Fundamentalism: It’s Not Just For Theists

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With a slight modification, I wrote the following comment at CSA the other day, and felt it deserves reproduction here. While I intend to develop it as a full post or perhaps even part of a chapter in my book, here’s what we’ve got so far:

…I think deconverted fundamentalists and evangelicals tend to make the most dangerous atheists. Often, the mental weaknesses that led them to dogmatic ways of thinking in the first place persist. These traits then carry over into their newly-embraced “skepticism,” the weaknesses again take the helm, yet, this time, they are actually far worse off because a thin veneer of rationalism masks their dogmatic and irrational tendencies and puffs many up with a false sense of confidence. Consequently, many mistakenly believe that their change of psychological allegiance solved the problem. They’re often less likely to see it, because they still have that “in the tribe” mentality, only now, they fancy themselves in the right tribe. I cannot overemphasize the threat this phenomenon poses to critical thinking and pursuit of truth. Trading one’s cross for a scarlet A accomplishes nothing unless the old habits are shed. [February 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm]

What sayest thou? Doth this ringeth true in thine own experience?


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A Fundamentalist is someone who holds to the five fundamental doctrines of Christianity, being 1) The inerrancy of Scripture; 2) The virgin birth and deity of Jesus; 3) Redemption through grace; 4) The physical resurrection of Jesus; and 5) The authenticity of Christ's miracles. Points 2-5 are undoubtedly supported biblically; however, depending on how one interprets the pertinent terms, Point 1 can cause an awful lot of confusion.

A Fundamentalist is not necessarily a person who interprets every word of the Bible literally, although some Fundamentalists do interpret every word of the Bible literally. Biblical literalism is not necessarily synonymous with biblical inerrancy. Whereas the issue of errancy deals with the truthfulness of the author's intended message, biblical literalism deals with the literal interpretation of certain passages.

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