Tag Archives: The God Virus

Ideological infections

Book Review: The God Virus: How religion infects our lives and culture by Darrel W. Ray

Price: US$12.91
Perfect Paperback: 241 pages
Publisher: IPC Press; First edition (December 5, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0970950519
ISBN-13: 978-0970950512

The virus metaphor has been extremely useful in computing. The parallel with biological viruses is close so the word provides an accurate but succinct description of the phenomena of, and problems created by, computer viruses. And this particular metaphor offends no one.

The idea of a “god virus”, which treats religious ideas in a similar way, also has some traction. Darrel Ray shows in “The God Virus” that this particular metaphor can be an accurate description of the problem. The metaphor is useful. But in this case some people do get offended.

Maybe they overreact? (Religious people often do). Ray does make clear the metaphor applies to other ideological viewpoints besides the religious ones. That it is more general. For instance, he includes communism and Marxism in some of the discussions. He also points out that, just as with ideologies, biological “viruses can be benign, even beneficial in some cases.” Although “parasite” may be a more suitable description of how ideas sometimes work – he wanted “to avoid the negative connotations” of that word.

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