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Old 07-19-2001, 10:57 AM   #1
aikido7
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Post Fundamentalism: Quaint L'l Time Bomb

While it is certainly true that all fundamentalist Christians are not lacking in intelligence, it seems to be a general rule that most unintelligent Christians tend to be fundamentalists.

The world-wide expansion of fundamentalism is seen by many to be a reaction to modernism, post-modernism, globalism--whatever one wants to call it. The narrow definition of fundamentalism from America's 1920s has given way to a definition of anyone in the world communitiy who tries to hold at bay the impact of cultural change on their traditional practices and beliefs.

We have all been rehearsing for such processes. If one is a parent, a new child definitely introduces impacts and pressures on the traditional family unit. Just as in the birth experience itself, there are pains and cries of fear. If one lives in a neighborhood, the arrival of a stranger (especially if that stranger is from a different cultural background) produces the same dynamic, but at a different level and emphasis. And of course as a nation we have all been feeling the tremors and signs of how to deal with immigration.

The light of the stars we now see in the heavens is actually light that left the far reaches of the universe eons ago. So we are now literally living in an entirely different universe.

To bring all this down to earth and to this board, the anger and sarcasm many of the traditional/evangelical/conservative/fundamentalist posters on these boards only belies the alarm and fear these people feel trying to maintain their fantastical claims and prehistoric tribalist notions in today's
society.

Such outbursts are antithetical to social cohesion. Fundamentalism comes from gut-level emotion and because of this it cannot be dealt with head-on. Hopefully education and tolerance will help. Who knows?

I will not point to specific posters on these boards. That is really not my focus here. I have admittedly been dealing in generalizations on this soapbox, but generally speaking, I see a dangerous intensity in fundamentalism which scares me.
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Old 07-19-2001, 03:04 PM   #2
sighhswolf
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Quote:
Originally posted by aikido7:
<STRONG>While it is certainly true that all fundamentalist Christians are not lacking in intelligence, it seems to be a general rule that most unintelligent Christians tend to be fundamentalists.

The world-wide expansion of fundamentalism is seen by many to be a reaction to modernism, post-modernism, globalism--whatever one wants to call it. The narrow definition of fundamentalism from America's 1920s has given way to a definition of anyone in the world communitiy who tries to hold at bay the impact of cultural change on their traditional practices and beliefs.

We have all been rehearsing for such processes. If one is a parent, a new child definitely introduces impacts and pressures on the traditional family unit. Just as in the birth experience itself, there are pains and cries of fear. If one lives in a neighborhood, the arrival of a stranger (especially if that stranger is from a different cultural background) produces the same dynamic, but at a different level and emphasis. And of course as a nation we have all been feeling the tremors and signs of how to deal with immigration.

The light of the stars we now see in the heavens is actually light that left the far reaches of the universe eons ago. So we are now literally living in an entirely different universe.

To bring all this down to earth and to this board, the anger and sarcasm many of the traditional/evangelical/conservative/fundamentalist posters on these boards only belies the alarm and fear these people feel trying to maintain their fantastical claims and prehistoric tribalist notions in today's
society.

Such outbursts are antithetical to social cohesion. Fundamentalism comes from gut-level emotion and because of this it cannot be dealt with head-on. Hopefully education and tolerance will help. Who knows?

I will not point to specific posters on these boards. That is really not my focus here. I have admittedly been dealing in generalizations on this soapbox, but generally speaking, I see a dangerous intensity in fundamentalism which scares me.</STRONG>
aikido7,
It is a frightening thing the words and actions of Fundies.
I certainly agree that the basis of all
religion is "emotion" not rational thought.
It therefore lends itself to violent outbursts as well as the "loving and compassionate side".
What bothers me is that I see a trend in freethinkers, Atheists, Agnostics to fight fire with fire.
Many of the so-called enlightened will engage in violent outbursts with the Fundies.
They will resort to name calling, bigotry, and discrimination in a desperate attempt to make their points to the fundies.
They cant get through to them any other way, so they resort to the same tactics the fundies use.
If we are freethinkers, then we must be forever on guard not to lower ourselves to the same level as our debators.
It freethinkers resort to bigotry and discrimination and inconsiderate actions designed to attack the mental facilities of our detractors, we become the very thing that we fight against.
We become our own worst enemies.
Wolf
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Old 07-20-2001, 04:43 AM   #3
Prodros
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Quote:
Originally posted by sighhswolf:
<STRONG>

