Fundamentalism - descent into the new Dark Ages


The 8th October issue of New Scientist caught my eye the other day in the newsagents. It has a special report with several articles on fundamentalism, touching on, science, faith, Christianity, Islam, and the collapse of modernity.

You have to be a subscriber to view the articles on online, but here is my summary of them:

1. End of the enlightenment: The first article, suggests that people around the world, are feeling threatened by the complexity and pace of change of secular life, with Muslims and Christians retreating into fundamentalist attitudes to cope. The growth of these groups in the US, Third World, and Middle/Far East is phenomenal and statistically documented (potentially 300 million evangelical Christians by end of this century alone). The article concludes by saying that the 21st Century will be a religious one.

One exception that is noted is Europe, which is portrayed as a wasteland of faith, unable to produce significantly large numbers of fundamentalist, and that Europe is different to the rest of the world. It's a shame they do not explore the differences of Europe and what this might mean for other countries.

Also they do not include any other options, of people wanting to be post-fundamental/post-foundational, and yet not conceding to the agenda of enlightenment liberalism. Maybe the emerging church isn't statistically large enough for their piece or they are unaware of it.

2. Meeting of Minds: This article explores the mind of a fundamentalist, how they can be nice people, seeking a sense of identity, but ultimately end up with simplistic world view that caused group exclusion and dislike of other peoples. As these groups are often at odds with the dominant culture and worldview, they become intolerant of diversity. Controversially, and beyond my ability to critique the article suggests that the identity crises of Christians with the collapse of modernity, and the re-surgence of fundamentalist/evangelical faith has caused the growth of Islamic fundamentalism.

3. Enemy at the Gates: An article about the campaign of Christians against science, their philosophy and funding by wealthy Christian businessmen. This article is set around the argument of intelligent design and belief in creation and the battle in the US against evolution. I've already written about how evolution and intelligent design are largely accepted beliefs in the UK and Europe, so this article was much more about some scary people plotting things in the USA to undermine scientists.

4. People in glass houses: The exploration of how science can be as fundamentalist as faith based fundamentalists.

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