virus: Buddhism

Eric Boyd (
Sat, 29 Nov 1997 05:55:33 -0500


quotes from:
Date: Mon, 24 Nov 97 16:13:00 EST
From: "Wright, James 7929" <>
Subject: virus: RE: virus-digest V2 #304

>>sum up : BELIEVE = blind faith
>> Believe = "good" assumptions, rationally extending
>> trust to other ideas from people
>> you trust, "scientific" faith.
>> believe = I can "prove" (to whatever standard I
>> hold for proof) this, and make you believe
>> too, probably.

>>I'm not really sure why it would be necessary to
>>BELIEVE -- all that is necessary is that one
>>hold the belief, and think it valuable, for that
>>is sufficient to begin propagating it.

>Is it that ideas require a certain "repetition
>frequency" to compete with all the other memes/
>advertising/mental clutter, and that ideas one
>doesn't BELIEVE in won't be repeated as often /
>compete as successfully as those one BELIEVES in?

So repetition is correlated with the TYPE
of belief? I'd need evidence to concede
this -- granted it seems to happen with f. Christians,
but I'd argue that is not really to do with
the TYPE of belief but rather to do with the
nature of the content -- their meme's REQUIRE
them to propagate Christianity (BRILLIANT!).

Correlation does not prove causation -- I'm having
trouble even imagining how one could prove that the
TYPE of belief really has much effect on how
often it gets propagated -- that has much more to
do with the CONTENT of the belief.

That's why faith alone is not enough -- Buddhism
also needs "compassion" to ensure propagation.

But perhaps there is a very weak link between
the type of belief and propagation -- because
BELIEFS are "unrational", a person repeats them
more often in order to JUSTIFY their BELIEF to
themselves (rationalize it by repetition).

I still think that believing in something
is just as good from a propagation point
of view as BELIEVING in something.

>>(and people so convinced would SAY they believed)

> We address this later.

I might have missed it, but if so, you need to
explain better any way -- everything I see in
"The Skeptical Review" points to the idea that
all Christians THINK they are being rational in
their belief.

Of course, 90% of them have no idea what "rational"
even means (and I'm thinking along the lines
of critical thinking, deductive and inductive,
sufficient proof etc) -- but that doesn't stop
them from claiming it.

It's really quite strange, from where I sit.
It's like they've agreed to measure themselves
by OUR standards, instead of claiming that "God
is beyond reason" -- which is obviously a really
easy way out for them.

Perhaps they realize that that position is
intellectual suicide. Nah -- probably just
haven't thought of it.

>>> A more subtle point, perhaps -
>>> How does one distinguish <faith> from <understanding>?

>>I don't think there is any real difference once
>>the opinion is HELD -- the only difference is HOW
>>one got there.

>We disagree somewhat here - for me, <faith> holds
>elements of doubt within it, for if I truly comprehended
>each and every facet, I would have <understanding>
>instead of <faith>.

Before I laugh, I'd better remind myself of my
own definition of faith -- behaving as if the content
of <x> is true.

I still fail to see how "understanding" and "faith"
would be different here.

Even if you understand something, you still behave
as if it is true. You merely "justified" your
faith, that's all.

Maybe I need a new word too.

Behaving as if the content of <x> is true = "faith"

How about "conviction"?

To strong?

(gotta love thesaurus's)

"opinion"? "belief"? nah.

I want a word.

>>YOU CAN'T on the face of it -- however, if you
>>ASK someone to justify their BELIEF, it will
>>become obvious which form it is...

> I'm not sure even if it's possible then - what test
> do we use? Appeals to authority: the Pope or Dawkins?
> Use of texts: Bible or "Darwin's Dangerous Idea?"
> Rational argument: based on what source? This is even
> trickier than it looks.

Like I said -- on the face of it, faith and understanding
are very similar. However, you will be able to tell
the difference between the two if you move BEYOND
simple assertions of what you BELIEVE. IF you are
able to explain your belief, justify it to another,
then it can be called an "understanding"... which
is here a synonym for faith (above definition).

But I think I see what you are pointing at -- what
standard do we hold for said justification? Who's
reason? It's common practice in fundamentalist
areas to merely assert your points -- that is
sufficient proof!

> You are a rare individual if you gave up the appeals
> of materialism without prompting.

Not so much that I gave them up -- rather that
they never had a strong hold on me.

I can honestly say there is no material object which
I want, now. (and for the life of me I can't remember
ANY specific object I ever wanted -- my computer aside)

Makes a Christmas list VERY difficult to make.

It's been the same for the last few years -- "just get
me whatever -- I don't want anything anyway".

I'm thinking about asking to withdraw from the gift
giving. Why should I put up any pretense, when not
only the material but also the (somewhat forgotten
in my family anyway) spiritual side are meaningless
to me?

Happy Winter Solstice!

> You are being deceived unwittingly: you are paying for
> schooling and getting an education! <VBG!>


Seriously, the more I study in other areas, the
less I'm interested in the ACTUAL stuff I'm
supposed to be studying.

Makes it very hard to get good marks.

> The art of the essay, as opposed to the form of the
> essay, requires fewer rules than are taught in school.
> Do you really think Wordsworth and Thoreau and all those
> other worthies gave two flips about word limits? They
> used as many words as the subject demanded, and no less
> (and no more!)

Ahhh yes... but they didn't have to worry about the
TA grumbling when he looks at the page count...

(my mech TA says: look, you don't want to write it, I
don't want to read it, and nobody else is involved.
What's say we CUT THE CRAP and you guys just give me
the technical analysis?)

