Examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches. Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool by leaping from body to body via sperms or eggs, so memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation. If a scientist hears, or reads about, a good idea, he passes it on to his colleagues and students. He mentions it in his articles and his lectures. If the idea catches on, it can be said to propagate itself, spreading from brain to brain. Memes should be regarded as living structures, not just metaphorically but technically. When you plant a fertile meme in my mind you literally parasitize my brain, turning it into a vehicle for the meme’s propagation in just the way that a virus may parasitize the genetic mechanism of a host cell.
‘The God Delusion’
I encourage my fellow believers to read ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins. This popular Atheist’s argument comes apart on one very important point: Eye-witness testimony. Everything else he says makes so much sense, that if it wasn’t for the ‘meme’ put in our brains, originated in the brains of those followers of Christ, that actually saw Him raised from the dead, Dawkin’s book could turn the most logical thinkers into die-hard atheists, like himself.
Here is Richard Dawkins explanation of “God placed eternity in the hearts of men:”
‘…And this isn’t just a way of talking — the meme for, say, “belief in life after death” is actually realized physically, millions of times over, as a structure in the nervous systems of individual men the world over.’ — Dawkins
Beryl’s Blunder, Hackle’s embryos, and Darwin’s own monkey wrench in the natural selection works — irreducible complexity — all take the wind out of the sail of the evolution theory. Genetics and memetics are amazing fields of study, and we owe Mr. Dawkins a debt of gratitude for inventing the latter. He definitely got my wheels turning! However with either science, it’s all about tracing it back to the source.
The G-nome project, and what it has taught us about X chromosome DNA, and mitochondrial DNA –has scientifically proven the existence of Adam and Eve. Yes, science will admit that the mutation rate of these special, rarely shuffled, DNA strands makes it mathematically possible, no, definite, that we all descended from one man and one woman from about 10,000 years ago. Of course atheistic scientists want us to believe that every other early human on the face of the earth died off along with their decendents, leaving just this one man and one woman. They expect us to believe it all just “bottle-necked.”
Dawkins uses his excellent meme theory, to scientifically explain how billions of people around the world, through the centuries, have passed on these memes like a virus. Jesus, who originated the idea of life after death, or more accurately, affirmed that the religious leaders who were preaching ‘a ressurection of the dead’ were correct — planted the meme into the minds of His disciples, who then spread it among their families, towns and neighboring nations. I question if a viral spread of this good news would have been as accellerated if none of the Lord’s followers actually saw Jesus alive after His execution.
There is that ‘eyewitness testimony’ problem again, that takes apart Mr. Dawkins’ entire “bad memes” theory for why so many intelligent, scientific, modern people believe in life after death,or as Christians like to say “we believe in the Resurrection of the body and life everlasting, Amen.” What supercharges the power of memes, is very morbid, but it also serves to bolster the power of eyewitness testimony. When sticking to your story gets you fed to wild beasts, yet recanting allows you to continue living, there is no vested interest in lying. Tertulian explains it best when he says:
‘The blood of martyrs is seed’
Memetics is what Catholics are referring to when we claim to be part of one holy, catholic (with a small ‘c’ -meaning ‘universal’ ) and apostolic church. Catholics enjoy certain ‘memes’ that were passed down from the earliest Christians. The sign of the cross, the Rosary, and celibacy for certain ministers of the Catholic Church are three different ‘memes’ that were abandoned by many Christians centuries ago, even though they had been spread among practitioners of Christianity for centuries. Protestant Christians have ‘purged’ these memes out of their style of worship, and from the practice of their belief.
‘Sola Scripture’ (only scripture) is a motto of most Protestant Christians. There is nothing about the gesture of the sign of the cross or about Rosary beads in the Bible. Celibacy wasn’t a requirement for Priests or Popes originally either, and there is nothing about that in the New Testament. Celibacy is yet another ‘meme’ that got started about 1500 years ago.
There is no real mystery behind the origins of these memes, and if a curious Christian wants to do a little research, they might find that there wasn’t some special golden thread of truth that lasted through centuries of ‘mutant memes’ and once the printing press in Gutenberg was up and running, and spitting out Bibles, everything ‘got right’ again.
There is one Christian meme I’d like to talk about, that both Catholics and Protestants practice. It was carried over from Jewish tradition, and we know it was put in the mind of the Disciples at the last supper. I’m not going to delve into the Blessed Sacrament here… I’m talking about ‘blessing the meal.’ Isn’t it a beautiful thing to say grace before a meal? I never practiced that faithfully, until I met the Wetzels.
The Wetzels are a gracious Catholic couple from a Parish that I started attending my first year in Vermont. They took me into their home, and we shared many meals, attended many masses, and prayed many Rosaries together. Here is where I picked up the Wetzel’s grace meme. I now not only say it before every ‘sit-down’ meal (I don’t bless snacks) — but I say it the Wetzel way. They use the original form prayer that Catholics say:
Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts that we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord, Amen.
God bless all of us, and keep us well and together. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Praise the Lord! Amen.
So this is how I say it now, and will always say it from now on. Those I break bread with in the future, who pick up this beautiful little meme, may pass it on to many. The Wetzels have seven kids, who also inherited this meme and are passing it on. Who knows what will happen now that I took this meme, and posted it on the Internet? If you picked up this way of saying grace from this post, and are using it, please tell us about it in comments.
Update: I’ve since edited this article, because the way I had it was a perfect example of a ‘bad’ meme. When I heard this grace said, I heard it wrong. So, I repeated it incorrectly, and even published it incorrectly. Instead of:
Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts…
Bless us, O Lord, in these Thy gifts…
I caused a slight mutation, by substituting the wrong preposition -‘in’ for ‘and’. That somewhat, but not entirely changed the meaning of the blessing. Did it change it for the better or worse? Either way, the ‘telephone game’ paradigm is evident in word of mouth to ear, and ear to print sharing of information!
To the left is a great example of a successful meme, in the computer generated sense of the word…As Logarchism.com does a great job explaining…
- The Selfish Gene – Part 5 (pathofthebeagle.com)
- And now for something a little different…
- A Meme Proposal! (since1910.com)
- Take a trip down meme-ory lane (kutenda.com)
- The Leadership Qualities of Richard Dawkins (ericteske.com)
- Meme Machine: 5 Hilarious Viral Topics Trending Right Now (mashable.com)
- A temple to atheism, for crying out loud (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
- Somebody stop meme (Yellow) (worldazis.wordpress.com)
- Dawkins spurns the tenets of de Botton’s temple for atheists (smh.com.au)
- Have Internet memes lost their meaning? (washingtonpost.com)