Friday, 9 January 2015

Martyrdom And Mind Viruses

Martyrdom of St Stephen
One man's heroic martyr is another man's deluded fool or misguided idiot who probably deserved what he got.

I wrote yesterday about how the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris were the effects of mind control by viral memeplexes we call religion, which take control of human minds and convert them into machines for replicating not humans or human cultural ideas, but of the religion virus, just as a genetic virus can take control of a cell's DNA replicating mechanism and convert it to a machine for making viruses.

The characteristic of these viruses, memetic or genetic, is that the host has only a utilitarian value to the parasite and so is disposable once its usefulness has passed.

An especially powerful mechanism often used by the religion virus is to kill the host in such a manner as to impress the minds of its other carriers, or at least render them less susceptible to resistance. This is of course to turn the victim into a 'martyr' where their disposal can be presented as some great act of heroism rather than the act of an automaton being controlled by a mind virus. The notion of martyrdom is of course already present in the human meme pool in the form of altruism. It is this tendency to be prepared to sacrifice oneself for the benefit of the group (and hence those closely related individuals which carry the altruism gene-meme complex so ensuring their success over time) which the religion virus perverts for its own benefit.

All religions, almost without exception, have and admire martyrs and subscribe to the logically absurd view that somehow an act of martyrdom is some sort of confirmation of the religion itself. Like 'miracles' in Catholicism and Islam, martyrdom is used to impress credulous and gullible people who simply assume the martyr's willingness to die must have been because his/her faith was true, just as they assume that, because a miracle has no obvious scientific explanation it must have been the locally popular god who caused it. Unlike miracles however, martyrs are harder to fake, although their numbers are normally heavily exaggerated and often martyrdom is assumed when the victim might well not have been a particularly willing martyr.

For an outsider of course, martyrdom is merely an indication that the victim was so deludedly wrong that they were unable to see the stupidity of their superstition. For an outsider all martyrs are as deluded as all religious people think other religions' martyrs are. If dying for a belief renders that belief right then all religions with martyrs would have to be regarded as right. Or are we supposed to tot up the number of martyrs and the one with the most is the winner in the prove it stakes?

Martyrdom isn't so much intended to win converts as to strengthen the conviction of those already converted because so much of the success of the martyrdom depends on confirmation bias. But it's more complex and more devious than that. The people doing the killing are also carriers of a different allele of the religion mindvirus of course so, from that viruses metaphorical point of view, killing a rival is a good thing and indeed an important means of spreading and moving into new territory.

This killing of rivals whilst strengthening the resolve of the carriers of those same rivals is an isolating mechanism which prevents hybridization and so maintains purity. Both alleles are in an unholy alliance in fact. Just like genes involved in an arms race, neither actually benefits in the long term and the real losers are the hosts caught in the crossfire, so to speak. I doubt whether anyone has ever been converted by the example of martyrdom but I bet most religious people will have been inspired and made more committed by examples of their side's martyrs.

And that's why religions are so proud of their martyrs, of course, and why the numbers of martyrs tend to increase with the telling of the stories. It's important to them that as many of their members as possible know all about their martyrs and their heroism. It also seems to be important that martyrs, especially Catholic ones, die in ways which creates an abundance of body-parts to be acquired by churches and cathedrals and shut away in caskets where pilgrims can come bringing money to marvel at them, without actually seeing inside the caskets. A tooth; a finger bone; an earlobe; one of several hearts - anything will do provided whoever acquired it swears to its authenticity.

Try this test: Here are a few martyrs being glorified in paintings and illustration. Which of these convinces you your beliefs are wrong and that you should convert to the faith of the martyr? Which of them convinces you that your faith is the right one and that its martyrs are heros?

Burning of Latimer & Ridley (Oxford Martyrs) from Foxe's Book of Martyrs
Anglican martyrs.

Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley, burned at the stake in Oxford on the orders of the Catholic Queen Mary.

Latter added to by Thomas Cranmer, Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.
Christian Martyrs of Nagasaki (Japanese painting)
Catholic martyrs.

On February 5, 1597, twenty-six Christians — six European Franciscan missionaries, three Japanese Jesuits and seventeen Japanese laymen including three young boys — were executed by crucifixion in Nagasaki.

For the historical background to the Japanese animosity towards Catholic Christians see Catholic Violence and the History of Japan.
Martyrdom of Shia Imam Husayn ibn Ali at the Battle of Karbala, 680 CE.
Shia Muslim Martyrs.

Imam Husayn ibn Ali, son of Mohammad's daughter Fatima and her husband Ali, killed at the Battle of Karbala. Historic split between Shia (Alid) Islam and Sunni Islam hinges on whether Imam Husayn had inherited the right to be the leader of Islam (Imam) from Mohammad through a female. The Shi'ites lost this battle against the forces of the Umayyad Caliphate that they regarded as usurpers but then rationalised it so that Allah had allowed the wrong side to win as a punishment so they would have the wrong faith - he's devious that way - so the Shi'ites won really and Husayn became a martyr for Shi'ism. Heads I win; tails I win.
Martyrdom of the Seven Hebrew Brothers
Jewish Martyrs.

2 Baccabees 7 relates how seven Hebrew brothers and then their mother were put to death by a king in an especially gruesome way rather than disobey the laws supposedly given to Moses and eat pork. A Christian version of this story has the brothers and their mother (renamed St Felicitas) as Christians being killed by Publius, prefect of Rome.
Sculpture depicting the martyrdom of Banda Singh Bahadur by Indian Muslims, 1716
Sikh martyrs.

Banda Singh Bahadur was a Sikh military commander who led attacks on the Muslim Mogul Empire in India, capturing the city of Samana in Punjab and killing about 10,000 Muslims (who presumably became Islamic martyrs). He was captured and executed in 1716.

Martyrdom is of course an illustration of how the religion virus is prepared to sacrifice its host simple to get itself replicated and illustrates better than anything the parasitic nature of religion. Like a parasitic virus which will sacrifice its host if that's what it takes to get itself replicated and passed on to the next generation, so the religion virus has no moral scruples about sacrificing its carriers if that's what it takes to get itself firmly embedded in the next generation of victims and so certain of being passed on.

The fact that neither the human host nor its genes and not even its cultural memes when separated out from the religion, derive no benefit from being infected and sacrificed illustrates the parasitic and amoral nature of the memeplex.

As we can now see from events of the last few days in Paris and as we saw on 9/11 and in hundreds of similar acts of faith-based terrorism from Anders Breivik to Timothy McVeigh to the Boston Marathon to countless suicide bombings in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Israel, the last thing the religion parasites have regard for are human beings. We are heavily infected with these parasites and the sooner we recognise them as such the sooner we can rid ourselves of them and stop infecting our children.

Some of these nutters have nukes so we need to recognise the danger we are in or the mindless religion viruses will drive us to extinction taking themselves with us. We have the intelligence to overcome these parasites.





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