Tough Questions Answered

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Is Fundamentalism Bad?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

There are fewer words that are more loaded with a negative connotation than fundamentalism.  Generally when we hear that word, we have been trained by the media to react with either fear or disdain, or both.  After all, fundamentalists are supposed to be ignorant and violent.

To be a fundamentalist used to mean that a person believed in the fundamentals of their religious system or worldview.  They were people who stuck to the core beliefs, that did not stray away from them.  At some point, this meaning morphed into something else more sinister.

Can we save this word and return it to mean what it used to mean?  Maybe not, but I would like to challenge the idea that fundamentalists of all worldviews or religious systems are all ignorant and/or prone to violence.  There are fundamentalists who are ignorant and violent, but there are many fundamentalists who are not ignorant and not violent (me being one of them).

Whenever we approach a person who claims to believe in the fundamentals of their religious system, we should first ask, “What are the fundamentals you believe in?”  Their specific beliefs are far more relevant than the fact that they hold core beliefs at all.  We shouldn’t fear people who have fundamental beliefs, but we possibly should fear the fundamental beliefs that some people have.

Tim Keller addresses the issue of fundamentalism with the following:

It is common to say that “fundamentalism” leads to violence, yet as we have seen, all of us have fundamental, unprovable faith-commitments that we think are superior to those of others. The real question, then, is which fundamentals will lead their believers to be the most loving and receptive to those with whom they differ? Which set of unavoidably exclusive beliefs will lead us to humble, peace-loving behavior?

Of course, the prime example in the history of the world of humility and love was Jesus Christ.  Here is a man whose last act as he died on a Roman cross was to ask God to forgive his enemies.  Here is a man who sacrificed his own body for the rest of mankind.

When you see what the fundamentals of Christianity are, you realize that the true Christian fundamentalist is not someone to be feared at all.  In fact, imagine what the world would be like if everyone totally embraced Jesus as their model to live by.  If you’ve dedicated your life to Christ, one day in the future you won’t have to imagine, because it will become a reality.


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Comments

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    To be a fundamentalist used to mean that a person believed in the fundamentals of their religious system or worldview.

    No. That was never the connotation of “fundamentalism.” The term always was used to refer to groups that were resistant to modernist tendencies withing their religions and it usually included the idea that a particular set of fundamentals could be used to identify true believers. Anyone who did not subscribe to those beliefs was deemed to be an apostate.

    You may not be violent, but you are not very well informed.

  • Ian A

    I always thought of it as people who regarded their particular book as the source of all knowledge, and any deviation from their book could not be tolerated e.g if a watermelon is not in the Koran you can’t have a watermelon.

  • Matt

    Vinny, that’s a pretty good definition, but the connotation is extra meaning not included in the definition. While people probably realize that all fundamentalists are not ignorant and violent, our perception is warped by the media coverage of the violent ones. Jihadists, for example, are usually called Islamic Fundamentalists, even though there are plenty of non-violent Islamic fundamentalists.

    Bill,
    I appreciate the posts like this that are more inspirational rather than argumentative. I enjoy both and I think you’ve had a good mix of both over the last few months

  • Ian A

    Bill,
    You say you are non violent, but don’t you get righteous anger when you see a wrong committed that is against your fundamentlist beliefs and won’t that lead you to violence on certain occasions?

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Matt,

    I’m not sure what you think the extra meaning is. The origin of the term “fundamentalist” was a series of pamphlets published in the early 1900’s that defended tradition Protestant beliefs against modern thinking in biblical criticism. The larger culture’s understanding of fundamentalism was shaped in large part by the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925. From the very first, the term included the idea of opposition to modernism which is why it has always had a negative connotation among non-fundamentalists.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    The problem with the word “fundamentalism” is that it means different things to different people. The word originates from the early 20th century when it described conservative Christians who opposed Higher Criticism and authored a series of books titled, The Fundamentals: A Testimony of the Truth. They reacted to liberal Christianity, so the original meaning of the word is essentially conservative, orthodox Christianity. Since I am a conservative, orthodox Christian, of course I don’t think that fundamentalism in this sense is bad.

    However, today the word generally has pejorative connotations, although they are different for each person. John Piper made the point that the word “fundamentalist” is used to mean anyone to the right of us. I think that is a good observation, but it makes the word useless because it goes without saying that anyone to the right of me is more conservative than I am. When the word is used in this sense it is usually a way of expressing disdain for those who not at the exact point on the conservative–liberal continuum that we are. So if we define fundamentalism in this way, then I think it would be uncharitable to say that it is bad.

    But there is a connotation of fundamentalism that is bad, and that is a rigid, simplistic mentality that refuses to acknowledge any perspective other than one’s own. I say that it is bad because it was the attitude of the Pharisees, who were the chief enemies of Jesus. They had the reputation of being devout and really knowing the Scriptures, but they “strained out a gnat and swallowed a camel” by neglecting “the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23). Jesus was always challenging their understanding of the Scriptures, because their rigid attitude actually betrayed arrogance and lack of reverence for the Scriptures.

    As we all know, the Bible is a challenging book, and fundamentalism in this negative sense means proof texting and missing the context and the nuances. It means simplifying what is not simple. It also means being like the Pharisees by seeming devout and acting judgmental, but actually not having much reverence for the Scriptures.

    In other words, I think the word “fundamentalism” is a useless one because it means so many things to different people. If I say, “I’m a fundamentalist,” then people will attach to that statement all the connotations the word has to them, and if I say, “I’m not a fundamentalist,” then they will interpret that to mean whatever they associate with non-fundamentalism (usually liberal Christianity). In my humble opinion, it is a word that should be banished to the dustbin.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Back when I was going to Bible studies in the mid-1970’s, many of the Christians I knew were willing to identify themselves as “fundamentalists.” I think that most of those same Christians would prefer the term “evangelical” today. However, I have read that some Christians have become frustrated that “evangelical” is picking up some of the same negative connotations. I don’t think that changing words is going to solve the problem.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    I prefer “Christian,” and I’m not the tiniest bit worried about negative connotations associated with being a follower of Christ. After all, Jesus Himself was called a blasphemer, a sorcerer, a glutton and a drunkard, and His early followers were accused of cannibalism, incest, atheism, causing disasters (by angering the gods with their refusal to worship them), superstition, apostasy from Judaism, and lack of patriotism–among other things.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Anette,

    f you weren’t worried about negative connotations, I don’t think you would be so eager to see the word “fundamentalism’ retired.

