Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Friday, January 12, 2007

Filling a Gap in the Blogosphere

Speaking of filling in gaps … Alejandro Satz noticed an a apparent blogospheric gap:

To a rough approximation, they can be divided in three groups. First, those who think that there is no God and Dawkins is great (PZ Myers is the prime example). Second, those who think that there is no God but Dawkins is a jerk (Chad Orzel and John Wilkins are two good examples, though there are much more; perhaps more than in the first group.) And last, those who think there is a God and Dawkins is a jerk. (Brandon is one example among those I read regularly.) Unsurprisingly, I have not yet found any blogger who believes that God exists and Dawkins is great.
Raises hand.

I'm a theist who appreciates Dawkins's invention of the concept of memes, which accidentally provided a defense of traditional religion. For example, according to Keith Henson:

I have picked dangerous examples for vivid illustrations and to point out that memes have a life of their own. The ones that kill their hosts make this hard to ignore. However, most memes, like most microorganisms, are either helpful or at least harmless. Some memes may even provide a certain amount of defense from the very harmful ones. It is the natural progression of parasites to become helpful symbiotes, and the first such behavior that emerges in a proto-symbiote is for it to start protecting its host from other parasites. I have come to appreciate the common religions in this light. Even if they were harmful when they started, the ones that survive over generations evolve and do not cause too much damage to their hosts. Calvin (who had dozens of people executed over theological disputes) would hardly recognize Presbyterians three hundred years later. Contrariwise, the Shaker meme is now confined to books, and the Shakers are gone. It is clearly safer to believe in a well-aged religion than to be susceptible to a potentially fatal cult.
(I disagree with the theory that a mere 14 centuries is old enough. On the other hand, if an apparently young religion has taken in enough older traditions, it might not be destructive.)

I don't know if this gap was much needed.


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