Do I Sound Like a Fundamentalist?

Since I appear so cocksure that Christianity is a delusion some people think I'm a fundamentalist on a par with the late Jerry Falwell. Here's a discussion I'm having about this with a Christian philosopher:

Lordy, John! You sound like a fundamentalist! How come that kind of talk is irrational when it comes out of the mouth of Jerry Falwell?


Maybe because there are so many ways to be wrong? It's much more rational to say someone is wrong (since so many others would agree with this assessment) than it is to say everyone is wrong (since that takes a helluva lot of chutzpah).


The logic of rationality is interesting, isn't it? I can be rational in believing that P and rational in believing that Q, but not rational in believing that P & Q!!


Well, yes, what it means for someone to be rational is a very interesting question. I can't say I have a handle on it. But what I do know is that human beings are not all that rational. Psychological studies have proven this. We make many decisions for emotive reasons not logical ones.

Among a myriad number of answers to why we exist it would seem that people who affirm the one and only exclusively correct view of it all are swayed to think this way because of emotive reasons.

And for every such answer the rest of us are skeptics of that answer. So all of us are skeptics, all of us. I join with many many others in rejecting the claims of any specific branch of Christianity (branches which deny the others are representative of true Christianity).

When I say Christians are deluded I'm not saying anything different than what most others say, even what other branches of Christianity say about the others. I am so sure I am right that they are wrong I'm willing to risk the Christian hell because of it. That's pretty sure.

But as the proverb says, "It's easier to smell a rotten egg than it is to lay a good one." I'm an egg smeller type of feller. ;-) Christianity is a rotten egg.

Now when you ask me what I think is the case, you'll see that at heart I'm an agnostic, one who, because he is an agnostic simply moves over a step to say there are no supernatural explanations or gods or goddesses. How sure am I about what I affirm? Oh, about 75% (it depends on the day). That seems more reasonable or rational to me. This universe and the life forms in it are way too mysterious for me to claim there isn't some sort of "ultimate concern" or something that may transcend existence. Maybe the best explanation is that "the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts" and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is right after all? Although I don't think so for that too is affirming an answer to the riddle of existence.

If there is a supernatural entity then it makes no difference in how I should live my life, how I can discover morality, or in how I should investigate something. It is a completely unnecessary hypothesis. Such an entity can be safely ignored. So if nothing else I am a practical atheist (and even a protest atheist), but I think most people are practical atheists anyway.


shane said...


You hit the nail in the head on my views here as well.
Your right, life and the universe are far too mysterious to rule out some kind of ultimate concern.
I also agree christianity is based on emotional motives escecially in this modern age!

Fordi said...

Of course you sound like a fundamentalist! You disagree with his perspective, and so do fundamentalists, so you MUST be a fundamentalist whatever-you-are!

Disclaimers: Yes, I know that's a straw man. No, I don't think it defeats his argument. Yes, I think that is an accurate assessment of his motivation, even if the argument constructed from that motivation may seem plausible. No, I didn't find his argument plausible.

Lazarus said...

Compared to what? Ask your new friend to listen to an hour of The Hitch, whereafter he can apologize porfusely to you. Or Dawkins. Or Harris. Compared to those fundamentalists (and I mean that in a nice way) you are a calm, reasoned peacemaker. Your views are not expressed in anything but a reasoned, logical manner and if he sees this as fundamentalism then I suppose we are all fundamentalists here.

But sticks and stones in any event ... What's wrong with a little fundamentalism now and then. As long as we don't hurt others with it - irritating others is quite in order.

Lazarus said...

(Typo - "porfusely looks better when you spell it "profusely").

Chuck said...

This guy's argument reminds me of the Timothy Keller fad out now "The Reason for God" where Pastor Keller says if faith is so bad why do we have faith in science. It's a rhetorical game that allows those making a positive truth claim (Christ is Lord) to do so without developing an evidential case that stands the test of reason.

You are a fundamentalist and your fundamentals are reason, curiosity, and intellectual humility. Much better than biblical supersition and an unflagging obedience to non-falisifiable tradition.

Thanks for being a fundamentalist John. I am one too.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Chuck, I suppose we must first define our terms. If a fundamentalist is someone who thinks he is right, then aren't we all fundamentalists? Even the agnostic would claim he is correct about agnosticism. Does that make him a fundamentalist because he's right?

I tried to make a distinction here between what I deny and what I can affirm. Hopefully we can find the difference that makes a difference there. Any other ideas?

Chuck said...

When accomodationists seek to defeat my reasoned arguments by poisoning the well with the "fundamentalist" tag, I simply agree with them and state that my fundamentals are reason, empiricism and the intellectual humility to say, "I don't know" (when truth can only be provisional). Those three fundamentals are contrary to any religionist's fundamentals I've ever known.

