Most [Internet] memes are parasites....
The Biomeme Hypothesis. Interesting stuff - we already know cat owners are almost completely controlled by parasitic infections ;-), are religious rituals a result of similar infections?
Presentation of the hypothesis: Some microorganisms would gain an evolutionary advantage by encouraging human hosts to perform certain rituals that favor microbial transmission. We hypothesize that certain aspects of religious behavior observed in the human society could be influenced by microbial host control and that the transmission of some religious rituals could be regarded as the simultaneous transmission of both ideas (memes) and parasitic organisms.
Most [Internet] memes are parasites....
23 For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread;
24 and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me.
25 In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink [it], in remembrance of me.
26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till he come.
27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.
28 But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup.
29 For he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body.
See also: Toxoplasma gondii and no end of other creepy parasites in the animal kingdom. Cordyceps in ants is my favourite creepy parasite - controls the ant to climb to the highest point it can then lock its jaws into the plant so it can't fall off as a mushroom grows out of its head, so that - when said mushroom explodes in a puff of spores - the spores can spread as far as possible and infect more ants.
I listened to a pretty good short story a while back inspired by Cordyceps - http://pseudopod.org/2011/10/21/pseudopod-252-the-cord/
I'd be more convinced by the argument that sexual deviance and 'fetishes' are influenced by microbes than 'religious' rituals. Ditto to SOME OCD behaviours (such as touching things a certain number of times etc). In the religions I'm familiar with (Christian ones) kissing of the feet of a cross, kissing of Bishops/Popes/Cardinal's rings etc and the sharing of a cup of wine are the only examples I can think of that favour microbial transmission (I can't speak for other religions) whereas the broad spectrum of sexual fetishes makes for a smorgasbord of microbial transit pathways. I can think of about 20 different 'kinks' off the top of my head that I would consider to be better microbial transmission behaviours than a once-a-week trip to Church...
Christian religion has many possible vectors, baptism (water), eating of blessed wafers things, washing feet. The whole gather lot's of people together in a church is good for any non-contact infection but pass round the collection plate so the bacteria which need a bit of a hug don't feel left out.
If bacteria and viruses can modify behaviour to the extent of making ants get to a high point, freewill must be in for a bit of a squeeze.
I think the parasites in this instance are the priests, rabbi, bishops or basically all the nut job speakers of religion.
Thinking about it seriously, if you got rid of all these then the world would be a better place.
AMLightfoot (17th July 2014)
The world would be a much nicer place if those who followed God had their conversations with Him* in private instead of going through layers of intermediaries that would twist words toward more earthly concerns.
*her, it, etc.
The hypothesis would have to show that the carrier would have a transmission vector in all religions, not just current major religions. The vectors themselves need not be common (e.g. shared cups, as not all religion share vessels), but they need to be present. Otherwise, you'll be cherry picking if you didn't include all religions. What rituals do seventh day adventists have in common with those who followed Odin? I don't know, I picked them at random.
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