Fundamentalism : Threat or Strawman?

Marty Hamrick
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Fundamentalism : Threat or Strawman?

In his book, Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris addresses Christian Fundamentalism as a national threat, he says, to the US and declares it a "moral and intellectual emergency". He cites polls that say as much as 50% of the US believe in Creationism over evolution. Harris cites other problems with fundamentalism , but doesn't end his criticism there. He criticizes liberals and moderates for providing a sort of "asylum" for fundamentalism, Bill Maher referred to liberals and moderates as "enablers" even "Mafia wives".

Critics, at least the ones that don't foam at the mouth or quake when they talk, say that fundamentalism and creationism and the other fallout from such are the atheist's "strawman argument", that the fundy threat is non existent and is just something that atheists build up to tear down.

Where do you sit? Are you at least concerned that according to at least one poll, over half of the US believes that the entire human race was started by two people in a garden with a talking snake ? Are you at all bothered by the 27 million dollars that was spent to erect a creationist museum? Does it concern you that there are fundamentalist teachers who work in public schools with the agenda to get creationism and ID in public schools by any means necessary? These are all things that have appeared in mainstream media outlets, if you search, you will find it. In other arenas , how do you feel about guys like John Hagee and Dominionism? Is it something to be concerned about, or does the fact that guys like him have had sympathetic ears in the White House in the past, just not concern you?

Finally atheists, how do you feel about liberals and moderates? Are they enablers, Mafia wives as Bill Maher maintains, or is fundamentalism one of those lunatic fringe things that shouldn't be taken seriously?     

"Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings."


Cpt_pineapple
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My view on the

My view on the fundamentalist vs moderate debate is complex and sure to draw lots of flack.

 

 

For one, I disagree with the whole "Moderates enable the fundamentalists" line or argument. The reason being that it assumes the the natural state of religion is fundamentalism.

 

For example, many people here promote secularism that is religion out of government, China promotes that too, only you can go to jail or even be executed if you practice religion. Obviously many atheists here would object to that. Like agreeing with the Syrian Ba'ath party that Islam does not belong in government, but the difference is that Ba'ath party actually executes radical Islamists.

 

That is the same goals [get religion out of government], but completely different methods. Does the more moderate view of secularism, i.e religion out of government enable China and Syria to commit human rights violations? I say no. Does Ken Miller giving a lecture on Catholicism enable the IRA to kill Protestants? Of course not.

 

That said, there are moderates that do discourage questioning the fundamentalists, but that isn't an inherient trait of moderate. Any more than promote socialism, is enabeling the USSR or FARC, or promoting Capatilism means promote anarchism.

 

 

Another good example of this is the enviromentalist movement. Does promoting enviromentalism in of itself, enable the nut-so who burn down SUV lots? Nope.

 

 

My stance is that moderates can enable them, but simply being a moderate doesn't enable them.

 

 

 

 

 


Atheistextremist
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I tend to the extreme

 

 

and am openly hostile towards monotheism in my daily life and there's no doubt moderate unbelievers - lefties - see my attitudes as being utterly wrong and they regularly oppose me arguing from freedom of expression while discounting completely the inherent oppression that lives inside christianity and islam.

I think its fair to say these attitudes, which perhaps stem from white guilt and associated political correctness, enable the nurturing of belief systems that are completely opposed to moderate ways of thinking yet moderates are simply unable to criticise them. It's clangingly obvious islam and christianity breach the UN's International Charter of Human Rights and defy the constitutions of typical democracies. Yet to point these things out is to be described as a neo-racist.  

 

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A 'moderate' who does not

A 'moderate' who does not speak out, at least occasionally, about the most egregious evils done in the name of the religion they also hold to, is definitely part of the problem associated with the more fundamentalist versions of the various 'faiths'.

 

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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

 

 

and am openly hostile towards monotheism in my daily life and there's no doubt moderate unbelievers - lefties - see my attitudes as being utterly wrong and they regularly oppose me arguing from freedom of expression while discounting completely the inherent oppression that lives inside christianity and islam.

