Cherry Picking - The Memetic View
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13-11-2012, 05:15 PM
Cherry Picking - The Memetic View
Sup, erbody.

Many times while perusing this site, I have come across the accusation of cherry picking; picking and choosing what parts of the Bible to revere, believe, follow, what have you.

It never bothered me until today when I realised that it isn't framed properly.

Cherry picking implies a deliberate act of selection. But religions are co-adapted meme complexes, or memeplexes, that are comprised of many different traits; each trait being an meme. Memeplexes are subject to Darwinian selection. Over time, those traits that are adaptive flourish, while those that are maladaptive are self-eliminating. Furthermore, the memes are subject to mutation and the memeplexes themselves are subject to invasion. Lastly, that which is adaptive and that which is maladaptive is contingent on the temporal relationship with the environment (a fancy way of saying that environments change over time, thus so do the relationships). All of this is to say that the idea that religions deliberately cherry pick is an idea similar to intelligent design. Darwinian processes do not require a designer. The evolutionary algorithm, as Dan Dennett calls it, functions by itself.

Thus the differences in traits between sects (literalist or not, hate/love gays, stone whores/forgive them, whatever difference you can think of) is not the result of a deliberate act of cherry picking, but is instead the result of an ongoing evolutionary process.

Thus the phrase "religions cherry pick" is a misnomer. Nothing of the sort is occurring. Religions evolve.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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13-11-2012, 05:18 PM
RE: Cherry Picking - The Memetic View
I don't recall any atheist saying that religions cherry-pick which parts of the Bible they want to follow. Instead, I usually hear peeps saying that religious people in general cherry-pick from the Bible (or any other book of faith, for that matter) to make it fit with reality.

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13-11-2012, 05:20 PM
RE: Cherry Picking - The Memetic View
(13-11-2012 05:18 PM)Vosur Wrote:  I don't recall any atheist saying that religions cherry-pick which parts of the Bible they want to follow. Instead, I usually hear peeps saying that religious people in general cherry-pick from the Bible to make it fit with reality.
Exactly. It is apologists who cherry-pick.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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13-11-2012, 05:28 PM
RE: Cherry Picking - The Memetic View
Ghost's point is well-made, and seems legit to me. I never really assumed that anyone, pew-sitter or pulpit-pounder or pope really grabbed the bible and went through it verse by verse, literally cherry-picking which parts his particular organization (or personal belief) was willing to accept.

Call it cherry-picking or evolutionary algorithm or memeplexing, or whatever. The end result is the same: some stuff is cherished (cherry-ished?) while some stuff is ignored. Right term or wrong term, everyone knows what cherry-picking means so it's a meaningful term in this situation. The rest require much more explanation before anyone would understand what you mean.

On a related note, if you take a Christian (etc.) and show them parts of the bible that disagree with one of their cherry-ished bits of folklore, they will rationalize it away, blame it on a different context or different covenant, etc., and they will deliberately cherry-pick that unwanted bible stuff right out of their otherwise cherry-picked favorite stuff. In this context, it literally is an individual cherry-picking his favorite parts and excluding the rest.

So that's two reasons to keep calling it cherry-picking.

Hmmm, all this picking talk has made me realize my nose is a bit stuffy...

(Or, all this cherry talk has made me hungry for some virgins...)

"Whores perform the same function as priests, but far more thoroughly." - Robert A. Heinlein
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