Results tagged “fundamentalism” from onegoodmove

Links With Your Coffee - Wednesday

Dawkins Responds To Fundamentalist Charge

Excellent response to the many who make the bogus "you're just as much a fundamentalist as the religious", well done Richard

How dare you call me a fundamentalist

The right to criticise 'faith-heads'

The hardback God Delusion was hailed as the surprise bestseller of 2006. While it was warmly received by most of the 1,000-plus individuals who volunteered personal reviews to Amazon, paid print reviewers gave less uniform approval. Cynics might invoke unimaginative literary editors: it has “God” in the title, so send it to a known faith-head. That would be too cynical, however. Several critics began with the ominous phrase, “I’m an atheist, BUT . . .” So here is my brief rebuttal to criticisms originating from this “belief in belief” school.

I’m an atheist, but I wish to dissociate myself from your shrill, strident, intemperate, intolerant, ranting language.

Objectively judged, the language of The God Delusion is less shrill than we regularly hear from political commentators or from theatre, art, book or restaurant critics. The illusion of intemperance flows from the unspoken convention that faith is uniquely privileged: off limits to attack. In a criticism of religion, even clarity ceases to be a virtue and begins to sound like aggressive hostility.

A politician may attack an opponent scathingly across the floor of the House and earn plaudits for his robust pugnacity. But let a soberly reasoning critic of religion employ what would, in other contexts, sound merely direct or forthright, and it will be described as a shrill rant. My nearest approach to stridency was my account of God as “the most unpleasant character in all fiction”. I don’t know how well I succeeded, but my intention was closer to humorous broadside than shrill polemic. Restaurant critics are notoriously scathing, but are seldom dismissed as shrill or intolerant. A restaurant might seem a trivial target compared to God. But restaurateurs and chefs have feelings to hurt and livelihoods to lose, whereas “blasphemy is a victimless crime”.

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Links With Your Coffee 2007-03-24

Daggers Drawn

BBC's The Moral Maze
Atheists and believers are daggers drawn, each accusing the other of fundamentalism. This week the Maze asks if we would be better off without Religion?

What is the role of religion in the public square? The problem for me is the appeal to authority, God, in a public discussion and the assumption that criticism of that is disrespectful. It is the privileging of religious views because they are religious not because they make sense. It's fine with me if someone says I believe such and such on the basis of my faith, but that is the beginning of the conversation not the end. I want the reasons why I should adopt that view, and if I question the source of the belief, the implied authority, I don't want to be told that I'm being disrespectful.

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Passion Not Fundamentalism

An excerpt from The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins about an argument that we often hear at onegoodmove.

'Doesn't your hostility mark you out as a fundamentalist in you own way as the wingnuts of the Bible Belt in theirs?' I need to dispose of this accusation of fundamentalism, for it is distressingly common.

Fundamentalism And The Subversion of Science.

Fundamentalists know they are right because they have read the truth in a holy book and they know, in advance, that nothing will budge them from their belief. The truth of the holy book is an axiom, not the end product of a process of reasoning. The book is true, and if the evidence seems to contradict it, it is the evidence that must be thrown out, not the book. By contrast, what I, as a scientist, believe (for example, evolution) I believe not because of reading a holy book but because I have studied the evidence. It really is a very different matter. Books about evolution are believed not because they are holy. They are believed because they present overwhelming quantities of mutually buttressed evidence. In principle, a reader can go and check that evidence. When a science book is wrong, somebody eventually discovers the mistake and it is corrected in subsequent books. That conspicuously doesn't happen with holy books.

Philosophers, especially amateurs with a little philosophical learning, and even more especially those infected with 'cultural relativism', may raise a tiresome red herring at this point: a scientist's belief in evidence is itself a matter of fundamentalist faith. I have dealt with this elsewhere, and will only briefly repeat myself here. All of us believe in evidence in our own lives, whatever we may profess with our amateur philosophical hats on. If I am accused of murder, and prosecuting counsel sternly asks me whether it is true that I was in Chicago on the night of the crime, I cannot get away with a philosophical evasion: 'It depends what you mean by "true". ' Nor with an anthropological, relativist plea: "it is only in your Western scientific sense of "in" a place if you are anointed elder entitled to take snuff from the dried scrotum of a goat'.

Maybe scientists are fundamentalist when it comes to defining in some abstract way what is meant by 'truth', but so is everybody else. I am no more fundamentalist when I say evolution is true than when I say it is true that New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere. We believe in evolution because the evidence supports it, and we would abandon it overnight if new evidence arose to disprove it. No real fundamentalist would ever say anything like that.