  • http://thatfresnoblog.com Benjamin Baxter

    Redefine fundamentalism and it means something very different than what it means. This is not surprising.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Vinny,

    The reason why I have a problem with the word “fundamentalism” is not because of the negative connotations, but because it means so many different things to different people. The purpose of words is to communicate, and it’s impossible to communicate clearly using the word “fundamentalist.” For example, if I say that I am a fundamentalist, I may be communicating something inaccurate about myself, and if I say I am not a fundamentalist, I may likewise be communicating something inaccurate. It all depends on how the person I’m talking to understands the word.

    In fact, Richard Dawkins has been called a fundamentalist atheist, to which he replies that an atheist cannot be a fundamentalist. But it all depends on the definition used. Dan Wallace said about Ehrman that his “black and white mentality as a fundamentalist has hardly been affected as he slogged through the years and trials of life and learning, even when he came out on the other side of the theological spectrum.” Wallace is here simply using “fundamentalism” to mean a black and white mindset, which is how a lot of people define it.

    A lot of people also associate fundamentalism with Young Earth Creationism, but according to Denis Alexander, some of the authors of The Fundamentals (Benjamin Warfield, James Orr, and George Wright) accepted evolution. So fundamentalism did not originally have anything to do with Darwinian evolution even if it came to be associated with the Scopes Monkey Trial.

    Even if “evangelical” has negative connotations, I have no problem with that word because evangelicals share a high view of Scripture, even if we differ in our interpretations. So the word has a definite meaning.

    “Fundamentalism,” on the other hand, means so many different things to different people that unless the context is clear, I don’t know what people mean when they use the word. Most people don’t even know what the original fundamentalists said (and the fact that some of them accepted evolution), so we are left with the connotations.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Benjamin Baxter,

    It’s interesting that you should say that because your comment in the last thread actually got me thinking about the word “fundamentalist” and how it doesn’t have a clear meaning. I really liked it and fully agreed with what you said about seeking the truth, but I did not know what you meant when you said, “An honest atheist will dismiss the psuedo-intellectual pandering schmaltz of Dawkins or Hitchens with exactly the same disdain as he dismisses the kneejerk fundamentalism of Paley or, yes, William Lane Craig.” Not even the word “kneejerk” told me what you meant because Craig has been criticized by James White for downplaying inerrancy. Do you mean that Craig is a fundamentalist in that he agrees with the authors of The Fundamentals or that he’s an evangelical–or do you mean something else?

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    The reason why I have a problem with the word “fundamentalism” is not because of the negative connotations, but because it means so many different things to different people.

    If that were the case, then you should also have a similar problem with “Christian” because there is at least as much disagreement about what makes someone a “Christian” as there is about what makes someone a “fundamentalist.” Some people think Mormons and Jehovah’s are Christians while others don’t. Some people don’t consider Catholics or Unitarians to be Christians. Some people use the term “Christ follower” because they do not want to be associated with many of the people who call themselves “Christians.”

    I suspect that the reason you don’t have a similar problem with the term “Christian” is that its connotations are still generally positive. You like to have people think of you as a “Christian” even if the term sometimes is used to identify people who may not deserve the label in your eyes. You are less comfortable with the term “fundamentalist Christian.” Unfortunately, words don’t always communicate only the meanings that we would like them to communicate.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    If that were the case, then you should also have a similar problem with “Christian” because there is at least as much disagreement about what makes someone a “Christian” as there is about what makes someone a “fundamentalist.”

    It is true that the label “Christian” doesn’t give a lot of details about me, but it is still an accurate label, in the same sense that the label “atheist” doesn’t tell me a lot about a person, but it is still an accurate label for those who don’t believe in any gods. If I want more information, I would actually have to listen to what the person says. Likewise, if people want to know what kind of a Christian I am, they would have to pay attention to what I say and do.

    However, I don’t know whether I am a fundamentalist. I’ve never used that label to describe myself and nobody has used it to describe me. And I don’t have the foggiest idea what The Fundamentals said, except what Denis Alexander claimed.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Anette, if scientific consensus contradicts a position that you interpret from the bible, do you go with the consensus and figure you interpreted the bible wrong, or do you effectively say ‘To heck with the consensus, I trust the bible’?

    For example, do you accept that the earth is billions of years old, or do you reckon it’s less than 10,000 years old? Is the fact that birds’ DNA contains instructions for making teeth, and human DNA for making tails, and snake DNA for making legs, all evidence for evolution, or is it some unfathomable example of God’s mystery?

    If you can figure out your position on these questions, then you probably know if you’re a ‘fundamentalist’ or not.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Andrew Ryan,

    What if I accept theistic evolution, but I do so primarily for theological reasons? As I said before, some of the original fundamentalists readily accepted Darwin’s theory. And Augustine believed, long before Darwin, that God created a universe that was designed to develop and evolve.

    I know it may seem easy for me to say this now, but based on my approach to Bible interpretation, there is no way I would have accepted the Steady State Theory regardless of the scientific consensus. And this is why: Although Genesis is highly theological and contains much of the same metaphorical language as Revelation, Hebrews 11:3 uses very plain, unambiguous language. “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” To reject creation ex nihilo would be to either reject something the Bible explicitly says we are to know by faith, or to dishonestly try to explain away unambiguous language. And that’s something I wouldn’t do, because I believe that the Bible is the true word of God.

    So am I a fundamentalist?

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Anette,

    I think that it is the nature of language more that problems with a specific word. Once upon a time, I think it would have been fair to call me a political “moderate.” In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, I often voted for Republican candidates. However, in today’s political climate, I suspect that most people would label me a “liberal.”

    Thirty years ago, I would have associated the idea of fundamentalism primarily with a belief that all human experience must be interpreted in the light of the authority of revealed wisdom even if reason and evidence might point in some other direction. Protestant fundamentalists believed that knowledge and understanding must conform to the dictates of scripture and Catholic fundamentalists looked to the teachings of the Church and Pope as the ultimate authority.

