A Critique of Dawkins' "Virus of the Mind" Part V: The Missing Symptoms

Recently, in reading up on this neo-atheist evangelist, I was introduced to his essay, Viruses of the Mind as an innovative work. In "Viruses", Dawkins writes that religious belief, as a meme, is akin to a computer virus thereby reducing the former (which in many people's minds is a high and lofty thing) to the level of the latter (which is acknowledged by virtually everyone to be something undesirable). This is Part II of my comments on that essay. For Part I, see here, for part II see here, for part III see here, and for part IV see here.


In the crux of his argument, after assuming the truth of his virus/religion viewpoint (contrary to strong evidence), Dawkins speculates what doctors might identify as the symptoms of a person who suffers from a religious mind virus. He develops a list of seven supposed symptoms that would be evidenced by a faith sufferer. Of course, since he has decided that religion is an evil that needs to be stamped out, he only views those "symptoms" that are negative (at least, negative due to his inaccurate characterizations of religion). There are other symptoms that he would need to take into account if he were really interested in identifying all of the symptoms of faith-sufferers (at least, those that are Christian). Here is a partial list of the symptoms that he should look for in faith sufferers:

1. Faith sufferers are people who have love their fellow humans. Those most infected with the virus (like a Mother Teresa) are willing to put the needs of others above and beyond their own needs.

2. Faith sufferers are people who seem to bubble over with some type of inner joy. These people don't let the world get them down.

3. Faith sufferers are people who are peaceful. They are not overly worked up about the problems that beset them in this world because they know that their real home is in the world to come. They expect their neighbors to hate them because of their faith. They do not return evil for evil, but return evil with good.

4. Faith sufferers are people who are patient. They do not quickly become angry and they are willing to bear much.

5. Faith sufferers are kind. They are care for the natural world and for all the creatures in it.

6. Faith sufferers are good. They are generally law-abiding having been commanded by their Lord to obey the rulers of their nations since those rulers have been appointed by Him. They seek to do the right thing and they care whether something is right or wrong before they do it. This is not to say they don't do wrong things at times. Being good is the goal which they ackowledge of which they admittedly fall short all too often. Yet, they try their best to model their lives after their Lord, Jesus Christ.

7. Faith sufferers are faithful. They do not lightly turn their back on someone else. They remain faithful despite such faith being abused by other people. They are willing to forgive over and over again.

8. Faith sufferers are gentle. They are meek, meaning that they recognize that all that they have is what has been given to them by God and not of their own merits. In the words of the song "Offering" by Third Day,

"Magnificent, holy father
I stand in awe of all i see
Of all the things you have created
Still you choose to think of me

And who am I that you should suffer
your very life to set me free
the only thing that i can give you
is the life you gave to me

This is my offering, dear Lord
this is my offering to you, God
I will give you my life
for its all i have to give
because you gave your life to me

9. Faith sufferers have self-control. They exercise temperance. They are not generally addicted to drugs, alcohol, sex or any other activity.

10. They value life.

11. They stand for those who are poor, oppressed or downtrodden.

12. They are interested in the other person's spiritual health.

Keep in mind that I am not saying that every Christian does each of these things perfectly. They do, of course, falter in trying to be faithful to their beliefs, but they do try to be faithful. Generally speaking, these are traits that can be found in the vast majority of Christians, and those that are farther along in the process of sanctification (using Dawkins' analogy -- they are most infected with the mnid-virus) exhibit these more of these traits more consistently.

Does he identify these symptoms of faith sufferers? Of course not. His negative view blots out all of the good aspects of religion to him. Yet, these are the symptoms that most people who view Christianity positively would tell you are what comes from with this particular mind virus.


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