[Investigation] Preserving Tradition Leads to Extreme Forms of Faith

Does Christianity and Islam threaten the core values of all societies by unintentionally creating a monster called fundamentalism? It appears so, according to this investigation.

12
faith

How does religion impact on the notion to be human, and the notion of society, particularly in Christianity and Islam? The endless spectrum of questions raised: from morals and ethics, community values to spreading the word of ‘God’ to others; this explores the competing goals of people, their belief systems, and the positive and negative consequences that can trickle through society.

When considering these thoughts, the scope narrows to what is expected from the individual and how religion will provide the societal foundations to achieve said expectations; and if at all will the goals of the religion’s credo be achieved successfully. Will the polar extremes of fundamentalism and secularization take over, or will there remain a balance permitting the individual to strive for religious understanding and attainment?

faith

Islam and Christianity Threaten Current Societal Values

What is anticipated from the individual in terms of their faith, and what the outcomes achieved in society are, can eventuate into unexpected realms dependent on the various interpretations placed on religious practice. Although Christianity and Islam have creeds governing how one should conduct their life with respect to others, racism and other forms of discrimination can and do occur, thus contradicting societal values already in place.

How society should support this way of life and maintain the notion of the human person within these boundaries is not always straightforward. What Christianity and Islam infers for their followers is the expectation to uphold values within a set realm; this gives way to a myriad of implications for the followers’ destiny in either religious context, including how to attain salvation and succeed on Judgement Day after death.

The Creation of Fundamentalism – From Ku Klux Klan to ISIS

The practice of Islam, for example, adheres specifically to the teachings of the Qur’an, using centuries old scripture and traditions entwined with a legalistic society bound by strict ‘divine’ law. For the notion of person and society of Islam, the religion is cultural. Ritual salat (prayer) is engaged in, dominating life as the means to reach God or Allah, to achieve a move from darkness into light.

The media’s representation of the modern-day notion of Islam, however, is purveyed as a suppressor of individual rights at the expense of community. Although Islam modernists attempt to reconcile this issue in the face of an encroaching western secularization, schisms are created in response – better known as fundamentalism.

faith

Fundamentalism is more prevalent in Christianity and Islam than in other world religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Christian white supremacy movements such as the Ku Klux Klan in the United States, promote racial and religious divides within the notion of society; and Islam’s current fracture to ISIS in the Middle East sees moderate Muslims and Christians alike treated as the enemy.

Those belonging to the more moderate lines of Christianity and Islam contend with these fundamental approaches to religion and the social impact it has on their communities by Imams of Islam and Christian evangelists countering fundamentalist violence and condemning the behaviour publicly. For the individual, social persecution in the form of group violence, racial vilification or Islamophobia may take place, challenging the core tenets of their faith.

faith

In postmodern times, the “too secular” argument suggests that current fractures within Christianity and Islam are a sign of the person wanting to return to the older, more traditional values of the religion. But what does this mean for the Christian and Islamic fundamentalists?

Fundamentalism is said to be employed to “replace existing structures with a comprehensive system emanating from religious principles and embracing law, polity, society, economy and culture.” This term was coined traditionally to relate to Protestants in the 1920s who fought to preserve the basic tenets of their religion, and has later been widely applied to other religions of similar intent.

For Christian fundamentalists during this time, critique of the Bible was reconciled with Darwin’s evolution and secular modernity rather than with God, and challenged religious creed and life. The notion of what it was to be Christian was under scrutiny.

Christian Fundamentalism

Christian fundamentalism was also witnessed into the late twentieth century, when Protestants separated “non-Christians” from Christians and included those of the Jewish faith and Catholics; with the Ku Klux Klan later adding blacks to the list.

For the outcast Christians it meant segregation, racism, slavery and an overall bigotry. For Christian fundamentalists, restoring the religion to its former glory meant fulfilling the ‘word of God’ by selectively applying specific sections of the Bible to the entirety of society to maintain a purist view.

faith

Islamic Fundamentalism

Comparatively, for Islamic fundamentalism, the notion of upholding cultural Islamic society revolves around the restoration of faith. This belief is said to stem from past European and Western imperialism, and self-blame. God’s “wrath” is displayed through imperialism, when the Muslim fails to “obey divine law,” and alternatively, when they obey Allah then “great empires and civilizations” are created to reward their strength.

Not unlike Christian fundamentalism, where one belief is taken to override another in the name of returning to more inherent traditional values, Islamic fundamentalism does the same. Allah is the centre of Islam for every Muslim, and some experts maintain it as an obsessive behaviour.

