Friday, October 27, 2006

Religion: not a bad meme

NY Times book reviewer Jim Holt writes an excellent and thoughtful review of "Beyond Belief" by Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is an atheist and attacks religion. Author Dawkins says he isn't 100 percent sure God does not exist, but he goes about his life assuming that there is no God.

"But if you think that there must be some ultimate explanation for the improbable leaping-into-existence of the harmonious, biofriendly cosmos we find ourselves in, then the God hypothesis is at least rational to adhere to, isn't it?" says reviewer Holt.

Dawkins views ideas as memes that "reproduce" by going from person to person (brain to brain). Dawkins, who coined the term meme, claims that religion memes spread because parts of our brains "misfire". Though "Good Samaritan" acts are positive, they are an abnormal accident he feels.

Holt, in his lengthy and excellent review, makes several good points about the quality of Dawkins' reasoning. He says that Dawkins fails to comprehend how hard it is to deal with philosophical questions about religion. You may find the review better reading than the book.

No comments: