virus: Re: Why religious?

Hakeeb A. Nandalal (
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 22:31:03 +0000

Martin Traynor wrote :-

> Which is again using the value judgement of 'good'. Why do that when
> you've managed to dispose of it so neatly? It may appear clear to you
> who is good and who is bad, and indeed using the examples above you
> may even find a concensus of agreement, but it is a value judgement.
> Unless you want to open the 'what defines the difference between a
> moral and an immoral act', 'does altruism exist' debate then value
> judgements should be used with extreme caution.

In Carl Sagan's book "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" he wrote at length
on the traits necessary for the survival of groups. "Group" theory is
every bit as important as "Meme" theory and in fact the two are
complimentary. From a group standpoint, "good" can be defined as
anything, meme or action, which improves the group's chances for
survival. Based on this definition, "good" automatically becomes
relative since two rival groups would have their own concept of "good"
while the other side's view would automatically become "evil".

Take any historical invasion : the Normans into England in 1066, Cortes
into Mexico in 1519, Germany into Poland in 1939 and most recently Iraq
into Kuwait in 1990, in all of these cases the aggressor was attempting
to acquire lands and riches for its own survival and expansion. Today
Columbus is considered a great discoverer and hero by Americans but a
blood-thirsty invader by the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Was
Columbus good? If you're a well-to-do WASP then the answer is yes, but
if you're an Incan migrant worker the answer is no.

On a smaller scale within a single society there are different concepts
of good held by sub-groups like Republicans vs. Democrats, Pro-life vs.
Pro-choice, Feminism vs. Machismo, Management vs. Labour etc. Society's
laws are supposedly good for all groups : don't kill, don't steal, don't
speed, don't do drugs (just don't do it!) and the universal law, don't
cheat the IRS. Under these laws all groups should stand an equal chance
of survival.

Problems arise when a single group tries to skew the political process
in its favour, unless the other group or groups put up a resistance they
could be in trouble. The current attempt by the Christian Coalition to
amend the US Constitution to allow for school prayer is an example of
this. Theoretically any type of prayer would be allowed but if
Christians outnumber Jews, Muslims, Pagans etc. by 99 to 1 then we have
a problem. Atheists of course get a raw deal, we get time out for... not
praying! Maybe we could use the time to hand out literature on Memetics
as given to us by the prophet Dawkins, upon whom be peace.

"Good" bye for now, relatively speaking of course.

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* Hakeeb A. Nandalal *
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