conversion to the fundamentalist mindset

"Fundamentalist Mindset" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Fundamentalist Mindset” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

Some see the world in black and white. Some see the world in a vast array of diversity of color.

I originally titled this cartoon “Conversion to the Religious Mindset”. But it’s not just religion where we find fundamentalism in full force. It’s in the mind, no matter what sphere it finds itself in.

The fundamentalist mindset is the problem.

Chris Hedges expresses his opinion on fundamentalism in his fascinating book I Don’t Believe in Atheists:

“The blustering televangelists, and the atheists who rant about the evils of religion, are little more than carnival barkers. They are in show business, and those in show business know complexity does not sell. They trade clichés and insults like cartoon characters. They don masks. One wears the mask of religion, the other wears the mask of science. They banter back and forth in predictable sound bites. They promise, like all advertisers, simple and seductive dreams. This debate engages two bizarre subsets who are well suited to the television culture because of the crudeness of their arguments. One distorts the scientific theory of evolution to explain the behavior and rules for complex social, economic and political systems. The other insists that the six-day story of creation in Genesis is fact and Jesus will descend from the sky to create the kingdom of God on Earth. These antagonists each claim to have discovered an absolute truth. They trade absurdity for absurdity. They show that the danger is not religion or science. The danger is fundamentalism.”

It’s not religion. It’s not science. It’s the mind.

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19 Responses

  1. Sabio Lantz says:

    Ah, another “Ranting Militant Atheist” post. And it is not surprising that Chris Hedges, the author of your quote, is a presbyterian minister — with huge investment that atheists should just shut up and be polite.

    We are all greatly in debt to “the atheists who rant about the evils of religion”. Over the ages, these atheists challenged the nasty hold of “don’t question our God” at the risk of their lives — and still do.

    It is wrong to be politely silent about the horrible consequences of religion which has a black and white world of “holy” vs. “unholy”, “sacred” vs. “profane”, “spiritual” vs “carnal”, and “believer” vs “nonbeliever”. Liberal believer may want us atheists to stay soft, sweet and silent, so they can stay snug in their bible, their church and their god-talk so they can signal the world (and themselves) that they are really good godly people — better than those dirty, ranting atheists. Remember, I am a former theist and a former smoker. I remember my bad habits very easily.

    It is soon Memorial Day here in the USA when people wrap themselves in flags and brag about their country. Ugliness exists outside of religion too. But we should be happy for those who rant against patriotism and religion.

    Here is a picture I made illustrating how Theists take color out of the world — reminding me of your post today, but I don’t limit it to “fundamentalists” and don’t use it to put down those who challenge religion.

    Cheap shot. Old habits die hard. The silliness of “don the mask of science” and other religious stereotypes to counter atheist loud countering of the horrors of theism, has been exposed over and over. Liberal theists are still invested in keeping all their holy trappings, their god talk, their holiness, their specialness.

  2. Are you pointing the “Cheap shot. Old habits die hard.” to me? I think the thought is a fair one: that fundamentalism isn’t confined to religion, but potentially to anyone with a mind. I critique religion. But I also critique fundamentalism wherever I find it. I’m not being defensive here, just attempting clarify my suggestion that no one is exempt from the fundamentalist mindset. And if someone thinks they are exempt just because they are found within a different ideology, isn’t that where the danger lies?

  3. Sabio Lantz says:

    David, you quoted someone, banking on their authority to give power to your opinion. Kind of like preachers do with the Bible.

    You quoted a Christian preacher who said,

    “atheists who rant about the evils of religion, are little more than carnival barkers. They are in show business, and those in show business know complexity does not sell. They trade clichés and insults like cartoon characters. They don masks. ”

    “[those vocal atheists] wear the mask of science. They banter back and forth in predictable sound bites. They promise, like all advertisers, simple and seductive dreams.”

