A British author who angered Christians when he compared their religion to a virus has found an even more virulent analogy to explain how the faith spread throughout Europe.
Science writer Matt Ridley explained that Christianity spread across Europe and established a “monopoly religion” in much the same way that Starbucks — perhaps the only thing more contagious than infectious disease — has conquered the global coffee market, reported the Daily Mail.
“Religions are a good example of things that have taken a very specific form but have a sort of inevitability,” explained Ridley, a Conservative member of the House of Lords.
He examined his theory, which he explores in his most recent book, The Evolution of Everything: How Ideas Emerge, that history’s most successful trends came from the “bottom up” during this week’s Chalke Valley History Festival.
“We give far too much importance to individuals in history – that is my claim and that is a pretty big claim,” said Ridley, who believes humans share a sort of “collective brain.”
Ridley argued that any of the “many little cults” that existed in the Roman Empire might have become Europe’s dominant belief system, but only Christianity thrived in that way.
“The notion that the Roman Empire was ripe for a monopoly religion to take it over at around the time of Christ is probably an inevitable one,” he said. “There were a huge number of different religions in the empire, and the chances were that one of them would ‘do a Starbucks,’ and become ubiquitous, monopolistic and eventually intolerant and kick the other ones out.”
He explained that a mystic from Cappadocia was far better known and more widely followed than Christ in the first century A.D., but Christianity was ultimately more successful.
“It’s a bit like Google,” he said. “Maybe other companies were just as good at inventing search engines, but Google just happened to scoop the pool.”
Watch Ridley discuss his book in a video posted online by Talks by Google: