MEMES: THE OLD REPLICATORS
You may be quite sure that the universe is more ancient than 6000 years old, probably over twenty million times that figure and you may well hold the opinion that natural selection is a factor in nature, but does that mean you can not believe in God? Or believe the bible as God's written Word? I hope it has been shown that a wooden literal fundamentalist approach is detrimental to biblical understanding. Yet is it not ridiculous that someone with errant beliefs, regarding the age of the universe and earth etc., be in a loving faith relationship with the Ancient of days, so that in the end they are rewarded with omniscience and power? Is it not ridiculous that even though a person is besotted with many false beliefs around a genuine belief in God that they will still stand in the end in spite of these weaknesses, because God will uphold that person? All that the heavenly Father has will be the inheritance of the saints. Really it does not matter what gifts or knowledge one has but what character; God is more interested in forming character than abilities, God can always endow ability later, it will come to be that the tongue which stutters will speak clearly. These errant beliefs of some Christians are a weakness of faith and in the bible it says that those who are stronger should bear with the weak, if they are under scruples due caution should be exercised so as not to cause them to stumble. That does not mean to become a slave to another's scruples though. It is not required that you give up what you know, but what you know must be put in context. To love God is to be known by God; in the end what will matter is not what you know but who knows you. What is wrong with steadfast love and justice and walking humbly with God? So submit your knowledge to God, you may be right, Horatio, in so far as it goes, but there are still more things in heaven and earth than dreamt of in your philosophy. It will be a pity in being right about so much and getting it so wrong so that Bible-Bashers show you up as wrong, not because they are right in their interpretation of scripture but that they have life in their faith even in spite of stumbling. God will have belittled what is great in the world by that which is small. As for the Bible-bashers erroneous works and the weaknesses God will burn off.
There have been many great scientists who believed in God. When Einstein first published his theory of relativity many trashed it but now he is recognized as a genius. Yet Einstein used his belief in a deterministic God as an argument as to why knowledge of the quantum world must be more than a matter of probability; "I cannot believe that God plays dice with the universe." Einstein's view point is incorrect about, say, whether it can be known when an atom will decay radio actively, but is right in believing in God. Even a genius of Einstein's stature stumbled a little; it is not surprising that many believers of lesser intellectual prowess stumble regarding science and creation.
Sir Isaac Newton believed the universe to be a cryptogram set by the Almighty and that there are hidden codes in the biblical text. He spent much time and effort in trying to break the hidden code and left millions of hand written words about this. It has taken modern mathematics and the number crunching power of modern computers to make the greatest strides in the bible code. In August, 1994, a paper was published in Statistical Science, a U.S. review journal of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, that there are Equidistant Letter Sequences (ELS), in the book of Genesis of closely associated words e.g. "hammer" and "anvil," as well as having encoded names and date of birth or death of persons listed from the "Encyclopedia of Great Men" in Israel. Randomization analysis shows that the effect is significant at the level of 0.00002. (Paper by Doron Wiztum, Eliyahu Rips and Yoav Eosenberg; Statistical Science 1994, vol.9, no.3, 429-438)
Taking Sir Isaac Newton's thought of the universe as a cryptogram set by the Almighty it can be said that the universe is for memetic transfer. A further development to the theory of evolution is the concept of memes. Meme, rhymes with cream, a term coined by Prof. Richard Dawkins in his book, The Selfish Gene" first published 1976. Richard Dawkins in chapter 11, "Memes: the new replicators" discusses the possibility for non DNA based life, which still is subject to the general principles of evolutionary theory. It is life, Jim, but not as we know it. In any case the transmission of culture is another type of self replication which mode of reproduction is not bound up with DNA; a meme is a cultural replication unit. Perhaps I am getting mystical but the term meme as used in this chapter cuts a rather broad swathe encompassing the transmission of types of wisdom, knowledge, and intelligence and even spiritual essence. Hence the title of the chapter; "Memes: the old replicators." About the universe being for memetic transfer Psalm19 starts off, "The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." So the things made express God's invisible nature, his eternal power and deity. There is a reason so many cultures postulated the concept of God, often encumbered with theological errors but…never has so much been explained with the least supposition.
