Monday, December 13, 2010

Atheist Fundamentalism...

So Mandy pointed me in the direction of an article about this term, one I had never heard before.  Atheist Fundamentalism.  To put it in simplest terms it is a terminology used by theists and apologists that tries to equate atheism with their own passionate and unquestioned adherence to the belief in any of the superstitions and dogmas held by their organized religions and denominations.  As I write this post I write carefully, first avoiding the very generalities and assumptions made by true fundamentalists and second providing a clear view of my stand on this subject, aware that I will have to defend it to some of those that will read it.

First consider the term fundamentalist.  The dictionary defines fundamentalism as, "strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles."  It further defines fundamentalism as, "a movement in American Protestantism that arose in the early part of the 20th century in reaction to modernism and that stresses infallibility of the Bible not only in matters of faith and morals but also as a literal historical record, holding as essential to Christian faith belief in such doctrines as the creation of the world, the virgin birth, physical resurrection, atonement by the sacrificial death of Christ, and the Second Coming."

This latter definition, in my opinion, is unfair since there are other forms of "fundamentalism", not just Protestants.  Muslims for instance have a radical group that refers to itself as fundamentalists.  What you can, however, logically extract from the combined definitions is that a fundamentalist is a person that holds to a set of beliefs and ideas dogmatically and emphatically with passion and totally disregarding any views, facts, arguments or logic that would disagree with that 'fundamentalist" view.

We as atheists, the ones that actually pay attention to what makes an individual an atheist, refuse to accept this  name, title or description.  I would present a couple of reasons for your consideration.

(1) Fundamentalists refuse to accept any evidence that does not agree with their views.  Now the key here is "evidence".   Simply presenting an argument does not make it right.  When I consider what I hold as my "belief" for lack of a better word, I realize that it is a refutation of superstition not a promotion of a new ideal.  I admit to not having the answers to the secrets of life but I do know that there is no evidence or facts that prove the existence of God.

If facts were presented that were verifiable and did not include in any way the word or concept of "faith" and did not require the acceptance of coincidence, and anything that could easily be explained as coincidence that proved empirically the existence of a divine being I would accept the new data and facts and adjust accordingly.

What I refuse to accept is the reverse logic presented by organized religion.  The reverse logic that attempts to reverse the roles of cause and effect.  The kind of reverse logic that says, because this happened, then god must exist.   For example, the reverse logic that states because there is an organized and unbelievably amazing world of nature around us...there HAS to be a God that created it; the kind of logic that states that because as humans we have "moral laws" then there must be a God to dictate those "moral laws".  This kind of reverse logic skips the necessity of proving the cause and simply uses the effect as proof.  These are not facts, this is non empirical and this is not proven evidence.

(2) Atheism is not an organized system of belief and because of this a person that actually understands what atheism is cannot use the term fundamentalist to refer to them self.  Now as Dawkins says, too many people confuse passion with fundamentalism.  Make no mistake, I firmly believe what I say I believe.  I am even passionate about it but as there is not organized system of beliefs for Atheists to adhere to I cannot be referred to as a "fundamentalist", the mere idea is laughable. I have been accused of arrogance because I do not believe in God, it is not arrogance to demand proof of something so important, so life consuming and  something that demands the right to control and influence my life and it is not arrogance to insist on facts and evidence and to refuse to accept feelings, faith, beliefs and a myriad of other subjective, fluid and immaterial arguments.  I simply adhere to the general idea that if it cannot be proven with hard and tangible facts then it is mere theory, mere conjecture and not something I am willing to tie my entire existence to.

Not all people that claim to be atheists actually ARE atheists.  There are many people that are more angry with organized religion, its vicious bigotry and hypocrisy and therefore reject the existence of god in anger to the people that claim to follow him.  Just like all people that claim to be Christian are not true followers of Christ so not everybody that claims to be an atheist actually is.  I for one am a firm believer that faith and organized religion serve a purpose and to remove it completely from the fabric of society would be disastrous and an invitation to chaos and anarchy.  While there is no doubt that countless atrocities can be attributed to religious "fundamentalists" I firmly believe that the atrocities that would be committed by human kind that has no restraints would be much worse.  The difference between me and atheists that argue for the elimination of religion is that I have zero confidence in the supposed good nature of mankind.

This term "atheist fundamentalism" is, in my opinion, a weak attempt by fundamentalists to bring atheists to their level.  It is, in my opinion, another example of how fundamentalists want to control and establish the terms of any conversation.  First they demand an acceptance of their bible as the final authority knowing that if they can manage this fallacy then the rest of their argument falls into place.  Remove the authority of the Bible and they do not have an argument to stand on simply because the Bible is its own only defense.

Having failed to establish this base rule for argument they must then make their opponent equivalent to themselves in order to simply dismiss facts, evidence, logic or any argument that may disagree with their views.  Now less I be accused of using generalizations and terms that pull all Christians in, thus offending those who take exception to the statement, I am referring to fundamentalists.  If you are a fundamentalist, then I guess the shoe fits.  If not then I guess I am not talking about you.



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