However, Islamic fundamentalism takes what is considered mainstream Islam a step further for the human person, placing political and social consequence of extreme faith and worship on the doorsteps of society while segregating the moderate Muslim who disagrees.

faith

Christianity and Islam both shape the morals and ethics of the person for good or worse, providing a road-map of scripture, tradition, and ritual, claiming to help them reach salvation after death.

However, fundamentalism within Christianity and Islam also tends to occur when stringent core beliefs are threatened, particularly by western secularization. It is important to regard how the individual’s notion of self within a religious context to preserve tradition can lead to extreme forms of faith that ultimately impact and shake the core concepts of society.

12 COMMENTS

  1. There is so much I disagree on, first I see Islamic and Christian extremist group are mentioned, or at least group that claim to be of their faith, but what about the buddhist in burma that are slaughtering muslims and forcing million to flee, aren’t they extremist ? and what about Israeli occupation of the palestinian lands, isn’t that extremism ? they are inexistant in the media so easily forgotten by the people.

    And what about the US bombing and invading countries? with the help of UK, France and so on, aren’t those act of terror ? Truth is, it is in human nature to believe in something, if not religion then it can be nationalism, or anything else, and this combined with ignorance can be and will be used to manipulated a group or a population to push a political agenda.

    Behind every war, every extremist group, there is a political agenda being pushed using religion as a disguise, a way to manipulate the people into acting the way they want them to. Because let’s be honest, no one is going to open the Bible, or the Torah or the Quran and start thinking they need to kill every black people, every non believers and so on… Religion is a science, and like every science it needs to be studied and those who can’t afford studying it but still wish to follow it will just believe what they are told, and this is where the danger lies, in the lack of knowledge, like for any science really

    Beside, moral, what is right and what is wrong, change and vary depending on the society we live in, slavery was alright at some point, now it isn’t anymore, allowing prostitution and drugs was discussed in European parliament. It seems to be morally acceptable by the society to let people die of hunger and cold in the street, governement decide of what is moral or not in the society

    Religion is the law of God, that cannot be change by men, it is what instaure law and order in the lands and protect us from falling into chaos. It is beliving in a being superior to human, superior to everything and that we will be held accountable to Him for our actions on earth. that the one in power, or every person who was trusted with responsability over others will be held accountable to their every actions, they will be questioned about their fairness toward them, and if they fulfilled their every engagement. and every person will be questions about their deeds, about the way we treated others, religion forbid to cause any kind of harm to another being, we can even be held accontable for a bad stare that made someone feels bad, so it teaches you to always seek forgiveness, not only to your Lord and Creator, but also to the people you hurt or caused discomfort to, because if you can’t have their fogiveness in this life, then you will be judge upon what you did in the hereafter. But it doesn’t only teach fear of our Creator on our every actions, but also love of our Creator and to always be grateful to Him, it teahes forgiveness and so many other principle that are essential, that is religion. And that is not a moderate version of it, it is what you will find if you open the Holy books.

    God bless

    • You raise some good points. Indeed it is not only Christians and Muslims use or have used their religion as an excuse to commit horrible acts. But if we would count the victims through the ages then Christianity and Islam still top the charts. The Bible and the Quran are both filled with violence and often times condone violence. Buddhism on the other hand forbids all forms of violence. But your point that the problem lies more with ideology than with religion per se, and that even Buddhists commit violent acts is well taken. Not every ideology however is bad per se (take humanism), but the promoting the religions with inherently violent dogmas and doctrines, makes it incredibly easy for the lunatics among us to justify their destructive behavior.

      No, most religions aren’t a science, and Christianity and Islam are definitely not a science. The abrahamic religions are based on the idea that there exists a personal God who created the Universe. This is a claim which we can neither prove nor disprove, and as such it is an unfalsifiable claim, and unfalsifiable claims have no place in science. Also many parts of the Bible has already been disproved by science, as we can find that the Biblical myths are often heavily inspired by the myths of much older polytheistic religions.

      Slavery was alright at some point. And at the end when people began to object to it and began to call the practice inhumane, the slave owners were quick to refer to scriptures in the Bible which condone the practice.

      “However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

      “Exodus 21:20-21 (NASB): If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.”

      Or in other words it’s totally fine to beat your slaves, as long as they die within two days.

      Laws by the way, which Jesus agreed with:

      Matthew 5:17–18 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

      Not only that, but the New Testament also has something to say about slavery:

      Titus 2:9-10 “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive.”

