Brad wrote:As I said above, though I certainly don't expect you to agree, I can't help but think that the real reason "moderates," whether Christian, Muslim, or Jewish, don't make greater efforts to combat fundamentalism is that doing so would go even farther to expose the dark underbellies of their divisive, contradictory, vague, absurd, and even vicious religious texts.
I know you're wrong about that.
There are actually many reasons for this, but there are a few that stand out. Note that this is a grudging admission of sorts, and so you're unlikely to hear this from most.
1. We secretly hate fundamentalists. Hate isn't becoming and we're supposed to be all loving and stuff. But deep down, we hate what fundamentalists do to religion, and in return, we don't like what happens to ourselves when we hate.
2. We have long memories. We know what happens when denominations conflict. Anything but that.
3. We don't want to get a reputation for inter-denominational conflict, because it would detract from the social justice mission. Most people would be less likely to give us money for charitable works if they thought some of it might go to a more sectarian cause, such as arguing with fundamentalists.
I truly appreciate your forthrightness, Pseudonym.
However, I think my point as you quoted above is valid, too. Debates between believers tend to expose the vacuity of "holy scripture."
I think also that, as you have inadvertently acknowledged in your post, that deity beliefs, inevitably
bound to conflict, also inevitably generate division, and yes, even hatred. This has been proven over and over and over, and is proven once more in almost every day's news. Of course, deity beliefs aren't the only thing that generates hatred, conflict, and violence, but deity beliefs, especially combined with dogma-generating rule books, are by far the historical and current day prize-winners of ginning up division and violence. Even when deity beliefs are not directly responsible, they are often secondarily responsible, by predisposing people to take up bullets on behalf of some other utopian, us vs. them, dogmatic magic bullet. The antidote is real critical thinking - in the first place, and always
And yes indeed, conflicts between denominations create hideous consequences. And even worse, there are conflicts between entire religions. And even worse still, are conflicts between the religious and non-believers, either real realist atheists, or simply those considered "infidels" for one reason or another.
Regarding feelings toward fundamentalists, I just spent the last week or so in the company of my fundamentalist family and some of their fellow church-goers and similar believers. No doubt when one's family is involved, feelings are necessarily more complex. But even with non-family, I couldn't bring myself to hate them, only to feel sad for them and frustrated at their seeing the world through keyhole mentalities. But I can see how if I was a believer, and thought my more sophisticated, liberal, social-justice oriented form of belief was the true expression of the WILL OF GOD, I could hate them - and their stupidity.
This again, though of course anecdotal, illustrates my point - belief in deities inevitably creates tensions and/or inflames ill-feelings between people - at an absolute minimum.
Those who know the most of nature believe the least about theology. - Robert Ingersoll