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The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture [Kindle Edition]

Darrel Ray , Ed. D.
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and Dennett opened the door to a hard nosed look at religion in our society but no one seemed to be using their concepts to explain the psychology of religion and its practical effects on people. Dr. Darrel Ray, psychologist and lifelong student of religion stepped into this gap to discuss religious infection from the inside out. How does guilt play into religious infection? Why is sexual control so important to so many religions? What causes the anxiety and neuroticism around death and dying? How does religion inject itself into so many areas of life, culture and politics? Dr. Ray explores this and much more in his book, The God Virus: How religion infects our lives and culture. This second generation book takes the reader several steps beyond Dawkins, et al. into the realm of the personal and emotional mechanisms that affect anyone who lives in a culture steeped in religion. He uses examples that anyone can relate to and gives real world guidance in how to deal with and respond to people who are religious among our families, friends and coworkers.


Editorial Reviews

Review

Darrel Ray has made a marvelous contribution to our understanding of ourselves. The description of religion as a cultural virus is not new, Darrel is the first to put the virus on a slide and pull out the microscope. The God Virus goes beyond analogy, offering a fascinating and detailed look at the wiggling, maddening virus itself how it moves, how it survives, and how and why it continues to thrive. --Dale McGowan, Author/editor, Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers, Harvard Humanist of the Year (2008)

For those hungering for more after reading the books written by Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and Dennett, Dr. Darrel Ray's The God Virus is a logical and thought-provoking follow-up. By extending the metaphor of religion as a virus, the reader gets a better understanding of the incredible power religion can have on anyone's way of thinking (Dr. Ray shows that even your IQ is negatively affected!). Lest anyone think this is just a putdown of religion, it also gives excellent advice on how to live life without a God, from marriage to raising children. It's a book that non-believers will enjoy and religious readers can only dare to read. --Hemant Mehta author of I Sold My Soul On Ebay (Waterbrook Press, 2007)

Your book is a convenient handbook on how real life Atheists can stay sane while others are freaking out with religious madness and blaming it on those that challenge the true believer's faith based system. You are most welcome to publicize my endorsement. --Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director American Atheists, Inc.

Darrel Ray has made a marvelous contribution to our understanding of ourselves. The description of religion as a cultural virus is not new, Darrel is the first to put the virus on a slide and pull out the microscope. The God Virus goes beyond analogy, offering a fascinating and detailed look at the wiggling, maddening virus itself how it moves, how it survives, and how and why it continues to thrive. Dale McGowan, Author/editor, Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers, Harvard Humanist of the Year (2008) --Dale McGowan, Author/editor, Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers, Harvard Humanist of the Year (2008)

For those hungering for more after reading the books written by Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and Dennett, Dr. Darrel Ray's The God Virus is a logical and thought-provoking follow-up. By extending the metaphor of religion as a virus, the reader gets a better understanding of the incredible power religion can have on anyone's way of thinking (Dr. Ray shows that even your IQ is negatively affected!). Lest anyone think this is just a putdown of religion, it also gives excellent advice on how to live life without a God, from marriage to raising children. It's a book that non-believers will enjoy and religious readers can only dare to read. --Hemant Mehta author of I Sold My Soul On Ebay (Waterbrook Press, 2007)

Darrel Ray has made a marvelous contribution to our understanding of ourselves. The description of religion as a cultural virus is not new, Darrel is the first to put the virus on a slide and pull out the microscope. The God Virus goes beyond analogy, offering a fascinating and detailed look at the wiggling, maddening virus itself how it moves, how it survives, and how and why it continues to thrive. Dale McGowan, Author/editor, Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers, Harvard Humanist of the Year (2008) --Dale McGowan, Author/editor, Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers, Harvard Humanist of the Year (2008)

For those hungering for more after reading the books written by Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens and Dennett, Dr. Darrel Ray's The God Virus is a logical and thought-provoking follow-up. By extending the metaphor of religion as a virus, the reader gets a better understanding of the incredible power religion can have on anyone's way of thinking (Dr. Ray shows that even your IQ is negatively affected!). Lest anyone think this is just a putdown of religion, it also gives excellent advice on how to live life without a God, from marriage to raising children. It's a book that non-believers will enjoy and religious readers can only dare to read. --Hemant Mehta author of I Sold My Soul On Ebay (Waterbrook Press, 2007)

About the Author

Darrel Ray, Ed.D. is a psychologist and student of religion for over forty years. Raised in a fundamentalist home, he knows religion from the inside out. He left religion in his thirties, but continued to ask the question, "How does religion work on the mind and behavior of those it infects?" Because no other authors seemed to be answering this question, he wrote this book as a practical and theoretical guide to those who want to understand religions of all kinds and specifically how to eliminate it from our lives.