    Unfortunately, fundamentalism has also come to be associated with opposition to civil authority as a result of Muslim extremists and certain Christian sects like the Branch Davidians. That makes use of the word much more complicated than it once was, but I don’t know that the word can be blamed for that. Language isn’t static.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Vinny,

    I certainly agree that language isn’t static, which is why we have to go by what the word “fundamentalism” means today rather than what it meant in the early 20th century. But I don’t even know what that is (even though of course I know what it means to be a political liberal today), and whether I am a fundamentalist. Your definition of “fundamentalism” thirty years ago doesn’t describe my perspective because I think that Christian theism is more rational and more consistent with the evidence than any other worldview. So I don’t consider myself to go against evidence and reason.

    Bill Pratt asked: “Can we save this word and return it to mean what it used to mean?” I think the answer is “no.” Many people think of a “fundamentalist” as a true believer in a religious or pseudo-religious (meaning atheism or agnosticism) worldview, who is an inflexible, black-and-white thinker who rejects contrary evidence out of hand. But it can also simply mean a conservative Christian. This inherent ambiguity is the reason why I don’t describe myself as a fundamentalist, nor do I describe myself as a non-fundamentalist.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Anette,

    I suspect that most fundamentalists believe that their world view is more rational and consistent than any other. However, the fact that you would reject a scientific theory regardless of the consensus of the scientific community if it didn’t comport with an ancient document of unknown authorship meets my understanding of the term “fundamentalist.”

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Vinny,

    The observational evidence did not support the Steady State Theory–it simply made predictions that were falsified. The observational evidence does, however, support the Big Bang Theory. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the book God and the Astronomers by self-described agnostic Robert Jastrow, but he talks about how much scientists resisted the Big Bang Theory because of the implications.

    He quotes the following scientists:

    “This circumstance [of an expanding Universe] irritates me,” and in another letter about the expanding Universe, “To admit such possibilities seems senseless.” -Albert Einstein


    “I have no axe to grind in this discussion,” but “the notion of a beginning is repugnant to me . . . I simply do not believe that the present order to things started off with a bang . . . the expanding Universe is preposterous . . . incredible . . . it leaves me cold.” -Arthur Eddington



    “I find it hard to accept the Big Bang theory; I would like to reject it.” -Philip Morrison of MIT



    “It is such a strange conclusion . . . it cannot really be true.” – Allan Sandage of the Carnegie Observatories

    What matters is the evidence, not the consensus.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Here is what you wrote Anette:

    I know it may seem easy for me to say this now, but based on my approach to Bible interpretation, there is no way I would have accepted the Steady State Theory regardless of the scientific consensus. And this is why: Although Genesis is highly theological and contains much of the same metaphorical language as Revelation, Hebrews 11:3 uses very plain, unambiguous language. “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” To reject creation ex nihilo would be to either reject something the Bible explicitly says we are to know by faith, or to dishonestly try to explain away unambiguous language. And that’s something I wouldn’t do, because I believe that the Bible is the true word of God.

    You didn’t say anything about the observational evidence. You said you would not accept a particular scientific theory because Hebrews says something different happened. If you are compelled to reject a particular theory based on your approach to Bible interpretation, why should I believe that your conclusions have anything to do with the evidence at all?

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    No, I said that I would not accept the Steady State Theory regardless of the scientific consensus, which is the exact language used by Andrew Ryan. I said nothing about rejecting a scientific theory regardless of the evidence.

    We’ve had a lot of discussions by now, and I was wondering if you can come up with an example of me denying the evidence in order to hold to my beliefs. I don’t recall ever doing that. And if it’s possible for me to be true to both an “ancient document” and the evidence, then maybe that ancient document really is the word of God.

    Has that thought occurred to you? If it hasn’t, then there’s a word for your mindset, Vinny. ;)

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Anette,

    Two questions:

    Is the Steady State Theory a particular scientific theory?
    Did you say that there is no way you would accept that theory based on your approach to Bible interpretation?

    If the answer to both questions is “Yes,” then I do not think that I misquoted you. I did not claim that you said you would reject the theory regardless of the evidence. However, the fact that you said you would reject the theory based on your interpretation of a passage from Hebrews rather than that you would reject the theory based on the lack of observational evidence leads me to conclude that you rate what the Bible says above what the evidence shows. Nevertheless, I did not and I am not claiming that you expressly admitted this. I simply believe that this is the logical inference of what you wrote.

    One more question:

    Are you saying that you would change you approach to Bible interpretation if observational evidence supported the Steady State Theory?

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Is the Steady State Theory a particular scientific theory?
    Did you say that there is no way you would accept that theory based on your approach to Bible interpretation?

    Let me put it to you this way: Numerous Christians over the centuries (like John Milton) have rejected creation ex nihilo, even though Hebrews 11:3 clearly describes it. I think Milton simply thought that the idea was illogical, but the Big Bang is not illogical–it’s just very hard for human minds to conceptualize the idea of all matter coming out of nothing.

    I don’t share Milton’s approach to the Bible. The fact that something in the Bible boggles my mind doesn’t mean that I reject it. In fact, if everything in the Bible was really easy to understand, I would suspect that it originated from human minds.

    So if scientists don’t have evidence to back up their claims and they contradict the Bible, I go with the Bible.

    Are you saying that you would change you approach to Bible interpretation if observational evidence supported the Steady State Theory?

    No, I’m simply saying that of course it’s easy for me to say, now that the Steady State Theory has been disproved, that I never would have accepted it anyway. However, based on the way I consistently interpret the Bible, I think I can honestly say that I would have rejected it.

    Your question about what I would have done if the evidence supported the Steady State Theory is entirely hypothetical. If the evidence contradicted unambiguous language like Hebrews 11:3, then I probably would have rejected Christianity a long time ago because most likely the Bible would have been inconsistent with logic and reality in other ways as well. I am a Christian because I believe Christianity is true.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    No, I’m simply saying that of course it’s easy for me to say, now that the Steady State Theory has been disproved, that I never would have accepted it anyway. However, based on the way I consistently interpret the Bible, I think I can honestly say that I would have rejected it

    It sounds to me like you are saying that prior to the time that the Steady State Theory had been scientifically disproved, you would have rejected it anyway based on your interpretation of the Bible. That sounds to me like you are willing to reach a conclusion before the evidence is in based on what you believe to be divine revelation.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Prior to the Steady State Theory being disproved, I would have predicted that it was false, based on Hebrews 11:3 and all the evidence I have that the Bible is true. However, that is no different than scientists making predictions prior to testing them–they don’t start out completely agnostic about everything. And the more evidence they already have, the more precise the predictions can be.