aikido7,
It is a frightening thing the words and actions of Fundies.
I certainly agree that the basis of all
religion is "emotion" not rational thought.
It therefore lends itself to violent outbursts as well as the "loving and compassionate side".
What bothers me is that I see a trend in freethinkers, Atheists, Agnostics to fight fire with fire.
Many of the so-called enlightened will engage in violent outbursts with the Fundies.
They will resort to name calling, bigotry, and discrimination in a desperate attempt to make their points to the fundies.
They cant get through to them any other way, so they resort to the same tactics the fundies use.
If we are freethinkers, then we must be forever on guard not to lower ourselves to the same level as our debators.
It freethinkers resort to bigotry and discrimination and inconsiderate actions designed to attack the mental facilities of our detractors, we become the very thing that we fight against.
We become our own worst enemies.
Wolf </STRONG>
Wolf,

Fighting fire with fire is not the best of responses, but unfortunately it is the easiest response to things that are alien to us. For isn't hatred grounded in fear? We are afraid of things we don't know, things that force us to change, and so we respond by attempting to suffocate them. In other words, we come to hate the things we are afraid of. Fundamentalists are afraid of new ideas, and freethinkers, in turn, of the fundamentalists' response.

I agree with you: if we are to call ourselves freethinkers, we should - must - remain vigilant of our own actions and reactions. I have experienced this myself: I converted to atheism as a response to fundamentalism; I wanted to keep an open mind to things. But, alas, my espousal of openmindedness soon became dogmatic, which was the very thing I wanted to reject. This change happened quite inadvertently, and it took me a while to forge to my current position of friendly, non-practicing atheism.

In short, my hat goes off to Mr. Nietzsche for his keen observation: he who fights monsters should take heed of himself, lest he becomes one.

T...

(Yes, I know, this has very little to do with Biblical criticism & archaeology, but still...)
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Old 07-20-2001, 05:42 AM   #4
offa
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The above postings are excellent. I feel the growth of fundamentalism is a result of lack of knowledge. Our schools and libraries are censored to an extent that true knowledge becomes undersirable.


thanks, offa
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Old 07-20-2001, 10:16 AM   #5
Ron Garrett
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When I was still pastoring I atarted to do workshops in apologetics, aprticularly after the LDS built their temple here in Apex. Dspite having been a Christian most of my life and having been to seminary, I hadn't actually encountered a lot of the Free-Thinker criticisms directly, and what I had encountered I had ingnored.

Reading the apologists in depth toprepare for the classes at my church was actually my first contact with the Free-Thought crowd.
After a while I realized that all the heretics had doctorates from accredited institutions and many of the apologists had paper from some degree mill or other, and unlike most fundamentalists, having mulitple university degrees and then working on a doctorate, I had a hearty respect for the academy that they scorned.

Beyond that, what began my rise from grace was that the counter-arguments of the apologists were so lame and thin and full of special pleading and outright falsehood, that it became clear that the purpose of apologetics was to provide the gullible with facile sounding answers, so that if their mental sleep were ever disturbed by actual truth, they could read the pat answer and go back to sleep, confident that though they had never actually studied the supposed handbook of the universe on their night stand, they could nevertheless rest assured all the answers were there if they should ever care to find them.

The problem of course is that fundies are predisposed to grant credulity to the pronouncements of other fundies without thinking about what they are agreeing to, and they are equally disposed to rejecting out of hand any contrary information. The most you can generally hope for when youohave absolutely back one of them into a factual corner they cannot escape is the blank look of mental coma, followed by angry insistence that you are a threat to their salvation, followed by shunning. Some will even honestly tell you they don't care if it's alla lie because it makes them happy, and I have heard this sad line from educated men and women who should know better and do know better when it comes to anything else in their lives.

Fundamentalism is a cancer and none will be free until it is excised.
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Old 07-20-2001, 01:15 PM   #6
Muad'Dib
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Quote:
Originally posted by sighhswolf:
What bothers me is that I see a trend in freethinkers, Atheists, Agnostics to fight fire with fire.
Many of the so-called enlightened will engage in violent outbursts with the Fundies.
Quote:
Originally posted by Ron Garrett:
Fundamentalism is a cancer and none will be free until it is excised.
This will take the thread out of the domain of BC & A, but:

How do we excise fundamentalism? What do we fight it with? aikido7 suggests:

Quote:
Hopefully education and tolerance will help. Who knows?
What sort of education and what level of tolerance do you think are appropriate?

I think there's a more or less universal consensus that fundamentalism is a bad thing (even many fundamentalists think that other branches of fundamentalism are terribly evil), and many believe that our almost militant reaction to it is unsatisfactory; but what should our response be?

I'm interested in hearing people's thoughts on this.
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Old 07-20-2001, 04:02 PM   #7
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It seems to me that fear is the emotion that religion is based on, invented to answer questions about an awesome world in a time when the real answers weren't readily available. The concept of a powerful god as a protector in time of war, or as an angry god, causing famine or disaster, ties in to all that.

That in this age there are so many in the human race who still turn to an imaginary being for help for everything from relationship "advice" to addiction to a winning lottery ticket, tells me that many are afraid to accept responsibilty for their own lives and actions. I think also that many people need to have someone/thing to "blame" for the bad things that happen in the world.

How do you educate someone who refuses to learn? How do you "cure" someone of magical thinking?
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Old 07-20-2001, 05:56 PM   #8
aikido7
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by Muad'dib:
[QB]

"What sort of education and what level of tolerance do you think are appropriate?"

We need to turn our collective attention to the religion OF Jesus instead of the religion ABOUT Jesus. This will involve going back to look at Christianity through the lens of common sense rather than fantasy and wishful thinking. This will take
good and imaginative writers and teachers who will present the gospel accounts in parallel, then state how the skeptic sees the textual differences, the conservative sees the same texts and the progressive sees the texts. This must be done with no preaching or agenda, just laying it all out and letting the reader make up his or her own mind.

The hysterical fears behind the abortion debate and the homosexual in society seem to have already been somewhat molified within the various congregations. In my view it will be only a matter of time before the church leadership gets the message. There's nothing like putting such abstractions on a personal level to open the most hardened heart to what really needs to be done. It is indeed ironic that the gospel message of Jesus has actually been taken further in the secular world than in the churches.

Most of us are begining to realize that if we do not change what we are doing, we are going to wind up where we are headed.

We must begin using "I" statements while raising our children instead of "You" statements. This will provide a linguistic framework to alter our thinking into taking responsibility for our own actions instead of blaming or belittling someone else for our OWN unhappiness. We must take children by the hand to explore the world together, whether it is the Muslim neighbors down the street or the money-changers in the TV temple in our own living rooms. We must instill curiosity by asking children questions and asking more questions of the answers they give. We must work on nuturing their sense of humor and their natural tolerance and interest in the world around them. It does not really matter if one believes in a god or not. It does matter that ethical behavior is modeled, taught and passed on. A certain amount of ambiguity must be explored with one's children, for we are all living on the same earth together. This may involve being able to hold two opposite views in the mind at the same time.

We must raise the literacy rate and hopefully the biblical literacy rate will go up as well.

To paraphrase our president, we must leave no fundamentalist behind.

