Fundamentalist Christians are often dismissed as irrational but I am wondering if the opposite is closer to the truth, that is, that they’re overly rational.

Have you ever noticed that they try to rationalise everything, including the intrinsically irrational? If they were genuinely indifferent to rationality there would be no need for pseudo-scientific speculation and eschatological decoding. They could maybe, shock, horror, let inspired poetry just be inspired poetry. No, fundamentalism is a product of modernity every bit as much as liberalism.


4 thoughts on “Are fundamentalists not irrational enough?

  1. Good observation, I would indeed think that fundamentalism (the protestant tradition with that name) is a reactionary reaction against modernism, which reacts against the liberal erosion of all things supernatural and ‘non-scientific’, but at the same time built on the same modern rationalist framework. In this fundamentalism might be the photographic negative of liberal christianity, as modern as the other but starting from opposite conclusions…
    (yes, both do start from conclusions most of the time…)
    There might not be a “genuinely indifference to rationality”, but there still is a problem of anti-intellectualism though sometimes. But that doesn’t take away that their view of the bible is one of over-rationalistic reductionism…


  2. Marcus Borg addresses this issue by underlining the degree to which fundamentalists have been “taken in” by the truth models inherent to 19th century science. He argues that most of us who grew up in the 20th century West are “fact fundamentalists”: i.e., we tend to insist that all truth claims be based on verifiable physical “facts.” Fundamentalists likewise believe that unless you can give solid evidence for events narrated in the Bible, then the Bible is liable to lose all truth value. In this way the fundamentalists seriously underestimate the differences between the biblical writers’ ways of narrating truth and our own more journalistic ways.
    I go into more depth on this in an online review of one of Borg’s books:


  3. I am thankful that we are “evolving” beyond the the simplistic mindsets of often otherwise well-meaning people who cannot seem to appreciate a bigger picture in which science and faith can peacefully (if not mutually beneficially) co-exist.
    Both brambonius and Eric make some good points.
    Perhaps readers may be interested in having a listen to an excellent podcast from Australia’s Radio National website. A recent discussion, Numinous
    Cosmos, sheds light on a lot of the “sticky points” that people of faith and people of science encounter…


  4. Indeed. Fundamentalism reacts acgainst certain aspects of modernity, but usues the tools and preconscptions to modernity to argue its case, so it is just as much a product of modernity as those it argues against.


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