    In fact, the cosmic background spectrum of the primordial fireball (the Big Bang) was predicted so perfectly that Robert Jastrow says:

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Sorry, I accidentally sent it too soon. That was the cliffhanger ending. :)

    Jastrow shows a graph and says: “The agreement is so good that the theoretical curve looks as if it has been drawn through the data, but actually the two are entirely independent.”

    Faith is the same way–we start out with it being like a vague hypothesis, but the more it is tested and confirmed, the more we can predict that the evidence will continue to be consistent with the Bible.

    The evidence will never be completely in, but all the evidence that is in supports the Bible. You have not given an example of me denying evidence for the sake of my beliefs.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Anette,

    I am sorry, but it is much much different than a scientist making a prediction prior to testing it. No responsible scientist goes into an experiment with the attitude that he will never accept the result anyway if it doesn’t confirm his prediction. There is no point in doing an experiment unless the scientist believes that its results are going to be sufficient to determine the validity of his prediction.

    This is of course the difference between apologists and real scholars. Apologetic inquiries are structured so that the initial hypothesis can only be confirmed..

  • http://Graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Of course I never said that I wouldn’t accept the results. I said the opposite–that I would have rejected Christianity long ago if it had not withstood honest scrutiny. But at this point it is like a well-established theory that has been confirmed again and again and again in my mind.

    But since you’ve accused me of rejecting results that go against my predictions, do you have an example of me doing that?

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    You said that “based on my approach to Bible interpretation, there is no way I would have accepted the Steady State Theory regardless of the scientific consensus.” You then likened your attitude to “scientists making predictions prior to testing them–they don’t start out completely agnostic about everything.” I think the comparison is absolutely absurd.

  • http://Graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Vinny, I’m analogizing–of course I’m not saying that my faith is just like the scientific method. However, I am saying that there are similarities, and there’s nothing wrong with me being very certain that something will prove false, provided that I admit it if it turns out I was wrong. I’m trying to get at the truth, so what’s the problem?

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com DagoodS

    Anette Acker: The purpose of words is to communicate, and it’s impossible to communicate clearly using the word “fundamentalist.”

    Yes. And no. Alas, due to variety in human experience, words always have the potential to not communicate clearly. If we abandoned words due to their potential to “impossible to communicate clearly”…well…we would be left with no words at all.

    Labels, such as “fundamentalist” or “liberal” or “Christian” or “agnostic” are effective to provide an initial determination differentiating general beliefs. By calling myself an “atheist” or “father” or “athletic” this provides the recipient to learn more about me, and how my humanity differs from others (such as “theists,” “mothers,” “non-athletic,” etc.) The danger becomes, of course, when we demand the person conform to the label, rather than the label to the person.

    Thus discussion is often necessary to provide further demarcation with the designation. Further labels, if you will. The difference between a “conservative,” “moderate” or “liberal” for example.

    I would have to say, Anette Acker, if someone informed me you were a “fundamentalist,” they would have effectively communicated a concept to me. If you are not a fundamentalist, you certainly employ methods akin to what I see in other people I would designate and understand as fundamentalist.

    I am uncertain why this should be a concern for you. If, as you indicated earlier, you do not have a problem because of the negative connotations, but rather because it may not communicate clearly—if it HAS communicated your position between two people (say Vinny and me) so that we understand each other, then what is the worry?

    You approach the Bible and Christian apologetics in a manner reflective of what I would call “fundamentalist” biblical scholarship.

    Again, so what? Curiously, this blog entry (and as far as I can tell, your comments) haven’t asked the more important question—Is the method (regardless if it is termed “fundamentalist” or “evangelical” or “conservative” or “orthodoxy”) the correct approach?

  • Andrew Ryan

    If it helps Anette, I very much doubt that you genuinely approach the bible as being the unquestionable word on God. For example, do you accept as morally correct the parts of the bible that instruct Jews that it is permissible to own non-Jewish slaves, and to automatically own the children of those slaves?

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Anette,

    The problem is that you wrote that there was no way you would accept a particular scientific theory based on your approach to Bible interpretation. You didn’t write that you would be willing to accept the theory if the evidence supported it nor did you write that you rejected the theory in the first place due to the lack of supporting evidence. In fact, as a reason never accepting the theory, you said that it contradicted something the Bible told you to believe on faith. I don’t see the slightest similarity between that reasoning and the application of the scientific method.

    In my comments to this post, I have not accused you of denying evidence for the sake of your beliefs in any specific circumstances. However, I might point to your insistence that we can be certain James became a follower of Jesus as a result of an appearance of the risen Christ despite the fact that nowhere in the New Testament are we told when James converted and the earliest traditions outside the New Testament indicate that he was a follower prior to the crucifixion. I would also note that in favor of this proposition, you have repeatedly cited the consensus of scholars, however, you would happily ignore the consensus of scholars in the scientific community. I think I would probably call that disregarding a lack of evidence for the sake of your beliefs rather than denying evidence.

    I know you think that “you would have rejected Christianity long ago if it had not withstood honest scrutiny,” but it does not look that way to me. It looks to me like your inquiries are calculated to produce only evidence that will confirm your beliefs. If you are unable to make sense of something in the Bible, you don’t view it as evidence that the Bible might be wrong. Rather, you take it as a sign of the Bible’s divine origins. I see a lot of confirmation bias in your approach.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    DagoodS,

    I am uncertain why this should be a concern for you. If, as you indicated earlier, you do not have a problem because of the negative connotations, but rather because it may not communicate clearly—if it HAS communicated your position between two people (say Vinny and me) so that we understand each other, then what is the worry?

    My concern is not that people think of me as a fundamentalist with its negative connotations, but that if you equivocate in the way you use the word, you are thinking fallacious. Based on what you said about Vinny, I’m operating under the assumption that you agree with him, and he has made it clear that he defines “fundamentalist” both as a conservative, Bible-believing Christian and someone with confirmation bias who will not change his or her mind regardless of the evidence. The two go together in his mind. This is fallacious thinking because it means that you have already decided that the Bible is full of mistakes and the product of human minds and therefore conservative Christians are closed-minded and unwilling to honestly examine the evidence. The fact that they are conservative Christians is proof that they don’t honestly examine the evidence.

    You might have noticed that Vinny has not produced a shred of evidence to back up his accusation that I disregard the evidence for the sake of my beliefs, and this after over half a year of extensive, regular discussions on a number of subjects. All he can do is once again bring up the James discussion, claiming that I insisted that we can be certain that James converted because Jesus appeared to him, something you and I both know is false since we had the discussion on your blog.

