Or, Jewish Professor Writes About Fundamentalism
In my continued quest to actually write a short blog, I split this post into four. Part One of books I’ve been reading recently talks about sex. Today,
“A personal journey into the world of science and religion”
He makes a few minor mistakes, but overall it’s engaging and I learned a lot in areas I’m not familiar with, such as pre-historic religion. (Essentially, we know sweet frak-all; it’s conjecture based on little evidence.)
Winston writes on many other areas including a long section on fundamentalism:
There is a tendency nowadays to think of fundamentalism as being solely a reaction to the conditions of modern life. For example, when Muslim girls in French schools campaign for the right to wear the veil, we seem them as rejecting western dress in an attempt to protect their ethic identity in the melting-pot of global society. … It has also been suggested that only Judaism, Christianity and Islam can become ‘fundamentalist’ religions, because they base themselves on ancient texts, which are viewed as sacred and unchangeable, and which therefore continually clash with current thinking.
But this sort of reasoning is faulty. For a start, many fundamentalists are far from averse to the modern word— indeed, they use the internet, television, radio and newspapers as a means of spreading their beliefs. Terrorism, whether in the name of Judaism, Islam, Sikhism or any other cause, depends on the media to make its atrocities known and felt by the maximum number of people. Second, such arguments neglect the fact that fundamentalism is as old as religion itself, and not at all restricted to the ‘big three’ of the Judaeo-Christian tradition. …
Richard Dawkins cannot be alone in feeling that ‘only the wilfully blind could fail to implicate the divisive force of religion in most, if not all, off the violent enmities of the world today’.
[Winston goes on to discuss and deplore more modern fundamentalism, violence and distress, including some of his own experiences in the field of fertility.]
Equally, there are fundamentalists pursuing science and promoting it’s ‘truth’. And they can sometimes be almost as threatening in many ways as religious fundamentalists, not least because they seem to see no limitation to their pursuits and appear to have little or no moral framework— except one that they themselves have devised.
~ pp 425, 438
I’ve recently come to the conclusion that it’s not religion per se that is the problem in the religious violence in the world, but fundamentalism. So this confirms my biases quite nicely. In other words, I think it’s possible to have a spirituality that does not turn into crack-for-crazies. Maybe I’m too optimistic though?
What do you think? Does spirituality inevitably lead to fundamentalism? Can non-religious people be fundamentalists?
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