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.The best explanation of this, he says, is that the virushas thereby provided itself with future victims, even if earlier ones re-cover.Dawkins derides the reasons given by such parents for having theirchildren baptized: he says the claim that children deserve the choice ofwhether or not to believe is, at best, a good argument for telling themabout every world religion.Even disregarding the weakness of his meme-virus distinction, how-ever, the reasoning here is faulty.Religious parents rear their childrenwithin a faith because they regard its teachings as true.Atheistic parents,on the other hand, regard the teachings of all religions as false.Thereforeif they decide to provide their children with the background necessary tomake an informed choice about whether to adopt a religion, then theyare unlikely to care, particularly, on which religion their offspring are de-ciding.It is only through open-minded generosity that they are willing togive their children the option of believing in any such fiction.It would beclearly impracticable for them to educate the children in every faith  and 192 The Selfish Memeto do so would be to spend a disproportionate amount of time on religion,considering that the parents under discussion are atheists.Thus the onlyground for their decision between the world s religions will be their ownfamiliarity with the one in which they were raised.Indeed, this familiaritymay be the very reason for passing it on: Christianity, for instance, is partof the historical fabric of British society, and it may be that nonbelievingparents simply want to give their children an understanding of this aspectof national life.Moreover, such parents actions may more simply be explained as aresult of open-mindedness than as the result of a blind obedience toinstructions that were part and parcel of a long-discarded belief system.As noted several times already, we possess lots of information to which wedo not subscribe, and which therefore exerts little executive control overour thoughts or behaviour.Religion need not be seen as an exceptionto the general rule that no open-minded person objects to his children sadherence to beliefs and tastes that he no longer shares (unless he hasparticular reason to regard them as harmful).Thus he might pass onto his children books that he has bought but did not enjoy, or recordsof bands whose music he no longer appreciates  and usually these will,inevitably, reflect his own culture and background.He might tell themabout the political opinions that are opposed to his own (usually thiswould, at least initially, be restricted to those of their own country), orexplain why some people hold different beliefs about various moral issues.There is no reason why religion should constitute a special case: for anatheist, it is merely another set of beliefs to which he does not adhere,but about which he wishes to say to his children something like  thereare people who believe this, for these reasons; I don t; you may decidefor yourselves.Nevertheless, in support of the claim that religion is adopted for emo-tional and not rational reasons, the tendency of some religious peopletowards fanaticism and gullibility, when it comes to their spiritual beliefs,is often highlighted.Surely such characteristics strongly imply that reli-gious memes have some sort of unique bypass around our usual systemsof reason and logic? Yet neither trait is in fact unique to religion: both canarise in any area in which the beliefs at stake are important and/or lifechanging.The scientist s  eureka!  type experience is itself not whollydevoid of emotion.Does this mean that what we perceive as exciting sci-entific discoveries may, rather, be cases of infection by a mental virus thatexploits the  internal sensations of the patient ?7 That the keener thescientist is on his new theory, the more evidence there is that it is really Science, Religion: What Can Memes Tell Us? 193a virus? Obviously not, any more than for people s emotions about theirreligion.There is no reason why one s feelings about a claim should im-ply anything about its truth value.This is the case for the ways in whichone arrives at beliefs about all sorts of information: in science,  eureka!is as valid as years of hard slog if the end result is correct, and in religionhearing it from your parents is as valid as working it out for yourself orby revelation, if what you get is the truth.This last point hints at a broader distinction between the world andour attitude towards it.On the one hand there is some objective truthabout the nature of the universe, our place in it, and whether or notGod exists.There is a  fact of the matter , if you like.On the other handthere are questions about how (or indeed if) we can discover the facts ofthe matter, and how we feel about what we learn.For instance, Dawkinsfinds it surprising that we are especially likely to share our own parentsreligion, or that of the culture in which we are raised:  since religiousbeliefs purport to be true all over the universe it is odd, to say the least,that which belief you hold depends so heavily on where in the world youwere brought up. But why is it odd? Rather, it is perfectly reasonablethat people s views of the universe should be based on their place withinit (i.e., be culturally founded).This cultural dependency of our beliefs isquite separate from the objective truth of the facts.The facts accordingto an atheist are quite different from the ones that a Christian or Sikhbelieves to be the case  but the truth value of each point of view is notaffected by its cultural grounding.That this is the case is actually quite fortunate for Dawkins, for shouldhis argument be valid then it would also count against atheism [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

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