One recent suggestion offered on Facebook (as something someone else had once said) is that fundamentalism is “the belief that the Bible is easy to read, and that it consists primarily of prohibitions.”
The term originally comes from The Fundamentals, a series of tracts published a little more than a century ago. But things that were not considered fundamentals then – such as denial of mainstream science – have come to characterize it, and those first “fundamentalists” were far more intellectually rigorous and serious than most who are so labeled today.
This is worth highlighting, because fundamentalists often characterize themselves as defenders of unchanging truth. But what they are in fact is defenders of the idea of unchanging truth against the onslaught of not only change but also the evidence that their supposedly unchanging truths have changed in the past and continue to change even as a result of their defensive efforts.
So perhaps I should offer that as my own definition of “fundamentalism.” Fundamentalism is the defense of the idea of unchanging truth against the evidence from the history of their own belief system that what they label as unchanging truth is something that has evolved in the past and continues to evolve in the present.
What’s your definition of fundamentalism, assuming you consider the word worth using?