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There's a disturbing trend of lexical dishonesty. To be fair, it's not deliberate - most people engaging in it are rather ignorant of the fact that it's happening. Part of the problem is simply that we (humans) feel the need to have convenient terms of aggrandizement, and when they are difficult to find, our brain's lazy word-association powers start to coopt terms that don't really mean what they intend.

Case in point: over the past decade or so, there's been an enormous number of headlines, from blogs to well-established news publications, denouncing the dangers of "fundamentalist" religion. But to quote Inigo, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." What people really seem to want to say when they use the word "fundamentalism" is more along the lines of "extreme literalism" or "zealotry". Fundamentalism is actually sort of the opposite. The real Fundamentalist Christian movement was actually started for the purpose of uniting the various (often bickering) Christian sects and denominations into one united political voice, by defining the "fundamentals", or bare-bones basic core ideals, that all Christians share - mostly revolving around acknowledging two things: one, that Jesus was real, and two, that he died for humanity's sins (two beliefs, by the way, that I as an atheist, don't share, but I digress...). By focusing on the very basic, most benign, and very lowest common denominators, rather than the extremist, literalist edge cases (like dancing with snakes, stoning gays, and making women shut up in public), it allowed all sorts of different Christians to find a common bond. So how did "fundamentalism" become synonymous with extremist lunatic? Well, in part because some of the leaders in the Fundamentalist Christian movement were themselves extremist lunatics, and therefore people simply began to associate the word with the lunatics. But in reality, it's not what they mean.

And this brings us to the newest linguistic misuse: "Radical Islam". Again, what people really mean to say is "fucked-up extremist jihadi Islamism". Radicalism is actually defined by two characteristics:
1 - a movement of revolutionary change that is started by the "roots" (radical/radix/root), or what we in America often refer to as the "grass roots" - the common people, rather than the elites
2 - a movement of revolutionary change that is abhorred by the traditionalist elements of society, because the change the movement seeks often tramples on the most treasured traditionalist ideals

If we look at what society is typically calling "radical Islam", it fails both facets of the definition. The militant jihadi extremist movements are often headed by political or religious elites, and they are ultra-traditional. These militant extremists aren't seeking core revolutionary change - they want to *return* to the most traditionalist ideals. In fact, by the true definition of the word "radical", radicals are the Muslims (or ex-Muslims) who are most critical of the traditionalist elites, who don't fear pointing out the extremely disturbing issues with Islamism, and who want to change (and even overturn) traditional Islamic power structures to pluralize and secularize them. On that account, it would seem as if we actually need *more* radical Muslims.

So this is where I point out that my problem isn't with the words themselves (or the misuse thereof). You'd have to be a pretty pedantic philological Nazi to care that much about mere words. Instead, the problem I have with people misusing these terms is that it indicates the people aren't really thinking deeply about the subjects. Instead, they are mostly parroting some self-appointed "pundits", most of whom seem to be pretty ignorant themselves (as evidenced by their misuse of the words to begin with). And I have to say, it's pretty troubling to realize how superficially people are thinking about these profoundly important issues.
  • Listening to: If There is No Heaven
Let's face it, Trump wouldn't know a bible if one smacked him across the face. His pathetic attempts to appeal to the evangelical vote have become infamous jokes and memes. Before visiting churches in order to garner votes, the last time he saw the inside of a church was probably when he was getting married to his third mail order bride. As it turns out, Trump didn't have to humiliate himself to get the evangelical vote after all. Despite there being several candidates this year who either were clergy (Huckabee) or sons of clergy (Cruz), and plenty with serious evangelical street cred (Carson, Perry and Santorum), the lion's share of evangelicals are pulling for Trump, who can't name a single bible verse, operates gambling facilities, divorced more than once, is on record as being pro-abortion, and still thinks Planned Parenthood does a lot of good for women. It's a stunning paradox that is difficult to explain, at least if one wants to avoid throwing around accusations of racism.

To help clear up the confusion as to why evangelicals are willing to ditch bible-thumping candidates in favor of a secular, untraditional, and quite frankly, pretty sinful guy, Audie Cornish of NPR news recently interviewed Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas www.npr.org/2016/02/25/4681494…

Jeffress introduced Trump several times at different events, and even had Trump as a guest speaker in his church. The interview had a lot of interesting insights into the minds of modern evangelicals. Jeffress said that evangelicals are typically hopeful for an executive candidate who can "return America to its Judeo-Christian foundation", but reminded the audience that this is not the first time conservative evangelicals pulled for the more secular candidate: "Americans at that time (1980) had a choice between two candidates. One was a sincerely born-again Christian who taught Sunday school in his Baptist Church and was married faithfully to one woman. His name was Jimmy Carter. The other choice was a twice-married Hollywood actor who as governor of California had signed the most liberal abortion bill in California history and whose wife practiced astrology. His name was Ronald Reagan. Christians overwhelmingly chose Ronald Reagan not because he was the most religious candidate but because he had the quality people thought was most necessary at the time, and that is leadership"

Fair enough, we've always known that evangelicals supported sham "values" candidates in the past. But to me, the most interesting part of the interview was this snippet from Jeffress: "I think the same-sex marriage ruling by the Supreme Court last June was a watershed moment for evangelical Christians. I think in a strange way, that same-sex marriage ruling actually made evangelicals more open to a secular candidate like Donald Trump and here's why. I think many evangelicals have come to the conclusion we can no longer depend upon government to uphold traditional biblical values." So now, Jeffress argues, they are just looking to government to solve basic government-type things. And holy pope on a rope! Isn't this what we secular people have been calling for the whole time - that government isn't there to advance religion, but to legislate and administer public matters??! Well evangelicals, welcome to the club; better late than never.
  • Listening to: If There is No Heaven

