professor Daniel Dennett
compares “religious ideas to viruses, which thrive by replicating and passing themselves from one generation to the next.”
Dennett is the co-director of Tufts’ Center for Cognitive Studies. On Tuesday he lectured at Dartmouth Hall on his recent study: Religion as a “Natural Phenomenon.” He points out that religion's continued existence is due to a form of evolution, not God; adding that the presence of religion does not prove God’s existence.
According to Dennett, religion passes from person to person evolving like a virus, and developing according to the laws of natural selection. Like a virus, religion has created defense mechanisms, like the belief that you should not question God.
Dennett believes that faith in God has harmed humanity by protecting destructive movements and threatening scientific views. He also states that it is not religious fundamentalists who harm the atheist movement most; instead it is the “atheists who defend religion because of the social good they believe it provides.”
Dennett believes that religion will lose its dominance in the next few generations. He makes the analogy of going the way of smoking: accepted, but not encouraged, and looked down on by many.
Here’s to hoping some of us see this within our lifetime.