Converting to/from Fundamentalism

Converting to/from Fundamentalism December 28, 2012

David Hayward shared this older cartoon of his today:

The title seems to me precisely wrong. There is indeed a dividing line between those who see the world in terms of binary opposites, and those who see the world as rich, complex, deep, beautiful, and defying simple categories. But that line cuts through the whole of humanity, distinguishing between different sorts of religious believers, but also between different sorts of atheists, while placing some in those categories together on the same side of the dividing line.

The irony, of course, is this. The very fact that there are atheists and Christian fundamentalists who agree on the meaning of the Bible, even while disagreeing whether that meaning is true, while other Christians and atheists insist that the interpretation and approach offered are fundamentally flawed, illustrates precisely why fundamentalism is a flawed view of reality, whatever sort of fundamentalism it may happen to be. Reality is more complex and multicolored and multifaceted than any fundamentalism is willing to acknowledge. And a recognition of that state of affairs can be found among some religious believers and among some atheists, but not all of either.

So on this David Hayward seems to me to be wrong. His cartoon makes an important point. But it is about the fundamentalist mindset, and not about all religious mindsets.


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  • lrfcowper

    The fact that he sees the world as sharply divided into “religious mindset” and “secular mindset” would suggest that his thinking is black and white, thus nullifying his own point.

    • newenglandsun


      what about the spiritualist mindset? or the deistic mindset?

  • Tearfang

    “illustrates precisely why fundamentalism is a flawed view of reality, whatever sort of fundamentalism it may happen to be.” so all types of fundamentalism is bad including the fundamental belief in the statement above??? Methinks a more judicious use of language and definition of terms is called for as opposed to the undefinition of fundamentalist presented.

    I’m not sure even defining fundamentalism will save this illustration though. Just what concretely do the colors represent? It seems to me that everyone has their black and white things they think are true and things they think are false categories in addition to their colorful I don’t know what the truth here is yet categories, but perhaps you meant these to represent something else.