Thursday, December 4, 2008

Is Evolution only for Smart People?

To Evolutionists, the tenacity of Creationism is baffling: Why do people continue to believe ideas that are thousands of years old, at best unsupported by any facts, and at worst plainly wrong? And as a corollary, why is education (especially in science) inversely correlated with religious beliefs?

Is it possible that only smart people can understand evolution? Is the problem simply that Evolution Science is too complex, too intricate, for a person with an average education to understand? (This is one of those unpleasant questions that you may secretly wonder about, but not want say out loud, for fear of being labeled an elitist.)

Happily, the answer is "No!" And the insight that shows why, ironically, comes from evolution itself: Memetic evolution.

Religion is a highly-evolved memeplex, one that is perfectly tuned to the human psyche. Religion memes appeal to our deepest emotions: fear (hell), hope (heaven and the afterlife), egotism and xenophobia (we're special in God's eyes), and our desire for love (God/Jesus the father). The religion memeplex has been evolving for many thousands of years; at any particular point in history, dozens and hundreds of religions, each with uncountable minor "mutations" (different opinions, interpretations, and misunderstandings) have been competing for survival. The ones that survived are the best of the best.

By contrast, we evolutionists are just children, babes in the woods, compared to our Creationist counterparts. Darwin's ideas, and the memeplex we call the "Theory of Evolution," have only been around for 150 years, a mere eyeblink compared to religion.

And worse, the Evolution Science memeplex evolved in a scientific ecosphere. The memeplex that we call the "Theory of Evolution" spread because it appealed to scientists, who are trained in logical, deductive thinking. Scientists are trained to ignore their emotions, and only accept theories that are based on observable facts and logical deductions from those facts.

Unfortunately, human emotions are far more powerful and persuasive than human logic.

A polar bear is well suited to the Arctic, and a camel to the desert; neither can travel to the other's part of the world and live for long. Each is adapted to the ecology in which its species evolved. If the Evolution Science memeplex is going to spread outside of its evolutionary niche, it too will have to evolve, to be better suited to the needs of non scientists. It will have to develop memes that appeal to human emotions and desires, rather than merely to logic.

To those of us who study culture and history from a Darwinistic perspective, that is, using memes, there is no mystery at all. The answer to our question – Is evolution only for smart people? – is in the memes. It's not evolution itself that is only for smart people, it's just the current memeplex, the one that evolved in an "ecosphere of smart people."

If the Evolution Memeplex is ever going to truly competative with Creationism, it has to evolve.


  1. by the middle of the blog I thought this was going in a direction that reflected one of my thoughts for awhile, but it went in another. I was kind of hoping you were going to write about what I was thinking because you are a much better writer than me.

    my thoughts are basically, that the primary reason why I find it incredibly ironic that some religious people reject evolution is because every single religion out there is a product of evolution. What naturally selects every religion out there is the changing culture/society that we live in. The title of your blog, "The Religion Virus", is a perfect description for this. Like evolving viruses, religion infects the minds of people, evolves, changes its traits, and eventually branch out into different sub-religions/sects/entire religions.

    If you draw a tree on the evolution of every religion throughout history, including dead-end religions that have become extinct, down to the leaf religions that current exist, you can see how one religion may be closely related to another or not related at all. This is exactly what you see in the tree of an animal kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, species.

    Since religion exists within the scope of our society and culture, as our society changes, so does religion change to adapt to it. Large events such as the rennaissance/enlightenment (printing press, advancing of astronomy, etc), colonialism (beginning of slavery, etc), beginning of democracy (civil rights, etc) have largely forced almost every religion to adapt in order to stay relevant. As a result, a typical Christian's interpretation of the Bible that we might see today would be vastly different than one from 1000 AD.

    The reason why christianity is such a successful religion because it has traits to make it attractive to people. It comforts its adherents in death, and uses fear of hell to keep its believers. It contains several simplistic models that ultimately make the believer feel special for being a Christian. This is just like a successful species of an animal that has many traits to enable it not only to reproduce, but to thrive.

    And one extremely important point: many successful religions give their believers more passion in war and conflict, which make them more effective at fighting and, thus, increasing likelihood of reproduction. This is completely consistent with some of the key points in evolution theory.

    Ultimately, it's simply pathetic that the Christians who are so mobilized against the theory of evolution feel that way due to their own belief system, which is a product of evolution.

  2. If Christianity is a product of evolution or some religious meme, empirically prove it instead of making philosophical claims.

    Then, empirically prove that atheism is NOT the result of an irreligious meme that hates all things religious.

  3. amazing. I give some examples and make some analogies of religion to evolution and instead of picking it apart, you want me to isolate variables and prove that this analogy is correct using the scientific method? Would you like me to create several new religions, include a control, and go through several hundred years of experimentation? really?

    In reality, I don't have to do such a thing. The historical data on religions is all there, and I've already described some of it.

    Honestly, if you're asking me to do something tantamount to writing a book about this without nitpicking in detail what I've just said in just two sentences, you're not going to accept what I have to say, I really have no hope of trying to convince you of anything.

    Religious people (Christians, in particular) don't even hesitate to use the word "faith" to explain why they believe in what they believe - however, whenever secular theories - especially the ones affecting belief systems - come into play, "faith" no longer comes into play, and is instead replaced by skepticism and the demand for "proof." I see this as a huge double standard.

    I'm not saying that skepticism is a bad thing - I'm just saying that applying it in one direction and using faith in another is not a good thing. You may think that atheists are also guilty of having "faith" - however, we would clearly disagree with that, and also make the point that we don't openly use that word regarding any of what we believe.

    And, to be consistent, being skeptical of what I have to say is a great thing. Questioning it, opening up the dialogue, and giving me good reason to change my mind is part of a healthy educational process. However, if you only apply skepticism one way and faith in the opposite way, you're really only being intellectually dishonest and cheating both of us of the opportunity to learn from each other.

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  9. I welcome substantive comments, of all viewpoints, that address the topic of the blog. However, please be civil, address the topic of the blog, and don't rehash topics from previous blogs.

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  11. Ryan, if you want to discuss this further, email me directly. Please do not post more comments.

  12. hopefully you dont remove my comment like you did the others because i dont agree with you, but you are all about free speech and are open to debate, yeah right, r u really defending evolution, that has been proven impossible, genetically you cant change one species into another, period. most evolutionist r abandoning the slow gradual model of evolution and taking up the quick sudden evolution, why? because there is NO REAL EVIDENCE FOR IT! the fossil record shows no transitional forms which darwin believed we would, darwins theory was accepted before the discovery of dna, no dna no life. period! what is so funny to me is how you evolutionist/atheist say the idea of a creator is rediculous, but the idea of this massive universe, all the laws of physics, the perfect machine known as the human body came from.............nothing! it just happened, now thats funny.

  13. Rob What a fascinating take on things.It does make perfect sense in the light of evolution.I am wondering if you know of any one else who is working on this, perhaps an author you could recommend?

  14. Anonymous wrote "evolution, that has been proven impossible, genetically you cant change one species into another".

    You have latched onto an incredibly false "fact" here Mr Anonymous. Do you care to please cite this peer-reviewed journal article that "proved" this is the case. And, EXACTLY which genetic alteration are you claiming has been proven to be "impossible" exactly?

    Because from my studies the opposite has been demonstrated extremely clearly. Every type of genetic alteration necessary to go from one "species" to another has been observed. From codon insertion, deletion, and substitution (missense and nonsense) to gene duplication, translocation, and inversion to chromosomal recombination aberrations. It is trivial to google for these and find reams of scientific studies on them.

    There have also been studies on the 'information' content and thermodynamic properties of genetic mutation.

    And we have direct observations of numerous cases of positive evolution, from single-celled organisms becoming multicellular to the addition of new metabolic pathways (not mere adaptations - we know the EXACT genetic alterations that occured).

    We have also come to understand many of the mechanisms of morphological change in extreme detail and we have directly observed the genetic differences that account for those changes in some cases (e.g., in the Hox gene complex).

    There could be OTHER mechanisms of evolutionary change that we don't yet understand yet but these would appear to be the exceptions, not the rule.

    For example, a fertile Mule that was able to breed with a donkey could result in a relatively sharp remixing of existing genetics. There are also other known exceptions like Horizontal Gene Transfer and retroviruses which can potentially carry genetic material between species.

  15. the weird thing is when i was a believer i used to be just as stubborn and rationalised myself into thinking the argument i just completely made up is actually proven by a nobel level thinker, only because i knew that whatever crap i say doesnt matter as long as my final argument is true. Now that i know that my final argument wasnt true, i can see other religious people doing the exact same thing i used to do when i was in their place. Mr. Anonymous, u are very mistaken my friend, i used the same argument you're using thousands of times "evolution is proven untrure", however that is just plainly wrong. I just hope that people all go through what i went through and learn that what you've been told as childeren isnt always true because other children were told different things. "Faith" is a ridiculous idea and if god wanted us to use our faith alone then he wouldnt have given us brains....since we clearly have brains then god intended us to use it to find him ( her, it). that is if he exists.

  16. Evolution is NOT a theory..Unless you have to be politically correct, or religiously blinded or both, to validate your beliefs...
    crawl out of your hole.


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