It is all too easy to confuse fundamentalism with passion. I may well appear passionate when I defend evolution against a fundamentalist creationist, but this is not because of a rival fundamentalism of my own. It is because the evidence for evolution is overwhelmingly strong and I am passionately distressed that my oppenent can't see it - or, more usually refuses to look at it because it contradicts his holy book. My passion is increased when I think about how much the poor fundamentalists, and those whom they influence, are missing. The truths of evolution, along with many other scientific truths are so engrossingly fascinating and beautiful; how truly tragic to die having missed ot on all that! Of course that makes me passionate. How could it not? But my belief in evolution is not fundamentalism, and it is not faith, because I know what it would take to change my mind, and I would gladly do so if the necessary evidence were forthcoming.

They Stand Alone

The US and Israel Stand Alone

Indeed, the US and Israel stand alone, but to hear the Bush Administration tell it, to hear Israel tell it, they are once again the victim. The whole world hates them. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with their actions, but what is even more troubling is if you criticize any action Israel takes, the 'your with us or your against us' mentality takes over. No criticism is just, no criticism is accepted with your right without it quickly being followed with the always present but. This is an excellent interview and covers the broader issue of fundamentalism. I think you'll like it, and a thanks to those who emailed me with the link.

There's no doubt that this administration has made a radical and unpressured departure from the basic policies of all previous administrations including those of both Republican and Democratic presidents.

SPIEGEL: You also mentioned the hatred for the United States throughout the Arab world which has ensued as a result of the invasion of Iraq. Given this circumstance, does it come as any surprise that Washington's call for democracy in the Middle East has been discredited?

Carter: No, as a matter of fact, the concerns I exposed have gotten even worse now with the United States supporting and encouraging Israel in its unjustified attack on Lebanon.

SPIEGEL: But wasn't Israel the first to get attacked?

Carter: I don't think that Israel has any legal or moral justification for their massive bombing of the entire nation of Lebanon. What happened is that Israel is holding almost 10,000 prisoners, so when the militants in Lebanon or in Gaza take one or two soldiers, Israel looks upon this as a justification for an attack on the civilian population of Lebanon and Gaza. I do not think that's justified, no.

SPIEGEL: Do you think the United States is still an important factor in securing a peaceful solution to the Middle East crisis?

Carter: Yes, as a matter of fact as you know ever since Israel has been a nation the United States has provided the leadership. Every president down to the ages has done this in a fairly balanced way, including George Bush senior, Gerald Ford, and others including myself and Bill Clinton. This administration has not attempted at all in the last six years to negotiate or attempt to negotiate a settlement between Israel and any of its neighbors or the Palestinians.

The Mark of Cain

Dr. House meets a 15 year old faith healer. A drama that had me laughing from start to finish. I've not heard so many great lines in a long time. You're going to love this clip, okay well maybe it's more of an extended trailer that gives away the entire show.

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Science faces 'dangerous times'

Lord May says "Sadly, for many, the response is to retreat from complexity and difficulty by embracing the darkness of fundamentalist unreason" (tip to Carmen)

Fundamentalism is hampering global efforts to tackle climate change, according to Britain's top scientist.
In his final speech as president of the Royal Society, Lord May of Oxford will say scientists must speak out against the climate change "denial lobby".
He will warn core scientific values are "under serious threat from resurgent fundamentalism, West and East".


Fundamentalists are just like us

SCOTT ATRAN knows a thing or two about fundamentalists, and as far as he's concerned, they are nice people. "I certainly find very little hatred; they act out of love," he says. "These people are very compassionate." Atran, who studies group dynamics at the University of Michigan, is talking about suicide bombers, extremists by anyone's standards and not representative of fundamentalist ideology in general (New Scientist, 23 July, page 18). But surprisingly, much of what Atran has discovered about suicide bombers helps to explain the psychology of all fundamentalist movements.

Inside the mind of a suicide bomber
(more in the extended entry)

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Links With Your Coffee - Saturday

Quicktime Video of Jeff/James/Gannon/Guckert lets just call him BullDog via

Rapture awaits in the Florida Panhandle

There were stunning statements about humans having been only 6,000 years on Earth and other denials of contemporary geology and biology. And we learned that the Rapture, which could happen any second now, but certainly within the next 40 years, will instantly sweep all the "saved" Americans (perhaps one-half the population) to heaven, leaving the United States as "a Third World country" with the European Union becoming the revived Roman Empire

Mocking Our Dreams

The reality of climate change is that the engines of progress have merely accelerated our rush to the brink

The denial of climate change, while out of tune with the science, is consistent with, even necessary for, the outlook of almost all the world's economists. Modern economics, whether informed by Marx or Keynes or Hayek, is premised on the notion that the planet has an infinite capacity to supply us with wealth and absorb our pollution. The cure to all ills is endless growth. Yet endless growth, in a finite world, is impossible. Pull this rug from under the economic theories, and the whole system of thought collapses.

