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monty
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05 Aug 2008, 7:39 pm

Just came across this neologism, which basically means a malignant cancer in religious thinking ... interesting. Any thoughts??



Apparently, it was coined here: http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/2 ... te_110.php



ThatRedHairedGrrl
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06 Aug 2008, 1:10 pm

Interesting.

I think it's highly appropriate to compare the spread of harmful religious ideas with cancer because of what cancer is -uncontrolled and abnormal cell division. Normal cell division in itself is not harmful. It's how the body grows and repairs itself. Only when a few cells get a glitch and start dividing in an uncontrolled way do you have cancer. Similarly, I would say the spiritual impulse in itself is not harmful; only when it gets out of control do you have a problem.

Another analogy: One of the mechanisms by which the body protects itself is called apoptosis. This is when certain cells which aren't needed any more self-destruct naturally. Similarly in religion, certain ideas which are past their sell-by date (slavery being OK, women being inferior, add your own because there are many of them) will naturally self-destruct in a healthy society that has gotten past that stage of development. Their persistence is abnormal. In the body, when structures that are no longer needed don't vanish as normal, they often form cysts. Which depending on their location can be painful and unslightly in themselves, and can damage other structures around them...but which can also, on occasion, be a site of cancer.

Analogies can only go so far, but I rather like this one as far as it goes...


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LKL
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06 Aug 2008, 1:19 pm

I do think that the analogy is amusing, but I prefer the metaphor of a parasitic, viral meme.

Similar concepts, I suppose, but the theonoma hypothesis looks at the nation as a single organism wheras meme theory looks at individuals. I think that the latter is better at explaining the transfer and infection of ideas than the 'metastasis' concept implied by 'theonoma.'
Theonoma might be better at explaining the overall effects of large-scale infection, though...

We could just combine them and say religion is a cancer caused by a communicable virus, like genital warts. :)



monty
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06 Aug 2008, 1:33 pm

ThatRedHairedGrrl wrote:
... when structures that are no longer needed don't vanish as normal, they often form cysts. Which depending on their location can be painful and unslightly in themselves, and can damage other structures around them...but which can also, on occasion, be a site of cancer.


I like the metaphor of social cysts - the flat earth society, neo-nazis, and several other groups come to mind. The Jim Jones movement formed a cyst, and the went through dramatic apoptosis.

What about autoschizis? It is an apoptosis-like phenomena, but somewhat different. The modern klan went through autoschizis when they were infiltrated and all their 'secret' rituals were exposed and mocked on nation-wide radio shows.

LKL wrote:

Similar concepts, I suppose, but the theonoma hypothesis looks at the nation as a single organism wheras meme theory looks at individuals. I think that the latter is better at explaining the transfer and infection of ideas than the 'metastasis' concept implied by 'theonoma.'


True, in some respects, the meme metaphor is more accurate. Reminds me of the movie "True Stories" where someone built a model of civilization using carrots, celery, radishes, and other items on the dinner table ... at one point, a listener interrupts to say "remind me, what is the celery stick."



monty
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06 Aug 2008, 4:55 pm

Speaking of memes, there is a new web site called polymeme that scans 25,000 blogs a day and identifies key articles that are being discussed - just recently found it, and some very good links there ... I think it is most effective to use the upper-left menu (Inbox: New in the Last 24 hours) to browse by subject area. Only 20 subject areas at this time, but still a very good source.

www.polymeme.com



Delirium
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07 Aug 2008, 12:04 pm

Honestly, I think that religion is like a hammer: You can use it to build a house or to bash somebody's brains in. Saying that all religion is bad or that all religion is good is foolish.


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ThatRedHairedGrrl
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07 Aug 2008, 1:00 pm

Delirium wrote:
Honestly, I think that religion is like a hammer: You can use it to build a house or to bash somebody's brains in.


So many things of which you could say that. Knives, fire, words...almost anything can be misused if someone puts their minds to it. There are some things which are intrinically harmful in themselves, but a lot which are just potentially good things screwed up.


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