Someone named Randal Rauser thinks I am being mean to fundamentalists:
I am. I ain’t a Christian. I don’t turn the other cheek or love my enemies or pray for those that say mean things about atheists.
What justifies ridicule? The ridiculous deserves to be ridiculed. Well, we should spare the innocent ridiculousness of those who cannot help it–the genuinely, pathetically dimwitted or uneducated. But pernicious, aggressive ridiculousness by smart, educated people who are attempting to foist their ridiculousness on the rest of us–that richly deserves ridicule. Those who attempt to use the power of the state to cram their fatuous, hateful ideology down the throats of everyone else–by having creationism taught in the public schools, say–are contemptible and fully deserving of contemptuous laughter. I heard Lewis Black do a terrific rant on creationism. Priceless.
The only interesting issue raised in Rauser’s post is how we define “fundamentalist.” Can we do no better than to say, after Alvin Plantinga, that a fundamentalist is a “stupid sumbitch whose theological opinions are considerably to the right of mine”? First, as to the “stupid” characterization: It may well be that most stupid people are fundamentalists, but it certainly is not the case that all fundamentalists are stupid. Some are very smart, or at least very clever. It is the clever ones we should ridicule. Chiefly though, it is the doctrine, fundamentalism, that should be ridiculed, not individual fundamentalists. What is fundamentalism? I identify it with the following doctrines/positions:
1) Biblical inerrancy: This is the view that the canonical books of the Protestant Bible (in the “original autographs”) are not only reliable in matters of morals or faith, but are scientifically, historically, and in every way true in every detail and contain no inconsistencies, discrepancies, or error of any sort. Lot’s wife really did turn into a pillar of salt. Sampson really did pull down that temple on the Philistines. There really was an earth-covering flood and an Ark full of animals. The walls of Jericho really did tumble down at the trumpet blast. The snake really did talk to the naked woman in the garden. Balaam’s donkey spoke, too. Jonah really was in the belly of the whale, er, great fish, for three days. The Nile really did turn into blood and the first-born of every Egyptian household was slain. Samuel really did tell Saul to commit genocide on the Amalekites. Elisha really did curse the children in the name of the Lord, and two she-bears mauled forty two of the children. Jesus really is coming back in glory to kick the Antichrist into hell. Really.
2) Extreme social conservatism. Marriage must be between one man and one woman (It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve). In fact, sexual love between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is sinful and morally reprehensible. Organizations should be allowed to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against gays. The Boy Scouts should not admit gays. Abortion is wrong under all circumstances. Even pregnancies due to rape or incest must not be terminated. (Oh, I forgot. Some fundamentalists believe that a woman’s body will shut down and prevent pregnancy by rape). Even contraception is suspect for some fundamentalists. A woman should not have the choice to terminate her pregnancy. In fact, women should mainly be wives and mothers, since that is their Biblically-appointed role. “KInder, Kuche, Kirche (children, cooking, and church)” as the Germans used to say. A wife should accept the authority of her husband and recognize that he is the head of the household. There should be sectarian prayer in the public schools. This country was founded on Christian (i.e. fundamentalist) principles.
3) Young Earth Creationism. The universe was created from six to ten thousand years ago in six literal days, as it says in Genesis. Macroevolution did not occur, and is, in fact, a Satanic lie. The geological record is explained by the Noachian Flood. Humans and the great apes are not related. Dinosaurs were on the Ark with Noah. T. rex was a harmless herbivore before the Fall of Man. There is no evidence for evolution. There are no intermediate fossils. There is no genetic evidence for evolution. Organisms were created of basically the same “kind” they are now. Human languages became diverse at the Tower of Babel. Evolutionary theory is only atheist ideology.
Now, if fundamentalism were only practiced by consenting adults, I might snicker at it in private with friends. But the advocates of such preposterous stuff are very, very aggressive in propagandizing for it f and in trying to get laws passed to impose it on everyone. Therefore, if public ridicule is an effective counter-measure, we need to go for it.