Pondering the South African Memesphere – Looking for the Good in Everything header image 2

The Too Much Thinking Meme Complex

January 11th, 2008 · Posted by Hugo · 7 Comments


Here follows a meme complex, as well as the first (but not the only) license agreement for the use of The Red P. Hold onto your horses, this isn’t supposed to be easy.

This meme complex is intelligently designed (given a suitable definition of “intelligent”), and is meant to evolve. The first version is far from perfect, but that does not matter: no version will ever be perfect. In the process, I hope it will penetrate diverse niches. I can produce another “generation” of this meme complex, should some readers be unable to swallow this one…

  • I believe Thomas Paine had the bull by the horns when he said (or wrote): Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe. It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.
  • I will do my utmost to live according to that Thomas Paine quote.
  • I believe in compassion, love, tolerance, reason, the golden rule, inquisitiveness, a sense of wonder, faith and hope, the importance of dreaming and working towards a better future.
  • If the above bullet defines God, I believe in God.
  • I believe most people are possibly looking for God in all the wrong places.
  • I believe that the label “God” points to something quite remarkably enigmatic and hard (or practically impossible) to put into neat, well defined words.
  • I believe in doubt and skepticism. After all, there is no such thing as faith, without there also being such a thing as doubt. Doubt and faith are flip sides of the same coin.
  • I believe in evolution. I believe evolution to be a fact. I am not afraid of using “believe” here, even though creationists may misunderstand me or use it against me. That would be their problem, not mine.
  • I believe God can use science.
  • I believe Behe should stop fretting that science will destroy the universe, the universe is irreducibly complex without having to find some silly argument against some particular aspect of science.
  • I believe Richard Dawkins’ intentions are noble, but his methods may be flawed. After all, all humans are flawed?
  • I believe humans should lend each other a helping hand. We are all in this together.
  • I believe it is highly unlikely that Jesus did not exist (or does not exist, for suitable contortions of the space-time continuum).
  • I believe it is not important whether Jesus actually walked on water. I don’t think Jesus would mind whether you believe that particular detail or not. I believe Jesus to be much more than a couple of supernatural miracles. I believe you can believe in Jesus without believing in what some people call “the supernatural”.
  • For a suitable definition of “God”, Jesus was indeed the son of God, or an incarnation of God. He was equally the son of God, the lamb of God and the wisdom of God. This defines the God I believe in.
  • I believe that Truth is not dependent upon fact. Truth can be communicated through stories and myths, for example.
  • I believe there is great Truth to be found in the Christian Bible. I believe there is great Truth to be found in other religious traditions as well, including Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Taoism, Confucianism, Atheism and Agnosticism (for a suitable definition of “religion”)
  • I believe that, for a suitable definition of “God”, “Allah” and “prophet”, the statement “there is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet” is true.
  • I believe that there is a “heaven”, and that Gandhi is in it.
  • I believe there is a heaven as well as a hell, right here on earth, right here among us, if we only open our eyes to see it.
  • I believe there is great danger in fundamentalism of any sort.
  • I believe religion can be very dangerous.
  • I believe atheism can be very dangerous.
  • I believe evolution can be dangerous.
  • I believe we should all work together and do what we can (but not more than that) to help mitigate the dangers of fundamentalism, religion, atheism and evolution.
  • I believe empiricism is very useful.
  • I believe the scientific method helps us develop understanding and technology with which we can make the world a better place.
  • I believe it is wrong to reject science.
  • I believe that signs are for the believer. This includes empirical signs (used by empiricists). I believe “signs” should not be forced down unbeliever’s throats. Let them find their own way to happiness.
  • I believe evangelism, including science evangelism, should not be forced down people’s throats, but presented in a language they can understand. Every human should be allowed free will in the context of a choice between a blue pill or a red pill, no matter what blue or red represents. I believe they should return the favour.
  • I believe wars are the result of inadequate diplomacy.
  • I believe in diversity. Diversity provides a good defence for viruses of every kind.
  • I believe some people may take this post a little too seriously.
  • I believe laughter is the best medicine.

OK, now, for the copyrights/licensing of The Red P…

If, and only if:

  • you believe you understand what this meme complex aims to do
  • you agree with what this meme complex aims to do
  • you promise to propagate the mission of this meme complex
  • you link to the immediate parent(s) of each particular (derived) specimen. (Cross pollination, aka memetic sex, is allowed.)

(If and only if… ): you may take The Red P as your own, and relicense as you see fit. Do bear in mind I could then hold you to the statements you apparently accepted as true, so you really should have your rationales ready.

Owning The Red P means you can mutate the meme complex in any way you like. You may make any kind of derivative work of The Red P. The clauses that should kick in to limit the mutation rate, would be this: if you fully understand the complex and agree with its mission, it is unlikely that you would want to mutate it too dramatically:

The aim of this meme complex is to build bridges. As many bridges as possible, emphasizing the continuity of human diversity, rather than the boxed-in nature that typical labels force down on us. I dislike the rigid boxing of “a Christian is FOO” and “an Atheist is BAR”, for example. If there is something you do not understand, or your potential offspring dislike, please talk about it, do not just let it go. That would defeat the whole purpose of this game.

Attribution is unnecessary, beyond the linking to each specimen’s immediate parent(s). If The Red P succeeds in taking off, I would be interested in hacking together some software to help trace its genealogy. Bonus points for more complex meme complexes, or in particular: bonus points for innovative bridge building. I have a dream that The Red P might eventually be found in the most bizarre places, such that the mere act of tracing the genealogy is an adventure in itself.

Categories: Religion and Science

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Zach // Jan 12, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    I don’t know if that list of statements relates to your personal beliefs or merely make up the parent meme. If they are yours, then I believe you are an absolute relativist.

  • 2 jess // Jan 12, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    Absolute relativism. These memes are targeted. They have a mark. They do not simply exist, with no purpose. The purpose is not found in its more obvious creator, their purpose transcends.


  • 3 Steve // Jan 14, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Although I don’t agree with you on everything, I feel more comfortable with this “creed” of “yours” than the traditional Christian creeds.

    I also find it more understandable to a layman. My experience is that most Christians can’t explain what they think they’re saying when they recite their creed, even if their Bible knowledge is fairly good.

    Good luck with this. Hopefully once my blog is back up to speed I’ll take ownership of your letter, and we can have a peeing contest 😉

  • 4 Hugo // Jan 14, 2008 at 11:23 am

    There was an interesting “new creed” in Stellenbosch Gemeente the other day. It was during the sermon on “breaking free from passivity”. I loved it, it looks promising. Methinks many things are going to be changing in the next few years…

  • 5 Hugo // Jan 14, 2008 at 11:24 am

    In terms of NG church, I think their creed might be holding them back in some senses, not that it really matters that much. (IMO.) Maybe it could be a good idea to take the NG creed and investigate each clause, adding the necessary context to make it more palatable?

  • 6 Ben // Jan 15, 2008 at 8:58 am

    I believe atheism can be very dangerous.

    Can asupermanism be very dangerous? (referring to the comic-book character)

  • 7 Hugo // Jan 15, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Yes, of course, depending on what you mean. “Asupermanism” could mean “I don’t believe in fictitious characters”. If you confuse reality and fiction, Batman will come to get you and have you locked up in a loony asylum. Fiction is fiction. *Believe* it.

    Personally, I’m a scientist. That means I embrace skepticism. Until you can demonstrate to me how a human can be solar-powered, I have no reason to believe you.

    In the mean time, entropy is our greatest enemy. There is no such thing as a perpetual motion machine.

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