Re: Ch. 6 - The Evolution of Stewardship
1. The music of religion
The section seems intended to establish organized religion as a form of social control, with the priesthood shaping "not just the order of worship but the minds of the worshippers", and at their most virtuoso, playing the congregation as an instrument. But again, he's grounding that supposed fact in analogy rather than in evidence, and we might rightly question whether or not the analogy gives us an accurate view of how organized religion really functions.
Additionally, this section harks back to the question of whether or not analysis "breaks the spell". Dennett says frankly here that it does. Oops, sorry if anyone was holding out hope that it might not!
2. Folk religion as practical know-how
On p. 156 Dennett writes that "the rituals that persist are those that are self
-perpetuating, whether or not anybody devotes serious effort to the goal of maintaining them." Here we might point out that perpetuation and maintenance are not the same thing. One distinction between genetic and memetic replication arises from that distinction. In as much as sexual reproduction is a function of genetic disposition -- in other words, we reproduce sexually because we're genetically geared to do so -- it's apt to view genes as the agent of their own replication. Memes, on the other hand, may implicitly furnish reasons for fidelity in replication -- ie. a particular feature of the meme is appealing, for whatever reason -- but they still depend on some agent to actually perpetuate them.
3. Creeping reflection and the birth of secrecy in religion
How does Dennett determine that "the postulation of invisible, undetectable effects" in religion is "systematic"? (p. 164) Ultimately, it would seem, he does so by expanding his definition to require those effects by saying that "anything that lacks them is not really a religion." He cites, as evidence, the work of shamans in folk religions (which folk religions, though? and is it accurate to take those as indicative of all folk religion?), then extends the phenomenon, without correlating evidence, to modernized priests, ministers, imams and rabbis, as though they were all assimilable to shamans.
On pp 171-173, Dennett posits that deference to an invisible god serves as a strategem for preserving the power of the elite -- essentially a variation of the Marxist view of religion. But like most people who argue this perspective, Dennett neglects to provide an adequate explanation of why the layperson should credulously accept this claim or the consequences it implies. No doubt it's because, as Dennett has explained in a previous chapter, we don't really question what everyone around us holds to be true. But that doesn't explain how everyone got to believe it in the first place.