Product Details

  • File Size: 464 KB
  • Print Length: 241 pages
  • Publisher: IPC Press; First edition (December 5, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0030AOBTI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,737 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
350 of 378 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ziztur reviews the God Virus April 20, 2009
Format:Paperback
In The God Virus, the author uses the metaphor of religion as a virus to explain how religious ideas pass from individual to individual and infiltrate society.

The idea of ideas or systems of ideas as "viruses" was first described by Richard Dawkins, who coined the term "meme" to mean a "postulated unit or element of cultural ideas, symbols or practices, gets transmitted from one mind to another through speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena". They are analogous to genes (hence the similarity in spelling and pronunciation), in that they are said to self-replicate and respond to selective pressures. In this book, the author explains religion through this viral/meme metaphor.

The author first explains exactly how religion can be appropriately viewed using the viral metaphor, and then uses this metaphor throughout the book, explaining how different religions survive and dominate others, and how some of the strategies religion uses to survive and propagate are very similar to actual, biological viruses. He explains that religious conversion can affect individuals on the personality level, taking over critical thinking and causing an individual to be "immune" to other religions by being able to point out the flaws in other religions while simultaneously being unable to see the flaws in their own religion. The author speaks of the importance of "vectors" (priests, ministers, etc) in propagating religious ideas and how religious people and organizations will protect those "vectors" even in the case of abuse or other crimes.

In the second chapter, the author explains the types of strategies the "god virus" uses to survive and spread, and how advanced religions are more effective than other religions, which is why they continue to survive and replicate.
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186 of 206 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a "WOW" book, get ready for an epiphany! July 2, 2009
Format:Paperback
Book Review:
The God Virus, Darrel W. Ray, How Religion infects our Lives and Culture.

