Monday, July 27, 2009

Problems with Religious Fundamentalism

Clearly the greatest problem with religion is the existence of fundamentalism, caused by literal interpretation of texts and messages. Religious fundamentalism threatens to make people close-minded and develop “us and them” feelings towards other religions. I am critical towards this religious movement because it is damaging towards logical dialogue, creating personal attacks and slippery slopes.

Insecurity and Fear of “The Other”

At its heart, religious fundamentalism is caused by a deep fear of philosophical change. People hold onto beliefs brutally, ignorantly blocking out opposing opinions. Rather than questioning propositions, fundamentalism teaches its adherents to immediately shoot them down and force their own beliefs upon others.

800px-Focus_on_the_Family_Welcome_Center_by_David_ShankboneThe sad truth of the matter is that these fears are caused by a deep rooted insecurity. Fundamentalists possess an opposition to the unfamiliar, as well as a desire to see more people who are similar to themselves. Out of this insecurity, they lose intellectual freedom and threaten that of those around them.

The best example of this loss of intellectual freedom can be found in the film Inherit the Wind, in which characters refuse to even give different ideas a chance. The question that is raised is: “What exactly do fundamentalists gain from ignorance?”. Unquestioningly accepting things that they are familiar with and brutally attacking alien concepts is deeply damaging to their own knowledge of the world.

Damages Done

Religious fundamentalism comes in many forms, from the oft-stereotyped Midwestern family-values culture to Islamic militants who terrorize. The attacks of September 11, 2001 easily brought this to public eye, and since then, animosity between Islam and the United States has ballooned.

But more importantly, the animosity associated with fundamentalism prevents peaceful dialogue from ever occurring. Vehemently grasping our vision of the world, we refuse to even understand others. The failure to communicate is the source of today’s religious conflicts. The violent ways in which we hold on to the familiar is the source of Islamophobia, our refusal to absorb knowledge of “the other” only makes us more close-minded.

Who is to Blame?

The blatant refusal to understand the religious traditions of others stems mainly from ignorance as well as a lack of exposure. The close mindedness associated Osama Bin-Laden grew directly from his education at the hands of Abdullah Azzam, an influential Islamic fundamentalist thinker who supported a literal interpretation of the Koran.

That same lack of compassion can be found in many of America’s fundamentalist religious followers. Raised in homes where they had no exposure to foreign traditions, as well as having no education in the critical thinking required to interpret and understand and being exposed to a fear-mongering media, with no doubt would they become close minded and fearful of everyone else. Key Example: The person in the video below.      

Religious fundamentalism and the “us and them” attitude grows faster today than before. If the general populace fails to think critically and question the answers than the violence associated with the failure to communicate will only escalate.

No comments: