Fundamental – serving as foundation or groundwork for any system. That which is essential/primary/necessary. Fundamentalist – (as a philosophy) ‘…a conservative world view that highlights what is regarded as essential truths of any traditional faith and applies them with fervour to the contemporary situation. It seeks to promote (and sometimes impose) what is regarded as ‘The Truth’ on a pluralistic and complex world. Fundamentalism has existed for at least 200 years. ‘Fundamentalist’ (as a term of abuse) is now loosely coined to mean unreflective, unquestioning and often strident dogmatism. People are considered "fundamentalists" if they are rude, uncompromising, and committed to absolutist positions, especially if they are given to violent defence of those positions.
Atheist fundamentalism… Atheistic spokespersons simply offer a critique of religion. That does not make them fundamentalists. There must be some essential doctrine being upheld and promoted for the word fundamentalist to be applied. But are some atheists fundamentalist? Are there any essential beliefs/ fundamentals for an atheist to be fundamentalist about? Do they seek to ‘convert’ people to a point of view which they promote as the absolute truth? Do they have any kind of doctrine? Are they, in any sense, organised/a movement?
Richard Dawkins… • Dawkins was born in Kenya • Had a normal Anglican upbringing • Began having doubts about the existence of God at 9 • However, he was still swayed by the Argument from Design • Eventually came to believe that the theory of evolution was a better explanation for created, complex life. • He is now an evolutionary biologist working in the tradition of Darwin (and Freud) and a prominent and vociferous atheist. His studies have inspired him to become a critic of all beliefs in a Deity • He has written many books – the most famous is ‘The God Delusion’ and ‘The Selfish Gene’.
Dawkins’ quotes "There are all sorts of things that would be comforting. I expect an injection of morphine would be comforting... But to say that something is comforting is not to say that it's true." "There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can't prove that there aren't any, so shouldn't we be agnostic with respect to fairies?"
"The patient typically finds himself impelled by some deep, inner conviction that something is true, or right, or virtuous: a conviction that doesn't seem to owe anything to evidence or reason, but which, nevertheless, he feels as totally compelling and convincing. We doctors refer to such a belief as 'faith'." "No doubt soaring cathedrals, stirring music, moving stories and parables, help a bit. But by far the most important variable determining your religion is the accident of birth."
He argues that religion is privileged in society He recognises subtle, thoughtful religiosity and thinks the world is a better place for it but says it is the mad fundamentalist kind that predominates around the world. Rational believers are numerically small. He has a ‘converts corner’ on his website – for people who have ‘escaped’ from religion He actively promotes his views – encouraging the majority atheist population to ‘come out’; he paid for the ‘God probably doesn’t exist campaign’ that was promoted on London buses.. So what does he say about fundamentalism…
Quote from the Times – January 2009 • ‘The archsceptic professor Richard Dawkins today launched Britain's first atheist campaign posting the message: "There's probably no God. So stop worrying and enjoy your life" on the side of 800 British buses. • The posters – launched in conditions cold enough to freeze a presumably non-existent hell over – co-incided with the Christian feast of the Epiphany, when according to tradition three magi from the East presented the baby Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. • Dr Dawkins, speaking at the launch in Central London, said he would have rather not had the word "probably" in the advertisement. He said the existence of God was about as likely as that of the tooth fairy. • Organisers of the four-week campaign said they had included the word "probably" because they did not want to be dogmatic in the way that so many religious leaders are.
Atheistic spokespersons claim they simply offer a critique of religion. That does not make them fundamentalists. There must be some essential doctrine being upheld and promoted for the word fundamentalist to be applied. But are some atheists fundamentalist? • 1)Are there any essential beliefs/ fundamentals for an atheist to be fundamentalist about? • 2) Do they seek to ‘convert’ people to a point of view which they promote as the absolute truth? • 3) Do they have any kind of doctrine? • 4) Are they, in any sense, organised/a movement? • 5) ‘God must exist. Millions of people can’t all be deluded’ Write two paragraphs; one stating why this claim might be correct; one stating why it might be incorrect.
Christian Fundamentalism What do you think a person must believe in order to legitimately call themselves a Christian? What, in your opinion, are the ‘fundamentals’ of Christianity? Make notes about the origins of the term ‘fundamentalism’ - include the five ‘essential’ beliefs of Christianity established in the 1920s
Research task – • Research the Amish • (who are they; what are their origins; what do they believe; how do they practise their faith; what do they think of mainstream Christianity/how do they relate to others; what is their future? • Due next Tuesday (at least one side of A4)