      I’ve only given one example but the Bible is filled with immoral laws. So people should take your advice and study their Christianity (or Islam for that matter), and ask themselves the question how moral it is to follow the law of such a ” jealous and proud of it; … petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; … vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; .. misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” of a God (Richard Dawkins), and ask themselves if it’s worth it following such a God at all, since there is no evidence he exists, and a lot of evidence against his existence.

      Best convert to Buddhism or Jainism or any other religion which promotes non-violence (Pastafarianism?)

      • You seem to contradict everything you say, saying “Christianity and Islam” in every phrase doesn’t make them equal, providing proof from the bible only and pretending to know all about Islam doesn’t help your argument, unless your whole point is “they are all in this together”, well no they are not, unless you count the pretenders like yourself who wants to be heroes of their respective religions, and there is a lot of that in every religion, even in your precious self proclaimed religion of Buddhism, it’s a human defect, and has nothing to do with religion.

        • Judaism, as well as Christianity and Islam all follow the God of Abraham. The Jewish people however have reasonably behaved at least since Christianity came along (and probably even before, unless you believe the Biblical narrative, a lot of which can’t be verified, and a lot of it which has been falsified), and they have mostly been at the other end of the violence throughout history. There have been exceptions, and the development of modern Zionism is one of those exceptions. But even with those exceptions the Jewish people would have a hell of lot of catching up to do with Christianity and Islam if they want to match the number of violent acts committed in the name of Christ or Allah throughout history. Once again however, the Biblical myth of a Zionist promised land, didn’t and doesn’t help those Palestinians who have seen and still see their homeland being taken away piece by piece.

          I don’t pretend nor have I pretended to know all about Islam. We only need to look at history and the territory Islam has violently conquered, and its justification for doing so (holy war), both well established facts. Apart from a small minority of Sufi’s, there has never been an officially recognized tradition of pacifism within Islam. Most people are Muslim (or Christian) nowadays because the religion has been violently forced upon their pagan forefathers.

          Buddha’s scriptures on the other hand forbid all forms of violence, not only against humans, but against all animals too, since they too possess Buddha nature. (not to say that there were never any Buddhists who went against Buddhas scriptures and created some religious justification for their acts of violence)

          I am non-religious, and am of the opinion that no religion or worldview should be exempt from outsider criticism, not even my own. In the case of Buddhism for example: Reincarnation? Proof please! Dalai Lama claiming that homo-sexuality is unnatural? No thanks! But these aren’t the topics we are discussing or are we?

          I see less of a problem when people follow religions with non-violence at their core. Religions lead to tribalism and violent religions are much more likely to lead to violent tribes compared to non-violent religions. Religion might not always be the cause but there is no doubt that it can add a lot of fuel to the fire (as can any violent ideology, religious or not) and bring out the worst in people.

          If you say it’s purely a human defect, then feel free to back it up with proof. You might begin by giving me some example of the horrible violent atrocities committed by Jainists.

          • You’re hilarious, your miss-information is a lot to take, and you talk too much, that’s all you’re.

          • Dear Sensei, you said you didn’t know a lot about Islam, and that you only need to look at history, then please do. Even if you don’t wish to learn more about Islam, just look at the history and you will realise the many mistakes you made.

            You told me I made some good point, but obviously you seems to have missed the most important one: religion preach peace, justice, equality, they lay down laws for men to live in the land, it doesn’t teach violence, or inequality, or injustice, this is man made.

            And at last, you said buddhism is all about love and peace and tolerance, well what happened with those buddhist in burma? Did no one tell them they were suppose to be all about love and peace ? Did they read the wrong books ?

            It takes more than few internet research to truly understand what is happening in this world, you need to learn beyond what you are taught in class if you wish to understand history, and more than few quotes on some websites to understand a religion.

