Those Atheist Fundamentalists… June 26, 2009

Those Atheist Fundamentalists…

If you’re religious, how do tell the difference between an atheist and an atheist “fundamentalist”?

The fundamentalist is the one who dares to mention her beliefs out loud.

I think that’s all there is to it.

Jesus and Mo agree:


(via Jesus and Mo)

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  • I guess I fall into the atheist “fundamentalist” category then, cause I tend to have the audacity to speak my mind and tell things like it is.

    I guess that would put me in the ‘militant’ atheist category too. 😀

  • Anthus Williams

    I suppose I too am an atheist fundamentalist, because I think science and religion are compatible the way sunlight and vampires are compatible.

  • J Myers

    I love how Jesus is a scrawny hippy beach bum and Mo is a dumpy Arab in a speedo.

  • Vjack at Atheist Revolution has commented on this idea as well. To get called a “militant Christian” or a “militiant Muslim”, you actually have to blow something up or shoot someone.

    Yet to get called a “militant atheist”, you have to…..say you are an atheist.

  • I think to be a fundamentalist, you have to believe that some book is 100% correct and inerrant.

  • trikepilot

    No, you don’t have to believe in a book at all. You just have to hold tight to a basic set of beliefs and principals, be they religious or atheistic or whatever. There is nothing wrong with being a “fundamentalist” if you are a student pilot instructor and trying to keep your students from killing themselves. The word can have a good or bad connotation. You tend to select the meaning of the word by what context you read it in the most.

  • Ok, nice joke, but seriously, this isn’t the difference between atheists and atheist fundamentalists. The difference is that the non-fundamentalist atheist embraces an sceptical attitude of not believing, whereas a fundamentalist atheist’s attitude is rather aggressive and consists in believing and proselyting the belief of non-existence of god. Of course, many atheists are firm believers without proselytism, so you could talk about moderate sceptical atheism, atheism and fundamentalist atheism. However, when atheism gets a religious flavor to it, I tend to think that it gets somewhat fundamentalist.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Anthus Williams: I suppose I too am an atheist fundamentalist, because I think science and religion are compatible the way sunlight and vampires are compatible.

    Oh yeah? Well I think that science and religion are compatible in the way that being a jew and being an officer in the SS are compatible.

    And Godwin says you can’t top that.

  • trikepilot,
    Actually, I grew up as a fundamentalist and that was how we defined the term. The difference between a christian fundamentalist and a non-fundamentalist was that fundamentalist believed that the bible was 100% correct and inerrant. The word itself was coined back in the 40’s or 50’s to mean just that. I know that the term has been hijacked to mean a strict adherance to any set of rules,so I suppose technically that fundamentalist do strictly adhere to a set of rules (The Bible). Islamic Fundamentalist, I assumed were similar because they believe that the Koran and Hadiths are 100% correct and inerrant.

    People today who identify as Fundamentalists use the old definition. They would never consider anyone else a fundamentalist unless they say that the bible is 100% correct. My dad for one doesn’t even consider islamic fundamentalists as fundamentalist (because they don’t melieve the bible).

    So, using the correct definition for the term, I don’t think atheists can be fundamentalists. There’s no book (that I know of) that defines any tenets of belief for atheism. Even using the term you used, atheists can’t be fundamentalists either, because, atheism does not have a strict set of rules or guidelines to live by.

    Of course there are other sets of guidelines and rules an atheist can live by. If the atheist lives by those rules strictly and fundamentalistly, he’d not be a fundamentalist atheist, he be a (whatever those rules are) fundamentalist.

  • Earl Newton

    I think “fundamentalist” is probably the worst word to use for this concept, as when we say “fundamentalist” I think we’re usually referring to “zealot.” Religious fundamentalism has tainted the word, and I think we need to take it back, for the sake of language.

    That said, if we’re going to use that term, I think anyone who attempts to enforce their beliefs where they are not wanted, especially through violence or badgering, could be considered a zealot.

    In this, I don’t really see a difference between theist and atheist zealots: both are firmly convinced of their opinion, both insist the other faction is ignorant of “the real truth,” and neither side can offer any actual evidence to disprove the other.

    Personally, I’ve found little joy in associating with either.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    I find that “fundamentalist atheist” is basically an intentional oxymoron often meant to describe atheists who act in ways reminiscent of real fundamentalists, e.g. black-and-white, sloppy thinking.

  • Pseudonym

    Yes, J.J. Ramsey is correct.

    A fundamentalist is someone who has a tribal black-and-white-thinking “siege mentality” (those who are “in here” are good/rational and those who are “out there” are bad/irrational) and who has a strong naive-utopian belief that if the world were run along the lines of their own belief (or lack thereof) system things would be better.

    This accurately describes about 20% of all Atheists that I run into online.

  • PensiveGadfly

    “Fundamentalist” began as a Christian concept in the UK and the US. They were people who decided to name a set of “fundamental” Christian beliefs (such as belief in virgin birth, the inerrancy of the Bible) that one had to accept to be rightly labeled as “fundamentalist.”

    Therefore, to be logically consistent, a “fundamentalist atheist” would be one who subscribes to a set of fundamental atheist principals. As far as I know, there is no set of formal fundamental principals among atheists. Informally, it could be said that we all fundamentally belief that our understanding of the world–particularly when that understanding informs our actions as members of a human community–needs to be based upon empirical evidence rather than subjective faith. So, for what it is worth, I say a fundamentalist atheist, at best, is someone who applies the scientific method to all modes of thought.

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