    On your blog, you compared an apologist to a defense attorney with a guilty client, but let’s say you’re in a situation like Atticus Finch where you’re convinced that your client is not guilty, but the jury is full of people who have already decided to convict regardless of the evidence or arguments. And if you demonstrate that your client is not guilty, the jurors simply attribute that to your slick lawyering and remain just as convinced as before. Would you feel a little frustrated?

    It is not a given that conservative Christians are biased. Anne Rice said the following:

    “Sometimes the most conservative people are the most biblically and scholastically sound. They have studied Scripture and have studied skeptical scholarship. They make brilliant arguments for the way something in the Bible reads and how it’s been interpreted. I don’t go to them necessarily to know more about their personal beliefs. It’s the brilliance they bring to bear on the text that appeals to me. Of all the people I’ve read over the years, it’s their work that I keep on my desk. They’re all non-Catholics, but they’re believers, they document their books well, they write well, they’re scrupulously honest as scholars, and they don’t have a bias. Many of the skeptical non-believer biblical scholars have a terrible bias.”

    The fact that she says it doesn’t make it true, of course, but sometimes I get the impression that skeptics don’t even consider the possibility that it’s true. They are often so sure of the confirmation bias of conservative Christians that the thought doesn’t even enter their minds. So no matter what we say or what evidence we produce, it will never convince them because we are “fundamentalists” and therefore don’t care about the truth.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Andrew,

    If it helps Anette, I very much doubt that you genuinely approach the bible as being the unquestionable word on God. For example, do you accept as morally correct the parts of the bible that instruct Jews that it is permissible to own non-Jewish slaves, and to automatically own the children of those slaves?

    Jesus addresses the Law of Moses in Matthew 19:7-8, where He is asked why it allows divorce if it goes against God’s will. He replies by saying that it’s because of the hardness of human hearts. In other words, the Law of Moses took into account culture and the ability of the people to actually observe the law, so the fact that it permitted something didn’t necessarily mean that it was “morally correct.” Although the Law of Moses was certainly higher than the moral standards of the surrounding nations, it was not so high that the Israelites were sure to fail. As it was, they conformed to the customs of the other nations anyway.

    But Colossians 2:17 says that the law was a mere shadow of what was to come, and that the “substance belongs to Christ.” The Law of Moses contains typology that points to Christ, but it was intended for one particular culture. The teachings of Jesus, on the other hand, represent what most people consider the highest moral law. Mahatma Gandhi was deeply influenced by Jesus and considered Him “a beautiful example of the perfect Man.” Likewise, Richard Dawkins has a T-shirt that says, “atheists for Jesus.”

    So the moral teachings of Jesus apply to all people, and with His death and resurrection, He also made a way for us to receive the Holy Spirit, so that we are empowered to follow them.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Vinny,

    However, I might point to your insistence that we can be certain James became a follower of Jesus as a result of an appearance of the risen Christ despite the fact that nowhere in the New Testament are we told when James converted and the earliest traditions outside the New Testament indicate that he was a follower prior to the crucifixion.

    You know as well as I do that I never insisted that we can be “certain” of this, since you just raised this subject on DagoodS blog and I reminded you that I never said that it was certain–in our original discussion I went from saying that it was beyond a reasonable doubt (a standard of proof less than 100% certainty) to saying that I shouldn’t have said “beyond a reasonable doubt” but that it was the best explanation for the biblical evidence that we have. So why do you keep using an example of me admitting I was wrong against me?

    If you would rather twist my words than admit when you are wrong, it is probably time for us to stop talking and just agree to disagree.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Anette,

    I also recall that you insisted that your level of certainty had not changed. As you said, “The only thing that changed was that I realized that I should not have said ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.'” I also recall that you cited Gerd Ludemann as “a scholar who thought we could be sure that James converted as a result of the appearance.” So while it is true that you backed off from claiming absolute certainty, I still think that the word “certain” fairly reflects the degree of confidence you expressed on the point.

    As far as “twisting” your words go, I very much resent the accusation. I think that I am more careful with your statements than I am with those of any other Bible believer even if I don’t go back and reread every discussion we have had before I make a comment. If you don’t believe me, ask Dagoods. I think that he has seen me argue with enough apologists to know.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “In other words, the Law of Moses took into account culture and the ability of the people to actually observe the law”

    Can you understand why it can be viewed as hypocritical for people to justify homophobia, or make other moral judgments by quoting from the OT, when the same chapters condone slavery? If one can explain away the latter, one can do the same for the former, and it becomes a big book of multiple choice. You reject the slavery passages because it doesn’t fit th values you have already.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Vinny,

    I don’t expect you to go back and reread every discussion we’ve had before you reference it, but I did expect you to remember the James discussion on DagoodS’s blog. It happened recently and we went on and on about what exactly I said and how much certainty I expressed. But DagoodS had to endure that once, and I would hate to subject him to another round of it, so let’s just drop it.

    I’m not going to impute motives to you, so if you say you weren’t twisting my words and you really don’t remember what I said, I’ll take your word for it.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Anette,

    I had been trying to confine my comments to statements you had made on this blog, but you kept demanding that I address other issues. I think I know Dagoods well enough to know that he doesn’t mind me going off on tangents on his blog, but I am not comfortable taking the same liberty on Bill’s blog. However, I would be happy to defend my recollection of your certainty about James in a more appropriate location should the opportunity arise.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Andrew,

    I’m sure there are Christians out there who don’t know that we are not subject to the Law of Moses, but that doesn’t make the Bible a “big book of multiple choice.” It just means that it’s a big book, and it has to be studied carefully, in context. If people take verses out of context, they will misinterpret the Bible.

    However, the NT also says that homosexuality is a sin. That doesn’t mean that it promotes homophobia–on the contrary, we are to treat homosexuals with as much love and respect as anyone else, recognizing that we are all sinners. Jesus regularly interacted with people who were sinners by any standard, but instead of condoning their sins, He healed their hearts.

    The NT doesn’t speak to the issue of gay marriage, because it is a political question and biblical Christianity is entirely apolitical. In 1 Corinthians 5:12, Paul says: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” So the NT doesn’t concern itself with the behavior of those outside the church.

