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View: The Big Myth (Creationism As A Meme)

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Posted by Kyle on September 11, 2002 18:59:40 UTC

I just read Paulís post above and he reminded me of some thoughts Iíve had regarding literal biblical fundamentalism as a meme facing competitive extinction from science. That in turn reminded me to share with anyone who is interested a website that puts the Genesis version of creation in context as simply one of many accounts of creation from around the world, from Hawaii to South America to India to the Sumerians of Mesopotamia.

Some of these other accounts bear striking similarities to each other and to biblical Genesis-- which suggests that some primitive proto-religion may have memetically evolved into these diverse cultural "phenotypes".

Anyway, this is how creationism should be taught in schools (IMHO): within the context of cultural anthropology/ sociology/ history... ie. as a cultural meme. The website that I'll refer you is actually a prototype for a model destined for use in public schools.

By the way, Sam, I hope that you are thick-skinned enough that you wonít be too offended by all this, after all these are your deepest beliefs that I am putting into question. Itís only because you are so capable of effectively putting forth your views and defending them that I feel comfortable questioning them in this way...

Anyway, of the various memes that have evolved with humankind, religion (along with language and science) is one of the most powerful memetic self-replicators that human culture has ever developed.
But like anything that undergoes evolutionary change, the religion meme is always subject to both selective pressure and the threat of possible extinction.

Biologically, our Earthís history is full of extinctions which occurred when a new species was introduced into an established habitat where the previously-successful indigenous life did not evolve in that speciesí presence. When humans first came to Hawaii 18,000 years ago, and Madagascar 2,000 years ago, the fossil record shows sudden extinctions of a multitude of bird and mammal species which up to then lacked predators with that degree of capability. And when feral pigs and wild dogs came to Australia with humans, many indigenous species again went extinct. (In fact, extinctions caused by human expansion rival both the permian and the cretaceous extinctions in terms of the sheer numbers of species lost).

And so the parallel can easily be drawn between biological extinction and memetic extinction: as a dominant and powerful new element of culture, science is very much capable of eliminating competing memes.

That is why Roman Catholicism has undergone subtle reformations, including the papal "acceptance" of evolution theory, so that it is not competitive with the more powerful science meme.

In contrast, The Achilles Heel of fundamentalism is the falsifiability of biblical (literal) creation. Now that science is here in our culture, biblical creationism --as a long-term meme of human civilization/ culture-- probably wonít be.

Note: this link may be dead after October 1st 2002
Choose "Creation Myths" and use the "Next" Button.


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