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VINE VOICEon 16 November 2010
Polemical as it may appear at first, consider the book overall before forming a judgement. Its argument is cogent, well-reasoned and logical. This you can not say for much of what it attacks, but on proven, rational grounds: the growing intrusion of religious faith into areas of life where it has no business to be. Since this is a US publication, it naturally dwells on the American situation (blocks to stem cell research etc, on religious grounds, regardless of possible benefits to wellbeing). Much of its content, however, can easily be applied to those other countries where some form of 'born-again' religion is taking root, the UK not least, as in faith schools. The term 'virus' is more than vituperation: it is an extended metaphor, with much to commend it. The author makes no statements which he is not prepared to substantiate - the metaphor included. Religious gatherings, not only revivalist, he compares to hypnosis, and demonstrates how. The imposition of pointless guilt as a means of control, above all in the most intimate areas of life is condemned - and the reason why is well illustrated. If it provokes controversy, so much the better. Much recommended to anyone who thinks for him/herself.
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on 4 May 2010
I have to admit I was a bit weary of buying this book because of the cheap-looking cover, the good reviews have tempted me though. Like they say "don't judge the book by it's cover"- I'm glad I didn't as the content was a huge contrast to it's binding.
At first I've found the ever-present virus analogy a bit annoying (despite the fact that I describe my religious views as "Militant Atheist") yet as I read further it grew on me as it makes perfect sense. The author is obviously not the first to make such analogy yet I have not seen anybody to put it under microscope to such extent ever before. It's an enjoyable and thought-provoking read. Well-researched and well put together. Despite constantly calling religion a viral infection it promotes tolerance and understanding. It is not a book to make an Atheist angry but peaceful... while still giving us ammunition to fight religious superstition (including huge amounts of interesting quotes by everyone from ancient philosophers to modern scientists) . Especially worth reading for those who have religious friends and relatives.
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on 19 February 2013
I was intrigued by the title of this book - the author likening religion to a viral infection - and, for me, it's the perfect analogy (and antidote!).
It just is exactly like that - belief in religion does seem to spread from church to parent, from parent to child and from one person to another, suffocating vast swathes of culture as it takes on a life of its own, finding ever-ingenious ways to infect its hapless victim.

Having been a victim of the God Virus myself (during my childhood, where I was brought up as a Catholic) I can see exactly where it's coming from.
Happily, I'm completely purged of the virus now and a committed atheist, but I do fear for others who are still infected.

This is a very easy book to read, short, snappy and puts its point across very clearly and logically. It may be a little 'American' perhaps for some tastes (the author primarily concerned with the huge, sheep-like 'christian' problem of his own country) but I'd highly recommend it for anyone who wishes to open their mind, take a step back from religion, and view it for the plague upon society that it is. Myself (& a friend whom has also read this book) now refer to anyone of a religious persuasion whom we encounter as having been infected with the 'god virus'!
Now for that antidote jab...
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on 3 May 2010
This is one of the best reads on the subject I have read in ages.

Clear, concise, easy to follow and as Dr Ray explains how religions infect the mind, and the culture, how it spreads and more importantly how it protects itself in the minds of the believers you can actually see it in effect in the world around us.

If I was to recommend a book to a believer, to explain why I do not accept much of what they believe and why, it would be this book as they would also be able to see how the meme has infected them and at least they would be confronted with the defence mechanism that would kick in!

I can't recommend this book enough!
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on 12 April 2009
An admirer of writers such as Richard Dawkins, Darrel W. Ray is patently aware that much of what he says has been said a number of times before. Hence, he clearly worked hard to find a niche in what is becoming a crowded market.

The main point of the book is that religion acts in a similar way to a virus, to ensure that its existence is preserved above all else. And in some chapters, the metaphor is used well and acts to illuminate the point being made. However, as interesting as many of the chapters are, and as well written as they generally are, it becomes apparent that the 'religion virus' metaphor is actually no more illuminating than Dawkins 'Meme theory' or in fact any 'survival of the fittest' theory.

That aside, the book does demonstrate the many ways in which religions across the world and throughout history have attempted to preserve their own existence. From attitudes to sex and morality, through links to culture and politics, to fundamentalist approaches to survival, this is an interesting read (albeit essentially one written for an American audience).
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on 17 May 2010
I will keep this short. If you want to understand what goes on in the mind of someone "with religion" this is the book for you, it also describes how religion assimilates itself with culture and what techniques it uses in order to spread itself.

Definitely worth reading, I enjoyed it very much!
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on 19 January 2011
Having read Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchins, I was really keen to explore the idea that religion could be understood as a meme or thought virus. So I was looking forward to reading this book as I thought it would provide more insights into this area.

Unfortunately, there are quite a few problems with the book. Dawkin's basic idea is sound. But the author quickly moves quite a long way off-beam from the idea of a meme. The idea of a meme being 'like a virus' is not supposed to be taken literally but the author pushes the analogy to breaking point.

The first problem is the way the author anthropromorphises the religion meme. Dawkins makes it clear that in evolution there is no intentional direction - it relies entirely on replication, mutation, and selection. The author often slips into attributing intention into the god virus e.g. 'the god virus has often focussed on Darwin..' Kindle screen 3902. This is to miss the point - the memes that survive and thrive are simply the ones that are best adapted to their environment and that promote their replication. It's not personal!

The second problem is that the author quotes research that relies solely on correlations and he is so keen to support his argument that he really weakens it by not emphasising that correlations don't mean causation.

The third problem is that the author's own agenda as a psychologist often intrudes into the argument. He makes statements such as 'Religion is not responsible for all mental illnesses but it plays a part in a great many cases.' Kindle screen 3907. He offers no research evidence for this and to be honest this is as bigoted a statement as many that he quotes from the pastors! I am a rationalist humanist, and have no time for religion or superstition, but this statement is just not supported by evidence. In fact there is some evidence that people find religion helps them cope with distress - this doesn't mean that there is a god - but let's keep a balanced approach to the evidence, keep an enquiring mind about the facts, and not let dogma get in the way.

Fourthly, there is good evidence that the relationship with the meme is symbiotic, not parasitic. This is shown in the effects that religion has in increasing family size and hence gene propagation. The author doesn't consider this evidence properly.

Finally, because the author is so wedded to the biological virus model he doesn't explore whether the computer virus model can also shed light on religion (the meme exploiting software loopholes to take over the functioning of the hardware and to hijack the email system to replicate).

So - I think that there is a really interesting book to be written on this topic. But sadly this isn't it!
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on 24 December 2012
Clear, logical and well set out, this book leaves no stone unturned.
If you can handle the truth, this book will set you free!
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on 17 June 2013
Having been an agnostic for 20 years, an atheist for 25 years I have at last come to understand why having been brought up a Catholic that 1) it was so hard to escape 2) how it is that so much of the world affected ( infected?) and never stops fighting one another. Every news programme shows this to be true. Education is the only remedy.
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on 30 August 2015
The author has put into words what a lot of people are thinking
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