I promised this page in Is Religion a Mental Illness (https://hedonix.wordpress.com/2008/10/26/mental-illness/ ). Despite how we prefer to define it, religion appears in forms that follow the notable parameters of god-based monotheism, in areas of opinion and behavior among secular folks. Most noteworthy is the ‘kick in the gut’ effect that often precedes bouts of anger and other defensive emotions, personal attacks against the bearer of disagreeable tidings, flame wars between members of discussion groups, and the like that can rise up in unpredictable circumstances—rendered so by common reluctance to recognize religion for what it is: amalgamated unsupported opinions taken to heart in any form.

Religion supports itself with words, whatever its form. Rather than telling the demonstrable results of prediction/inference/hypotheses/experiment of science, religion depends upon a literary defense that rests upon pillars of rhetoric treated as eternal self-evident truths. True, the hedonism I have expended so much time and energy upon may serve as a prime example, but hedonism as I present it—as do many other secular concepts—begs to be understood and that understanding tested, refined, retested until we either feel forced to readopt or bury it. Religion is about the untestable, the things people believe because they “sound true” or “feel right.” Religion is about what to do when you get involved with something out of your range of experience and must act upon NOW with no time to ponder. If what you did worked, a normal response is to act that same way for all the future in spite of never again getting the same good result. The brain’s right hemisphere takes over, you turn to the left and—POOF!—you’ve had 27 accidents and one close call from steering toward, rather than away from an oncoming threat.

When circumstance does not allow time to ponder, what should we choose to do, to prevent future calamities. We cannot foresee every event, and it seems inevitable that a condition will occur for which we did not prepare. While careful preparation may enable better responses by alerting us to more alternatives, we would be wise to take time after each dangerous occurrence to do a mental review and think of variations wherein our successful response would fail. To gain that mental image and recognize the best alternative may allow the left side to teach the right a better response. I say that with this warning, that not every one of us have identical brains. Test yours with innocuous events to see what works for you. Some of us will get rattled, for instance, freeze up rather than respond, and drive straight on into a wreck as a result. Don’t get religious over it, and believe it can’t happen to you.

A very similar process also induces belief where no verifiable support can be found. Philosophies such as determinism have only rhetorical support, yet many prominent people give them full support because they seem promising in comparison to all known alternatives despite strong arguments in opposition. The same can be said about many philosophies that appeal to people who give them unyielding support despite known weaknesses. People will shun those equally fiercely held alternatives, invent put-down labels for their supporters and, like in any recognized religion, turn to their books, while using circular logic and equivocation to fend them off.

Other features shared between recognized and unrecognized religion are the attitudes, avoidance of information (“I already know all I need to about that,” heightened one-sided interest, a hallowed memeplex…

The type of memeplex is what makes a religion recognizable as such. Its hosts suffer a common resistance to consider anything in opposition on its own grounds, but must always consider it according to their own standards despite whatever errors may be inherent to them. Standards set by their hosted memeplex are, after all, the guideposts according to which they sail through life. Regardless of failures and missed opportunities of which they may never become aware, those guideposts, often set along the safest-looking channel, approved by the cultural norm, seem to have served them well. Why would they ever want to change them—especially after all these years?

Why, indeed! Consider the many strange, inexplicable things our western culture requires of us just so we can belong to it: We shake hands but seldom hug, as that is considered a sexual advance that could get somebody arrested. Kissing someone’s lips, no matter the context, even more so. On the other hand, what is kissing about, other than to abet the spread of mononucleosis? Simple exposure of the breasts (not always just for women) and pubic areas, considered only as a sexual overture in almost the entire civilized world, discomfort be damned. Even radical feminists feel insulted when a man steps in front of them at the entrance, despite the ancient origins of that rite, when disposable women were regarded with scorn and sent first to take the expected spears and arrows or prowling, lurking predators. Many such practices became absorbed by recognized religion, but are accepted as ‘right’ by the secular community without a second of reluctance, including the rationalizations behind them.

Going with the flow steers the easy course, providing your ship doesn’t get crossways in the channel. Recognized or not, uninvestigated practices induced by religiously hosted memeplexes unbalance us and increase stress levels as a result, even among people indirectly involved. We have all heard it said, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck and acts like a duck, it’s a _ _ _ _” Let’s be honest about it. Religion is religion. Godless religions are still religions remains the same as saying, “Godless memeplexes are still religions whatever else we’d call them.” That surely does not need to be explained.