However, this subject is big, and did deserve more words.
I just got tired of writing and researching, and the
essay was already lots big by the guide lines, so
"enough is enough"

> Just as the Christ said, "The greatest commandment is
> that ye shall love one another", yet history produced
> the Crusades, New World conquest, Inquisition, etc.

WRONG. The greatest commandment is that THOU SHALT LOVE
THY *GOD* WITH ALL THY HEART and mind and soul, etc.

Neighbors come AFTER GOD.

That's why Christians kill the Godless -- anyone who
doesn't love God first, they reason, probably does
not love people either. Therefore they must die.

(by the way, this is my next essay topic:

"Love the Lord, thy God, and thy neighbor as thyself"
-- this is the fundamental commandment of Jesus of
Nazareth that fully conforms to Jewish tradition.
How have the Christians within the Church, however,
historically attempted to put into practice the
priority implicit within the commandment of giving
one's first love to God?")

Actually, there is another quite interesting possibility

"The synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke leave
many questions unanswered about the final years of
Jesus' life. Nevertheless the Church believes that
the gospel accounts present a very clear picture of
the mission of Jesus to mankind. What do you understand
the "glad tidings" of Jesus' mission to have been?
And how reliable is the evidence?"

Now that I've given you the questions, anybody want
to do the essay for me? (grin)

> .... whereas Christianity's [meme-safeguards] have not.

I would say it never had them to begin with

Jesus simply didn't stay around long enough to
MAKE them -- in fact, basically all we have are
myths about Jesus, and what other people said
(heresy) about Jesus -- During the time he was

[1] That we have yet found, of course!

Anyway, my point is that Jesus really didn't
leave any kind of memetic structure around after
he died, and so it's not surprising it mutated out
of control!

> Torquemada was chief of the Spanish Inquisition; he
> conducted the trials that condemned many to death
> after extracting their torture-driven "confessions".
> Whatever crimes a Catholic might commit, the worst was
> "heresy"; conviction of it carried an automatic death
> sentence in Torquemada's courts. In the name of Christ,
> he tortured, maimed and killed people, to drive the
> Devil out of the world.

Nice guy! Somebody once told me that "heresy" originally
meant "choice" -- anybody know if this is accurate?

> Does the existence of a meme-complex imply the existence
> of a community to support it? If I publish a thousand-page
> book detailing the religious practices of the Amon-Ra
> period in ancient Egypt, will it cause a revival of the
> religion? (WARNING: This could be true! The Thomas Moore
> book "Utopia" has spawned several attempts to create such
> a community!)

As to your book -- it alone is insufficient to cause
the community. You need an actual meme-complex (self
replicating idea-structure) to ensure the community.

So it depends on how good your memetic engineering
talent is -- if your book is good enough, (like the
Bible) communities will form around the meme's it

>> One is then forced to wonder what would correspond
>> to the Speed of Light (which is the ONE absolute in
>> relativity -- mass, time and distance all vary
>> to MAKE it never change)

> Does there have to be one?

No... but it's always interesting to see how far
an analogy can be taken.

>>Ideas, virions? What is the absolute idea in
>>"intentional entities" which everything
>>else varies to make absolute? Could that be God?

> Watch out! We're supposed to be chasing
> rationality here! <VBG!>

Maybe you are -- I've got a pretty good grasp
on the tool of rationality; I'm USING it to
find God! <VBG>

> No help here - I would call ANY variation sufficient -
> which leads to the defensible viewpoint that each of
> us is unique, and special. I suppose that interbreeding
> is a consideration, but then, how do ideas interbreed
> without automatically mutating?

Indeed. I think all of memetics is tumbling
down on this objection -- if it is not possible
to define BOUNDARIES between memes (in an objective
way which all people can agree upon), then what
we have is a subjective science, where the
conclusions one draws depends on where you put
the boundary.


When, during Dan Barker's slow journey from preacher
to atheist, did he cease to be infected with the
Christianity meme-complex?

(ref: book: _losing faith in faith_)

If we cannot decide on a point, then it follows
that we cannot decide on exactly what the
Christianity meme-complex is, and what it is
not. And if we can't define our terms... well,
so much for any REAL science.

>>Everything falls to the the God of memetics!

>>You must BOW DOWN!


> I can't bow down, since Wade is giving me that
> look again - he goes crazy when people bow to
> anything besides Scepticism! <VBG!>

Only doubt itself cannot be doubted!

> Isn't education wonderful? And you sound like you're
> getting a good one. The Internet really is a modern
> wonder. What if memes decay toward truth, known
> falsehood or oblivion, all at once?

The internet IS great -- just the infidels site
alone contains more material than I will ever
be able to read.

Not only that, but anything at all I want to
know about -- quick search, and it's mine!

(Having seen Christians say the talmud contains
references to Jesus, and that this was proof
of the existence of Jesus, I checked out their
claims: crap!: )

>>(BTW, I got the essay back: 74%!!!)

> Is this good, bad or indifferent? It's been a long
> time since I took college courses; are you pleased
> with it? What had you expected? How did the rest of
> the class do?

I'm very pleased -- I had no idea what to expect.

I half expected to fail simply for my comment
that "content is irrelevant". It's not every day
people say the thing they are talking about is
irrelevant, after all!

I have no idea how the rest of the class did.

Queens is usually pretty good at keeping the
66% average mark, however.

As I've said before -- the entire class is just fun
for me anyway, so I'm mucho happy with 74%

(All I really want is a pass -- can't afford to have
a failure on my transcript)