    However, the question of whether to ordain practicing homosexuals is the business of the church because the NT prohibits it, just like it prohibits adultery and other sexual sins. Nobody has to become a minister, so it seems reasonable to expect that they adhere to Christian morality. They should meet a high moral standard in general, given how many lives they impact. I know too many people who have been deeply affected by the moral collapse of their pastors.

    And the Bible says that just becoming a Christian means that we have to renounce all our sins. If we want Jesus to save us from our sins, then it goes without saying that we have to be willing to let them go. This means all sins, and nowhere does the Bible say that homosexuality is among the worst. The Gospels make it clear that hypocrisy and self-righteousness are the worst sins because people who embodied those sins were the chief enemies of Jesus. He spoke sharply to the Pharisees but gently to the people whom everyone recognized as sinners (including–and especially–these individuals themselves).

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Vinny,

    My point in referencing DagoodS was just to make a joke about the general boringness of the subject of what exactly I said and how much certainty I expressed. I was boring myself when I talked about it. I know that DagoodS doesn’t mind people going off topic on his blog because he said that. And my point was also that I will take your word for it that you were not trying to twist my words.

  • Andrew Ryan

    “I’m sure there are Christians out there who don’t know that we are not subject to the Law of Moses”

    Such Christians will point out that Jesus plainly stated that he didn’t come to change the old laws, so you’re back to square one. Regardless of which direction you go in after concluding homosexuality is a sin, you’re still basing opinions on that conclusion. And if you’re making that conclusion while also explaining away the condoning of slavery, then you are not being consistent.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Such Christians will point out that Jesus plainly stated that he didn’t come to change the old laws, so you’re back to square one.

    In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says, “Do not think that I came abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” In Luke 24:44, He elaborates on what this means: “Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.'”

    In other words, the entire OT Scriptures contains prophecy and typology of Christ, and Jesus is saying that all of that has to be fulfilled. These things foreshadowed Christ. Colossians 2:16-17 continues in this vein: “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day–things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.” Paul tells them that they no longer have to worry about those ceremonial laws because they were a mere shadow of Christ in that they symbolized Him.

    As for the moral law itself, Jesus transitions into that in Matthew 5:19, and continues by saying in 5:20: “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

    And He goes on to supersede the Law of Moses by setting a higher moral standard (“You have heard that it was said . . . But I say to you . . .”), so there is no Scriptural basis for saying that Jesus did not come to change the old laws.

    But it’s not necessary to refer to the OT regarding homosexuality because 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:10 mention it. And 1 Timothy 1:10 also mentions that slave traders are sinners and go against “sound doctrine.”

  • Andrew Ryan

    “But it’s not necessary to refer to the OT regarding homosexuality…”

    But one can equally argue that the NEW Testament: “…took into account culture and the ability of the people to actually observe the law”.

    And why do you find it convincing in the first place that one takes those things into account before laying out moral laws? If slavery is wrong now, then it was also wrong then. If God thought it wrong then, why not just say so, rather than taking into account that slavery was in the culture, and that people might find it difficult not to have slaves? If it was wrong, then it was wrong, regardless of how culture or whatever. Observing the ‘no slavery’ edict would surely not be any harder than stopping yourself coveting.

    “…so there is no Scriptural basis for saying that Jesus did not come to change the old laws.”

    OK thanks, I’ll tell that to the next apologist who calls me an idiot for not being aware that in Matthew 5:17 Jesus could not have been any clearer that OT rules still applied.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Andrew,

    When you first raised this topic, I was going to say that I would answer briefly but that it was too major a subject to get into on a wholly unrelated thread. But then I decided to just play it by ear and see if you just had one question. But I can see now that we are getting into many other aspects of this issue, like the fact that ancient Israel was a theocracy, and the specific laws regarding slavery. Also, based on your response to Matthew 5:17, I think I was too brief to make myself clear. I would also have to explain the difference between being under law and under grace–a major topic in and of itself. In other words, I don’t have the time to do justice to your very good questions (nor do I want to go this far off topic on Bill Pratt’s blog), so I will briefly respond to your points and then sign off.

    But one can equally argue that the NEW Testament: “…took into account culture and the ability of the people to actually observe the law”.

    No, because the Old Covenant was for the Israelites and the New Covenant is for all people. And under the New Covenant, we receive the Holy Spirit so that our hearts are changed. That is why Jesus focused on the state of our hearts as well as our behavior.

    And why do you find it convincing in the first place that one takes those things into account before laying out moral laws? If slavery is wrong now, then it was also wrong then.

    The overarching commandments to love God with all our hearts, minds, and souls, and to love our neighbor as ourselves applied back then as well (Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:36-40). That summarizes the moral law.

    However, ancient Israel was also a theocracy–a political system–which means that it had to take consideration culture and the ability of people to follow the laws. Every political system does. We don’t make every vice illegal.

    Slavery was an integral part of ancient culture, but the OT governs the way the slaves are to be treated. Sometimes the slavery was beneficial because it permitted someone to pay off a debt or escape poverty. And Hebrew slaves would be released after six years. All slaves were given one day a week–the Sabbath–to rest, and runaway slaves from other nations could not be returned to their masters, nor could they be oppressed.

    Still, that doesn’t mean that slavery is God’s will, because going back to how Jesus answered the question about divorce, we can extrapolate and say that the Law of Moses did not represent absolute morality. However, the teachings of Jesus do.

    OK thanks, I’ll tell that to the next apologist who calls me an idiot for not being aware that in Matthew 5:17 Jesus could not have been any clearer that OT rules still applied.

    I’m not sure if I follow you. I said that we are not under the Law of Moses and I tried to explain above what Matthew 5:17 means by fulfilling the Law and the Prophets.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Andrew,

    Sorry, I just realized that I misunderstood your last quote. I’m the one who’s confused. So hopefully that means that my explanation about fulfilling the Law and the Prophets makes sense.

  • http://sandwichesforsale.blogspot.com DagoodS

    Anette Acker,

    Thanks for the concern over the possibility I engaged in fallacious thinking. Luckily Vinny and I seem to understand and even squeak out some communication when utilizing the term “fundamentalist” so I think we may be able to muddle through. *grin*

    Unfortunately you may feel some frustration. We (you and I) approach the Bible from a very different paradigm. To be brutally honest, (sorry) I find your biblical scholarship and apologetics fairly basic—the type seen so often it bores me. I doubt even lurkers are interested anymore. The only bits I am interested in (how you perceive and empathize with countering positions) I may ask a few questions.

    Hence, I will probably cause some frustration, as I seem to ignore what is paramount to you, and of no interest to me.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    No worries about your brutal honesty, DagoodS! I’m glad to know exactly where you stand, so I don’t waste my time. You are the first skeptic to essentially tell me that his mind is closed to what I have to say, and most of the skeptics have also been very friendly, so I always end up giving them the benefit of the doubt and putting time and effort into answering their questions.

    The only time I feel “frustration” is when a skeptic says his mind is open to Christianity, raises a lot of issues in response to me, but then pays little attention to what I say so I have to keep repeating myself. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it frustrates me.

    The fact that you ignore what is paramount to me doesn’t frustrate me in the least. That’s your choice. :)

  • Andrew Ryan

    Hi Anette, thanks for taking the time to address my questions with your thoughtful replies. All the best to you.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    All the best to you as well, Andrew!

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Anette,

    Suppose that a Hindu person told you that prior to examining the evidence for the Big Bang theory, he knew that there was no way he would ever accept it because he had a holy book that told him that the universe had always existed. Would that make you more optimistic or more pessimistic about his ability to apply honest scrutiny to the evidence?

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Vinny,

    First, as I said to Andrew, I’m going to wrap this up because Bill may not want people hijacking his blog to talk about all kinds of unrelated things. But I will respond to this comment.

    Since this Hindu is supposed to represent me, I assume that he has done everything I have done to make sure his religion is true before he makes this pronouncement, correct? If that’s the case, he would have first spent a decade and a half making sense of his holy book and addressing in his mind the strongest argument against his religion, whatever that is (which, for Christianity, is the problem of evil). He would have to think about these issues critically–not to defend his religion to anyone else, but simply to answer the question in his own mind of whether it is true. And after he was convinced that it is, he would spend a year-and-a-half being cross-examined almost daily by people who disagree with him, and he would have to make sure never to lie, stretch the truth, or be evasive in any way. He would also have to answer the questions directly and not ignore any arguments or evidence.

    Also, there would have to be an argument for Hinduism that is of equal strength to the historical evidence for the resurrection. And he would have to refute the kalam cosmological argument, which existed at the time, and which contradicts his position. And when I say “refute,” I don’t just mean raising the possibility that not everything that begins to exist has a cause, because possibility arguments are not convincing. He would also have to address the problem of an actual infinite regress of causes, and explain how this is possible. (If he starts talking about infinite set theory, we would have remind him that many mathematical concepts–like negative numbers–do not actually exist in the real world. For example, it’s not possible to have negative two oranges.)

    If he did all this, yes, I would be optimistic about his ability to apply honest scrutiny to the evidence. Although I don’t think it’s possible to do what I outlined to defend Hinduism in this way, I would be very fascinated if someone did do it, and I would consider the person intellectually honest. However, the evidence would eventually show that he was wrong anyway, so his intellectual honesty would really be put to the test then.

    But if the evidence is always consistent with a particular worldview, then it’s not so much a question of a particular person’s intellectual honesty as it is about the truth of the worldview. And even if you’re pessimistic about my ability to apply honest scrutiny to the evidence, the evidence has always been consistent with my worldview. You don’t know what I would do if faced with evidence that Christian theism is false because it has never happened. And, of course, if Christianity is true, it never will happen.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Anette,

    No. You are not correct. I am assuming that we know absolutely nothing else about that man or his faith journey other than his statement that prior to examining the evidence for the Big Bang theory, he knew that there was no way he would ever accept it because he had a holy book that told him that the universe had always existed. Moreover, I am not asking whether you would be optimistic in any absolute sense about his ability to be honest in his consideration of the theory. I am simply asking whether that particular statement would cause you to be more or less optimistic about his ability than you would have been if he had not made it.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Anette,

    No answer for that question?

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Vinny,

    The answer is that, whether intentionally or not, you are mischaracterizing what I said. I said, “I know it may seem easy for me to say this now, but based on my approach to Bible interpretation, there is no way I would have accepted the Steady State Theory regardless of the scientific consensus.”

    I was contrasting that to my acceptance of theistic evolution by also saying that long before the scientific evidence, Augustine postulated that God created a universe designed to evolve and develop. I further went on to say that there was never any observational evidence for the Steady State Theory. I could add that the theory ran into the problem of an infinite regress of causes.

    I never said there was no way I would ever accept the Steady State Theory, because if the evidence had confirmed it, I would have had to accept it and conclude that the Bible was wrong.

    If you have reached the conclusion that I’m closed-minded, I’m fine with that, but I find that highly irrelevant since, after six months of regular discussions, you have not come up with a single example of me ignoring the evidence for the sake of my beliefs. In contrast, DagoodS said on his blog that he knows everything he needs to know about orthodox Christianity, but he (and you) failed to answer a number of arguments I made on his blog.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    I am not mischaracterizing what you said. I am asking you a hypothetical question about a situation is which a person says something that is somewhat different from what you said. It is pretty standard technique which lawyers often use during cross examination. The idea is to get the witness to render an opinion on the hypothetical situation and then seek to show that it is sufficiently similar to the actual situation under dispute to warrant a similar resolution.

    If the witness believes the actual situation to be significantly different from the hypothetical situation, he or she should have no qualms about rendering an opinion about the hypothetical. If they try to obfuscate, it is often because they recognize the similarities. I think you are obfuscating.

    It is true that I don’t respond to every argument, but that is often because I have encountered them on other occasions and I’m pretty sure I know how the argument is going to go and where it is going to reach an impasse. I respond to arguments when I think I have a slant or an insight that I haven’t seen explored before. You and I have discussed evidence and belief before without making much progress. I don’t think I have anything new to add on that subject right now.

  • http://graceandmiracles.blogspot.com Anette Acker

    Vinny,

    If your hypothetical Hindu knew that there was no way he would ever accept the Big Bang because of his holy book, then he would by definition be closed-minded. People who believe what they want, regardless of the evidence, are closed-minded.

    It is true that I don’t respond to every argument, but that is often because I have encountered them on other occasions and I’m pretty sure I know how the argument is going to go and where it is going to reach an impasse. I respond to arguments when I think I have a slant or an insight that I haven’t seen explored before. You and I have discussed evidence and belief before without making much progress. I don’t think I have anything new to add on that subject right now.

