Sunday, October 15, 2006

What Is Fundamentalism?

According to my definition, a fundamentalist is someone who prefers to take knowledge from authority rather than from experience.

Creationists are the textbook case of fundamentalism. They'll spare no effort to discredit the science that falsifies literal biblical claims, but spend no effort justifying their belief in the authority of the Bible. If they were as skeptical of the Bible as they were of radiological dating, they would quickly denounce the Bible as a work of fiction.

Fundamentalism is not just another form of irrationality. It's irrationality with conviction. Fundamentalism has no corrective mechanism. How does the fundamentalist know that his authority is, well, authoritative? Apparently, not by experience. Without correction, we cannot claim commitment to the truth because we reject a priori any possibility that we could be wrong.

The Christian fundamentalist cannot complain that Osama bin Laden is using the wrong epistemology. bin Laden is using the very same epistemology as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Reason and experience are equally unimportant to all three of these clowns because each will carefully fold his experience to fit into his holy box.

The problem with every fundamentalism is that it results in unnecessary conflict. Instead of reaching consensus based on shared experience, the fundamentalist regards shared experience as either threatening or subservient to his unchangeable prior beliefs.

4 comments:

Tom G said...

Here's your answer:

Independent Thinking

Doctor Logic said...

Ah, so you think anyone who engages in critical thinking is just uncritically taking orders from those who advocate critical thinking.

Hmm. Is this idea Orwellian or just plain anti-intellectual?

Holopupenko said...

DL:
     Your thinking is anything BUT critical. It is you, afterall, who used reason to argue against reason, i.e., that not all things need an explanation here: http://doctorlogic.blogspot.com/2006/06/non-existence-vs-total-undetectability.html#comments. That sounds pretty anti-intellectual to any reasonable thinker. Additionally, the Orwellian aspect of YOUR thinking has to do with you arguing "authoritatively" that we should be convinced to abandon authority in ALL cases. Yet, your argument is anything BUT persuasive... especially given that you rely on so many authorities in your own field. Finally, since your PROMOTE moral relativism, you have no objective moral basis upon which to criticize anyone for anything—including those whom you pejoratively label "fundamentalists." You seem to need to be constantly reminded of your disconnect on this issue. Tell me, which of the modern empirical sciences did you rely on to resort to ad hominem criticisms of people of faith and those who disagree with your vision of reality?

Doctor Logic said...

H,

No shortage of straw men as usual.

It is you, afterall, who used reason to argue against reason, i.e., that not all things need an explanation here...

Please continue linking to that blog post of mine whenever and wherever possible. It's one of my all-time favorite posts.

Maybe I'll take a cue from your favorite medieval theologian, and call my theory "the principle of adequate reason" or somesuch. Then I can accuse anyone who rejects it of rejecting reason! Brilliant!

That sounds pretty anti-intellectual to any reasonable thinker. ...who doesn't understand the meaning of the word anti-intellectual.

Additionally, the Orwellian aspect of YOUR thinking has to do with you arguing "authoritatively" that we should be convinced to abandon authority in ALL cases.

All cases? Check again. I didn't say we should reject all authorities. I simply ask that when someone makes a claim of authority, there be some test of that authority before it is accepted as such. You know, the way we test scientists, doctors, miners, football players, electricians, etc.

Finally, since your PROMOTE moral relativism, you have no objective moral basis upon which to criticize anyone for anything...

Ooh, that's a sort of tautology, isn't it?

The thing is, you see, my claims don't have to have an objective moral basis to be effective. They simply have to have a deeply-shared subjective moral basis. So, when I show that blind acceptance of authority obscures the truth, I'm not appealing to the objective moral claim that seeking the truth is more important than serfdom. I'm appealing to those who, like me, subjectively value truth more than they value their adherence to authority. Readers who don't feel the same are not in my target audience. (That means you, by the way.)

Tell me, which of the modern empirical sciences did you rely on to resort to ad hominem criticisms of people of faith and those who disagree with your vision of reality?

Man, you do not read the words in front of your face. You ought to know by now that my position doesn't boil "modern empirical sciences" the way you always claim it does. Instead of building straw man after straw man, why not give your brain a chance to think for itself?