Re: Provocative Richard Dawkins quotes

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Mon Nov 07 2005 - 22:27:26 EST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Hofmann, Jim" <>
To: <>; <>
Sent: Monday, November 07, 2005 10:10 PM
Subject: RE: Provocative Richard Dawkins quotes

> From Skeptic vol. 3, no. 4, 1995, pp. 80-85.
> An Interview With Richard Dawkins
> By Frank Miele
> 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 pe!
> rsuading 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.
> Skeptic: But couldn't the Pope (or Evangelical Protestants for that
> matter),reply, "Look, we just have a terrific meme.It's winning what you
> would describe as a Darwinian battle and you're angry because you just
> don't like it."
> Dawkins: Religion is a terrific meme. That's right. But that doesn't make
> it true and I care about what's true. Smallpox virus is a terrific virus.
> It does its job magnificently well. That doesn't mean that it's a good
> thing. It doesn't mean that I
> don't want to see it stamped out.

Had I been the interviewer here I would have followed this up with, "And
your reasons for saying that something is 'a good thing' are better than the
Pope's because ...?"
Received on Mon Nov 7 22:28:35 2005

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Mon Nov 07 2005 - 22:28:35 EST