This page contains a list of books and other resources relevant to the
subject matter of this web site.
Book links, below, are listed at Amazon.com
for convenience only. Many books at Amazon have on-line reviews, which
may be of use to the reader. We have no connection with Amazon.com.
Susan Blackmore, The
Meme Machine, 1999.
Blackmore argues that memes became a second replicator (genes being
the first) when proto-humans evolved to the point where they could begin
to imitate each other. From this point on, human evolution was driven in
part by the second replicator. Her book explains a great deal more than
a genetics-only explanation can give. For example, she claims that the
recent (in geological time) increase in proto-human brain size is explained
by a kind of arms race for more machinery to exploit mimicked behaviors.
She strongly ties memes to mimicry and imitation.
Kimberly Blaker (Ed.), The
Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America, 2003.
This excellent, well-documented book describes the negative effects
of fundamentalism, not just on those who believe, but everyone. Kimberly
Blaker wrote several chapters. For more of her writing, see The
Wall, a syndicated column about church and state and other issues.
Leo Booth, When
God Becomes a Drug, 1992.
Not reviewed at this time.
Richard Dawkins, The
Selfish Gene, 1990.
It is in this book that Dawkins introduced the concept of the "meme".
The main thrust of the book, however, is that the gene is the fundamental
unit of natural selection. The viewpoint provides a biological explanation
for altruistic behavior, which could not otherwise be explained. It is
a challenging book, but an excellent read. For further reading, we recommend
Niles Eldredge, The
Triumph of Evolution and the Failure of Creationism, 2000.
Elderdge clearly explains the nature of science and why "scientific
creationism" is not science. Besides tearing down the various house-of-cards
arguments of creationists, he delves into the issue of how creationism
is being played out in a kind of "culture war." This is the Christianity
Meme fighting for its survival in the minds of humans. He advocates ending
the culture war and joining forces to mitigate the damage that we as humans
are doing to our ecosystem.
Jacques Ellul, The
Subversion of Christianity.
Out of print. Not reviewed at this time.
E. J. Graff, What
Is Marriage For?, 1999.
A study of the institution of marriage that challenges many of our
tacit assumptions about marriage "traditions". Also describes several changes
in direction in how Christianity has treated marriage over the years. Originally,
for example, Christianity was against the institution of marriage. Only
in the 1200s did the Church come to deem marriage as a holy sacrament.
Jonathan Kirsch, The
Harlot by the Side of the Road: Forbidden Tales of the Bible, 1998.
Illuminates the stories from the Bible that are often buried out of
embarrassment or the fact that they raise more questions than they answer.
Covers various Biblical stories that are straight in conflict with each
other, some "whys", and some analysis of how all this is behavior-impacting.
[Thanks to Stan for his review.]
John Shelby Spong, Why
Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile,
This book is, in part, an excellent criticism of Christianity that
resonates with many of the ideas on this site. What's unusual, however,
is that the book was written by a rather forward-thinking and controversial
Episopal Bishop. We agree with much of his conclusions, especially the
idea of saving the good of Christianity and throwing out the dogma. Unfortunately,
Spong does not see that the Christianity Meme has a life of its own and
that by keeping Christian symbols the Meme will keep its toehold on the
minds of the faithful. We strongly recommend this book.
Susan Blackmore, The Power of Memes,
American, October 2000, pp 64-73.
Good introductory article on the topic of memes. Touches on meme complexes
of religion and the evolution of culture. Other authors contribute counterpoint
Richard Dawkins, Viruses
of the Mind, in Bo Dalhborn (Ed.), Dennett
and His Critics: Demystifying Mind, Blackwell, Cambridge Massachusetts,
1993 (in paperback 1995).
Compares living viruses, computer viruses, and viruses of the mind.
Robert Dreyfuss, The Holy War on Gays,
Stone Magazine, March, 18, 1999, pp 38-41.
Outlines the Christian Right's campaign against homosexuality.