FUNDAMENTALISM : ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT
As a dictionary definition, Fundamentalists believe in a strict adherence to an established set of basic religious principals, based in dogma and promulgated by leaders of religious sects, as a reaction to perceived changes in the evolution of modern society. We see it's effects around the world in a long history of religious persecutions, genocide and holy wars.
Christian, Muslin, Hindu and Islamic fundamentalists, to name just a few, are determined to live their lives according to the guide lines established thousands of years ago, in prophecies, esoteric & numerous texts, selectively chosen through the ages from among the many, while those not conducive to the support of oppression where destroyed, or lost to time. Many of the remaining texts came from unidentified sources. Fundamentalists believe that theirs is the only true religion and anyone who does not believe as they do, must be converted or die. Cherry-picking instructions from known and unknown authors of the Koran, the Bible, and others, fundamentalists crate an illusionary set of "unchangeable truths" ( "for it is written" ) demanding how the people of the world should be. At issue is the fact that most of the contributors to the holy books, often contradicted each other. On the one hand, the holy books suggest love, peace, tolerance, forgiveness, helping the poor and the sick & living in harmony with the earth and it's animals & people; while on the other, there must be an allegiance to a jealous god who demands praise & sacrifice. Then there is concept of the Apocalypse, where only the true believers will be raised to the heavens while the non-believers will perish in an environment of hell cast upon the earth ...."death to the Infidels." Fundamentalism motivates people through the fear of eternal damnation; not only controlling people on earth, but continuing punishment after death.
Unfortunately, the Fundamentalist leaders claim a special authority, allegedly derived from god-himself through scriptures, the Bible or the Koran. This state of pseudo-authority allows the collection of "unchangeable truths" to be selected and used by leaders as they see fit. And since the scriptures, Bible and Koran were all written by human beings through out history, the "unchangeable truths" remain suspicious, more likely to be fiction than the word of god. God authored nothing yet found. Even Moses scribed the 10-commandments on two stone tablets, they were biased interpretations, not written by god himself, but by a man.
Frank J. Ranelli writes in an an OPEdNews article (On The Immorality of Christianity; August 22, 2010) "[C]hristianity is not only silent on the true morality -- reciprocity, altruism, liberty and life, it is a purveyor of a litany of insidious ideas, spanning infanticide to homophobia, the endorsement of slavery-- treating neighboring conquered states as farm equipment -- to perpetuating misogyny and the bridge to righteous murder." Ranelli continues : "[C]hristianity ... commands compulsory fear, obligatory love, the subjugation of women, and the willful suspension of progressive reasoning via a theology of abject despair. Consequently, rational ethics, not revealed religion, satisfyingly obliterates the maladaptive and unethical irrationality believers use to justify their god and even their sect of faith. It is through a systematic breakdown of the illogical fallacies religionists use to prop up their dysfunctional immorality -- addictive dependence on a non-existent deity -- where we find a conduit conductive to modern, civilized morality, secular and scientific ethics."
Islamic fundamentalism is no better, as it also preaches altruistic ideas in the Koran, but then caters to the belief that all infidels must be converted or die. The benefit of killing infidels will grant one eternal bliss in the after-life with 72-virgins. How can there be so many virgins in heaven for all of the suicide bombers and killers of the infidels ... they must be sharing them!
But this article is not so much about the fallacies of religious fundamentalism, it is about what brings people to the ideology. Fundamentalism, as a belief and value set would not last a generation if it were not actively encouraged by social norms, cultural identity and continuous propaganda. The brain-washing continues, unabated, as people everywhere find solace in relinquishing their powers of critical-thinking, abandoning logic and reasonableness to pseudo-authorities within both religion and politics. In admitting that one does not know all the answers, people will turn to those who profess to know the answers, wether they do or not. It is just so much easier than thinking for oneself. And there are an abundance of Authoritative sociopaths to take the unknowing and give them direction and comfort.
How is it that most people refuse to believe in extraterrestrial life, but believe in god?
