Meme Theory's evolutionary
basis for morality

Richard Dawkins, an Oxford zoologist, coined the term "meme." In general terms, a meme is a basic unit of intellectual or cultural information that is passed from mind to mind; it is an idea that is attractive and embraced by other people.

Conceptually based on the gene as the basic means of transmitting genetic information to successive generations, memes are like viruses that parasitize one’s brain, alter one’s behavior to believe the realism of the meme, and turn one into a host to propagate the meme.

So, for example, if a scientist hears, or reads about, a good idea, he passes it on to his colleagues and students. He mentions it in his articles and lectures. If the idea catches on, it can be said to propagate itself, spreading from brain to brain (R. Dawkins, The Selfish Gene).

However there is no physical evidence for the existence of memes, and memes are not integrated into one’s genes.

Meme Theorists would answer the two essential questions as: 1) man would distinguish right from wrong through reason and logic, and 2) human beings want to be good, not simply because it's a "good idea", but that it contains "good memes" such as subsistence, companionship, and procreation that forces us to behave appropriately.

©2003 A resource for learning how to read the Bible.