And this, of course, is beyond contemplation. It mocks the dreams of both left and right, of every child and parent and worker. It destroys all notions of progress. If the engines of progress - technology and its amplification of human endeavor - have merely accelerated our rush to the brink, then everything we thought was true is false. Brought up to believe that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, we are now discovering that it is better to curse the darkness than to burn your house down.

Our economists are exposed by climatologists as utopian fantasists, the leaders of a millenarian cult as mad as, and far more dangerous than, any religious fundamentalism. But their theories govern our lives, so those who insist that physics and biology still apply are ridiculed by a global consensus founded on wishful thinking.

Not In Our Name

Not In Our Name

As George W. Bush is inaugurated for a second term, let it not be said that people in the United States silently acquiesced in the face of this shameful coronation of war, greed, and intolerance. He does not speak for us. He does not represent us. He does not act in our name.

No election, whether fair or fraudulent, can legitimize criminal wars on foreign countries, torture, the wholesale violation of human rights, and the end of science and reason.

In our name, the Bush government justifies the invasion and occupation of Iraq on false pretenses, raining down destruction, horror, and misery, bringing death to more than 100,000 Iraqis. It sends our youth to destroy entire cities for the sake of so-called democratic elections, while intimidating and disenfranchising thousands of African American and other voters at home.

In our name, the Bush government holds in contempt international law and world opinion. It carries out torture and detentions without trial around the world and proposes new assaults on our rights of privacy, speech and assembly at home. It strips the rights of Arabs, Muslims and South Asians in the U.S., denies them legal counsel, stigmatizes and holds them without cause. Thousands have been deported.

As new trial balloons are floated about invasions of Syria, or Iran, or North Korea, about leaving the United Nations, about new �lifetime detention� policies, we say not in our name will we allow further crimes to be committed against nations or individuals deemed to stand in the way of the goal of unquestioned world supremacy.

Could we have imagined a few years ago that core principles such as the separation of church and state, due process, presumption of innocence, freedom of speech, and habeas corpus would be discarded so easily? Now, anyone can be declared an �enemy combatant� without meaningful redress or independent review by a President who is concentrating power in the executive branch. His choice for Attorney General is the legal architect of the torture that has been carried out in Guant�namo, Afghanistan, and Abu Ghraib.

The Bush government seeks to impose a narrow, intolerant, and political form of Christian fundamentalism as government policy. No longer on the margins of power, this extremist movement aims to strip women of their reproductive rights, to stoke hatred of gays and lesbians, and to drive a wedge between spiritual experience and scientific truth. We will not surrender to extremists our right to think. AIDS is not a punishment from God. Global warming is a real danger. Evolution happened. All people must be free to find meaning and sustenance in whatever form of religious or spiritual belief they choose. But religion can never be compulsory. These extremists may claim to make their own reality, but we will not allow them to make ours.

Millions of us worked, talked, marched, poll watched, contributed, voted, and did everything we could to defeat the Bush regime in the last election. This unprecedented effort brought forth new energy, organization, and commitment to struggle for justice. It would be a terrible mistake to let our failure to stop Bush in these ways lead to despair and inaction. On the contrary, this broad mobilization of people committed to a fairer, freer, more peaceful world must move forward. We cannot, we will not, wait until 2008. The fight against the second Bush regime has to start now.

The movement against the war in Vietnam never won a presidential election. But it blocked troop trains, closed induction centers, marched, spoke to people door to door -- and it helped to stop a war. The Civil Rights Movement never tied its star to a presidential candidate; it sat in, freedom rode, fought legal battles, filled jailhouses -- and changed the face of a nation.

We must change the political reality of this country by mobilizing the tens of millions who know in their heads and hearts that the Bush regime�s �reality� is nothing but a nightmare for humanity. This will require creativity, mass actions and individual moments of courage. We must come together whenever we can, and we must act alone whenever we have to.

We draw inspiration from the soldiers who have refused to fight in this immoral war. We applaud the librarians who have refused to turn over lists of our reading, the high school students who have demanded to be taught evolution, those who brought to light torture by the U.S. military, and the massive protests that voiced international opposition to the war on Iraq. We affirm ordinary people undertaking extraordinary acts. We pledge to create community to back courageous acts of resistance. We stand with the people throughout the world who fight every day for the right to create their own future.

