Author Darrel Ray has come out with a new book called The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture.
I had a chance to read this a few months ago and really enjoyed it.
The book extends the metaphor of religion as a cultural virus, discussing how it spreads and how it can be stopped.
In the intro, Ray talks about when the religion virus is most infectious:
Virtually all religions rely upon early childhood indoctrination as the prime infection strategy. Other infection strategies include proselytizing, offering help and financial aid with strings attached, providing educational opportunities at religious institutions and many other approaches which we encounter frequently in the media and in daily exposure to religion.
In other chapters, he talks about religious guilt, how religion affects intelligence and personality, and how to live a virus-free life.
It’s a nice extension after you’ve read something like The God Delusion or Breaking the Spell for the first time.
(In the spirit of full disclosure, I do have a blurb for the book on the back cover. As do Dale McGowan and Dan Barker.)
This book probably falls among those aimed at religious readers but primarily read by atheists. Still, it raises a lot of important points and it’s a great discussion starter. I know I was annotating it all over the place, marking questions I wanted to pose to other people and writing down some of my favorite sentences.
The first couple chapters are available for free download (PDF). If you like those, the full book can be found on Amazon.