    • Fact 1: The earliest official gospel (Mark) was written over a generation (40 years) after the alleged death of Jesus and subsequently, it fails the historical test of contemporaneity. (1)
      Fact 2: 612 of the 662 verses in the Gospel of Mark can all be found in Matthew, and in largely the same order, thereby demonstrating that the anonymous author of “Matthew” copied heavily from the Gospel of Mark. (2)
      Fact 3: The gospels were written by anonymous authors and later falsely attributed to authors who did not write them, nor were these anonymous authors eyewitnesses, with two of gospels, John (See John 21:24) and Luke, (See Luke 1:1-4) specifically stating that they were not eyewitnesses to Jesus. (3)
      Fact 4: The gospels contain numerous forgeries, contradictions and errors. (4)
      Fact 5: The four gospels were not selected as orthodox Scripture until 180 CE (approx.) (5)
      Fact 6: There are no first century witnesses outside of the corrupt and biased gospels that attest to the earthly existence of Jesus Christ, but for a forged passage in the work of the Jewish Historian, Josephus (Testimonium Flavianum), and a second reference in that same compromised work, which is also suspect and in no way represents a specific reference to the Jesus of the gospels. (6)
      Fact 7: Almost all of the myths and moral philosophies attributed to Jesus can be found in earlier mythologies and philosophies, held by people that were proximate to the lands in which the gospels first arose. (7)
      Fact 8: Most of the earliest Christians believed that Jesus was either a phantom (non-human apparition), or a completely human Jewish rabbi. (8)
      Fact 9: Christianity only rose to power due to its blatant disregard for its own Scripture – meaning, it aligned itself with a psychotic “pagan” emperor, Constantine, who boiled his wife in a hot tub, murdered his own son and executed his co-emperor, and he merely used Christianity to solidify his political ambitions (sole emperorship), evidenced by the fact that he continued to practice his pagan faith and mint his coins with Mithras (pagan sun-god), long after his alleged conversion. (9)
      Fact 10: The sect of Christians that aligned themselves with Constantine became known as the Catholic (Universal) Church and their chief historian, Eusebius, re-wrote Christian history to present a false picture that favored his sect and made it look as if his group’s theology, found in the four official gospels, was always the dominant and original form, when such was not the case. (10)
      Fact 11: For the majority of its history (4th Century ~ 19th Century), Christianity has been a violent religion, which, like a deadly virus, has taken over its hosts and killed in order to spread. (11)
      Fact 12: When Christianity had temporal authority, it was just as brutal as Islam.  The only reason we see more psychotic behavior from religious nuts in Islamic countries today, versus Western countries, is because the West has become increasingly secularized. (12)
      Sources
      1. Paul. J. Achtemeier. Harper-Collins Bible Dictionary Revised Edition. Harper Collins, (1989). p. 653; John Barton and John Muddiman. The Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford University Press. (2001). p. 886.
      2. Graham N. Stanton. The Gospels and Jesus. Oxford University Press (1989), pp.63-64.
      3. Bart D Ehrman. Jesus Interrupted. Harper Collins Publishers. (2005) p. 111.
      4. Re: Story of woman taken in adultery in “John’s” Gospel; Paul. J. Achtemeier. Harper-Collins Bible Dictionary Revised Edition. Harper Collins, (1989). p. 535; Re: Final 12 verses of “Mark;” Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament . Stuttgart, (1971). pp. 122-126. There are other examples.
      5. Bart D Ehrman. Jesus Interrupted. Harper Collins Publishers. (2005) p. 111.
      6. Re: No first century witnesses to earthly Jesus; Bart D Ehrman, Jesus Interrupted. HarperCollins. 2009. p. 158; Re: Josephus forgeries; John E Remsburg. The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidences of His Existence. The Truth Seeker Company. (1909) pp. 32-35.
      7. Joseph McCabe. Sources of Morality in the Gospels. Watts & Co. (1914). McCabe compiled many of the primary source pre-Christian references to the sources of Jesus’ alleged revelations, so you can go to those works and read them for yourself.
      8. Bart Ehrman Lost Christianities Oxford University Press (2003); Earl Doherty. The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus. Age of Reason Publications (2005).
      9. Helen Ellebre, The Dark Side of Christian History. Morningstar Books (1995); Phillip Schaff. History of the Christian Church, Volume 5: The Middle Ages. A.D. 1049-1294.Christian Classics Ethereal Library. (1882). p. 322; J.N. Hillgarth, The Conversion of Western Europe Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, (1969). p. 46; Frank Viola & George Barna. Pagan Christianity. Tyndale House Publishers. (2008).
      10. Bart Ehrman Lost Christianities Oxford University Press (2003); Joseph Wheless. Forgery in Christianity. .Psychiana. (1930); Bart D. Ehrman. Jesus, Interrupted(2009). New York: HarperCollins. P. 214.
      11. Helen Ellebre, The Dark Side of Christian History. Morningstar Books (1995); Rev. J.E. Riddle. The History of the Papacy, to the Reformation (Multiple volume series); Edward Gibbon. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (multiple volume series).
      12. Joseph McCabe. A History of the Popes. Watts and Co. (1939); Rev. Horace K. Mann. The Lives of the Popes in the Early Middle Ages. Vol. 4. Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, & Co., LTD.(1910).; Rev. J.E. Riddle. The History of the Papacy, to the Reformation. Vol. 2. Richard Bentley. (1854); Helen Ellebre, The Dark Side of Christian History. Morningstar Books (1995); John N.D. Kelly. The Oxford Dictionary of Popes. Oxford University Press. (2005); Archibald Bower. The History of the Popes. Griffith and Simon. (1845); Johannes Janssen. The History of the German People at the Close of the Middle Ages Vol. 10. (Trans. A.M Christie). Kegan Paul. Trench. Trubner & Co. Ltd. (1906); Preserved Smith, PHD. History of Christian Theophagy. The Open Court Publishing Co. (1922); Jeremy Collier, M.A. An Ecclesiastical History of Great Britain. Vol. 6. William Straker. (1811); Carl Theophilus Odhner. Michael Servetus: His Life and Teachings. J.B. Lippincott Company. (1910); R. Willis, M.D. Servetus and Calvin: A Study of an Important Epoch in the History of the Reformation. Henry S. King and Co. (1877); Sam Harris. The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason. W.W Norton. New York (2005).