It is our responsibility to stop the Bush regime from carrying out this disastrous course. We believe history will judge us sharply should we fail to act decisively.


Walter Davis

on Christian Fundamentalism.

"I don't do nuance."


Literalism is the linchpin of fundamentalism; the literalization, if you will, of the founding psychological need. For an absolute certitude that can be established at the level of facts that will admit of no ambiguity or interpretation. (Fundamentalists, ironically, are the true positivists.) But to eliminate ambiguity and confusion one must attack its source. Figurative language. That is the danger that must be avoided at all costs because in place of the literal figurative language introduces the play of meaning. The need to sustain complex connections at the level of thought (not fact) through the evolution of mental abilities that are necessarily connected with developing all the metaphoric resources of language. The literal in contrast puts an end to thought. It offers the mind a way to shut down, to reify itself. It thereby exorcises the greatest fear: interpretation and its inevitable result, the conflict of interpretations and with it the terror of being forever bereft of dogmatic certitudes. A metaphor is the lighting flash of an intelligence that sees, as Aristotle asserts, connections that can only be sustained by a thought that thereby liberates itself from the immediate.

Literalism is the attempt to arrest all of this before it takes hold. It's innermost necessity is the resistance to metaphor. For with metaphor one enters a world that has the power to unravel the literal mind. Let me offer one example. "There is no God and Mary is his mother." In this great aphorism Santayana asserts an ontological impossibility and a psychological necessity. I once tried it out on some fundamentalist friends. They were at first puzzled by the unintelligibility of the statement then amazed that Santayana and I were so dumb we couldn't see the contradiction. Finally the light went on, almost in chorus, the literalist deconstruction of the statement: "If he wasn't a God how could she be a mother?" All attempts to suggest that the statement wasn't meant to be taken literally only produced further confusion then frustration then anger. Santayana's statement made no sense precisely because it was a koan, a paradox intended to produce reflection, even introspection. It was there I suggested that one would find the key to its meaning; not in the assertion that its meaningless constituted evidence that Santayana was perverse or mentally unbalanced. We were, of course, talking at irretrievable cross-purposes with no way to bridge the gulf between us. Which was, of course, the point of the exercise.

I'd Be Wearing A Burka

This clip from the CBS evening news re-kindled my anger toward the criminal named George, a real feat since it is hard to imagine feeling more angry than I already was. But more than that I feel sad. You won't be able to watch this without shedding a tear or two.

"I don't believe God makes mistakes."
"If we'd have waited any longer I'd be wearing a burka."
"If we just sit back and don't do anything they're going to overrun us."

What do you say to a women who makes statements like these. "God is dead", no I think what you say is that George W. Bush is not God. The problem with fundamentalism is that it is born of emotion not rational thought. God can do no wrong, the arguments are circular, and like any addict the believers need their fix no matter how much it harms them and those they love.

Quicktime Video 3.7MB 2'52

Links From Readers

Lists: 2004 Everyone loves lists

ha ha he missed this one

Fox Blockers

No Mandate for Market Fundamentalism

Atheist Becomes Theist

Dick Cheney's New Years Resolutions thanks Alan

Grand Rounds 11

Fundies And Facists

So you want to be a fundamentalist. It's easy if you try and there are only five rules you must abide. Read more about The Fundamentalist Agenda and don't miss Digby's take on it.

From 1988 to 1993, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences sponsored an interdisciplinary study known as The Fundamentalism Project, the largest such study ever done. More than 100 scholars from all over the world took part, reporting on every imaginable kind of fundamentalism. And what they discovered was that the agenda of all fundamentalist movements in the world is virtually identical, regardless of religion or culture.

They identified five characteristics shared by virtually all fundamentalisms. The fundamentalists' agenda starts with insistence that their rules must be made to apply to all people, and to all areas of life. There can be no separation of church and state, or of public and private areas of life. The rigid rules of God�and they never doubt that they and only they have got these right�must become the law of the land. Pat Robertson, again, has said that just as Supreme Court justices place a hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution, so they should also place a hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible. In Khomeini's Iran, and in the recent Taliban rule of Afghanistan, we saw how brutal and bloody this looks in real time.

The second agenda item is really at the top of the list, and it's vulgarly simple: Men are on top. Men are bigger and stronger, and they rule not only through physical strength but also and more importantly through their influence on the laws and rules of the land. Men set the boundaries. Men define the norms, and men enforce them. They also define women, and they define them through narrowly conceived biological functions. Women are to be supportive wives, mothers, and homemakers.

