Alice in Texas

Not writing here anymore- see top post for details of my new blogs.

Monday, June 20, 2005



In the online etymological dictionary, I found this:

'Fundamentalism' ... appears to have been used first in connexion with the (American) Northern Baptist Convention of 1920 to describe the more conservative delegates who desired 'to restate, reaffirm, and reemphasize the fundamentals of our New Testament faith.' ... Now 'Fundamentalism' ... appears to describe the bigoted rejection of all Biblical criticism, a mechanical view of inspiration and an excessively literalist interpretation of scripture. [London Times, Aug. 25, 1955]

Lots of words change their meanings over time. My favourite one is "presently". It used to mean "now" and now means "sometime later when I get around to it." Words change to fit the ideas people are using them to express. They do this without anyone deliberately meaning them to. It happens because there is no way of fixing their meanings absolutely except in a historical context. This is why nobody can claim that a word absolutely means something specific unless they know its etymology. Which is why the old version of "fundamentalism" is based on a good idea. Unless you know where ideas come from, you're skirting around the surface of things instead of understanding them properly. It's impossible to criticise something unless you know what you're criticising in the first place.

Atheists can be fundamentalists in the modern, bigoted sense of the word, too. So can scientists. But they rarely get accused of this except by religious people, whom they then call "fundamentalists", thereby locking the argument. To some atheists, a "fundamentalist" is just anybody with any religion. No doubt some religious people think the same of anyone who thinks science is worth pursuing, also.

Anyway, we all have values which we are "fundamentalist" about in the good sense that we regard them as essential basic ideas on which to base other higher-level ideas. And most of us are also "fundamentalist" in the bad sense that we have dodgy ideas which we regard as essential and beyond criticism when actually they are deeply flawed.

What are you fundamentalist about- what do you regard as essential, base-level truth that needs to be reaffirmed?


At 3:14 PM, Blogger flesh99 said...


Welcome back to blogging! I know you've been back a little while but I just checked again so I had to say it.

What am I fundamentalist about? Lets see:

1. Christianity (not going into details, I'll let that stand on it's own).
2. Parents being responsible for their children's education and not the state.
3. The right of the people to keep and bear arms.
4. Freedom of speech.

Those are things that I think are essential in an overarching manner. I have a whole lot that would be fundamental for me on a personal level but no something I could state would be anything more than personal, essential truth.

Great entry, it's got me thinking.

At 7:01 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

Just discovered your blog. Got here from Connie Du Toit's blog.

You've hit one of my pet peeves, #487, square on the head. When I was growing up "fundamentalist" meant a specific set of Christian beliefs revolving around a literal interpretation of the KJV Bible. Nowadays its come to mean anyone whose beliefs are fundamental to how they live and act. Well duh that's everyone.

I'm closer to an old-time fundamentalist than I once was. By the new definition I'm a fundamentalist about:
1. God: loving, worshiping, serving
2. Family: raising, being, teaching
3. Country: Constitution, individual rights, small government
I could add more, but that's enought for now.
Kevin's Korner


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