Memes, Power and God

Association of Humanists Annual Convention, London, 28 March 2015


Why do religions keep such a hold on so many people? From a memetics point of view religions are highly adapted memeplexes (co-adapted complexes of memes) whose basic structure is a ‘copy-me’ instruction backed up by lots of clever tricks including threats of punishment, tempting promises, and admonitions against doubt, knowledge and laughter. A recent meme trick that seems to be growing in power and popularity is the, “You’re offending me, I won’t listen,” meme which I have met both in lectures and in public spaces. Does memetics help us understand any of this? And if so, can it help us defuse some of God’s most damaging powers?