A third item follows from the others. (Indeed each part of the fundamentalist agenda is necessarily interlocked, and needs every other part to survive.) Since there is only one right picture of the world, one right set of beliefs, and one right set of roles for men, women, and children, it is imperative that this picture and these rules be communicated precisely to the next generation. Therefore, fundamentalists must control education by controlling textbooks and teaching styles, deciding what may and may not be taught.

Fourth, fundamentalists spurn the modern, and want to return to a nostalgic vision of a golden age that never really existed. Several of the scholars observed a strong and deep resemblance between fundamentalism and fascism. Both have almost identical agendas. Men are on top, women are subservient, there is one rigid set of rules, with police and military might to enforce them, and education is tightly controlled by the state. One scholar suggested that it's helpful to understand fundamentalism as religious fascism, and fascism as political fundamentalism. The phrase �overcoming the modern� is a fascist slogan dating back to at least 1941.

The fifth point is the most abstract, though it's foundational. Fundamentalists deny history in a radical and idiosyncratic way. Fundamentalists know as well or better than anybody that culture shapes everything it touches: The times we live in color how we think, what we value, and the kind of people we become. Fundamentalists agree on the perverseness of modern American society: the air of permissiveness and narcissism, individual rights unbalanced by responsibilities, sex divorced from commitment, and so on. What they don't want to see is the way culture colored the era when their scriptures were created.


Adam Werbach, president of the Apollo Alliance, has some interesting things to say about the direction of the Democratic Party. He has proclaimed the liberal project of the New Deal dead. He believes we need to kick that dead body out of the car. He has written what is called the November 3 Theses, have a look. My favorite are Thesis XVII.

The progressive vision must be a direct challenge to fundamentalism in all of its forms: political, religious and economic. It must match fundamentalism's power without replicating its authoritarianism. It must appeal to the values of liberty, equality, community, justice, unconditional love, shared prosperity, and ecological restoration, among many others.

and Thesis VI

Renovating Democratic politics is not a question of moving to the right or talking more about religion. It is about creating a framework that once again communicates to the core needs of the American people.

There are many other good ones. Also, here is a good interview with him. I urge you to read that as well.


"Fundamentalism means sticking strictly to the script, which in turn means being deeply fearful of the improvised, ambiguous or indeterminate...Since writing is meaning that can be handled by anybody, any time, it is always profane and promiscuous. Meaning that has been written down is bound to be unhygienic...Fundamentalism is the paranoid condition of those who do not see that roughness is not a defect of human existence, but what makes it work."

Terry Eagleton
--The Guardian 22 Feb. 2003

It's Fundamental

Here are a few interesting links I came across today. Do they take them to Disney World for the sessions?
Two young sons of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11 attacks, are being held by the CIA to force their father to talk, interrogators said yesterday.
Commentary on the kidnapping story at Talk Left and also at Gamers Nook Not all christians are fundamentalist nuts. Just War ? or a Just War? by Jimmy Carter
Profound changes have been taking place in American foreign policy, reversing consistent bipartisan commitments that for more than two centuries have earned our nation greatness. These commitments have been predicated on basic religious principles, respect for international law, and alliances that resulted in wise decisions and mutual restraint. Our apparent determination to launch a war against Iraq, without international support, is a violation of these premises.
Speaking of fundamentalism here is a nice piece on the topic from Joseph Deumer


When I hear the word absolutism used in terms of a world-view I turn and run, I'm frightened by those who think they "know", but absolutism is an appealing idea. How wonderful to look in the "good book" and know how to react in any situation. Man has been searching for this holy grail for centuries and it seems no nearer now than when he began. I'm astounded that much of the world despite millennium of trying and failing, still holds to an absolutist world view. In his book "Twilight of the Idols" Nietzsche writes about "How the 'Real World' at last Became a Myth" Christopher Jenson's essay annotates it to address the metaphysics of Stephen Covey. A metaphysics that is almost identical to Kants. The annotations along with Nietzsche's words provide an excellent way to understand why the absolutist position is untenable. I have pointed to this essay in disscussions with absolutists. The most common response is well, I don't agree with that, but I'll have to think about it and get back to you. To date none have. So the question is where does that leave us, if there are no absolutes on a metaphysical level there are certainly no absolutes on the moral ethical level. Is it as some fear that we will be cast into a relativistic quagmire, or are there other options. Are there moral ethical systems that are not subject to an undisciplined relativism? I would argue that pragmatism provides just such a method, a middle ground. It was Joseph Duemer and Daniel Erlich's conversation that renewed my interest in this subject. Joseph uses the term, divorced from reality, when visiting sites such as this one. He finds himself, upon viewing the content of such a site, "muttering small talk at the wall", perhaps "What the Fuck?"

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