Ian Andreas Miller said...

"Do I Sound Like a Fundamentalist?"

I don't think so, but a fundamentalist mugwump might think so.

shane said...

I dont see how some one who would rather rely on logic, empiricism, and scientific method could be considered a fundamentalists?

These are the only things we can actually rely on to base a hypothesis.
Has any religion proved any of their claims to be based on reliable empirical data?

Unknown said...

Mess with his head. Tell him that you THINK that something is rational - but don't believe!

The Blogger Formerly Known As Lvka said...

No, you don't.

Chuck said...


I'm being sarcastic. The term Fundamentalist historically applies to certain biblical fundamentals conservative Christians defined as necessary. My fundamentals as an agnostic - atheist are different but still pretty much immutable thus, I am a fundamentalist. I have fundamentals I won't compromise when seeking after truth. None of which include faith.

shane said...


I wasn't applying my comment toward you it was toward the christian John was conversing with.

I understand the meaning of fundamentalist and I agree with you. I think the fundamentals you, I, John, etc.... perscribe to, are at least grounded in sound observation of how things work and why (to our knowledge), as opposed to a book based on belief's and views which contradict those methods we accept!

I dont think a christian can call us a fundamentalist in the same context.

Unknown said...

I answer your questions here:

Lazarus said...

I posted this on the gentleman's site, my comment is "awaiting moderation" :

Using your definition, and your argument as set out above – will you agree that you sound like a fundamentalist about the question whether John Loftus is a fundamentalist? To me the answer is “Absolutely, no question.”

And you say “fundamentalist” like it is necessarily a bad thing. There are loads of things that I am fundamentalist about, and some others that I would want to be fundamentalist about. Don’t confuse “fundamentalism” (assuming it is necessarily a negative term) with passion, commitment and dedication.

Rob R said...

Psychological studies have proven this. We make many decisions for emotive reasons not logical ones.

Just a nit pick here, but this is a false dichotomy.

Are you a fundamentalist? I don't know, but it really depends upon how the label is used and that wasn't defined here.

As for being 75 percent sure that you are right (which of course, that it changes every day, indicates that it isn't based on anything purely rational and objective) about the lack of transcendent beings in the universe (excluding ourselves of course who in my opinion have irreducible transcendence... a transcendence that points powerfully to deeper realities that only religions can hope to enlighten) of course is at odds with an argument you just made. The odds of our exclusivistic claims are small considering the huge number of different exclusivistic claims. Problem with that is that our claims aren't monolithic and wholly exclusivisitic. The vast majority of the world has widespread agreement on the transcendence of of our existence beyond the immediate everyday objective physical experience. So if you use the divisions against us, then the large scaled unities on the generalities by this thinking would speak against your 75 % lack of confidence in spiritual transcendence. And so what about the views as they get more and more specific? Well, then the devil is in the details. I for one think that the very fact that our experience of ourselves is a strong indicator that there is something very very special and indicative about our personhood in knowing ultimate reality. Let that in the door, then an explanation of a personal God makes elegant sense. Let that in the door, then a God who is principally revealed through history, through a history of relating personally to us humans makes a heck of a lot of sense, and your 75% lack of confidence doesn't seem a very good assesment.

Chuck said...


Please rationalize human transcendence as non-material relative to the alteration of transcendence that occurs when the material brain is damaged.

Why don't you get honest and quit propping up a superstition when tangible evidence says you are wrong.

Rob R said...

Chuck, good to see you are still reading my posts. They are quite worth reading after all. Perhaps one day you will interact with them in a fruitful way and I could return the favor. I geuss that still isn't the case though.

Rob R said...

You make a good point though and I have a good response, but I'm not interested in engaging in a discussion with your manner of doing things.

Chuck said...

Rob R,

If you are going to hold a world-view that demands everyone agree with you if they are to be seen as worthwhile then I would suggest you get a thicker skin.

Christianity's exclusivity claims and desire for cultural hegemony demand ridicule.

Rob R said...

For pity sakes chuck. I've had dozens of exchanges after exchanges with people I don't agree with that have been relatively worth while.

I don't discuss things with you because you are rude and you are dilluded to think that anyone that doesn't think like you is just dishonest.

Many people here including the host are capable and have engaged in discussions without personal attacks, but except for a limited period, you have been incapable of that.

Sorry, if you can't discuss without frequent personal attacks and poor psychoanalysis, you aren't fully serious about the discussion.

Of course, there are other technical reasons.

It's too bad that you won't hear this from me or even people who are on your side. You still demonstrate the same approach that embarrassed John when he had that catholic fella take part here a few months ago.

Chuck said...

Like I said Rob, grow a thicker hide son.