An interesting report at http://www.kurzweilai.net presents us with historic data suggesting that cancer has developed over the centuries as a result of human developments, and not within nature. The Article says “Scientists, Suggest That Cancer Is Purely Man-Made”.
For many years, I have been interested in the relation between cancer and religion, since I read a statement from Philip Slater in EarthWalk(Anchor Press/DoubleDay,1974).
“Imagine a mass of cancerous tissue, the cells of which enjoyed consciousness. Would they not be full of self congratulatory sentiments at their independence, their more advanced level of development, their rapid rate of growth? Would they not sneer at their more primitive cousins who were bound into a static and unfree existence, with limited aspirations, subject to heavy group constraint, and obviously ‘going nowhere’? Would they not rejoice in their control over their own destiny, and cheer the conversion of more and more normal cells as convincing proof of the validity of their own way of life? Would they not, in fact, feel increasingly triumphant right up to the moment on which the organism they fed expired?”
Slater seems to have suggested the parallel to the proselytizing zeal as described by Eric Hoffer in The True Believer:
“Whence comes the impulse to proselytize? Intensity of conviction is not the main factor which impels a movement to spread its faith to the four corners of the earth: ‘religions of great intensity often confine themselves to contemning, destroying, or at least pitying what is not themselves’…The missionary zeal seems rather an expression of some deep misgiving, some pressing feeling of insufficiency at the center. proselytizing is more a passionate search for something not yet found than a desire to bestow upon the world something we already have. it is a search for a final and irrefutable demonstration that our absolute truth is indeed the one and only truth. The proselytizing fanatic strengthens his own faith by converting others.”
From these two comparisons, applied to the conclusion of scientists, we might arrive at the idea that cancer has developed as human groups lost contact with their own limited, territorial environments, and began to respond to largely artificial environments imposed on them from governments “above” them.
In short, religion is cancerous.
In describing this recent phenomenon of mass movements and cults, Hoffer pointed out yet another interesting aspect:
“There is a certain uniformity in all types of dedication, of faith, of pursuit of power, of unity and of self sacrifice. There are vast differences in the contents of holy causes and doctrines, but a certain uniformity in the factors which make them effective. He who, like Pascal, finds precise reasons for the effectiveness of Christian doctrine has also found the reasons for the effectiveness of Communist, Nazi, and nationalist doctrine”.
A psychologist may describe this as narcissism, which is the linear extension of one’s self into the environment. but from where does this narcissism come?
The expression of “self” and its extension into the world to the point of conquering others, may best be defined by what Richard Dawkins has called the “genetic replicative algorithm“.
The function of a gene, primarily, is to replicate, and the more successfully it replicates, the greater its chances of extending its own survival into the environment while resisting change. If it is forced to adapt to change, it must become something other than what it is, or operate from within a matrix that suppresses its own replicative function.
We might then view cancer and religion as the expression of genetic attempts to replicate while minimizing change. We also have the answer to Hoffer’s dilemma: what is the force that drives “true believers” to unite into a holy cause? GENES.
Hierarchical society, then, from this description, becomes far easier to describe. As Hoffer points out, the ability to organize ourselves into cults and mass movements requires the “estrangement from the self”, the ability to make our individual selves less important than the good of the group as a whole.
This collective social expression of self has also been coined the “meme” by Dawkins. The meme, which is a social extension of the gene, passes common messages in society, and those common messages generally shape the way society thinks and functions. If “my” individual life is unimportant in regard to the group, then ‘your” individual life would be equally unimportant. In the name of a greater good, you or I can be disposed.
The result is that we have not become the servants of “God” but of the very forces of our genetic replicative algorithms.
Western Christianity, which drives us to “convert” others to our common view of life and truth, creates destruction of alternative forms of life. This is a process of entropy, in which, while organizing in one area, we create chaos in related areas, simply because we must borrow energy from those areas in order to organize.
The greater our zeal to convert others to our own truth, the less we are able to recognize warning signals from our environment that will cause change and necessary speciation into more responsive systems. That is exactly the force driving cancer cells. While reproducing at an expansive rate of growth, they lose their ability to integrate and coordinate with the larger system of the organism itself, until they destroy the organism.
Our most deeply cherished religious zeal also reflects our most dreaded disease.