The WOW! Book!. Get ready for an epiphany!
This book impressed me so much that I would like to encourage people [and challenge others] to consider this metaphor concept that examines and explains how the God Virus functions in our minds and culture.
This book examines the similarities of religion to viruses closely.
Learn how to recognize and understand strategies used by both religion and viruses to infect, survive and dominate.
Learn the role of sex, guilt, morality, even a persons personality and intelligence.
This book lifts up the curtain of mystery and provides some tools for understanding the power and impact of religion on all our lives, It provides a framework to enable us to see and analyze religious behaviors, even our own.
Have you ever wondered about these questions?
1. How can otherwise intelligent people justify being selectively rational, that is - rational in parts of their lives but also hold belief in absurd, sometimes harmful and contradictory religious dogmas, and even fall for outright manipulations of their religion ?
2. How can people hold deep beliefs and at the same time, be so unclear of their own religious dogma? Mostly they are unable to explain their particular religious dogma in their own words - but regurgitate, parrot, meaningless phrases.
3. How can the religious instantly, without examination, dismiss all other religions as false. Or they see the faults of other religions, and remain blind to the irrationality, inconsistencies, contradictions, and, again, the manipulations of their own religion?
4. How are the religious able to ignore clear, demonstrable evidence even if it is contrary to their beliefs?
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167 of 193 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The expose' that religion has long deserved January 22, 2009
Format:Paperback
After reading Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris, I still needed a question answered- How does religion work? None of the aforementioned books really make any in-depth attempt at answering this dangerous question.
-Dangerous only if one would try to tell the truth. The God Virus does exactly that.
There is a strangeness that overcomes people infected with religion when asked tough (but logical) questions about there religion. They all seem to go into the same thought mode and instantly begin to babble incoherently about 'faith'. Then suddenly they snap back to reality. It's as if they suspend time from the moment they realize that they've been asked a question that needs a answer based on logic but there is no logical answer in their head so they begin spewing the rhetoric taught in Sunday school, once done -POOF!- they're back!! When confronted that there response was completely devoid of logic, they have NOOOOOO idea what your talking about.
This book answer's that question! Darrel Ray's explanation is undeniable, comprehensive, and brutally accurate of what religion REALLY IS. Those who are infected will not understand his analogy, and will by definition try to protect there infection as instructed.
You will read this book cover to cover,(without a break) and come away with an epiphany. And a feeling of foreboding -because just around the next corner is another infected mind, waiting to deny logic and reason...
Kenny Nipp-
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Innoculated April 24, 2009
Format:Paperback
Atheist writers have compared religion to a virus in the past. Most notably is Dr. Richard Dawkins. Dr. Darrel Ray takes the analogy and runs with it. Dr. Ray does an amazing job at describing religion as a virus and showing how it acts like a virus beyond a simple analogy. The God Virus looks at how the virus competes and propagates, how it infects and works against competing viruses, how it uses vectors and survives in the biota. Dr. Ray then looks at how we can inoculate ourselves against viral infection and how to treat people that are already infected. The God Virus is the best book I have read this year, incorporating knowledge with entertainment in a captivating way. Dr. Ray articulates the analogy in a way that everyone can comprehend and walk away from the book with a new understanding of the viral analogy. I recommend The God Virus for all levels.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read!
This was a fantastic read! Dr. Ray presents his ideas concisely and in lay terms. As an aspiring psychologist, I highly recommend this book for those interested in learning about... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Bridget Lennon
4.0 out of 5 stars The Biology of Belief
A biological model to explain how and why believers are so entrenched in their religious activities. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Barry W. Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Perfect, thanks!
Published 9 days ago by Elizabeth L. Avent
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
Awesome, simply awesome.
Published 14 days ago by RockyRiverRat
4.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read in the Field of Religion
Great book. A must for free thinkers and those living amongst Christian zealots.
Published 16 days ago by AK Review
5.0 out of 5 stars We suffer too deeply for their illness.
A brilliant explanation of truly sick people.
Published 17 days ago by L. Alessio
4.0 out of 5 stars This book is excellent, the author gives the reader a great look ...
This book is excellent, the author gives the reader a great look at how the virus works on people and how to see it's effects on the reader as well.
Published 19 days ago by David M. Brown
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of ammo to fire at religion!
This book relates religion to a virus. The author is very through in his analysis of all religions and how they have played a negative role throughout history. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Debbie Wilson
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant, compelling and clear exposition of the religion as...
This book expands on Richard Dawkin's explanation of the parallels between the evolution of parasitic life-forms and the ways in which all the world's religions evolve for the sole... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ullrich Fischer
4.0 out of 5 stars An important book that all who claim interest in religion really must...
This books does a good job of explaining the viral vectors of transmission of religious pathologies (aka 'religion') in a easily readable manner.
Published 2 months ago by D. Sheresh
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More About the Author

Dr. Darrel W. Ray is author of four books, two on organizational team issues, The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture which explores the social-psychology of religion and his latest book, Sex and God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality. He has been a psychologist for over 30 years, practicing counseling and clinical psychology for 10 years then moved into organizational psychology and consulting. He has been a student of religion most of his life and holds a MA degree in religion as well as a BA in Sociology/Anthropology and a Doctorate in psychology.

Born into a fundamentalist family and raised in Wichita, Kansas, he was surrounded by religion while growing up. He had a grandfather who preached for 40 years, cousins who were preachers and missionaries, and his parents became missionaries when they retired. For decades, he has been intensely curious about the mechanics of religion, how it influences and infects people's minds. He wrote The God Virus in response to a need for a simple and practical understanding of religious mechanics. Something anyone can understand. While Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and Dennett have written eloquently about religion, these authors are less accessible to those who have little knowledge of philosophy, biology or religious history. Of the thousands of religious books and hundreds of sociology and anthropology books, few if any explain the methods religion uses to infect and control people and cultures. The God Virus and Sex and God, explains in common, understandable terms, religion and its consequences on individuals and society.

Darrel is the father of two adult children and has two grandsons. His hobbies include mountain climbing, flower gardening, and reading. In early 2009, he founded the rapidly growing movement called, Recovering from Religion. You can learn more about this movement at www.recoveringfromreligion.com. In 2011, he turned the organization over to a new executive director, Jerry DeWitt, and became the chairman of the board of this rapidly growing organization.

Dr. Ray travels extensively and speaks in may places about the ideas presented in Sex and God, The God Virus and his research on Sex and Secularism and Recovering from Religion. Please look at his book tour schedule to see if he will be in a place near you soon or contact him directly at IPCPress.com to book an engagement.

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Hell is for Christians
Excellently written; strong emotionally yet rationally logical. Stay on the path that you have set before yourself.
.......ron
Jul 12, 2012 by Ronald W. Maron |  See all 2 posts
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