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Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Note to Fellow Atheists

Atheists are killing evolutionary (and memetic) theory. 
If we want to set ourselves apart from religions, we have to stop practicing the out-group derision, attraction-based recruitment, lack of self-criticism and leader-worship we've inherited from them.  Maybe we need some ego-stroking to counterbalance public and private ridicule we've faced.  At some point, however, it becomes counterproductive.

Religions are intricate memeplexes which interface with personal identity and action (what Blackmore terms the "selfplex").  So it is not as simple as Richard Dawkins recently claimed in a tweet on November 1,
        "It's possible to offend or insult a person, or hurt a person's feelings. 
         But you can't offend a belief. Beliefs have no feelings to hurt." 

Beliefs interfaced with a brain can respond defensively, throwing the host into intellectual and emotional turmoil.  Of course the host will respond negatively to the other person, identifying them as the cause of their pain.  That is what our brains do...they look for human action and intention.

If you want to reach someone & not just preach to the choir or "save the few who will listen", you have to reach out effectively, with consideration for the person and their ability to think critically.  Don't berate and don't infantilize.  Understand how thought processes, due to memeplexes, evolve over time.  Education doesn't happen overnight.

If we let our frustrations get the best of us, we'll sink evolution and memetics.  Frustration is good:  it shows when we're hitting heads against a brick wall.  Find ways to dig deeper if you truly want to get through. 

Most importantly, don't alienate allies. Don't tie science, evolutionary theory or memetic theory exclusively to atheism.  Even the most hard-set, true believers can learn the scientific method and begin to apply it to parts of the world which they feel comfortable with.  Let them dig deep into the history of religion.  Let them study evolution to discover flaws which they can discuss with you.  Don't alienate them from the scientific discourse.

Educate, don't be a "frustrated hammer".  Value intellectual growth.

Let's not approach this as saving the few that we can.  I'm not for converting everyone to my point of view, either in an instant or a lifetime.  I value diversity of viewpoints.  I'm for the collective improvement of our human lot. I'm not ok with sacrificing the few or the many to get to a better future.  I'm delighted if a believer looks deeply into memetics, picks up the torch and runs with it.  I won't turn them away.  I assume atheists will make the most headway in memetics, but that's just an assumption. I look forward to someone proving it wrong.  I think most atheists are too protective to evaluate the scientific process in light of meme theory, and perhaps believers could have valuable insights there.  We all have something to contribute to the conversation.  Deny no one a seat at the table.

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