I was wondering how much of what any religious person believes is based on his surrounding environment and society. What would a religious fundamentalist from the time of the ancient Greek's and Roman's believe in? Would a fundie from that time period be all about Zues, and be absolutely certain that he was the father of the gods and threw lightning bolts from the heavens? Just as fundies today are absolutely certain of what they believe?
What is the difference between an ancient and a modern fundamentalist, other than the passage of time? Time has shown that what the ancient fundamentalist beleived whole heartedly to be true, is no more than myth and legend by today's terms. And a majority of this is due to the better understanding of the natural world.
What is to keep the same process from eventually claiming modern religions? Or is it just a matter of time, as it was for Zues and Thor, until modern religions are also considered myths by the massess?
This is purely a hunch, since I don't have any supporting evidence, but I get the feeling that 'fundamentalism' as it features in the news today is a modern phenomenon. Of course there have always been those who die for their religious beliefs, and who put unquestioning trust in sacred texts. But I think that when multiculturalism and an accompanying implicit cultural relativism kick in, there is a natural slide either to apathy and a cessation of religious observance (e.g. "well, there are so many religions, who's right? Doesn't matter"), or to fundamentalism and a denial of the validity of religious relativism (e.g. "if we are going to do this at all, then we have to do it completely right or there's no point").
I was wondering how much of what any religious person believes is based on his surrounding environment and society
fundamentalism is a strange beast. It is clearly shaped by its interaction with other social forces.
you can see this in action in the UK right now. Following the huge anti-war protests, the normal flag wavers (small socialist parties, trade unionists, etc) were brought into temporary agreement with muslim fundamentalist groups (i.e. the Muslim Association of Great Britain). The MAB is essentially the representative body of Britain's muslim and it's been a pretty reactionary force. However following their involvement with peace and social activists, they're taking a very different line. They recently urged all of their members (i.e. the vast majority of British muslims) to vote for a far-left party in the general election. That's unheard of as far as I know. They are now publically supporting pretty radical political policies. It just shows that religious fundamentalists aren't always the "religious right". In Britain we have a religious left! Let's hope it spreads to the Christians in the UK and US. Let's also hope that MAB's view on homosexuality softens after their involvement with social activism politics.
My social pressure growing up told me to believe in God also, but I didn't really know if he existed or not for the first 38 years of my life. The way it was taught to me sure as hell wouldn't have led me to believe. I had a personal experience with the Holy Spirit, that led me to believe in what I believe so strongly in today.
If this was ancient Greek times, I probably wouldn't have made it this far without believing, they would have killed me or something.
My point is now we have a freedom to choose, why should I believe in anything?
I don't know about Greek city states, but for much of its history the Roman Empire demonstrated considerable tolerance towards non-Roman religions. And judging by the success that Christianity and Islam had in gaining converts in their early years, it seems like polytheistic societies are often more open minded religion wise.
My social pressure growing up told me to believe in God also, but I didn't really know if he existed or not for the first 38 years of my life.
What if your social pressures had been different? What if you had grown up in the Middle East instead of in the USA (just guessing based on the info under your avatar)? Do you think you might have come to a different conclusion about God, or pretty much the same as you have?
I believe we are the sum of our experiences. I had to go through what I went through to bring me to this point. I thank God for calling me out. The bible tells us that coming to him is not just merely a human effort. I am at a place of peace and content, even though some things are harder for me now, trying to do his will.
I don't want to judge other people's belief's in God, I do not know what they know. But God will judge them based on what they know. So it's all relative to me. I just want to do my job, and that's love God, and love others.
Perhaps you misunderstand. I'm not disputing the fact that there have always been people who believe their religions very strongly, and there has always been an awareness that there are 'infidels' who hold false beliefs.
My suggestion was that fundamentalism as we understand it might be an essentially modern concept. If this is the case, it's anachronistic to use the term fundamentalism to describe ancient religions.
My gut feeling, which as I admitted, has no real supporting evidence, is that fundamentalism (as we understand the term)is the product of the enlightenment; that one can only truly be a fundamentalist once mainstream religion has been somewhat muzzled by the increasing influence of a rationalist, naturalistic scientific method.
Before the enlightenment, there was much less of a problem reconciling ideas of the natural world and religious texts. When science starts to present a seriously divergent model of the universe, either you must believe sacred texts to be increasingly symbolic and abstracted from reality, or to start to take them literally and reject science utterly (or at least the bits you find problematic).
As you probably are aware, a belief that the bible is the literal truth is only a very recent phenomenon, and I would argue that this is in part a result of the enlightenment.
Does that make sense to you?
This message has been edited by Tusko, 04-26-2005 04:16 AM
I am not quite sure that fundamentalism is a modern phenomenon. Socrates was put to death for his "unbelief in gods," even though he kept repeating that he believed in a God, just not quite the way the accepted Greek sacred writings taught. --Richard
Could it be a question of how well individuals can communicate over a distance? Fundamentalists are a minority, and without some form of publishing you'd be unlikely to meet many during your lifetime. But along comes the printing press, and suddenly any halfwit can a) get hold of a religious text, read it and make thier own interpretation, and b) publish a pamphlet with thier ideas. They could find someone a thousand miles away with the same ideas and suddenly you've got a movement going. You see a similar thing in the resurgence of Paganism - Without the internet, it would just be one weirdo* in every town, but today it's one of the fastest growing religions.
Socrates would have slipped under the radar, except he made the mistake of becoming famous - a sort of self-publishing. He should have stuck to sculpting...
(*No offence to any neo-pagans! But you are weird.)
Mat 27:5 And he went and hanged himself Luk 10:37 Go, and do thou likewise.
quote: I am not quite sure that fundamentalism is a modern phenomenon. Socrates was put to death for his "unbelief in gods," even though he kept repeating that he believed in a God, just not quite the way the accepted Greek sacred writings taught. --Richard
Well, really Socrates was tried for corrupting the youth and not believing in the STATE gods, but his "own". This is much better seen as a political, rather than religious, trial.
I point out for the umpteenth time that there are other words for strong reilgious belief that do not make the category error the term "fundamentalist" does - such as fanatic, or zealot, or devotee. There is no ancient movement to "return to the fundamentals" of a religion, as far asm I am aware. (even Roman persecution of mystery cults was not really taken in faith of the state cult, but only as an act of state.)
This is much better seen as a political, rather than religious, trial.
At the risk of veering off topic it seems to me that politics and (organised) religion have always been closely intertwined. I would suggest that ultimately they are both about getting and/or maintaining power.