The cultural beliefs of a society are often based in some form of fundamental religion. There have been those who practiced oppression since the advent of time. Fear-mongering was a way to keep society under control, since people first joined together in tribes, villages and cities. And fear-mongering was only successful if their was an enemy to fear. In times of peace, people would think creatively about a better world, they created arts an crafts, indulged in conversation and fantasy, they opposed their government, and spoke out about the unfair conditions forced upon them. Governments always found a way to stop any form of renaissance, fearing a loss of control, so they invented enemies to fight, keeping the population in line by fearing the oppression of foreign governments. Religious fundamentalists created Heaven & Hell, so the people would act fearing the idea of going to eternal damnation. Governments took notice of how effective was this religious threat, that they often joined with religious leaders and formed national religions to further their objectives. History is full of tales about religious-governments fighting enemies of different religious persuasion.
Psychologists at the beginning of the 19th century started investigating how important the first 3-5 years of life are in determining the personality of the new-born child. Freud, Sullivan Adler, Fromm and Horney all concluded that before a child had the faculties of logic and reason, they are easily programmed to take on the beliefs and values of their parents, without the ability to question anything. The values of the parents are "introjected" into the child's subconscious, a place where they remain hidden through out life. As adults, we are able to change these ideas through conscious efforts of critical thinking, and observing our own behavior (Know Thyself). Most people, however, do not even know they exist since they inhabit a portion of the psyche which remain hidden until such time as they show themselves in our actions.
If we should look at the four main parenting styles, we can readily see what drives a person into adulthood. Firstly there is the Indifferent Style, through which the parents have no time for raising their children. They are too busy in life, acquiring power and prestige to be bothered with developing children. So they let the child do just about anything they want. The child is often ignored or belittled. These children grow up to be impulsive, hedonistic, risk-takers, motivated by instant rewards, irresponsible, and are likely to be engaged in risky delinquent behaviors such as drugs, alcohol and gambling. (Politicians)
Secondly, we find the Indulgent Style where a child is given a great deal of freedom to act as they wish. Parents do not want to sniffle the child's growth with discipline, so they are passive and benign to their responsibilities. Parents interact with their children in a peer-to-peer manner, being the child's best friend. These children are usually less mature, more irresponsible, and easily influenced by their peers, including religious authorities. (Sheep)
Thirdly is the Authoritative Style. Within this style we find parents who actively take part in the child's development. They are demanding in that the child acts and behaves in a polite manner and they are responsive to the child's needs. These parents take on the ultimate responsibility, while allowing the child to develop at it's own rate in finding autonomy and self-direction. They work cooperatively with the child with warm and firm messages, setting standards for the child's behavior consistent to the child's development. These parents deal with the child in rational, issue-centered conversations, often explaining the reasons behind their demands. Children raised in Authoritative homes grow up to be more self-assured, more responsible, more adaptive, more accepting of diversity, more socially skilled, more curious, and more successful in school as well as in life. With few exceptions, the children are healthier, happy in life, able to handle more stress, and often develop higher intellectual capacities. (Great Leaders)
The last of the four styles of parenting is Authoritarian Style. This is the style practiced by, and endorsed by fundamentalism. Religions from around the world have, since time began, preach the tenants of Authoritarian behavior and child rearing. It assures the continuance of oppression, and control over people. In this style we find the parents to be high in demands with little responsiveness to the child's needs. Parents demand conformity and obedience. The child is expected to accept the established rules and standards of the parents without question. The child's autonomy is severely held back by the parental demand for control. Parents do not encourage nor accept individuality, questioning or objections and are more punitive in maintaining control. Thus, the children raised in this environment are more dependent, more passive, less socially adept, and less self-assured and curious. Their development into fully functioning human beings is arrested. The abusive nature of the Authoritarian Style of parenting is passed down from generation to generation, creating a situation where abusers raise future abusers in a self-perpetuating manner. The child evolves into adulthood without ever developing his own beliefs and values, and distrusting himself, leaving it up to others to control their lives. It is usually from these families that we find a fear of homophobia, xenophobia, abolishing abortions, endorsement of the death penalty, distrust of others, hatred toward others who are different or hold different beliefs, racism, corporal punishment of children, subjugation of women to their husbands, fear of the feminist movement, and attempts to repeal civil-rights legislation. (Fundamentalists)