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After much heartfelt soul searching, questioning, and agonizing, you realized Christianity wasn't for you. It was one of the hardest decisions you ever made, but now you're a stronger, more balanced person. And yet...
And yet, what if?
What if you're wrong? Somewhere, deep down inside, there's a voice that keeps nagging you ... maybe your priest had it right, and you're going to go to Hell forever. Maybe you should go back to your church. After all, what's the harm?
"I feel so much better now!" – Carolyn, after reading The Religion Virus
Carolyn is a real person, in fact, you'll read her story in The Religion Virus. Like you, she had lingering doubts and fears. She knew she was right to leave Christianity behind, but Christianity had planted its incredibly infectious concepts of guilt, heaven, hell, and original sin deep in Carolyn's brain. Although her rational side knew she'd made the right choice, the deep-seated fear and guilt were still hiding.
The Religion Virus showed Carolyn exactly why she was still plagued by these doubts, these two-thousand-year-old infectious ideas that are so hard to get rid of. When she finally got to the end of the book, all of Carolyn's doubts had evaporated. She was finally completely free to pursue her life on her own terms.
Let's face it, if you're a true Christian, you probably won't buy this book. Christianity has evolved some amazing "immunities" that help protect true believers from being "infected" by non-Christian thoughts. As a Christian, you believe that good and evil are in a constant battle for your soul, and that anything that makes you question your church's authority must be on the side of evil.
Ironically, if you had decided to read The Religion Virus, you would have learned why this good-versus-evil portrait of the world is so incredibly important to Christianity, and why this idea survived down through the centuries while other Christian concepts are no longer part of your religion. Your religion's history is absolutely fascinating, probably the richest, most intricate and most successful religion in the history of the world.
Although the title "The Religion Virus" sounds anti-religious, the book's goal is not to convince you Christianity is wrong. Instead, it will teach you about its history – where the ideas that you call Christianity came from, how they changed and evolved over the centuries, and most importantly, why Christianity has taken its modern form.
But be warned, if you read it, it will profoundly affect your understanding of Christianity. The God you worship today is radically different than the Yahweh that Moses and Abraham worshipped; if Abraham could come forward in time to sit beside you in your church, he would barely even recognize his God. In The Religion Virus you'll learn why your God has changed so much in the eyes of His believers, and why the God you worship today is a better God.
Atheist or Agnostic
As an atheist or agnostic, you've either rejected the concept of gods, or perhaps you never were "infected" with those ideas in the first place, or maybe you realize the question of God's existence is unanswerable. Yet, you look at the religions of your friends, neighbors and family, and are baffled: How can they believe this stuff that to you is so clearly wrong? These are smart, thoughtful people ... how is it that many consider the Bible, written over two thousand years ago, to be 100% accurate in every respect? How is it they believe in miracles and magic, angels and demons?
Any why is religion so incredibly tenacious?
The Religion Virus answers these questions, by melding Darwin's Evolution concepts with the study of cultural anthropology and sociology.
Darwin's Theory of Evolution revolutionized our understanding of biology, turning it from a science that could merely categorize, into a science that predicts and explains the amazing variety of life on this wonderful planet of ours. Just so, by applying these same principles to culture, we can predict and explain the evolution of religion itself.
Most religion books focus on the what or when of religion. Like the biologists of Darwin's time, all they can do is describe and categorize. But in The Religion Virus, you'll learn why religions evolved to their present-day form. The new science of cultural evolution – called memetics, applying Darwin's principles to the flow of ideas (memes) as they move across society and down through history – has revolutionized our understanding of our own culuture.
A number of excellent books have been written about memetics, but all of them have skirted the "big one," religion. Now for the first time, a book tackles religion head on, showing how and why religions evolved to their present-day forms. Instead of being a mystery, you'll see why religion is an almost-inevitable part of human culture.
You'll finally understand its tenacity, why people are so incredibly attached to the set of ideas we call "religion."
You know that there's more than this one life, that there is a universal force out there that binds us all together, that some essence of each human lives on past this physical embodiment. You've learned tolerance, that there are many roads to God, and that each of us may have a unique spiritual path. And even though you are spiritual, you are also a rational thinker who understands that science, evolution and spirituality are all compatible.
You have evolved past the simpler religions of our past: God is not some guy in the sky who keeps a checklist of our good and bad deeds, nor is He a guy who alters the universe when we pray just because someone wants a favor from Him.
So why, you wonder, are so many others still stuck in the mythology of the past? Why are there still people who think they can personally ask favors of God? Why are people so intolerant of one another's beliefs? And why is it so hard for people to abandon the ancient myths of our ancestors and reach a new level of spirituality?
The Religion Virus will give you new insights into these questions. The old religions that sprang from paganism and evolved into the monotheism are, for the first time, clearly explained as a natural product of our human culture. Using a unique melding of science, evolution and history, the author will take you on a fascinating walk through the history of religion, showing how each of the ideas that together make up key tenets of the three Abrahamic religions came into existence, and evolved to its modern form.
The mystery of religion's tenacity, and people's unwillingness to abandon ancient ideas, will finally make sense.
Memes and cultural evolution are nothing new to you, you get it. You've read Dawkins and Distin, and maybe even Brodie and Aunger. You watch with fascination as the Fifth Avenue marketing gurus spin their memetic webs, YouTube videos "go viral" (a term that you actually understand), fads sweep the country, urban legends get retold ad nauseum, and a dozen copies of the next chain email pile up in your inbox.
But there's a piece missing ... why haven't any of the authors writing about memes and memetics taken a serious look at religion?
Finally, there's a book that takes religion head on, using the powerful new science of cultural evolution. The Religion Virus dives right in to this controversial topic, and shows how a memetic viewpoint not only explains religion's history, it actually predicts the features we see today. Religion is by far the biggest, most intricate and pervasive memeplex in world history.
For example, why did monotheism supplant paganism? It's a hard question for historians, but a memetic view makes it obvious. Monotheism is a direct result of three other memes whose evolution was almost inevitable: the All-Purpose God meme (one god who can answer all prayers), the Intolerance meme (suppress or kill those who don't believe in your god), and the Globalization meme (God is universal, he can answer your prayers even if you leave Israel).
Most Christians, Jews and Muslims are amazed to learn that the modern God we worship today bears very little resemblence to the God of the Israelites two thousand years ago. Historians can show what happened to God in those two millenia, but only memetics can explain why.
Copyright © 2010 Craig A. James