Most of the recent non-theist literature approaches the topic of religion from a very literal point of view. Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and Dennett have been champions of the direct approach: Evolution is this. Religion is that. There is almost certainly no god. Secular countries are objectively less dysfunctional than theist countries in quantifiable ways. To be sure, there was and still is a need for this kind of writing. But there has been something missing.
As refreshing as it may be for us non-theists to hear someone tell it exactly like it is, this approach can be daunting. For many people who were not raised in an environment that encouraged scientifically precise descriptions and in-depth analysis of the nuts and bolts of things, it can be a little overwhelming. And frankly, for many non-theists, it’s difficult to make the link between these books and their own lives. Sure, understanding evolution is great, but what good does that do for Joe Non-Theist who is struggling to live in a theist dominated community? In-depth analysis of epistemology is also great, but how does it help Nancy Non-Believer talk to her theist friends about her lost faith?
The God Virus, by Darrel Ray, Ed. D., takes a different approach. Religion is explained as analogous to viruses, viral infection, and parasites. Using accessible language and familiar ideas, Ray gives us powerful conceptual language for thinking of religion as a self-serving “life form” that replicates, spreads through the population, and influences the behavior of its hosts in self-serving ways.