Welcome, students, welcome! Please find a place to rest your legs, claws, other appendages. Today’s lecture: “Memetic Metrology of Religions of the Homeworld of R’yleh”, a planet sometimes known as Earth.
All of you should be operating your learning devices … good. In a moment I shall project charts. These charts show four attributes of Earth systems for organizing human behaviors — usually known, of course, as religions.
Our first chart is for a system — religion — called “Islam.” Note the extremely high “Zeal” metric. Islam is a simple religion, perfectly crafted to assume control of a planet. The only remarkable feature of the religion is its maniacal insistence on universal expansion by any means necessary, physical or memetic; the other moderately low scores represent the minimum superstructure needed for the long-term transmission of beliefs. Islam has one purpose: to conquer. Yes, from a distance of three billion miles it is quite fascinating to contemplate.
The second chart provides a nice contrast. “Judaism” is a very low-zeal, high-piety and ritual religion. Therefore, it does not spread promiscuously, but it does survive, even under the most extreme selection pressures.
This next chart is for a religion known as “Buddhism”, in this case the variety practiced in the largest grouping of humans. Yes, I see an appendage has been raised?
All features of this religion are scored low, instructor. Is this religion competitive? Why has it not been replaced by another religion such Islam?
Ah, a good question. I will cite two reasons why Buddhism is stable and indeed optimal for Chinese humans. Millenia of peasant servitude shaped the Chinese into docile, compliant, hard-working citizens. A high-zeal religion like Islam would be alien to them. It brings to mind the old saying, never put a Dagon tiara on a Shoggoth. It ruins the tiara and annoys the Shoggoth.
Another point: the Chinese are so numerous that they have attained cultural permanence, even supremacy. Thus the interests of the Chinese culture reign supreme over that of the Buddhist belief system. Self-preservation and conservatism must be the rule of the day; what would be the point of the Chinese trying to become more Chinese?
Those learning devices are a pleasure to use, aren’t they? A human from a place called England had a go at one earlier this year. I am afraid the experience improved his respiration but not his central nervous system.
Our next specimen is somewhat of a historical curiosity, but in years past was a powerful force that dominated the planet. It has the proboscis-twisting name of “Christianity.” What do you think are the likely characteristics of this religion?
It is the first we’ve seen that has high Zeal and high Piety.
An excellent observation. Surely, when brains are selected for tok’l-cylinder journeys, yours will be among the first to be harvested. It should be noted that high Zeal/Piety is an exceptionally powerful yet unstable combination. Religions that are high-Zeal spread without particular trouble. Religions that are high-Piety tend to be introspective cults that wither away. Religions that have both Zeal and Piety are vulnerable to heresies, holiness competition, and vicious fratricidal wars over the most trivial differences — I refer you to the One-Eighth Year War for an example.
Now Christianity’s mysticism and ritual, while considerable, are the minimum needed to prevent its high Piety/Zeal from tearing itself — yes, is there a question?
Why do these charts not show the number of gods for each religion?
Number of gods! It sounds so simple, like the music of Azathoth. You are aware, I suppose, that creatures who for some reason worship one god are known as monotheistic. Yet even this simple concept contains traps for the unwary. The monotheism of the Jews 10 or even 12 years ago, for instance, commanded worship of Yahweh alone — as opposed to other gods, who were recognized as inferior but real. It was of course a simple matter for Jews and others to assert total primacy over other gods by denying their very existence. “There is no God but Allah.”
Meanwhile Christianity claims to be both monotheistic and tritheistic while accepting prayers issued to intermediary figures called saints. Attempting to analyze human belief systems led to frightful arguments and divisions in the department. I can tell you confidentially that lectures such as this were quite impossible.
Luckily, a very clever gentlefungi — modesty prohibits me from uttering its name — conceived an important simplification: that theistic head-counting was totally unnecessary for the analysis of memetic measurement.
Let us move on to the final chart, an system that is much less than a year old and is possessed of very interesting characteristics. For instance, those who practice this religion claim it is a sin to belong to any religion!
How is it possible to practice a religion while professing that religions are immoral?
You must understand that humans are very peculiar creatures. For example, due to the wholly different vibration-rate of their electrons, if you take a picture of a human and develop the film, an image will appear!
(Uneasy scuttling/scratching noises)
Please adjust the controls … the chart for this religion, called “Ultra-Calvinism” or “Universalism”, will now appear.
Surely this religion is not … very stable?
Indeed. One might think it is deliberately created to do the maximum harm to its adherents and bystanders alike.
Is it true that the Old Ones sponsor this belief system?
What? Kindly explain yourself.
The supplemental materials for this course state that in Universalist-ruled societies, “Cthulhu only swims left.”
I did not convene this lecture for purposes of blasphemy.