I think its fair to say these attitudes, which perhaps stem from white guilt and associated political correctness, enable the nurturing of belief systems that are completely opposed to moderate ways of thinking yet moderates are simply unable to criticise them. It's clangingly obvious islam and christianity breach the UN's International Charter of Human Rights and defy the constitutions of typical democracies. Yet to point these things out is to be described as a neo-racist.  

 

I agree.

Me personally, I have not read any of the works of Sam Harris ( I keep putting his books on my "to read list" and keep not getting to them) but I find it hard to believe there are that many people that could buy into lunatic "creationist ideas". It might be because I don't WANT to believe that. Can't speak for the rest of the world, but in the U.S. , where Christian fundamentalists are always whining that they are being persecuted, this comic (but powerful) video always comes to my mind :

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pwwvBygoFA

This is one of the BEST Atheist videos that I have ever seen. I think every Atheist should watch this. It made me want to take more action to try and educate, spread the message, send letters to our leaders and march in the streets for our rights :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vt4wkxBiswM&feature=related

“It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.”
― Giordano Bruno


MrB
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 The fundamentalists of

 The fundamentalists of today will become the mainstream of tomorrow. Fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Muslims have shown their horrifically destructive capabilities on a number of occasions, and though the current breed of fundamentalism in the United States seems calmer than in the times of the crusades and Salem witch trials this docility will not last forever. The moderates who let it happen are allowing this mindset to grow unchecked and exponentially in numbers and in fervor.

An example of this kind of moderate can be seen in the actions of Neville Chamberlain near the onset of World War 2. When Hitler was accumulating forces and bring up his war machine Chamberlain did nothing to stop him. Thus is so with fundamentalism today. With a crafty and underhanded approach Evangelical Christians have begun a war against the infidels of their religion. Everyday they are out trying to recruit more zealots, soldiers to their cause. They are preying on weak minds and exploiting the naive minds of children to bolster their numbers. Every day that this is drawn out the moderates, and in some situations the opposition, allow it to happen because of misplaced respect or a mindset of not wanting to get their hands dirty.

I propose a different action is needed to curb this rash upon the world known as religion. It needs to be fought head on. Atheists should be entering the teaching profession directly to combat religious indoctrination, Humanist should be offering aid to needy families, and recovery programs to those who are afflicted and harmed by their addictions. The rational voice needs to move from being the soft reminders in the background to the loud call to arms favored among the media. My hat is in and I will no longer sit idly by as children have mental abuse inflicted upon them through images of hell. I will not stand idly by as the strength of human compassion is canceled out by a dead beat god's supposed will, and nor should anyone else for that matter.

 

He who stands for Nothing will fall for Anything.- Alexander Hamilton


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Hear, hear!

Hear, hear!


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The argument that the

The argument that the fundamentalist or creationist is a straw man ignores things like the Dover trial becoming national news, as well as the problems with Texas being able to essentially control the text books for the US due to their purchasing power and various religious groups working to pack the school boards with creationists. It also ignores the money being poured into campaigns to oppose gay marriage and the like. Though for the sake of devils advocate it is possible that they were arguing more from the perspective that athiests tend to focus on creationists and fundamentalists as examples of the religious in general where the moderates would argue that they are the majority and thus atheists are 'strawmanning' all theists into those subheadings.

As to the question of the moderates being enablers the question is trickier. In some regards, yes, their unwillingness to confront them over what is being done on moral or religious grounds gives the fundies license to continue and in fact grow more vicious and spiteful. However there is also the problem that many of the moderates are also more liberal and believe that people have a right to their beliefs. I think some of them interpret the atheists arguments as saying that no one should be allowed to believe or that certain beliefs should be banned and thus feel that the atheist is being tyrannical or is an opposite coin to the fundy. Part of the problem is also the religiosity, even among the fundies, is a sliding scale and I kind of wonder if for more moderate denominations fundamentalism starts at things like the phelps clan and such.


