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For thousands of years, religion has woven its way through societies and people as if it were part and parcel to that society or person. In large measure it was left unexplained and unchallenged, it simply existed. Those who attempted to challenge and expose religion were often persecuted, excommunicated, shunned, or even executed. It could be fatal to explain that which the church, priest, or imam said was unexplainable. Before the germ, viral, and parasite theory of disease, physicians had no tools to understand disease and its propagation. Priests told people disease was a result of sin, Satan, evil spirits, etc.
With the discovery of microbial actors, scientists gained new tools to study how it spreads. They could study infection strategies, immunity, epidemiology and much more. Suddenly the terrible diseases of the past were understandable. The plagues of Europe, yellow fever, small pox, pneumonia, tuberculosis, syphilis, etc. were now removed from the divine and placed squarely in the natural world.
This book owes a great deal to Richard Dawkins' concept of viruses of the mind, but it seeks to go a step further to personalize the concept of religion as a virus and show how these revolutionary ideas work in everyday life. The paradigm can explain the fundamentalism of your Uncle Ned, the sexual behavior of a fallen megachurch minister, the child rearing practices of a Pentecostal neighbor, why 19 men flew planes into the World Trade Center, or what motivates a woman to blow herself up in the crowded markets of Baghdad. Learn how religion influences sexuality for its own purposes, how and why it protects pedofile priests and wayward ministers and how it uses survivor guilt to propagate and influence and how it might influence a person's IQ.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Gary on 09-08-13
A non-theist handbook
The book acts as an immunization against those who are infected with the religious virus. The author is never in your face and is mostly about giving the non-theist a way to think and understand the thinking behind the theist believers. I found this book a much better listen than Sam Harris' book, "The End of Faith". They cover similar material, but I found better arguments (through the metaphor of the virus) in this book.
The author even has a section on how to talk with religious people if you must (okay, the author doesn't say 'must', that's not his style at all). For example, if a believer says he'll be praying about you, just reply and say 'thanks, I'll be thinking about you". A non-confrontational approach which doesn't compromise your belief system is always preferable to pointless arguments.
The author reads his own book. He does a good job. He's not a great reader, but by having the author read his own book, I the listener get a better interpretation of the book.
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
By Donovan Baker on 11-21-12
A Viral Metaphor with Evidence
Would you consider the audio edition of The God Virus to be better than the print version?
I love the inflection from the author's voice. You can really tell where the important points that he wants to get across. Darrel does a great job.
What was one of the most memorable moments of The God Virus?
I enjoyed the giving of actual virus names and then showing how multiple religions act in that manner. I was able to learn about both at the same time. That was an unexpected benefit. I also enjoyed the characteristics of how religious people act, like the exorcist. I'll let you the listener find this one. It was so spot on!
What does Darrel Ray bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
He really brings the different sections to life. It made me back up and hear certain parts more than once, because I loved the way it sounded.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Yes, I wish I could have, but I had to do it in 3 sittings.
Any additional comments?
It was wonderfully produced and clear sounding. It even had nice soft music between chapters that was not annoying or too long like many other books. Great job here.
18 of 19 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Ms. S. Iliffe on 04-09-13
A different approach to the case for atheism
I found this book very engaging and interesting. Rather than focus on the texts of different religions as many books putting the atheist case do, this book looks at the way religion acts on individuals and on societies. The case is well put together and the author humanises it with real life examples. The author narrates the book himself, which can sometimes be problematic. It works in this case though, as you can hear his conviction and thoughtfulness in his narration and he has a narration style that is conversational and easy to listen to. Definitely recommend.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
By Allan Hviid Jensen on 09-11-15
Provocative and thought provoking
Provocative for the vectors and the infected... A no compromise dissection of a social virus which unfortunately makes sense.
I think this book will be unbearable to get through for anyone infected so I doubt it will win any converts but it helps explain what is going on to some degree for the rest of us.
And it does hold some advise on how to get along though Dawkins would balk at the notion of ignoring and not challenging the statements from the religious where Mr Ray instead suggest deflecting and not engaging.
You should read this and some of Sam Harris and Dawkins great works and then make up your own mind whether to engage or deflect/ignore. I lean more towards the Harris/Dawkins camp myself, after a lifetime of living an unspoken concord of tolerance which mainly benefits the religious and gives space for growth of religious dogma.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful