Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Fundie Mentality

I've been watching a fair bit of YouTube videos by fellow atheists and skeptics, lately. They've had to deal with a lot of nutbars over there, some of whom try to censor them. One nutbar in particular named VenomFangX knowingly perjured himself making a false DMCA notice and tried to pass the blame onto his friends when he got caught. When Thunderf00t suggested a compromise (since he felt the legal angles were too harsh, and he wanted more VFX videos to lampoon), VFX accused him of performing blackmail. While dressed up as The Dark Knight's rendition of The Joker. How appropriate. Some people just want to watch the world burn.

Anyway, that gets me to the topic of the moment: How I intuit fundie thought. Now, there's a difference between being a fundie and simply very religious. I've met religious people who are good and decent, who do the right thing because it's the right thing, and believe in a similar deity: One who believes in fairness and justice. Now, I might think they're silly, like someone who believes in Santa Claus into adulthood, but they're still decent people.

Being a fundie requires a certain malice. Take for instance, my favorite recently unbanned troll, during his golden days when we went by the alias of "Weapon of Mass Instruction":

[Infophile:] "So, if someone convinced you the Bible weren't true, you'd abandon your morals and go on a murderous rampage? ...Excuse me if I've lost the urge to argue with you; I suddenly don't want to win.

WoMI: Actually, I would answer yes. The Bible would not be the best selling book for all these years because (as you would like to think) people are stupid.

I have yet to see "The Origen of Species" on the best seller.

[Bolding mine]

This sort of declaration confirms that some fundies have an inherently criminal, malicious mindset. Are these fundies any more moral than someone who goes looting if the police go on strike or end up distracted by bigger crises? No. They're just more paranoid. They've just bought a story about a super cop who never blinks, sees through walls, and so on. They don't think, "Is this the right thing to do?" They think, "Am I going to get caught doing/not doing this?"

People who think that way are dangerous. The people I care to know ask if something's right. Who will it help? Who will it hurt? Does it set any dangerous precedents? Those are the sorts of questions that crop up with any moral dilemma. That's why moral people spend their time arguing about those sorts of things when it comes to sticky issues.

Many fundies would rather simplify that process by just going by what an imaginary bully says: "Do this, or I'll torture you for eternity!" This is what's commonly known as "might makes right." Oh, such a noble sentiment, isn't it? Of course, I prefer to think of one of the key features of real morality is that it protects the weak, not simply appease the strong. Contrary to Creationist characatures of evolution, "survival of the fittest" doesn't mean survival of the strongest: We're social animals. Our "strength" is cooperation. We protect each other. We work towards common goals. What these sorts of fundies propose is selfish cowardice: Do what benefits you personally: Avoid getting beat up by the bully, no matter how many people you hurt in the process.

Still other fundies say morality isn't based on love, empathy, justice, or fairness: It's based on the arbitrary whims of a deity who was randomly given the "authority" to determine morality. This is known as the Divine Command Theory of ethics. If their god makes morality by declaration, there's no moral basis for those declarations. Behold the god of craps tables and the roulette wheel. If he declared murder to be good, it would be good. Of course, those who don't really subscribe to DCT will say their deity would never make such a declaration. If that's the case, they believe in a basis for morality independent of their deity and stand a better chance of earning respect.

I've also encountered other fundies who believe morality is an irrelevant mortal pasttime: All that matters is if you believe in their stone idol. You won't be held accountable for your good and bad works because all you have to do is clap your hands together and have a conversation with their imaginary friend. No need to atone. No need to take any responsibility. Any barbarian can be excused for any wrongdoing by saying he's imperfect. Any time we call them on their obviously evil actions, we get called things like "PC police" as if people getting hurt is a matter of us being "offended." Whatever standards they have, they never have to live up to them themselves. They think they're free to run amok and the only barrier to their doing so is the rule of law, which they constantly rail against.

The decent non-fundie religious people I know generally believe in a god who happens to be a Humanist.


King of Ferrets said... it scary that this gives me ideas for debate?

Bronze Dog said...

What's scary is that I can imagine one like VFX donning that Joker makeup and doing some similar nastiness like in the movie.

MWchase said...

I just saw a snippet of that, but it did convince me of one thing: someday, somehow, VFX will eat me in my sleep.

With shaky camera work.

I admit I haven't quite been keeping up, and my memory's a bit fuzzy...

Have people seriously tried to recast objections to illegal, unethical, unconstitutional, or-cetera behavior as being on grounds of "political correctness"?

What, like "I was just telling him that he didn't deserve to live. Why are you forcing me to censor myself?"? (My mind won't quite let me imagine anything worse.)

Bronze Dog said...

Largely I've seen it with unconstitutional displays of religion in government. Can't recall specific instances with other evils right now, but I don't think it'll be long before I see another.

Key thing to look for: They blame our calling them out on us being "offended" by them tearing down civilization and rule of law.

Rhoadan said...

If the Left Behind series is any indication, your thesis is probably fairly accurate. I recommend that you read this dissection of the first book. I suspect that reading the actual book would induce you to put your own eyes out.

Anonymous said...

That pretty much sums up my opinions.

Except I'd point out that those who say "the bible is all that keeps me, and everyone else, from decending into moral decay" are likely not nearly as evil as they claim. Perhaps a limited minority are actually that anti-social, but I get the impression that they wouldn't live up to their own ideals because they want good to be good too, even if they have a warped view of it.

Aside from that, regarding evolution and the whole "it teaches we should beat up those weaker than us and take their stuff", yes it's not accurate, but that's the least of my issues with that statement. My biggest problem is that they think we look to evolution as a source of morality. At most, it's an explanation of our moral sense, but not a prescription for how we SHOULD behave.

It's actually one of the biggest things that bug me. It's been true of a LOT of science. General and special relativity, for example, had critics saying that it suggests that morality is entirely "relative", which is more of an indication that they never bothered to read up on what the theory is.

The think about science is it truly is amoral, which is to say the process has absolutely nothing to do with morality. That's not to say scientists are totally amoral, there are ethical concerns about any scientific endevor, like medical studies. No one does "faux surgery" because it's unethical, not because it wouldn't work in a double blind test of a surgical procedure.

The problem is their own world view is one where they look at every bit of "historical" information in their holy book as having a moral lesson. "What can we apply to our lives from the story of Job?" Then they assume that scientists "must do the same thing", and get all their moral "okays" from what they study. Not so.

The best analogy I can come up with is that arguing that an evolutionist takes their moral stance from evolution is like arguing that a historian takes their moral stance from accepting the reality of the holocaust. No one suggests that accepting the holocaust happened is the same as saying we should draw our morality from it. If anything, if one should take something from the holocaust it's just how much harm such a thing can do to so many people.

Evolution is just the facts of how we came to be, it's NOT a system of morality or a suggestion of how we "should" live. I'm with Richard Dawkins in that I may love the theory as a beautiful explanation, but morally I'd be disgusted at anyone actually "applying" it to their lives, and I'm one to say that evolution, while it got us here, is a fundamentally mindless process and we can do better. Creatures can and do evolve into dead ends resulting in extinction. It does in fact result in a struggle for a lot of creatures, and really genetic engineering would be FAR better than somehow trying to "accelerate" survival of the fittest in our species.

Rev. BigDumbChimp said...

Recently unbanned?

Did I miss something?

Bronze Dog said...

I laid out a new comment policy, and decided to clear the ban list of its one member.

He's probably too sore from his continuous beatings to ever come back, though. The fact that he sank into silly grade school 'UR GAY!' crap gives that strong impression.

Bronze Dog said...

Huh. TV Tropes Entry: "Morality Chain"

"Truthiness in Television. Religious fundamentalists often make this claim about themselves, saying that their faith is the only thing keeping them from going on an Unstoppable Rage. This troper frankly finds that notion to be Nightmare Fuel Unleaded.

* Some also claim it for humanity at large, despite evidence to the contrary. This has the effect of making them look like Joker-level misanthropes."