Fundamentalist Christianity guarantees a crisis of faith for those indoctrinated into its all-or-nothing package deal. This is stupid and cruel.
It’s stupid because that all-or-nothing package deal includes dozens of things that are not so. Lies. Falsehoods. Easily falsifiable falsehoods projected into the Bible and then mined back out of it as holy writ.
That’s bad enough on its own. It’s immoral to teach such lies at all, let alone to teach them as “God’s Word.”
But the problem isn’t just that those indoctrinated into fundamentalism are taught things like that the Earth is only 10,000 years old, or that homosexuality is a sinful choice, or that Noah hung out with dinosaurs before the flood, or that God hates you because you’re not perfectly holy. The larger problem is that according to fundamentalism, those falsehoods are inextricably linked to everything else. Everything. So if it turns out that the Earth is actually 4.5 billion years old, then, according to fundamentalism, life has no meaning, happiness is impossible, love is illusion, Jesus is dead, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins, and we are of all people most to be pitied. And that is cruel.
But enough from me, I’ve written about this enough times that you probably don’t need to hear another variation of my rant on the subject. So let me instead direct you to a post from Defeating the Dragons. DtD is a new-ish blog — started just this year — but it’s earning some well-deserved attention with its candor, honesty, deeply personal storytelling, and terrific writing under the name “forgedimagination.”
Here is the most recent post, “What Christian fundamentalism means to us,” which takes on the all-or-nothing, package-deal aspect of fundie faith by looking back at it from the other side of its collapse:
For those of us who grew up and left our fundamentalist nests, it was caused by our engagement with reality – for most of us, for the very first time. We befriended people in the LGBTQ community, and realized that everything we’d been taught about homosexuality (the BTQ part was completely dismissed) was either deeply misguided or just plain wrong. We encountered science for the first time, and for many of us who were taught that Genesis 1-11 was the bedrock of the entire Bible, finding out that AiG and ICR misrepresented evolutionary theory was the first nail in our theological coffins. For many of us, it was simply meeting people. We made friends with Christians who weren’t fundamentalists – we made friends with people who weren’t Christians, and it shook us profoundly. We met atheists and agnostics for the very first time, and suddenly, all our “right answers” couldn’t make sense. For many of us, the psychological dissonance was so bad we abandoned Christianity completely.
Sometimes, we abandoned Christianity for a time, but then we came back – and our Christianity looked utterly different. Some of us are Unitarian now. Some of us are Progressive. Some are Universalist. Some of us are Catholic, or just liturgical. Some of us hold the basic truth that God loves us, and we are trying to see the world through that love and nothing else.
Which gives us another core problem to face in fundamentalism: the absolute certainty, the absolute necessity of possessing “all the right answers” is coupled with another concept known as foundationalism. It’s the notion that there are “bedrock” ideas (like inerrancy and young earth creationism) and that, if those fall,everything else falls with it. And this has held true in many of our lives – our faith, when we took it out into the real world, was nothing more than a house of cards. And it wasn’t because we didn’t believe enough, or weren’t taught correctly enough, or hadn’t been instructed enough, or that we were secretly never believers and just couldn’t wait to “get out.” It was because of what were taught, it was because of what we believed – that Christ was not really enough.