greer-heard review 2: denett's analysis of religion
3/25/2007 02:13:00 AM
Dennett's presentation started with a humanist look at the world. He showed a video with the reflections of Homer Groening, father of Simpson's creator Matt Groening. The video reflects on the loneliness of man in on a planet in the vast ocean of space. It builds a motif of how small and infinitesimal human kind is, and then exhorts man not to screw it up in light of that. Daniel Dennett seems to endorse such a view of the world. After showing the video, he starts by showing demographic information about the rise of non-religious people in the world, and suggests that nonreligious groups are perhaps the fastest growing population in the world, may only second to Islam. From this he asks the question, "Why?"

Next, Dennett goes on to show how religions are like genes. He starts by show the picture of and Aurochs, an ancient cow species, then shows a modern cow. He then says that humans have developed the cow from the aurochs over thousands of years in order to have the kind of cows that people have today. He then likens religions to the same thing. He says religions have evolved from more primitive religions, starting off as "wild" and slowly they become sophisticated over time.

After developing his analysis of religion, he begins to talk about memes. Dennett borrowed the idea of memes from Richard Dawkins, who first proposed memes in his book, The Selfish Gene. A meme is analogous to a gene. Memes are packets of information that get passed down from one generation to the next in the same way genes do. Fit memes, like genes, will more likely survive than less fit memes. The unfit memes will then be thrown out, and the fit will be passed down. The memes are adapted and changed sometimes. New memes pop up every now and then. They behave vary similarly to the way genes do, and are governed by the same laws that genes are. Dennett suggests that religions are a meme, and like all memes, they will evolved and change with time.

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