I have never been able to figure out why Mama—a sixty-five-year convert to Jehovah’s Witnesses—can so accurately point out the flaws of other religions and yet be so blind to her own. That is until I read The God Virus by Darrel W. Ray, Ed.D.
In this well-written, easy-to-understand book, I learned for the first time why people are unable to see to the failings of their own religion.
Dr. Ray begins his fascinating treatise by reporting, “For thousands of years religion penetrated societies, largely unexplained and unchallenged. It simply existed. Those who attempted to question or expose religion were often persecuted, books burned, excommunicated, or even executed.
“Before the germ, viral and parasite theory of disease, physicians had no tools to understand disease and its propagation. Religious leaders and shamans told people disease was a result of sin, Satan and evil spirits. With the discovery of microbes, scientists gained new tools to understand disease. Suddenly the terrible diseases of the past were understandable.”
Then Dr. Ray provides a thought-provoking explanation about how religions of all kinds fit in the natural world, how they function in our minds and culture, and how similar they are to germs, parasites and viruses that inhabit our bodies.
His timing was perfect for me. Why? For the last twenty years, I’ve become very concerned – alarmed if you will – about the role religion plays in school boards, courts, legislatures and presidential politics, detracting from rational conversation about real-world problems like science education, economic development, disaster relief and war.
Some very scary people are preaching hatred and intolerance:
“I hope I live to see the day when we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be.” - Jerry Falwell
“There will never be world peace until God’s house and people are given the rightful place of leadership at the top of the world.” - Pat Robertson
“The long-term goal of Christians in politics should be to gain exclusive control. Those who refuse to submit publicly to the external sanctions of God must be denied citizenship, as it was in ancient Israel.” - Gary North
“We – with God’s help – call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God’s order to kill Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it; to launch a raid on Satan’s U.S. troops and the devil’s supporters.” - Osama Bin Laden
In The God Virus, Dr. Ray uses a virus as a metaphor to explain how religion can infect the brain and alter critical thinking skills of people like Falwell, Robertson, North, Bin Laden, Mama and folks like you and me. While it leaves our skills in tact to skillfully denigrate other religions, it disables our thinking skills to rationally analyze our own religious beliefs. This is a must-read book!