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20 May 2010 @ 03:01 pm
The Dragon's Eye View: Just Not Letting This One Go  
A comment over at toob's journal prompted me to finally put down in words something that I've mulled over for a very long time.

Over the decades, I've seen a great deal of evidence to support the hypothesis that, no matter what faith they might nominally adhere to, Fundamentalists of any creed have more in common with each other than they do with more moderate adherents of their own creed.

From my observations, the common keystone in the Fundamentalist worldview is this:

We and we alone know the One True and Proper Path, and those who disagree with us are not merely in error, they are evil, they are our enemies, and any abuse we can deliver unto them is not only justified, but for their own good.

All too often, this becomes the Fundamentalist's primary tenet -- the specific details of his or her faith all become a distant second to the pure, blind assertion that I am right and you are not.

This is their true religion.

Proportionally, I've seen just as many Fundamentalists who think they're Atheists as I have Fundamentalists who think they're Anything Else, and their reaction to Thoughtcrime is just as zealous.

Did that last sentence piss you off?

Might want to run some diagnostics.

Bobyourbob on May 20th, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC)

extremism is always a vice.
Tubetoob on May 20th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
That's why it's my goal to be the most moderate person alive.
Grauph. - athelind on May 21st, 2010 02:54 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Shadow Dragonshdragon on May 20th, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
I used to work with a militant Athiest. The "all religion is evil and everyone who believes is an idiot sheep" type who was all logic all the time, science science science.

I pissed him off regularly by asking him to stop "evangelizing [your] religion to me" all the time. Because that's what it was.
Tube: announcement!toob on May 20th, 2010 10:50 pm (UTC)
I don't think it's accurate to call atheism a religion -- it's ideological, certainly, but it's not a religion.

That said, the angry, zealous atheist types are certainly very annoying, and very... lacking in self-awareness.
Grauph. - yourbob on May 20th, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - toob on May 20th, 2010 11:08 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - yourbob on May 20th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - toob on May 20th, 2010 11:49 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - toob on May 20th, 2010 11:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Kymrikymri on May 20th, 2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
My (rather shallow, probably) take on it is thus:

The majority of religions teach peace and goodwill. Not exclusively (this is one thing Christianity and Islam certainly agree on), but they all basically teach some form of (as William and Theodore might say) Be excellent to each other.

The trick is that most religions get organized and when they get organized they start to control people; usually it at least starts out for the good. Don't eat this or the other thing because in the places where we live, eating these things will jack you up. But organization brings with it secular influence. And the more secular influence an organization has, the more of it and the more overall control they tend to want. (See: The Catholic Church.)

Of course, the extremists are also a problem, but they find it easier when there's some sort of religious (or other philosophical or cultural) scaffolding to cling to. That said, I haven't seen a whole lot of Buddhist suicide bombers; the 'extremists' of that group were more likely to immolate themselves; including at least one famous incident during the Viet Nam war caught chillingly on film.
Tubetoob on May 20th, 2010 11:07 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I don't think a lot of religions innately teach the "be excellent to one another" thing as the major part of their broader message -- at least not the older ones. That's us attempting to impose our modern, progressive narrative on them so that we can feel comfortable integrating the religions in our society.

Pretty much all of these religions started out as bloody, tribalist, and fearful. They were inextricably intertwined with our culture and science -- all these things were the SAME thing; we didn't differentiate. Humanity has changed a lot in the last ten thousand years. But our foundations are all wrapped up in apes throwing feces at each other. There's nothing particularly noble or admirable about our past, or the mythological narrative we used to define it. Religion is simply a reflection of our culture beliefs at a given time. Fundamentalism is attempting to lock ourselves into the traditions from cultures from thousands of years ago. And our modern view of religion, so that we can accept each other with all our varying beliefs, is to politely pretend that we had the same beliefs and values back then or over there as we do here and now. But it's not true. We all just have to keep politely pretending that it is so we don't offend each other.
Grauph. - cpxbrex on May 20th, 2010 11:39 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - pseudomanitou on May 21st, 2010 04:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
silussa on May 20th, 2010 11:04 pm (UTC)

Notice I don't specify which religion.
Christopher Bradleycpxbrex on May 20th, 2010 11:04 pm (UTC)
Atheists are the most hated group of people in America. Thanks for spreading the hate a little bit more.
velvetpage on May 20th, 2010 11:36 pm (UTC)
Did he do that? Or did he challenge the tendency of atheists to see themselves as the enlightened few - to basically exchange their previous theistic exlusionary creed for an atheistic exclusionary creed? He's absolutely right that the attitudes are the same.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a former Christian and current atheist who is not particularly evangelical about the spirituality I find in my secular humanism. I occasionally slip up because I was raised to be an evangelical, and I'm fighting to acquire and maintain a worldview that frames religion as many paths to walk.
Grauph. - cpxbrex on May 20th, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - velvetpage on May 20th, 2010 11:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - cpxbrex on May 21st, 2010 12:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - scarfman on May 21st, 2010 12:12 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - cpxbrex on May 21st, 2010 12:17 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - scarfman on May 21st, 2010 01:05 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - velvetpage on May 21st, 2010 12:15 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - cpxbrex on May 21st, 2010 12:24 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - velvetpage on May 21st, 2010 12:50 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - cpxbrex on May 21st, 2010 03:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - velvetpage on May 21st, 2010 10:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - cpxbrex on May 21st, 2010 12:10 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - velvetpage on May 21st, 2010 12:55 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - cpxbrex on May 21st, 2010 03:07 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - velvetpage on May 21st, 2010 10:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - pyat on May 21st, 2010 11:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - (Anonymous) on May 21st, 2010 11:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - pseudomanitou on May 21st, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - sternbunny on May 21st, 2010 02:37 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - velvetpage on May 21st, 2010 10:31 am (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - sternbunny on May 21st, 2010 12:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - velvetpage on May 21st, 2010 07:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Hafochafoc on May 20th, 2010 11:06 pm (UTC)
Izzakly so, in my crackpot opinion. In fact, I've come to the conclusion that my problem with unquestioning (insert religion here: Christians, Hindus, Moslems, Libertarians) isn't the (Insert religion here) part, it's the unthinking part.