    “[those atheists who fight the evils of religion] are well suited to the television culture because of the crudeness of their arguments. ”

    “[those nasty atheists] distorts the scientific theory of evolution to explain the behavior and rules for complex social, economic and political systems.”

    “[those stupid atheists]claim to have discovered an absolute truth. They trade absurdity for absurdity. ”

    So, David, since you quote him, you are using him to state your opinion.
    Your liberal theist fan club will cheer you on. Their Jesus is sweet, he fought the system, he is all love. Those nasty atheists don’t get it. Only fundamentalists are bad. Jesus’ teachings are pure and good.

    Those liberal Christians want to tell their neighbors, that they still go to church, or at least they still believe, and how amazing the world is that only God could make. They want to signal sanctity, moral uprightness. They want to feel meaningful and plugged in with the myths of their childhood.

    So when dirty atheists point out the huge problems with theism (liberals flavors included), they intentionally misunderstand them as in all the ignorant quotes above.

    Hugely disappointing quote by your Presbyterian preacher.

  4. Sabio: I absolutely see your point. It’s had me thinking ever since you made it. I think the quote, by itself aside from the context and the author’s story is legitimate and valid. But considering the source and the context, it may be compromised. Thanks for the challenge.

  5. Sabio Lantz says:

    David, is it me, or does your statement sound say:
    “Look, this guy is right, but without his history and context, you can’t see it.”

    So I won’t take that as seeing my point.
    You have had other posts further bigotry against atheists — even if you have many telling Christians to lighten up on atheists.
    I think old habits die hard.
    It is easy for you to quote this stuff, and it sneaks by your radar because part of your beliefs it — in or out of context.
    My suspicion.
    It is like saying “Child Molester” and then, “Well, I didn’t mean it. Damage done.”

    The title of “I don’t believe in Atheist” is still in your post. Without retraction, I think you like it to still stand.

    I get that you want your reply (days later) to sound understanding and like an acceptance, but really, it isn’t. Your qualifications show me your opinion.

  6. No, you misunderstand me. I’m saying you’re right.

    However, I’m also saying he has a point. If you notice in his quote… he is talking about a certain kind of believer and a certain kind of atheist… the fundamentalist kind. Not all.

  7. Sabio Lantz says:

    So, tell me which kind of “fundamentalist” type you are talking about.
    I don’t think you agree.
    I don’t know any that are from his quotes above.
    We all know what fundamentalist and militant and even violent Christians look like.
    To even use those words to describe atheists show a distortion of reason and mere deflection. It shows investment in the word “Christian”.
    David, you have read enough to have seen posts exposing the stupidity of calling any atheist a “fundamentalist” or “militant”, haven’t you.
    Do you not see the strategy — the distortion.
    Christians love that ploy and you played right into their hands.

    (1) Check out this cartoon and post

    (2) or this article and cartoon from Psychology Today

    Sure, you want Atheists to just be quiet, shut up and be understanding of dear religious people who mean well.

    As for me, I am glad for those that speak up. They aren’t fundamentalists or militants. I get though why you’d want to use those words and embrace them with Christians who do.

    I dare you to contrast the damage of your supposed militant atheist and an actual militant Christian. When you do, you will see the rhetoric of the term. The pro-theist slant — liberal Christians still think atheists are dirty and should just shut up because with just some little tweeks, Yahweh’s and his boy Jesus will shine through.

    I am a former Christian, remember.

  8. I do agree there’s rhetoric against atheists. I also know there’s rhetoric against believers.

  9. Sabio Lantz says:

    There you go, using the same move.

    Atheist who criticise religion should be quiet, or they are just like Christian fundamentalists.

    Please read those links. Maybe they will help you see the point. You seem to be using combinations of the false analogy fallacy, the Tu quoque fallacy and the slippery slope arguments.

  10. Oh, and yes, I do know fundamentalists who are believers. And I also know fundamentalists who are atheists. They both are so certain they are right and the other is wrong. It’s this attitude they share. The fundamentalist mindset.

