Being called a ‘fundamentalist’ is the ultimate put-down word when you want to discredit a person’s belief system. That’s why secularist and evolutionist Richard Dawkins is outraged that theoretical physicist Peter Higgs has called him a “fundamentalist of another kind.”
Originally, the word “fundamentalist” meant someone who held to the “fundamentals of the Christian faith.” The designation was established when a series of pamphlets was published under the title The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth (1910–1915), “designed to affirm orthodox Protestant beliefs, especially those of the Reformed tradition, and defend against ideas deemed [opposed] to them.”
Christian author and apologist Francis A. Schaeffer (1912–1984) was dubbed by the secular media as the “Guru of Fundamentalism.”1 H. L. Mencken’s obituary for Christian scholar J. Gresham Machen was titled “Dr. Fundamentalis.”2
Mencken was no believer. He was closer to Dawkins than Machen on the ‘fundamentals’ of secularism, but he had huge respect for Machen as a scholar and his stand against the hypocrisy of religious liberalism.
“Mencken rejected Christianity, but despised the efforts of ecclesiastical modernists to dispense with the substance of Christianity while retaining its nomenclature, ceremony, and semblance of piety. ‘It is one thing,’ Mencken wrote, ‘to reject religion altogether, and quite another thing to try to save it by pumping out of it all its essential substance, leaving it in the equivocal position of a sort of pseudo-science.’”
In a sense, everybody is a fundamentalist. Dawkins is a secular fundamentalist. He believes there are a number of non-negotiable beliefs that his system rests on, and no amount of counter evidence will persuade him otherwise, even though he claims that he is open to evidence to the contrary.
Every time an anti-evolutionist presents counter evidences to the fundamentals of the Darwinian faith, Dawkins dismisses them. Dawkins begins with the premise that there is no God; therefore any evidence put forth in support of that claim must be dismissed and given an evolutionary explanation (contrary to evidence and experience) to protect the fundamentals of his faith.
The rationalist must believe in the truth of rationality before he can argue rationally. Rationality is fundamental to thinking rationally.
Dawkins has company in his brand of secular fundamentalism. Consider these words from fellow-Darwinist Richard Lewontin:
“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”3
The comments of a fundamentalist of the worst kind.
- Kenneth L. Woodward, “The Guru of Fundamentalism,” Newsweek (November 1, 1982), 88. [↩]
- Baltimore Evening Sun (January 18, 1937), 2nd Section, p. 15 [↩]
- Richard Lewontin, “Billions and billions of demons,” The New York Review (January 9, 1997), 31. [↩]