Darrel W. Ray (wikipedia) is a ‘psychologist and student of religion and society’. In 2009 Ray wrote the ‘The God Virus: How Religion Infects our Lives and Culture’ and founded the group Recovering from Religion (RR).
‘The God Virus: How Religion Infects our Lives and Culture’
Chapter 1 examines the parallels between the propagation of some biological systems and the strategies of religions. A Christian, Muslim or Mormon will criticise the stories of religions, except their own. The God virus infects a brain, alters critical thinking about religions, except for the brains’ own religion.
Brains can get commandeered with the religious virus when the mind is traumatised, for example, by the death of a loved one or a car crash. The brain will seek out reasons for the tragedy. The person may then join a fundamentalist group. Religious conversions are similar whatever the religion. The virus affects part of the personality – communication is channeled through the religious being living inside – rational thought about the religion is inhibited.
The metaphor of the virus is, of course, not perfectly accurate. Nevertheless the metaphor gives us insights into how religions succeed in infecting minds.
Viruses of the Mind (1991) by Richard Dawkins
Darrel Rays’ virus metaphor is akin to Richard Dawkins religious meme metaphor. Like immune deficient patients, children are susceptible to mental infections by nuns, Scientologists or Moonies – that adults might be brush off without effort.
…. to be continued…