In The God Virus, Darrel Ray explains his view of what occurs when the virus infects an individual. Upon infection the virus begins creating “anti-bodies” to repel competing viruses. Typically the individual will be subjected to studies which provide justifications for the correctness of their own beliefs while instilling arguments for why other interpretations, other faiths, are wrong. Once a person is infected with one religion it is rare that they will switch to another. Religions prefer to work on the minds of children. Usually children infected with a specific God virus stay close to that belief system the rest of their lives. In essence, the God virus creates a powerful immune system protecting the individual from outside influence.
Fundamentalism is a particularly powerful element of this immune system. Fundamentalism can be compared to inflammation, which is used by the immune system to fight infection. Fundamentalism can be triggered when the god virus is under attack, or attempting to expand it’s infection. Unchecked, this inflammation can be very damaging to the lives of the host and his/her institutions and family. Fundamentalism is incapable of compromise. Discussion is impossible, productive dialogue is unlikely.
“Fundamentalism isn’t about religion, it’s about power.” –Salman Rushdie
Science reveals the workings of god viruses. The claims of fundamentalists challenged by scientific inquiry melt away. We may never be totally safe from fundamentalism but the best preventive measure is science education. In western nations where science education is strong god viruses of all kinds have decreased in influence.