Of course, I also recommend complete honesty: I do not think the value
of a myth is lost by /knowing/ that it is a myth. Personifying evil
in the form of a Satan should be just as effective to those who don't
really believe in his physical existence (which, let's admit, is most
of those who use the myth). Even Rand made her mark with works of
fiction. I am inspired as often--if not more--by Howard Roark as by
Rand herself.

So why not create extropian myths, aphorisms, holidays, idioms? In
fact, the resistance to do so might give us the false impression that
those we create inadvertantly have more meaning than they do.

I must say, though, that I find not a single thing worthwhile about
Jesus's teachings at all. He is the classic self-sacrificial altruist,
mindlessly vengeful (e.g., the fig tree), praising "faith" (mysticism
and uncritical acceptance of dogma), "hope" (begging for supernatural
favors instead of working to better yourself), and "charity" (self-
sacrifice and self-loathing). He was anti-capitalist ("camel through
the needle's eye..."), pro-government ("render unto Caesar..."). To
hell with him, I'll pick my own heroes. "And yea, Feynmann said unto
his students..."