We're Not Anti-Religion, But... (Part 2)
(This article first appeared on my blog in Janaury 2007).
In part one, we introduced the (now hidden) page on the BCSE website - "A Rough Guide To Fundamentalism".
In this page, the BCSE explained their understanding of those whose religious views they oppose. This was, of course, in the days before the BCSE decided to present themselves as being a purely scientific, religiously-neutral group ...
... but not in the days before "BCSE Revealed" was taking snap-shots of their website!
Before looking at any of the details of the page, it's worth talking for a bit about the label "fundamentalist" which the BCSE routinely use.
For a "Centre of Science Education" which has no opinions about religion, the BCSE have rather a lot to say about "fundamentalists" and "fundamentalism". The words turn up on 74 and 22 pages respectively:
The BCSE's use of this label, though, clearly marks them out as being driven by an anti-religious agenda. Let me explain what I mean.
What Is A Fundamentalist?
There is a sub-section of Christianity within the American scene that designates itself by the label "fundamentalist".
The origin of this label is from the controversy that arose with the rise of "Liberal Christianity" in the 19th century. Those who believed that "Liberalism" was ditching or re-writing essential Christian doctrines began calling themselves "Fundamentalists" to indicate that they were still holding on to the "fundamentals" of the faith.
However, over time the label became attached to a smaller sub-section of that movement, so that today a "fundamentalist" within the Christian world is a particular type of American Baptist, with a commitment not only to various beliefs shared with other evangelical Christians, but also to others besides which aren't. (I am not a fundamentalist - I am an evangelical Baptist, though like most Christians I prefer to make the main thing the main thing and just be called a Christian - a disciple of Jesus Christ).
In The United Kingdom
The fundamentalist movement is very small in the United Kingdom. I do not recall ever coming across a church that belonged to it, though I can remember on a couple of occasions coming across people whose views fitted in pretty well with it. None of the people listed on the BCSE's website that I am aware of agree with the particular distinctives of contemporary fundamentalism.
It is clear, then, that the BCSE are not using the label as it is used within the Christian world.
So, What Are The BCSE Up To?
The other way in which the label fundamentalist is used is by rabid Richard-Dawkins style atheists, to smear any and all religious folk. The idea is that by lumping them all in under the heading "fundamentalist", you start to imagine that there's no difference between Islamic terrorism and any other kind of belief in God.
You can see an example of this somewhat unsubtle line of argument by visiting Dawkins' own website. Scrolling a little way down the front page (http://richarddawkins.net/home), there are some leaflets which the Professor suggests you print off and distribute.
The text of the leaflets: "Imagine No Religion".
The image? The twin towers of the infamous 9/11 Islamic terrorist attacks.
A sophisticated intellectual argument, it isn't!
Does anybody wonder why Professor Dawkins didn't write "Imagine No Islam"? Possibly he would then get into trouble for spreading a bigoted stereotype?
Ah well... "Imagine No Religion" it is then - no bigotry or stereotyping there! (?)
Ah well. In case anyone did find that poster an irrefutable argument, here's an equally irrefutable reply.
I would have chosen Mao Zedung who also murdered millions in the cause of atheism, but I didn't suppose his face was so instantly recognisable.
None of those described on the BCSE's pages that I am aware of actually are fundamentalists according to the meaning of that term within the Christian world... and neither are any of them planning to fly aeroplanes into skyscrapers any time soon either as far as I know.
The BCSE are using "fundamentalist" as a religiously-loaded insult. If they cared to describe those they oppose accurately, then many of them would be evangelicals, Pentecostals and/or Baptists.
Using deliberately pejorative (insulting) language to describe those whom you oppose is something of a give-away. Those who feel that they have heavyweight arguments do not need to do that. Re-defining language is the resort of those who know they're in trouble. Let me ask - just why does the defence of Darwinism need to stoop to this kind of level? If the scientific evidence is so good... then why doesn't the BCSE just stick to that? Of course, if you've been reading "BCSE Revealed" long, you'll know the answer (see here).
Add in two further facts...
... and there's only one reasonable conclusion. This isn't your normal group of science educators.
"That's where we need to be - that being a fundamentalist christianis as [sic] socially as acceptable as being a paedophile."
Ian Lowe, BCSE Committee Member, 25th June 2006
(http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/BlackShadow/messages/1029 - until the BCSE deleted it. I have a copy for any researchers who would like to verify.)
Go to the next part of this article, which has the most damning revelations.