Sunday, July 17, 2011

Knowledge is Greatest Threat to Fundamentalism

Christian apologist Josh McDowell has a problem with the Internet. He sees it as anathema to Christianity. Why? Because it allows children and young people to gain knowledge and information, and to be skeptical. And McDowell sees this as a big problem.

This is what McDowell said in a speech, as reported by the Christian Post: “Now here is the problem. I made the statement off and on for 10-11 years that the abundance of knowledge, the abundance of information, will not lead to certainty; it will lead to pervasive skepticism. And, folks, that’s exactly what has happened.”

So the Internet leads to the abundance of knowledge and information, which in turn, causes people who have learned that knowledge and gained that information to become more skeptical. And that’s the problem?

Perhaps McDowell should partake of the Internet more himself so that he can learn how to be more skeptical instead of clinging to an ancient myth that is hopelessly out of touch with anything anyone needs today.

McDowell is right in his conclusions that the Internet has opened more young people up to skepticism. But his conclusion that this is a problem is laughable. Read what he is saying: Skeptical inquiry into the things we have always accepted without question is something to fight against. That shows the mindset of fundamentalist Christians. Never mind the facts; never mind that their beliefs might just be superstitious nonsense. We must protect our kids from learning anything they might use to work out the real solutions to life's problems. We must keep them deluded with dogma. We must fight against information. Facts and critical thinking skills are evil. And that's what they are learning on the Internet!

People like McDowell are anti-intellectual. And it’s people like him that compel me to keep blogging about the evils of fundamentalism. It's not that I think that somehow anything I say might cause a true fundamentalist to convert to reality. No, they've already drank the Kool-Aide. It's that I know young people who are still impressionable, along with those who are maybe Christians or from a Christian family but who are still open to reason, might still be persuaded by rational thought and reason.

I tell you the truth. Having faith in God means you have abdicated your powers as a human to understand the way nature works, especially if you have the faith of a fundamentalist. It means you will not be open to enough knowledge and information to make things happen. And that is the best lesson that young people can learn, that they have the power, they have the initiative, they can make real changes. A reliance on prayer and God is for those who have given up and are grasping at straws.

McDowell and those like him are worried that too much knowledge will weaken their cult. And they are right. Fundamentalism is a cult, just a very large one. And like other cults it has the potential to be very dangerous. Fundamentalism hampers progress, quashes innovation, and condemns critical thinking. Fundamentalism is like a virus or a malignancy that spreads until it pervades society, devouring human’s natural tendency to explore and find answers to things that matter. The cure for fundamentalism is knowledge and critical thinking skills.

Before young people become indoctrinated into the delusions of people like McDowell, it is up to the freethinkers and to more liberal believers to provide them with the tools they need to resist. And one of these tools is the Internet. Fundamentalists are right to fear the free exchange of ideas. It is the only thing that will, in the end, win out against the repressive dogma of fundamentalism.


Beth said...

Well, how you gonna keep 'em down on the farm once they get a taste know...logic, reason, and rationality?

Jerry Wilson said...

Once they become rational, reasonable, members of society with critical thinking skills, they won't need to stay down on the farm. They can join us in the neighborhood of the enlightened.