Saturday, May 24, 2008

What Makes a Fundie?

A lot of readers found it ironic that in order to locate all the re-shelved Bibles during last Saturday's scavenger hunt, I entered the mindset of someone who I figured was a Christian fundamentalist. I thought, "If I were going to spread God's Word to the heathen masses, where would I put them?" So, it was a no-brainer finding Bibles re-shelved in Erotica, Alcoholic Beverages, Sexuality, War, Romance and Sci Fi.

As you know, it turned out that the culprits were not fundie Christians but some ardent Atheists who felt that the Bible needed to be relocated to areas of the store that best reflected its contents. In the end, the mind of the fundie Christian ended up mirroring the mind of the ardent Atheist. And so, I am lead to ask the obvious question: what makes a fundie a fundie?

When I first left the Jehovah's Witnesses, I spent a lot of time on discussion boards. First, an ex-jw one that became my second home. Then, as the ex spent much time on religious boards debating young earth creationists and other Bible-defenders, I ended up on those kind of boards and ultimately on the Richard Dawkins forum.

Over time it seemed to me that those on both sides of the line, ardent atheists and fundamental Christians, were more similar than different. While their beliefs were at opposite ends of the spectrum, their method of delivery was often just as vitriolic.

And so, I wonder if the fundie label is less about beliefs and more about the intention behind them as well as the manner in which said beliefs (non-beliefs included) is delivered. When I first made the gigantic leap from god-believer to non-believer I took my fundamentalist attitude with me. In the early days of this blog, I felt that I had to defend atheism, as my new-found non-faith. In my head, I found the same kind of judgment for believers that I once had for non-believers. And then, my soul went Uh-oh. I realized that I was just trading hats.

Today, I prefer to identify myself as a humanist rather than an atheist. For me, the term atheism puts me on a scale of belief that I see no need to be on. Granted, I understand that with all social evolution, there is a tendency to swing to the extremes before a balance is found. I trust that in time, the pendulum will swing back to centre, to a state of humanism, where our worth as humans is not dependent on belief systems one way or another. Because really, are any of us what we believe?

tall penguin

7 comments:

matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher said...

Thank you for that. I'm an ex-fundie & have often caught myself falling back into my old ways of doing things.

Really profound way of ending the article too. I totally agree. I think humans are very bad at self-observation - at least this one most definately is. :D

Ged said...

I couldn't agree more. There are lots of folks on richarddawkins.net who seem to allow their unbelief to occupy the same space as religion does in the minds of the faithful. Somehow I think they miss the point and their posts smack of the same smugness and disdain for anyone else's point of view. I rarely read comments these days and I don't post anymore for the same reason.

I think of atheism as simply being without religion. In me it stems from the automatic skepticism I have for any seemingly ill-conceived or illogical statement. I see it more as an effect than a cause to be pursued.

tall penguin said...

Hi christopher,

Welcome.

Those fundie habits die hard. And yes, self-observation is a difficult thing. To step outside our preconceived ideas of who we are is a shift in awareness. One not so easily mastered.

tall penguin said...

"There are lots of folks on richarddawkins.net who seem to allow their unbelief to occupy the same space as religion does in the minds of the faithful."

It's the irony of it all that makes me smile. We easily become what we dislike the most. Whenever I feel myself becoming judgmental of these folks, I look at the bits in me that still want to be right. We are all one really. There is more that connects us than separates us.

"I think of atheism as simply being without religion. In me it stems from the automatic skepticism I have for any seemingly ill-conceived or illogical statement. I see it more as an effect than a cause to be pursued."

Yes, that is where I find myself as well. These labels and definitions are ultimately meaningless. They are based on perceptions that are so subjective that to argue them feels like beating your head against the wall and then blaming the wall for being so hard.

Our language limits us in so many ways. I have found very little in life that I can't express non-verbally. It seems the more words I need to express something the more attached I become to it's being "right".

Ged said...

I like to think that I have developed my own internal bullshit detector. But I get caught making sweeping/unsubstantiated statements just like everyone else now and again.

I guess the thing to be wary of is getting carried away and using lots of words when just a few would do. If you want to achieve clarity and elegance an inverse rule between quantity and quality seems to apply.

tall penguin said...

Yes ged, it really is about finding the balance. Language is a gift; just a matter of finding when to use it and when not to use it. The best music is made beautiful by the space between the notes.