Re: [Pigdog] Eunuchs target commuters (fwd)
Sat, 21 Feb 1998 14:55:11 EST

In a message dated 2/21/98 9:43:54 AM, wrote:

>There's a cool thing: Abstract: It is argued that the blanket view of
>religion as a disease, advocated by Dawkins, is inconsistent with the
>principles of parasite ecology. These principles state that vertically
>transmitted parasites evolve towards benign, symbiotic states, while
>horizontally transmitted parasites increase their virulence. Most of the
>world's established religions are transmitted vertically, from parents to
>children, and are therefore expected to be benign towards their hosts.
>Yet, certain horizontally transmitted cults, such as the Aum Shinrikyo,
>seem to effectively exploit their hosts in a way similar to an infectious

That doesn't mean the model of religion as disease is bad, merely that
biological "disease" is a broad area, including both pathogenic and
non-pathogenic diseases. Also, those principles are just general, not
absolute; rabies transmits quite well vertically, while nitrogen-fixing
bacteria transmit only horizontally.

Certainly I'd agree that vertically-
transmitting religions are in general much more benign than horizontally
transmitting ones. But some of the vertically-transmitting ones get
involved in nasty religious wars (hardly benign); while there are plenty
of fairly benign cults, especially here in California. In this sense
religious memetic disease closely resembles biological disease, so the
proposed disease analogy is indeed quite apt.