Jesus did not glow in the dark, but spoke sense to a community of the perplexed and wounded in a time of dislocating cultural change in the first century of the common era. To those faraway listeners and travelers, Jesus was doing exactly what their Hebrew God would do if He came down to earth. It still remains to be seen if anything of the authentic Jesus can be salvaged and applied in a meaningful, useful way to our present situation.

Read and listen and prepare. The kingdom does not come by expectation; it is already spread out upon the earth and men do not see it.
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Old 07-20-2001, 06:33 PM   #9
sighhswolf
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Exclamation

Quote:
Originally posted by freemonkey:
<STRONG>It seems to me that fear is the emotion that religion is based on, invented to answer questions about an awesome world in a time when the real answers weren't readily available. The concept of a powerful god as a protector in time of war, or as an angry god, causing famine or disaster, ties in to all that.

That in this age there are so many in the human race who still turn to an imaginary being for help for everything from relationship "advice" to addiction to a winning lottery ticket, tells me that many are afraid to accept responsibilty for their own lives and actions. I think also that many people need to have someone/thing to "blame" for the bad things that happen in the world.

How do you educate someone who refuses to learn? How do you "cure" someone of magical thinking?</STRONG>
It is not possible for us as freethinkers or non-theists to "cure" fundamentalists, be they Christian or Muslim or the Jewish Talmud zealots.

I think (and my opinion means absolutely zero), that we have a responsibility to present the REAL truth, not the "contrived
truth" of organized religion.

I can only uphold the facts as they are presented by history, not myths, but actual
documented facts that do not support the various Biblical texts.

The religious communities world wide are not all fundamentalists, and sometime I have to remind myself of that simple fact.

Spiritualism does not have to be a bad thing. Some people need something else in their lives to give them purpose and (as has been stated before) as a buffer to the bad things that happen by purely random chance.

You and I may say that every action is usually followed by an equal and opposite reaction and that WE as Individuals choose our path and our direction, and are therefore responsible for the direction of our own lives.

We may say that the choices we make, determine the quality of our lives, but there are many who believe that they have no control over their life and are at the mercy
of influences that are totally out of their sphere of control.

I dont believe this for one second.
Neither do any of you who are non-theists.

The fight to eliminate fundamentalism is an ongoing fight and will not change in our lifetime.
The fight to expose the religious clergy and doctrines as forgeries and falsehoods spread
for the purpose of gaining wealth and power
will continue as long as there are people like us who are not afraid to "Buck" traditional beliefs and take a stand for education as opposed to superstition.

The way to fight fundamentalism is (believe it or not) through legislation.
As non-theists, we must make our presence known in political circles.

It makes no difference for us to say "These people are crazy, they have been lied to, they have been manipulated by clergy and the organized religions of the world, and they live by hate and intolerance and are a horror
that need to be erradicated".
If we dont stand up and say listen!!

"I dont want my kid to be required to listen to other people pray in public!!"

"I dont want my child exposed to evangelism
in the public schools"!

Kids go to school to learn and experience the pure joy of all the wonderful things that this world has to offer. Not to be indoctrinated into a faith based political system like the present administration is in the process of promoting.

So, how do we approach the fundies? We become a thorn in the side of the political machine that keeps the fundies in positions of power.

How many times have you heard a non-theist say," well I dont believe all this religious crap, but I really dont know that much about the political climate in the country."

The greatest invention of modern times is the advent of the internet. The internet provides instant communication world wide.
It is now impossible to keep information about politics and government and the acts of violence perpetrated by religious fanatics all over the world away from public view.

In the past, the communication network that allows people free exchange of ideas has not been accessible to us.
Now it is.

I really hate it when Christians say to me that because I do not believe in Jesus as my personal savior that me and my whole family is condemned to a firey hell for all eternity. I am appalled when a Christian says that I have no morals no ethics.

I am truly offended when my intellect is questioned, Because I dont believe in MYTHOLOGY!

But I also understand that I cant fight these people using the same tactics they use on us.

