The God Virus: How Religion Infects our Lives and Culture

My first impression? “Holy shit, I should totally be an Evangelical Christian for Halloween!” I mean really, the only difference between them and zombies are that they’re alive, and these people are real! Holy crap! Seriously though, despite – maybe because of – it’s admittedly brilliant metaphor of viruses to represent religion, this book does appear quite sensational on the surface. It’s hard not to roll your eyes just a little bit. Nevertheless, having been raised in a very Catholic family, I can’t really argue with any of Darrel W. Ray’s points. I remember how creepy and cultish church started to feel when I got old enough to start questioning everything around me. And maybe I was lucky, because for many people this is very hard to do. The virus has taken a deep hold. I would also like to add regarding this book: though the virus metaphor sounds harsh, the author also uses it in a way that encourages compassion for the “infected.” Like other illnesses, they simply can’t help it. They are likely to be vulnerable in various ways. We may not agree with their views but we still owe them respect and consideration. This was a new and very refreshing point of view to me, and really resonated with my own experiences with religious family and friends. Now I don’t intend for this review to piss off anyone religious. I feel like if you have truly examined your beliefs and find legitimacy in them, good for you. Religion is a comfort for many people and as long as it’s motivating you to be a good person as opposed to one of those Westboro Baptist assholes, then I can’t complain. But this book does remind us to be very critical of what we’re being told, and I feel like this is an important part of being a functioning adult. It’s wrong to follow blindly, dangerous even. Faith is not true faith when you don’t recognize the possibility of any conflicting opinions. If you “know” it’s true, it’s not faith, it’s “knowledge,” and I believe faith is strongest and most authentic when it’s challenged. 12th century religious figure Hildegard von Bingen preached this. So go ahead and challenge what you thought you knew. Question everything you read and hear, including this book. Open your mind and be critical. Because “God” might be infallible, but those who claim to speak for him are most definitely not.

Rather watch a movie? Check out Religulous on

Other recommended reads: American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America


11 thoughts on “The God Virus: How Religion Infects our Lives and Culture

  1. All great civilizations grew up around religion.

    And the greatest civilization, Western Civilization, grew up around the greatest religion, Christianity.

    It requires a complete denial of reality and our Western Heritage to believe that Christianity is some sort of virus.

    This is especially true given the fact that atheist regimes are responsible for the great mass murders in human history.

  2. Ava Strange says:

    Civilazations grew up around religion because it’s all they had at the time to explain the world around them. To me a denial of reality is to insist on believing something with no proof, and despite all the proof against it. Religionists used to believe the world was flat, and that the sun revolved around it. This has since been disproved by science. What else will science prove wrong about religion in the future? And what do you make of the the crusades, the inquisition, and the fact that Hitler was a Christian? What do you make of these events?>
    How many people have been killed in the name of science, on purpose? How would you back up your belief that Christianity is the greatest religion, and western civilization the greatest civilization? I don’t suppose you’ve read this book, have you?

    • Strange,

      From the American Founding Fathers in 1787’s, Article III of the Northwest Ordinance:

      “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”

      The Founding Fathers understood the importance of religion to just government and human rights.

      And here, part of the first sentence from George Washington’s First Thanksgiving Proclamation:

      “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor;”

      And the Declaration of Independence mentioned God four times.

      Atheism is a malignancy that threatens to bury mankind in the hell of the ancient past where life was worthless, brutal and short.

      • Ava Strange says:

        Actually, the book had a lot to say about the founding fathers and the birth of America. What did you think of those parts in particular?

        • Strange,

          I have not read the book.

          The title indicates that the author is someone who looks back in time and hallucinates an alternative dystopian reality.

          Religion is a critical part of the DNA of civilization. Civilization just can’t happened and never did happen and never will without religion.

      • Ava Strange says:

        Oh you haven’t read the book, I see. Now that, my poor infected ‘Murican friend, is EXACTLY the point. You’re free to believe anything you want, but until you’ve gained the knowledge to back it up, it’s nothing more than a comforting guess.

      • Ava Strange says:

        I can, but I don’t feel like quoting a whole chapter. It’s all available on Amazon and in book stores. Besides, you haven’t answered any of my original questions.
        It’s not that I care that you believe. I honestly don’t. I just get curious as to the why, with so much science, history, and psychology to suggest otherwise. I don’t have all the answers and never will. Believe it or not, neither do you. But the options don’t exactly appear to be on the same footing once you really examine them, and it seems very odd to me that so many people would fail to do that.

        Just for an example, the book explains how if your daughter came to you and said she was pregnant, but she was a virgin, would you believe her? Probably not. So what logic then is there believing it happened to someone else? Likewise, you don’t believe in another person’s religion; in fact if you read up on their beliefs you’d probably find them to be quite silly. So where does the critical thinking go when you examine your own? Shouldn’t it be extremely important to critically examine the being you accept as the creator of the entire universe? We ask for more credentials from the guys who fix our cars than we do of our gods.

        As an atheist I know that there’s a LOT we still have left to discover. We are not by any means all-knowing. The amount that we do know is probably astoundingly tiny. So we all have to be open to new discoveries and never make assumptions. Science does this. Science admits when it’s wrong, and goes on studying and experimenting until it finds something that it can prove is right. Then it moves on to the next thing. Religion on the other hand likes to think of itself as the be-all-end-all facts of life. This is beyond naive and arrogant. Besides, as I mentioned earlier, religion DOES change its tune when science forces it to. Religion DID used to think the earth was flat until science proved that it wasn’t. If science claimed to be endorsing the same ideas it did 2000 years ago in the face of so much contradictory evidence it would be the world’s biggest joke. The right choice for me is extremely clear. Religion is fine, but the standards people have for it simply could not be lower.

  3. Funny Fixation says:

    ^ Ohhh the virus has that one real good. Poor sod.

  4. […] film by the beautiful and talented Ava Strange so that it could be paired with her book review on The God Virus: How Religion Affects Our Lives and Culture by Darrel W. Ray. They aren’t exactly the same thing, but we figured they covered the same basic topic, so why […]

  5. […] The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture, finished May 8th. As I try to think of something to say here, it occurs to me that this book was […]

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