Archive for December 2012

Fundamentalism   2 comments

Sacre Couer Bell Tower

Content Note: War in the Middle East, Eternal Damnation, Mocking Scriptures

I was struck reading a quote from Chris Hallquist as cited by Leah Libresco.

This is why talk of “atheist fundamentalism” is ridiculous. Atheists do not have any holy book we consider infallible. We have no traditional dogmas to defend. We certainly do not reject central discoveries of science for the sake of any holy book or dogma. We do not think anyone should be eternally damned merely for disagreeing with us, or declare anyone’s private behavior to be an “abomination” just because a book written thousands of years ago says so.

I find this to be an odd sentiment, coming from an atheist. It isn’t an uncommon sentiment, but it is an odd sentiment. It’s odd because it treats religion as a special category of human behavior separate from other categories of human behavior. In this particular sentiment, many religious people and many atheists put themselves in agreement. That agreement is odd.

If Hallquist thought about religion as an anthropologist did, or a social scientist, or anyone else who didn’t give religion special eminence in the sphere of human activity, he would realize that of course their are atheist fundamentalists. If fundamentalism is a really existing phenomenon, it is a human phenomenon. It stems from concerns and motives and methods of thought that are common to all human beings. The existence of sacred scripture in a particular cultural context does not create new pathways in the brain or produce an otherwise unknown hormonal response. If the tendency to fundamentalism exists, it exists in all human beings.

A Dawkins or a Hitchens might not appear to be fundamentalist in every context, but then again I imagine it is just barely possible that religious fundamentalists are also capable of normal human behavior uninfluenced by their fundamentalism. It is certain that Dawkins and Hitchens both cheered on our destructive wars in the Middle East because of anti-Muslim bigotry. If that isn’t virulent fundamentalism, I’m not sure what is.

By the same token, though, Christian fundamentalism should be considered a reality even by convinced Christians. A sincere Catholic should be able to recognize that if human beings can be angry and irrational, they can be angry and irrational about things that happen to be true as well as things that happen to be false. I only know a few Christians who view their religion as immunity to sin, and all the rest should recognize that fundamentalism is a sin to which they are not immune. Given how common the charge of fundamentalism is against Christianity, Christians should be especially on the lookout for it, if only to prevent scandal.


Inactivity = Activity   Leave a comment

As many of my readers probably haven’t noticed, I haven’t been nearly as active with posting for about the past month. That’s because I was looking for a new job, spending Thanksgiving with my family, and then starting a new job. This hasn’t left me with much time for posting. Reading Susan Collins’ Gregor the Overlander series (which was fantastic) may also have played some small part

And I’m not sure when that reality is going to get better. There are many aspects that I like about my new job, but there are some pretty big drawbacks. So I may or may not be spending my time intensively looking for and starting another new job in the coming month. We’ll see.

In the meantime, thank you for your patience. I’ll be getting back to being reluctantly liberal and liberally reluctant again soon.

Posted 12/01/2012 by reluctantliberal in Blog Business