virus: A Memetic Analysis of the Lord's Prayer

Reed Konsler (
Sat, 21 Jun 1997 10:59:27 -0400 (EDT)

Alright people, fair warning: this is out there.

Consider, if you will, the Lord's Prayer assuming
the God refered to as <God> that is, the God meme.

This is how it goes, if you've forgotten:

<Our Father> who art in Heaven,
hallowed be <thy> name.
<thy> kingdom come
<thy> will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us
and lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.

So let's deconstruct this, shall we? It'll be fun.

<Our Father> who art in Heaven,

Heaven is, of course, the ethereal realm of ideal
situations...kind of like Plato's ideals. From
a memetic perspective this is an admission that
<God> exists, not on Earth, but in the realm
of our imagination, hopes, short
the mind. But all memes propage in our
minds, don't they?

hallowed be <thy> name.

Sound's like the commandment, no? A distinction
meme <"God"> acting in concert with <God>?
Also a memetic defense against indirect attack
through ironic usage.

<thy> kingdom come

Does it seem strange to you that the FIRST
imperative is that <God> be further expressed
in the environment...beyond any benefit it
might have? No, not from a memetic perspective,
right? The memes want to preserve and reproduce
themselves: <God> is out to make more <God>
feeding you is later down on the list.

<thy> will be done

Reiteration of the line above? For emphasis?
Perhaps this is like duplicating vital genes in
order to resist dysfunctional mutation. Even
if you forget one of the two lines, you still
catch the <God> hopes.

On Earth as it is in Heaven

Here we refer back to the fact that, in case
you were looking for proof of God in the
world (which might lead you into secularism)
he doesn't live here, he lives in the ideal
Heaven of the mind. If only <God> was
everywhere Earth would be like Heaven.

Isn't that seductive? But is it Heaven for
US or Heaven for <God>?

Give us this day our daily bread

Finally! After half the thing is over we
get to something useful. We're hungry.
Feed us. And isn't that the point of memes?
They're just tools, after all. For instance:

On the other hand, you might argue this
is <hunger> acting in concert with <God>
and <"God">.

and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us

I include these as a couplet. Here is the real
meat of the thing, the information code of
the deshelled virus: Forgiveness. In iterative
Prisoner's Dillema scenarios with spatial freedom
(depending on exactly how you code the experiment)
those "players" who begin with aggressive strategies
often get permanently ostracized by the community.
Everyone gets burned and no-one will play with
them any more.

Inefficient and thus inhuman. We need a "reset"
switch for our critical mechanisms. We need
to be able to turn the other cheek. Otherwise
our communities will devolve into isolated
and paranoid survivalist enclaves.

You may ask why I decided to do this now:
This whole "government" thread scared
me a little. Other than Tim, I read a lot of
<justice> and <efficiency> but not much

Christ, people, let's see a little <forgiveness>!

Also please notice that, although <God> is invoked,
forgiveness is an entirely human pastime.

and lead us not into temptation

Doesn't that sound a little plantitive? <God>
leads us, and thus we must literally pray that
<God> is working in our best interest. If
God is really <God> though, and this is implied
from the structure of Lord's Prayer, you
had better do more than pray.

A memeticist would argue that one should lead
<God>, and not the converse.

but deliver us from evil.

What evil? That sounds like <danger> acting
as rearguard. If <hunger> at the beginning
didn't entice you then maybe a little <danger>
at the end will keep you in line. Carrot and
Stick, anyone?

Who will deliver you from evil if not yourself?

So lets wrap up:

The Lord's Prayer:

<"God"> This part is a memetic
<propogate God> parasite.
<propogate God>
<hunger> Viral shell
<forgiveness> Information string
<danger> Viral shell

Which reduces, memetically, to:



"What is your point, Reed?"

Propogate <forgiveness>

See, memetics is so much more efficient.

"<your advertizement here>"


Reed Konsler