Recently the following question was put to me by a bright college freshman at NYU.
What are your thoughts on fundamentalism and how do you think it shapes society in the
My definition of FUNDAMENTALISM can be briefly stated as Faith without Reason. This means that Fundamentalism is actually NOT CHRISTIAN and certainly not CATHOLIC. Catholicism always contains a very important little word “and,” Faith and Reason, Word and Sacrament, private devotions (such as the Rosary) and public worship (Liturgy, mass).
This is not true with Islam, Islam is fundamentally “fundamental.” That is to say, ISLAM is not a religion of Faith and Reason but Faith Alone; this has been true from its inception. Unlike Christianity there is no ISLAMIC THEOLOGY, there is no development of dogma, there are schools in which to study the Qur’an and Sharia, but the highest scholarship for Islam is the memorization of the Qur’an, and the discussion on how best to practice the Islamic law. It was actually to this characteristic of Islam that Pope Benedict was directing his remarks at
"Islam" is a religion of 'submission" to Sharia, God’s Law! It is for this reason that Muslims desire the state they inhabit to be ISLAMIC. There is only one way to live Islam that is by following the Law. It is in the nature of Islam to be Fundamentalist and to insist on the
What we are seeing in
Terrorism is the method now used by Islamic militants to create such chaos in a particular nation to allow an Islamic Theocracy to arise as the solution to the problems that Islamic militants have created in the first place. In large measure, this is what is happening in
I will attempt some kind of summation to answer your questions.
What are your thoughts on fundamentalism? I believe that my definition of Fundamentalism above covers all types. It is faith in a set of beliefs that are not open to rational investigation, philosophical or theological and secondarily historical and scientific. For Christian Fundamentalists, God created the world in six 24-hour days and rested on the seventh day, no discussion, end of story. For Catholics, theology allows for a nuanced understanding of these days as symbolic numbers for the perfect amount of time and method God used. Catholics see evolution as the way God created the universe. Evolution does not contradict Catholic belief that God is Creator. Fundamentalists cannot make these distinctions.
"How to you think it shapes society in the
I believe that it brings with it good and not so good elements to the culture and political process. Fundamentalists can be allies in the anti-abortion efforts of the Catholic Church. However, they would be less helpful to the efforts of the Catholic Church to provide social services to the poor. Also, they have a tendency to can get involved in controversies in ways that are more harmful and helpful. They are capable of violent attacks on Abortion Clinics and vicious attacks on Gays that the Catholic Church would never condone, and which do nothing to promote pro-life issues or traditional Christian morality.
The present controversy over the teaching of Evolution and Creationism is a needless and confusing battle. There is no real contradiction between the two. Perhaps the best solution is to allow teachers to explain that evolution itself is strong evidence of an intelligent designer. Rather that require them to claim unscientifically that the universe and we are just accidents of evolution, which is as much as SOME scientist will say about the how and why we are here.
I do not see Christian Fundamentalism as a threat to the Republic, but they worrisome. Contrary to the conviction of some the
"How does the
This is a more difficult question. Presently the
The greatest threat to American and western security is Militant Islam, which is fundamentalist in nature. In countries such as France there have already been wide spread riots, with putative causes, with the actual causes being the cultural clashes between the secular French government and Islam, which seeks “sacred” law and government of their own definition. Soon
Pope Benedict XVI has his own solution to this problem, the re-evangelization of
It is the hope of Pope Benedict XVI that a Catholic Europe would be far better able to resist “Islamification”
As long as Islam is Islam, I see no long-term solution to this problem. Islam is acting as Islam was designed to act to bring the infidels of the world to Islam by the sword. Financial, diplomatic, and strategic pressure must be kept on all nations that harbor and support terrorists, which is nearly every Islamic nation in the
As you can surmise these are very difficult realities that we here at home in the