The Mind Virus Called Religion

Revision 11
© 2007-2018 by Zack Smith. All rights reserved.

The Mind Virus

Religion is a virus that invades a host -- the human mind -- and as with any virus, it takes over the host and uses that host for the sordid purposes of reproduction of the virus itself and the infection of other hosts. Like other viruses it competes with other parasites, such as other mind-viruses, as well as all-encompassing ideologies.

This page has the purpose of describing some of the ways in which religion controls its host-victim, the human mind, but this is not yet a complete list.

 Religion mind-virus attacking host


The religion-disease convinces its host-victims that only religion is a source of meaning or a meaningful life in the world, but it discourages its host-victims from interacting with non-religious people to learn how they're living and how they find meaning in life.

The religion mind-virus tries to tie all experiences to itself so that all experiences are infused with its meaning, and induces the illogical belief that life and experiences that are disconnected from the religion have no meaning or importance.

This use of such false meaning allows the religion mind-virus to exert greater control over the host-victim because its use ensures loyalty; and everything that is a threat to the virus can be easily deemed meaningless.

It is known that hard drugs have a similar effect on people; a heroin user will consider anything not related to his addiction to be meaningless or pointless, and only the drug and the various means of getting the drug matter.

Corporate marketing departments attempt to establish a similar effect: If you don't own a BMW or Lexus, your life has no meaning. If you don't smoke XYZ brand of cancer-causing tobacco, your life has no meaning.

Labeling some things as meaningful and others meaningless is thus merely a tactic, shallow and insipid.

Corrosive ambition

The religion-diseases need to dominate human hosts in order to proliferate, and they convince their hosts to seek dominance over other humans.

This takes many forms, such as external wars (the Muslim expansions), pogroms, religious wars, and revolutions (e.g. the Christian takeover of the Roman Empire).

It can also take the form of encouraging the infected to seek success through control over money, politics, business and the media. When this is the case, the mind-virus encourages ambition but in so doing it molds believers into petty, shallow, controlling people who are even less likely to see or question their disease.

In one variant of this idea, some sects assert that monetary success and power ensure increased favor from their gods, thus greed is not just good but divine.


Religion discourages its host-victims from interacting with people who have different ideas, especially with people who are non-religious. Therefore the virus is granted maximal control without interference from people who might risk disinfecting the host.

Heretics who assert that infection with the particular mind virus is bad, or who assert that all mind-viruses require action to disinfect hosts will be avoided at all costs. Their words will be ignored. Their ideas will be mocked. Their experts will be criticized.

Illogic and irrationality

The religion mind-virus discourages logical thinking, because such thinking might show the contradictions and inconsistencies of the religion itself. Logical thinking would also point out the sheer absurdity of the religion's premises.

Irrationality must be practiced in order to wear down the believer's natural tendency toward questioning. The mind-virus often has this take the form of rituals, group prayers, and misinterpretation of events to imagine divine intervention.

Logical thinking is a clear threat to the mind-virus. If directed at oneself it may cause self-disinfection, thereby dealing a severe blow to the mind-virus. It may also uncover unhealthy impulses such as for narcissism or self-aggrandizement or perverse hypocrisy that the religion mind-virus is exploiting to exert control.

Blindness and ignorance

The religion mind-virus induces a kind of blindness to obvious benefits of scientific thinking and engineering. Thus, the virus will encourage people to exploit technology without allowing them to recognize that every piece of their technology is a result of scientific advances and scientific thinking. This seems like hypocrisy but really it is caused by the thinking mechanism of the host being disrupted. There is a logical disconnect. That separation between the reality of technological advances and the reality of scientific advances exists to prevent self-questioning.

In a way, the religion mind-virus reduces the otherwise smart human into a monkey-like animal, which uses technological tools without understanding them.

Bigotry and supremacist thinking

The religion mind-virus manages its particular group of host-victims by inducing in them bigoted views against those of different groups. This has the purpose of assuring host-victims that it is not worth the trouble to stray from the pack because outsiders are inferior, morally or otherwise. Preventing the formation of new loyalties or even friendships with others undermines the mind-virus's control of the host. The reason for not connecting with others is established as being that the others being inferior, e.g. they are dangerous, and you are superior.

A mind-virus may even promote loony supremacist views, such as we are the chosen people.

Infection of the young

Religion would disappear within a few generations if children were not infected with it. So for the survival of the mind-virus called religion, it is vital that young people be infected. This can be perpetrated by their parents or by professional infectors (priests, pastors, imams, rabbis, etc.) but it must be done before they develop a natural immunity to mind-viruses in the form of cognitive ability and critical thinking.

Luckily for religion mind-viruses, children are programmed to believe whatever adults tell them is true. Children can even take in nonsensical threats about hellfire and eternal damnation as being literally true, and they may believe that miracles are true.

The function of the local infector is similar to that of Typhoid Mary or any other person who has sought to infect many people with a disease. The purpose of the infector, conscious or not, is to spread the infection among those most vulnerable to it, namely the very young and the old.

Sometimes the infector is somewhat immune to the religion mind virus himself, but harbors a self-important attitude that the rabble need to be infected and controlled. Often the infector has schemes to use infected people for various sordid purposes, like obtaining money or sex from them. Often the professional infector views the public as fools.

However in the process of infecting children, the mental torment imposed on children in the form of threats of persecution and eternal damnation can quite fairly be called child abuse. The virus is injected into their brain but the infectors seek to keep the child from resisting it, using various kind of conditioning that can amount to torture.

False bravado and baseless pride

The mind-virus causes the host-victim to declare an attitude of cocksure confidence to anyone who might undermine their loyalty to their religion-infection. The infected host will declare that they can't be changed from their (self-destructive course as an infected (religious) person. They will ridiculously express that they are 100% sure of many little invented facts about the invisible man in the sky, whose existence cannot be proven.

Despite the irrationality of this, the host-victim is really exposing his or her own inner imbalance and vulnerability. You'll never change me actually means I have given up my free will to the mind-virus and am adrift under its influence.

The tiny bit of free will that they have is bullied by the virus into silence, but it is still there.

Some religion mind-viruses even induce a rather queer attitude in the infected person that anyone who is not infected is somehow weak or unmanly. The ironic perversity of this is extraordinary, because it is specifically the weak and unmanly who are most susceptible to infection with the mind-virus and the most perverse who desire the infection most. Indeed, the people who are most often targeted for infection are the children and the old.


Some religion mind-viruses, especially those that encourage bigotry, cause the infected host (human) to desire to reproduce many more humans that are needed by society or industry, and it does this to ensure that those new humans (children) become infected, thereby spreading the virus. The Catholic religion is known for this in the West as is the Muslim mind-virus. So is the rightwing Israeli Jew mind-virus. These are all hateful religion mind-viruses i.e. those that practically require that the infected demonstrate one form of bigotry or another.

Genetic code

A religion possesses two genetic codes, two kinds of DNA, if you will:

  1. The written viral DNA that changes very little over time since it is contained in sacred books, written by ancient primitive people.
  2. The spoken viral DNA which evolves rapidly to adapt to the cultures of new host-victims and any predicaments they encounter. Its new viral strains also permit newly-infected groups to break away into self-quarantining sects.