Thursday, November 27, 2014

Beyond Dictionary Fundamentalism

Leaving fundamentalism behind can be a tough process.  Getting fundamentalism to stop following your around after you left can be even harder.

This week I was involved in a very rowdy online interfaith discussion on fundamentalism.  Specifically the claim that fundamentalist Atheists are just as difficult to interact with as fundamentalist Christians.  There were a lot of different opinions on that but interesting to me was the fact that a lot of people claimed the question itself made no sense because there's no such thing as a fundamentalist Atheist.  I'm going to be a total hippie here and disregard everything the dictionary has to say about fundamentalism and give you my personal take on what I feel fundamentalism means and why you can apply it to Atheists.

To me a fundamentalist is someone who values their ideas more than people.  Simple as that. A fundamentalist Christian for instance would be someone who feels telling the world how sinful homosexuality is, is more important than their relationships with the gay people in their lives.  They may recognize the hurt this causes amongst their gay friends and relatives but they will stick to their guns nevertheless because the idea matters more to them than those relationships.  To a fundamentalist Christian it's more important that you know you're going to hell than that you be their friend.  In fact they get taught not to be people pleasers but to fear God more than man. Same with atheism. 

If it's more important to you that people around you know exactly how dumb you think faith is than for you to have a good relationship with them, then you're a fundamentalist atheist.  Simple as that.  If ridiculing your friends' faith means more to you than their friendship, then there is no difference between you and fundamentalist believer.

This goes way deeper than just faith and atheism.  This type of thinking can infect everything from the serious to the innocent.  Feeling that you're right about something can be quite a high and sometimes that high turns you into a mean drunk.  But it doesn't have to.  

Not saying you should change your ideas, you can keep them all.  You can be passionate about them, talk about them, discuss them with all who would listen.  Just don't lose sight of one simple truth - people matter.  It is relationships, not ideals, that make life worth living.  In the quest to be right, don't lose sight of that.