Of course my Cannned Rant Number Seven is the one that says that the reason people adopt these fanatical views is often because thinking is too much work, or (more often) too scary. That's why they get so angry when you question their beliefs. It isn't that your failure to believe as they do makes you evil, although they believe that too. Underneath it all, IMCO, the real source of their rage is that your disbelief THREATENS THEM. Just by showing it is possible to doubt, you might poke holes in their worldview and let reality in. And there is nothing more terrifying than that.
kyhwana on May 21st, 2010 12:07 pm (UTC)
The problem being that religious BELIEF threatens (sometimes physically/legally/etc) atheists. Or even people of other religions. (Or even the same religion)
Grauph. - pseudomanitou on May 21st, 2010 04:58 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - hafoc on May 21st, 2010 09:57 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Richardf8richardf8 on May 21st, 2010 03:30 am (UTC)
"for their own good."

Not buying this bit. The Fundamentalist does not care about the good of the one who does not believe. The non-believer is, rather, a deterrent to the common good, preventing the desired eschatological outcome that the fundamentalist hopes for.
velvetpage on May 21st, 2010 10:33 am (UTC)
That depends on the fundamentalist. Many of those I've known were also evangelicals, which means their first goal was to convert, and that was definitely for people's own good. If you refused to convert, THEN you were a deterrent to the common good.
Paka: pied crowpaka on May 21st, 2010 10:19 am (UTC)
The flip side of which is that every religion has its mystics and dreamers. It is very easy to be filled with spiritual awe at the immensity, complexity and beauty of the universe without having to necessarily believe in any gods or spirits. I'd argue that's atheism done right - a willingness to perceive this random and godless universe as having some real upsides, even more miraculous because you can theoretically figure out how it all got there, and without needing to be desperately scared of things.

It's very easy to get mired in how shitty the world is, and I think that too plays into both atheistic and theistic views of the world. Fundamentalism - of any sort as you've said - is I think partly rooted in the idea of survival at an emotional or physical level. One feels like one has to be right and all the time, too, otherwise things might go south very quickly indeed. I think that's why fundamentalists have such a thing going on with trying to take control of secular governments, at some level they don't feel it's safe to cede any control.

I also think this becomes a vicious loop. The fundamentalist needs to push for more and more control because he feels his worldview and his family or friends are under attack. That alienates people and prompts crankiness about the fundies in question, which means that they feel very much under attack.
kyhwana on May 21st, 2010 12:02 pm (UTC)
If no one talked about their religion, there wouldn't (need to) be any atheists..
ebony14 on May 21st, 2010 02:32 pm (UTC)
It could be argued that if no one talked about their religion, there wouldn't be religion. Not in the commonly accepted sense of it, at least.
Grauph. - velvetpage on May 21st, 2010 08:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - kyhwana on May 21st, 2010 11:36 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Grauph. - pseudomanitou on May 21st, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC) (Expand)
pseudo manitoupseudomanitou on May 21st, 2010 04:49 pm (UTC)
"Seek the truth; doubt those who say they've found it."

I do not respect anyone who says there is no god -- because they, like any other religion, are suggesting that they hold the answer to what CANNOT be known.

But to that degree -- there are different kinds of atheists: those who accept the unknown for what it is, and those who state the answer to the unknown is 'no god'. Our religious majority tend to force both these views into one corner and label them the same -- so you have to get to know an atheist before you can assume their stance is reasonable or totalitarian.
velvetpage on May 21st, 2010 08:31 pm (UTC)
For the record, I'm the kind of atheist who lacks a belief in a god - not the kind who firmly states that there is no god. I've been known to describe myself as an agnostic atheist, because, while I admit the possibility that I'm wrong about that which I cannot know for sure, I don't really believe I'm wrong.
ArchTeryxarchteryx on May 21st, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
What it really is is TRIBALISM. A fundamentalist sect is a tribe that defines itself by its beliefs, and considers any other competing tribe the enemy.

And like any "civilized" human tribe, it relies on numbers and money to lever power.

Atheist fundamentalists at least have some reason to be so, being the single most disliked minority in the country (Check the polls on this one if you don't believe me!). When you're a persecuted minority, it really DOES become you against the world in your head.