      • Add to that the apocrypha which are sometimes dated earlier than, and often times contradict the conveniently officially recognized gospels.

  2. @anonvoid

    Well if it’s misinformation I’m spreading then it wouldn’t be too much trouble for you to prove me wrong and back your position up with facts would it?

    Instead what you’ve done up until now is accuse me of contradicting myself without being able to point out what exactly it was that I said which contradicts something else that I said, then you go on and commit a straw man fallacy by claiming that I claimed that Christianity and Islam are equal, which I didn’t (I merely pointed out some of the similarities), and then without basis you claim that I pretended to know all about Islam (which I didn’t, and besides, there is no way for you to know what I know and what I don’t know), and go on to attack me personally and call me a pretender (ad hominem attack, which shows the weakness of your position, since you got no arguments and only insults). And to top it off you just assumed that I’m a Buddhist with an agenda, which I never claimed I was.

    Maybe when taking your part in a discussion you should read the lines and what’s written instead of making stuff up between the lines which isn’t there, and create a huge poisoning of the well fallacy? All you’ve done is make yourself look foolish.

    Maybe instead of baselessly attacking people and complaining that they comment too much in a comment section, which is there for people to express themselves, you could give us your opinion AnonVoid? What would be best for mentally unstable people with violent tendencies? Should we indoctrinate them with religions which are inherently violent at their core? Or should we explain to them the importance of humanist philosophy and teach them the value of empathy?

    And I’m still waiting for that list of violent atrocities committed by Jains. Or wait, maybe religions do have an effect on how their most ardent followers behave?

    • If you believe that religion will make you violent, then you need to learn a lot about them, because both religions (Christianity and Islam) that you mentioned preach positivity, compassion, mercy and love for god and his creatures. and speaking of contradictions, I believe most readers would see it and they don’t need an IQ of 200, but for the sake of those who can’t, I’m a reasonable person, so let’s state some:

      1- You said religion is bad and Islam and Christianity have been forced upon our pagan forefathers, but both religion have expressly forbid any form of forcing anyone to embrace them, not even a slap on the rest, and if you don’t follow the religion then you’re not part of it, logic 101!

      2- You said “The Bible and the Quran are both filled with violence and often times condone violence” and I believe you meant the opposite of that, cause I know for sure that the Quran doesn’t promote violence, unless you call justice an act of violence (an eye for an eye), what you’re suggesting is that anyone can get away with murder, rape, genocide because we should be all non violent according to Sensei, seems you’re missing a big section of law 101!

      3- You said “The Abrahamic religions are based on the idea that there exists a personal God who created the Universe.” I’m blown away, cause I never heard of this until you said it, where exactly did you see this and did you even take the time to verify this, I get that you don’t know much about history but seriously, every time you make an argument you start by false information, If you need proof that god exist then you should read the words of god in the Quran, and you may wanna focus on the scientific discoveries that were written 14 centuries ago and the scientist have only been able to prove it with modern technology, if that doesn’t open your mind then I dunno what will, it’s just google 101!

      4- You claim to want peace and preach no violence, yet you make such a statement from ‘Richard Dawkins’ filled with hate and misguidance about god, In case you haven’t noticed, by insulting god, you’re pretty much insulting his believers, you’re the one promoting violence and turning peaceful subject against you and whatever your agenda is, please keep talking, interrogation 101!

      Your comments have been illuminating on how some people are perceiving religion these days, but now it’s time for you Sensei to fix that mistake by reading what I said and fixing that miss-information you had going on, maybe next time we talk, your words would make more sense.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.