Non-theists must be active in the political climate of this country, it is the only way to counter the increasing numbers of fundamentalists that are spiriting themselves into the legislative process.

Just saying among ourselves that there is a problem that is steadily growing and wondering how to enlighten those who are
brainwashed into the mind numbing robotic
religious ferver is not enough.

Christianity has been throughout it's history forced upon cultures through the fear of death from nonconformity.

Christianity has been by definition, terrorism.

We cant educate or change those who believe by simple logic or the presentation of fact, but we can prevent them from gaining control of our individual lives through legislation.
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Old 07-23-2001, 09:02 AM   #10
Ron Garrett
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I used to think that the key to elminating fundamentalism was to highlight the difference between modern fundamentalism and authentic historic Christianity, except most fundies are completely ignorant of the history of Christianity and indeed believe it is irrelevant. Then I thought the means was to illuminate the internal conflicts within scripture so that fundies could see that they can authentically choose a non-Pauline, non-fundamentalist position in their faith that is focused on the "love thy neighbor" and 1st John kind of "love" focus where love supercedes everything else. I soon realized that I had completely misunderstood the attractions of fundamentalism, which are better understood in the context of a military or fraternal organization, as opposed to any actual individual pursuit of spirituality.

1. Fundamentalism offers exclusivity. Ever notice how Unitarian Universalists come in for particular scorn from fundies? Fundies can't stand the notion that God would save everyone. It is very important to fundies that they are insiders with God and others are outside and they view the world in this manner. You are either one of them, or you are an agent, even if unwittingly, or Satan.

2. Fundamentalism offers the security of always being in the right. All questions are answered, all truths are known or can be known. There are no grey areas.

3. Fundamentalism offers an all-encompassing all-enveloping life style. Fundie churches rule your life 24x7, and every minute you spend in fundie activity gives reassurance about your insider status with God. Since there is often no professional track for the clergy, you can rise through the ranks from parking lot attendant to assistant pastor if you engage in enough conspicous acts of piety and service, particularly to the pastor who is always inclined to surround himself with toadies to whom he grants power over the pliable. Thus those with self-esteem issues can feel better through lording over others and be admired for it.

4. Fundamentalism encourages the imposition of its world view by force and subterfuge because the fundies see themselves as agents of God almighty in a demon infested world, and as long as you serve Satan you have no rights and anything they do to you is justified.

Given the above, it's little wonder that fundies could care less about the facts of their faith. Actual spiritual exploration is not what it's about. It is about spiritual arrival on the cheap. It's much more about feeling smugly superior than it is about actually knowing God or about a "get out of hell free" card. Fundamentalism appeals to the smallness of people. They are the modern Pharisees, more concerned with their own status in the spiritual community than with the salvation of anyone else's soul.

To me these are the key issues with fundamentalism. It is not the belief in a spiritual mythology. It is the belief that outsiders have no value except as potential converts and that the freedom outsiders want is actually slavery to Hell, so denying those freedoms is not only right, but a divine command. They see outsiders as the enemy and they see themselves in a holy war. The only reason it doesn't regularly break out into open vioence in the streets of America is that they lack the political clout to get away with it. Make no mistake. If they ever gain real power they will drag us back to the dark ages.

Here in North Carolina the state legislature has just approved a bill allowing the posting of the Ten Commandments in the public schools under the guise of "historical significance." The toadies of the religious right that made this happen could care less about the religious diversity of the state or the establishment clause. They diasgree with the clause and think that the establishment of fundamentalist Christianity is the best thing that could happen to America. Unless we learn to act as a group as they have, we will end up living in a world made in their image. They would have done so already if not for the fact that fundies are not just intellectually lazy, but often politically lazy as well (requires too much thinking).

I encourage everyone with an interest in free thought to join American Atheists, the Humanists, Freedom from Religion, or all of the above and more. One thing we as aAmericans should know better than anyone, freedom demands eternal vigilance.
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