Marty Hamrick
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Cpt_pineapple wrote:My view

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

My view on the fundamentalist vs moderate debate is complex and sure to draw lots of flack.

 

 

For one, I disagree with the whole "Moderates enable the fundamentalists" line or argument. The reason being that it assumes the the natural state of religion is fundamentalism. 

What IS the natural state of religion? How do you guage that?

 

Quote:

For example, many people here promote secularism that is religion out of government, China promotes that too, only you can go to jail or even be executed if you practice religion. Obviously many atheists here would object to that. Like agreeing with the Syrian Ba'ath party that Islam does not belong in government, but the difference is that Ba'ath party actually executes radical Islamists.

 

That is the same goals [get religion out of government], but completely different methods. Does the more moderate view of secularism, i.e religion out of government enable China and Syria to commit human rights violations? I say no. Does Ken Miller giving a lecture on Catholicism enable the IRA to kill Protestants? Of course not.

 

That said, there are moderates that do discourage questioning the fundamentalists, but that isn't an inherient trait of moderate. Any more than promote socialism, is enabeling the USSR or FARC, or promoting Capatilism means promote anarchism.

On an individual basis, no one simply practicing a faith will enable an atrocity. Yet in some instances where fundamentalist nonsense has gone unchecked (think Tea Partyers), you have to wonder where the liberal Christians were when they were proliferating. Why don't more liberal churches publicly denounce this nonsense? Their fundy conservative churches are certainly gunning for them. In the Bible Belt church bulletins have candidate "report cards" inserted in them with instructions on ow a good Christian should vote.

Quote:

 

 

Another good example of this is the enviromentalist movement. Does promoting enviromentalism in of itself, enable the nut-so who burn down SUV lots? Nope.

Good points although the liberal/moderate scale slides both ways and it makes good sense to be aware of what your nieghbor church preaches and promotes.

Quote:

 

 

My stance is that moderates can enable them, but simply being a moderate doesn't enable them.

 

It tends to be an individual vs. group thing.

 

 

 

 

 

"Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings."


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Marty Hamrick wrote: Finally

Marty Hamrick wrote:
Finally atheists, how do you feel about liberals and moderates? Are they enablers, Mafia wives as Bill Maher maintains, or is fundamentalism one of those lunatic fringe things that shouldn't be taken seriously?     

I fully agree with Sam Harris. American moderates voted in twice an Evangelical Christian President who admitted he was being personally guided by 'god' to go to war and fight the 'evil doers', and will attack his claims and ask for proof that he was being directly told by 'god' to do it.

And the majority of Christians will openly state that they will only consider voting in another 'Gawd fearin' Chrischun'. They hold gullibility over objectivity.

That is absolutely a crisis in America. Why do you think America has such a bulls eye on it's back from so many different 'faiths' and cultures?

 

 

 

 

I keep asking myself " Are they just playin' stupid, or are they just plain stupid?..."

"To explain the unknown by the known is a logical procedure; to explain the known by the unknown is a form of theological lunacy" : David Brooks

" Only on the subject of God can smart people still imagine that they reap the fruits of human intelligence even as they plow them under." : Sam Harris


Zaq
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Fundamentalism

I've never heard the term "fundamentalist physicist" used in a derogatory fashion.  Every physicist is a fundamentalist physicist and there's no problem with it.  If being a fundamentalist phycisist was a problem, then we'd fix our fundamentals.

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Zaq wrote:I've never heard

Zaq wrote:

I've never heard the term "fundamentalist physicist" used in a derogatory fashion.  Every physicist is a fundamentalist physicist and there's no problem with it.  If being a fundamentalist phycisist was a problem, then we'd fix our fundamentals.

 

Ah, you would be looking for floor 2, aisle B.  Lingerie.

 

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