Newton made the point that prophesy is not to be interpreted so things can be foreknown but to confirm God's providence by the fulfilment of prophesy; in this way glory is given to God not the interpreter. As said before Jesus fulfilled prophesies about himself but not in the way some supposed they would be fulfilled. This confirms scripture's divine authorship. A rather blatant prophetic passage about Jesus centuries before his arrival is in Isaiah 52:13- 53:12. (The prophetic scriptures of the Messiah are proof of the truth of Jesus and the scriptures; if statistical analysis was carried out for the chance of fulfilment for even a tenth of the prophecies the chance would be infinitesimally small, (laying aside ones still to be fulfilled.)) In verse 53:10 it states that "…he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days…" And yet Jesus is never recorded as having children, if fulfilment of this prophesy hinged on physically fathering children then the scriptures are very remiss in not recording this. Even if Jesus did physically sire children this is not what the verse is about. Before Christ's time on earth it would be very reasonable to suppose that the offspring mentioned in the verse to mean physical descendents- especially considering the Israelite culture's importance on propagating one's name and posterity through descendents. For example in Mosaic Law if a man dies childless the man's brother then takes the man's wife and impregnates her so as to continue the dead man's name. Since the passage is about the Christ it is natural to expect that, like King David who God blessed this way, he would have an abundant offspring. It is reasonable to suppose that offspring meant the usual mode of attaining children but this interpreting is wrong. However using the concept of memetic replication, Jesus Christ's name is a spectacularly successful meme, even before the concept was named meme. Look how many Christians it has begotten. The next verse, Isaiah53:11, states that he will see the fruit of the travail of his soul, travail is a term used for suffering often in the context of giving birth. Further in verse 11 it says that by the righteous one's knowledge shall many be counted righteous. So the offspring of verse 10 are not offspring in a biological sense, knowledge and righteousness is not biological. So indeed the concept of non physical transmission has been around for a long time. In the story of Cain and Able, Gen.4, Able is killed by Cain but in Heb.11:4 it records that he is speaking still through his faith.
With the concept of meme the move is more to one of software than one of hardware; is it so hard to envision that with the myriads of bits and pieces at various levels that a macro meme was printed in the clay of planet earth, Elohims' own likeness and image? The earth as a whole reflected God's economy and Man in particular its ruler, the person God. Let's move from the flesh and its soul to the spirit. In this memetic system there are also diametrically opposed memetics; the parable of the weeds in the wheat demonstrates these two conflicting ways. The wheat (children of righteousness) was sown in a field (the world) by the servants (the angels) of a man (God); at night the man's enemy (Satan) sowed weeds (bastards).
At times the memetic transmission of culture, tradition and ideas has served to obliterate the true first principles of the gospel and the Church. Many are the examples of denominationalism at loggerheads with the Spirit. Demos Shakarian in the book, "The Happiest People on Earth" had this to say. "For the fact was that the wind of Pentecost, which had blown out of Russia into Armenia nearly a century before, had dwindled by now into a denomination as rigid as any other. It was always this way. All through history, each fresh outpouring of the Spirit soon became, in human hands, a new orthodoxy. The great revival on Azusa Street for example, here in this very city, which started out in freedom and joy and a breaking down of barriers, had solidified by the 1940's into a number of self-contained churches who couldn't communicate with each other - let alone the world as a whole." Page 67, the 1977 edition, ninth impression 1983; Hodder and Stoughton.
Have you ever heard or even said something like that all religion or the church is about is after your money? The Church proper is not about money; Jesus warned about those posing as prophets yet inwardly are ravenous wolves, Mt.7:15. Demos Shakarian in the same book related how one of the itinerant evangelists had an unhealthy interest in money and actually manipulated the heart strings of the audience to this end, much to the horror of those more sincere in the matter. But the most surprising thing was that the man still seemed to have an anointed ministry! Even though the man had fallen into idolatry because of the love of money God still worked opportunity for good amidst the evil. Demos thought on the words spoken in pain of another evangelist, Charles Price; "The men in the front lines get hurt."
Money; the love of it is the source of all evil. The vested interest that Deme'trius had in his source of wealth saw him violently oppose Paul and the gospel, Acts19:23-41. Deme'trius was a silversmith who made silver shrines; he gathered the local craftsmen together and explained how dangerous it was of Paul saying gods made with hands were not gods. Now to most moderns it should be quite obvious that a fabricated idol is not a god, really it is not a great intellectual jump. Deme'trius, a successful businessman, an artisan and a leader able to inflame with rhetoric was not lacking in intellectual prowess; he foresaw the economic downturn in people perceiving that an idol is not a god for his particular business venture. His passion for wealth prevented the inception of what is real, he deliberately ignored the true facts. I knew a man who invested so much of his ego into his opinions he formed that to change his mind about something or some one involved catastrophic proportions. Instead of a simple internal adjustment he had to play out a major psycho drama, because he was so dogmatically opinionated he had to project the blame outside of himself. In a detached way it was sort of amusing to see an opinion become overly inflated, out of all proportion to the amount of understanding that formed it so that in the end the opinion worked against what it was based on and also prevented further understanding. But it really is sad, not amusing and it was not pleasant to deal with him. One time he asked if I thought he was intellectually inferior to me and asserted he was not but told me to be brutally honest with him if I thought so. I told him I did not but I did think his opinion got in the way of his understanding. He looked momentarily downcast at this however he still would not accept that I did not believe myself to be intellectually superior. There were so many things I could have told him at different times when he was voicing his opinions but he would not have accepted hearing them and would have turned and attacked me. At times a stubborn blind will married with passionate oratory has swayed the masses. Psychologically he was similar to Hitler although not necessarily ideologically. But stubborn unrepentant wills will end up at the same place of being broken beyond repair. In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king- and the two eyed man is an outcast. It is like how in times past tobacco companies defended smoking against the claim of harmful effects. Likewise an atheist evolutionist will not easily become a believer, nor will a bible basher relinquish unenlightened dogmatics.
History is full of examples of a tradition encrusted worldly church and hierarchy fighting the truth, yet the Church is the vessel of the Truth. I hope the case has already been shown against religiosity, legalism and so forth, and many such memetic stumbling blocks. I will mention another notion though for amusement, the Holy Grail. There is a saying, "throwing out the baby with the bath water," meaning to lose the precious in getting rid of the worthless. But regarding the Holy Grail quest they threw out the baby and kept the dirty bath water! That is the quest for the grail- the things that contained Christ, e.g. the cup of the last supper, the manager Jesus lay etc. - misses out in obtaining Christ. Christians are the "Grail," Christ lives in them, individually and corporative, those other things are demonic superstition.
People buy into the memes which come to surround the central memetic core; these memes are not actually of the true memetic core. People often either miss appropriating this central theme or do not grow into it- it does not grow into them- as should happen, being weighted down with many non essential things. People's religion becomes culture having the trappings and form but not the reality. Often the essential features are occluded by the ridiculous, look how a fat bearded man in red and the whole mythology which surrounds him symbolizes Christmas and many such things. Roman's12:2 tell not to be conformed to this world, that is to say taken on the worldly memes, (because of Adam's sell out to Satan the world is not as it should be), but urges being transformed by the renewal of the mind. Heb.5:11-6:3 stresses the need to grow into maturity, to be weaned from the spiritual milk by taking up eating solid food, having one's faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. So often people do not grow as they should, but cling onto the rudiments of faith as if that is all there is, once the foundation is laid it should be built upon. But still, is it not ridiculous that in spite of the erroneous memes a person has they are still saved by grace through faith? As noted already a person can have weaknesses of the faith and still have faith. Regarding Isaac Newton again it is a pity that Newton also labored in the quest of a false philosophy, the memes of alchemy, if he had not what other advances may he have made?
Can not the tree of knowledge whose fruit Adam and Eve ate be reckoned as a memetic complex that installed inherently false memes aside from what ever benefits, real or pretended? So here is a problem, there is memetic pollution that seeks to abort the memes of truth. A person's own mindset, wisdom and knowledge is often a barrier to faith, the spiritual truths seem like folly. "I believe so that I can understand", one renowned Christian scholar of the past said, God's Spirit is not one of fear but a sound mind, true faith is not another form of superstition. Faith comes through hearing the Christ preached, since Christ is of God it has power to beget much more than any meme of culture, he is the tree of life. Give credence to God and submit in spite of the doubts that assail, why should the false things win. Does it really matter that there have been further questions raised in the answering of other questions. If it seems that there is no faith on your part ask God to give it, faith is a gift from God, God gives liberally without reproach, even a small faith can grow like a seed into a great tree. In this book there has not been a definition of faith, and I am talking of real faith not superstition, a partial definition for the purpose of this chapter is: faith is a two way bridge that gives God permission to work in the believer. For it is through the Spirit that we wait for the hope of righteousness by faith and faith is made effective working through love. See Gal.5:5, 6. Because God made people to be in relationship with him and has given people free will, power and authority God needs the cooperation of the person to be real in them, (at times other believers can believe on behalf of someone else and payer and intercession unleashes the Spirit into circumstance.) With out faith it is impossible to please God because one must first believe that God exists so even if believing that there is no God ask, God is bigger than our hearts. God is a jealous God, an all consuming fire, why should you be destroyed? Hell is thwarted love, both in and without of the person, burning forever having been spurned until it was too late. In the end there is what is of God and that which is left is of no value but burnt.
Much more could be said using the memetic concept to consider the scriptures and it could be useful in a way. Of course Jesus Christ and those who have been begotten are very much greater than a meme or complex system of memes. It is a very crude way of speaking, and shallow, lacking the rich depth of who he and we, the Church, are.