    Now you are the evasive witness. I asked you for one example of me disregarding the evidence for the sake of my beliefs, and instead of saying that you can’t come up with one, which is the truth, you talk about impasses and no new insights and not wanting to go off the subject on Bill’s blog, and so forth. I’m not looking for brilliant insights–I just want you to answer my question. And I think that if you just answered the question directly, we would make considerable progress in our discussion.

    Now, if one of us doesn’t want to go where the evidence leads, then we do end up reaching an impasse. And not wanting to go where the evidence leads is the definition of closed-mindedness, whether or not there is a holy book involved.

    The main reason why I’ve been talking about agreeing to disagree is because I’ve come to see that we do end up with an impasse when you don’t like certain evidence. You like your argument about not having an intellectual tool for evaluating supernatural claims, and although I’ve explained to you that Bayes’ Theorem is such a tool and that Hume’s argument against miracles has been refuted and it’s just a question of whether it’s an “abject failure” or just flawed, you continue to use this argument. Hume’s Abject Failure is evidence that contradicts your argument that we don’t have an intellectual tool.

    Maybe it’s hard for you to see how a non-religious person can be just as closed-minded as a religious person, but it all comes down to how we approach evidence. Your hypothetical Hindu is closed-minded because there is no way he will ever accept the Big Bang. And if you can neither accept nor refute my argument that Bayes’ Theorem is a tool for evaluating supernatural claims, then you are just as closed to what I have to say as DagoodS told me he was. Will you admit that? It would be very helpful to me if you would answer this question completely honestly.

    And I do want to tell you that if your answers to my questions are evasive, I will most likely not reply.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Anette,

    Perhaps it would be helpful to take a look at the discussion so far:

    The subject of Bill’ post was fundamentalism, specifically whether fundamentalism is bad. This led (I think naturally) to a discussion of what fundamentalism is. Andrew offered an example of what he would deem to be fundamentalism and you responded with a comment that seemed to me to reflect an approach to the Bible that could fairly be described as fundamentalism. I tried to explore the implications of that comment.

    In response to my questions about the comment you made here, you raised questions about the content of other discussions we have had. First, you wanted to discuss whether you have on any other occasion disregarded evidence for the sake of your religious beliefs. That question isn’t relevant to what fundamentalism is and whether fundamentalism is bad. Now you want to discuss whether I am closed-minded as a result of my failure to embrace the validity of applying Bayes’ theorem to supernatural claims. That is even farther a field from the topic of Bill’s post. (BTW, the problem I see is the impossibility of assigning prior probabilities to the relevant events in any sort of objective manner.)

    So the difference between my willingness to answer your questions and your willingness to answer mine is that your questions are not relevant to the subject of Bill’s post while mine are. Moreover, my questions were based on an argument that you made on this blog whereas your questions seek to rehash discussions that we have had on other blogs.

    If you would care to post something about my closed-mindedness on your blog, I will be happy to address your questions there, but I’m not going to hijack Bill’s blog. That seems impolite to me.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ Vinny

    Anette,

    Now suppose that my hypothetical Hindu decides to examine the empirical evidence for the Big Bang. After completing his examination, he announces “Guess what. In my best judgment, the empirical evidence does not support the Big Bang, just as I expected.” Wouldn’t there be some reason to doubt that his judgment was really driven by the evidence rather than the mandates of his holy book?

  • Goat1967

    I always thought that fundamentalism is literal interpretation of ones holy book. Fundamentalist “Christians” believe to be in sole possession of the “truth” and that all other faiths are wrong. Now that is obviously egoic thinking. This is why Christianity has gotten such a bad name. I was recently told by a “born again” that I am “the powerless tool of a dark and sadistic master”. Now this person didn’t even know me. These people also think that no matter how one lives their life, that they well indeed burn in “Hell” unless they follow the strict fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. This kind of behavior is typical of the fundamentalists of today. Didn’t Jesus himself criticize some rabbis for following the letter of the law rather than the spirit in which the law was written? I think the fundamentalist interpretation is lacking key information like: the very limited hebrew vocabulary and language style of the time. For example, If I wrote in my journal that it was “raining cats and dogs” and someone found it two thousand years from now, would you believe it or would you try to study what I could have possibly meant by that? I think that their is “truth” in all belief systems, but no one has sole possession of the truth. To think that you do, well then you are most certainly serving you ego, not God. I don’t know what the original meaning of fundamentalism was, but what it means today is nothing good. I would also add that its not a Christian idea at all. Peace

  • Goat1967

    Bill, I also wanted to add that I wasn’t trained be the media to think fundamentalism is bad. I have had numerous unpleasant experiences with fundamentalist “Christians”. It is their very own words and actions that has trained me. It makes me very sad. I honestly believe that is a form of hatred.

  • Truth

    Fundamentalists, in my experience:

    They spend a lot of time and energy using the Bible as a hate manual. They misinterpret the Bible so that they can justify anything in society they disagree with as being the work of Satan and they look at the world through then interpretation of “God vs. evil spirits.”

    They see the world, also, as being the Bible vs. science and that science is always wrong. They believe that the Bible overrides science whenever possible. They reject any form of tested and proven science they choose to as being the work of the devil. They acknowledge that the science is proven, but then explain that it only works because Satan has created it to take us away from God. They believe that Genesis is a 100% literal account of the creation of the universe in 6 24 hour periods roughly 6,000 – 10,000 years ago and any evidence contradictory to that is the work of Satan.

    They hate anyone that is not straight (i.e. homosexuals, transgendered people, and so on). They say ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’ and try to use the bible to justify that belief even though it is nowhere to be found in the Bible, anywhere. They center on passages that they believe teach very restrictive rules about sex and overlook other major chunks of the Bible as though they don’t exist. They, more often than not, believe in traditional gender rolls…submissiveness of women and the authority of men. Anyone who does not disapprove of homosexuals, transgendered people, and so on, are just as bad as those groups of people.

    They center around sin and how everyone is always a sinner and they feel it is their duty to point out other people’s sin whenever and wherever possible. They believe that Jesus calls us to judge other people and if we don’t we’re not doing our duty.

    They have a lot of very restrictive rules about everything. They think no one should watch rated R movies and that music with swear words is wrong, also any form of drinking and smoking are sins and that separation from major chunks of secular society is the only path to God. They judge people as evil using these rules.

    They take the Bible as literally as possible and believe that it should be taken as face value and on no other level.

    Those are so;e things fundamentalists believe.

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