    But… I have taken your point to heart. I do hear what you’re saying and take it seriously.

    I appreciate it.

  11. Sabio Lantz says:

    Please read the links.

  12. Hm. I’ve read them before. The first one says “Atheists don’t do that.” Naive there. That would be like someone saying “Christians don’t do that.”

    The second one is closer to the mark. However, when he says, “When the media and others refer to a “militant atheist,” the object of that slander is usually an atheist who had the nerve to openly question religious authority or vocally express his or her views about the existence of God.” But I’m not talking about that… openly questioning or expressing their views.

    Instead, aren’t we talking about the belligerent person, believer or atheist, who ridicules or attacks the other?

  13. Sabio Lantz says:

    yeah, well, “belligerent” is not something I see in atheists — I see it in theists. I still see it all around me. And “belligerent” to a person who still thinks in terms of “holy” or “sacred” or “godly” or “righteous”, means anyone who challenges the things they hold sacred, who exposes their imaginative cosmologies. Belligerent is just your way to say, “Be nice, don’t challenge us in ways that hurt.”

    When atheist challenge theists make-believe theology and holy talk, you are fine with it if they are your fundamentalist Christians but not liberal Christians — they should be safe from such challenges. After all, their Christianity is benign, like the Jesus who hugs lambs and little children.

    Theist, when they are belligerent are damning people to hell, asking for jihad and killing of abortion doctors, telling their children not to associate with nonbelievers. When atheists are belligerent they are challenging that bullshit and more vocally.

    I still don’t think you see behind your rhetoric and your desire for a nice quiet atheist.
    You are not saying I am right.
    You want your cake and eat it too. (as the saying goes)

  14. Sabio Lantz says:

    You want something like this.
    Telling people to kill for their religion, to psychological abuse children, to form exclusive backbiting groups.
    is the same as telling people the god they speak of is in their head.
    This analogy is so false, it is nauseating.

  15. I do not identify as a believer. Neither do I identify as an atheist. However, I see both of those within me. And I believe the problem is in the mind, not the religion or lack of it… just thoughts.

    I’m fine with liberal Christians being challenged, and not just fundamentalist ones.

    Do you desire a nice quiet believer? I kind of do. And maybe the same with atheist. But it’s not because of the thoughts, but the superior attitude… the condescending one… I don’t think it’s helpful in the conversation as we pursue what is true.

  16. Now you’re telling me what I want. I do agree I have a long way to go as I grow into more understanding and hopefully wisdom as I search for what is true. But I’ve never used that analogy and agree it’s a false one. I may be wrong, but I feel that you’re being unfair and lumping me in with an enemy you’ve formed in your mind.

  17. Sabio Lantz says:

    I don’t think you understand what debt you owe to all the atheists over the millennia who were not sweet and sanitary and quiet to match your social niceness standard.

    Militant and Fundamentalist should not be used in the way you use them for atheists.
    When we use them for theists, we mean violent, hateful, exclusionary and many more horrible things.

    We don’t mean arrogant, belligerent or holding a superior attitude.
    See, that is your false analogy move. Can you see it?

    I am not lumping you in with any enemy, you are setting up the false analogies that all Christians do. You’ve bought into the rhetoric because your audience loves it — well, some of them do. I see it as left-overs.

    Yeah, I get that you see yourself and neither nor.
    But you want your cake and eat it too (as I said).

    Stop using “militant” and “fundamentalist” wrongly. You use it to say, “I don’t like the way they talk in public” for theists, we mean we don’t like the hate, war and bigotry they spread. When you draw that false analogy, you do us all a huge disfavor. Well, unless you think all the outspoken atheists over the last thousands of years are dirty and nasty, then it is rhetoric for persuasion, not pursuit of truth.

  18. I’ll give you the last word.

  19. Meaning I’ve learned something through this about myself.

    My daughter showed up.

    I’m grilling.