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PyrrhusiVictoria

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:iconakhnaton-ii:
Akhnaton-II Featured By Owner Edited Dec 11, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the Llama!
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:iconpyrrhusivictoria:
PyrrhusiVictoria Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
You bet :highfive:
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:iconebk-lexicon:
EBK-lexicon Featured By Owner Edited Nov 1, 2015
You wrote: "But Europeans are the least religious people on the planet per capita, and most of the famous anti-religious people with science degrees came from Europe - Darwin, Einstein, Dawkins, to name a few. So I have no idea what your point is. "

Neither Einstein, nor Darwin were anti-religious. Einstein was agnostic and/or pantheist (his interviews can be interpreted different ways), Darwin was a broken-hearthed christian, who probably became aítheist, but he confessed it only in a private letter, and never acted as an atheist activist like Dawkins. Dawkins is a very unlucky man, an otherwise good scientist who fallen into the trap of fears from religious people - probably  because of traumatic events in his childhood, or whatever. Instead of doing serious biology, he deals with the sociological problem of religion in vain - I think no one can he convince who otherwise was not an atheist originally.


My point was that, however, is that in Europe religion has a certain and obvious respect because of long history. So atheist activism most usually means a kind of unculturedness, for example, an infection of communism, liberal extremism or similar neobarbarian ideologies. There are a lot of atheists, who live without religion and without any link to religion (without anti-religionism also) but explicite anti-religious atheism is the passion of a ridiculous and almost uncountable minority. And yes, Dawkins is one of them, whether or not is he a good biologist otherwise.
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:iconakhnaton-ii:
Akhnaton-II Featured By Owner Dec 11, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Darwin and Einstein were atheists. Einstein even stated it clearly several times, his only problem was too sophisticated language and metaphors which could be taken as a religious speech. The idea that Darwin was religious came from some American lady who hadn't even seen him.
Dawkins is a very confident and happy man, you haven't read any of his books, I bet.
Religion is a trap.
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:iconkoshej:
Koshej Featured By Owner May 10, 2016
Einstein was as Jewish as a Jew can get - just look at him. :p
YOU are a sad case, though.
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:iconakhnaton-ii:
Akhnaton-II Featured By Owner May 10, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Einstein was an Atheist, and he was disgusted when people assumed he was religious. The best people leave your tribe.
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(2 Replies)
:iconpyrrhusivictoria:
PyrrhusiVictoria Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Both Darwin and Einstein conceded that there might be a divine power behind or within the workings of the universe (pantheism would be the closest description), but both dismissed organized religion. This is why I didn't call them atheists, but said they were anti-religion. They had a dim belief (and for Darwin, he admitted it was a poor argument at best) in a divine power, but not in any human organization meant to further or explain it (religion). Darwin said, "I am sorry to have to inform you that I do not believe in the Bible as a divine revelation, & therefore not in Jesus Christ as the Son of God". Similarly, Einstein dismissed religion as a fairy tale and superstition: "For me the unaltered Jewish religion like all other religions is an incarnation of the most primitive superstitions." and "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."

However, all of what you are saying here is detouring from the original comment you made. You made the assertion that in the U.S., anti-religious people can become famous scientists, but that doesn't happen in Europe. Clearly, that is completely incorrect. Moreover, it's common for the religious to assume that atheism leads to communism, which is also incorrect, however, even if that were true, again, reflect on the fact that the U.S. has NEVER been communist, while Europe has had many countries with both national socialism and communism. Your point about Europe somehow being more religious or more respectful of religion is a wash.
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:icongreatkingrat88:
Greatkingrat88 Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2015
As I have been blocked by lisa-im-laerm (that childish individual seems to think any nuanced discussion or disagreement is persecution or bullying), I will post my reply here.

Yes, Hitler was quite consumed with the occult and with the spiritual/religious heritage of Norse and Germanic tribes, although he was a staunch supporter of the Christian church(es) and claimed Christianity himself. How much of that was genuine vs. how much was purely a political tool is hard to say. Only Adolf knew for sure :) (Smile)
Indeed, the exact nature of Hitler's beliefs can only be speculated upon. It seems clear he was not fond of christianity itself- it seems most reasonable that his support of it was political in nature; Stalin made similar concessions to the churches during wartime. It's a very effective part of any propaganda machine. 

Having said that, ironically, it makes him quite a typical neo-Christian or Catholic. When Rome officially co-opted Christianity, it blended Christian myths with all sorts of pagan traditions and rituals (and continued to do so for hundreds of years), very unlike the Gnostic, Zealot, and Orthodox sects that preceded it.
That is both ironic and true, yes- a christian with little regard for the actual teachings of his book, for better or for worse, is very typical no matter what age or country he lives in. 
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:iconpyrrhusivictoria:
PyrrhusiVictoria Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Hey :iconspacemedafighterx:, maybe next time, instead of jumping immediately into an argument like you know everything, and bashing everyone who disagrees with you, you might do better to try a conversation instead. At least that way, you won't have to scurry off and hide. Just some advice.
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:iconspacemedafighterx:
SpaceMedafighterX Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2015
Now it makes sense. The reason you're trying to focus on your hatred of one religion is because you're a Secular Humanist, and are yourself pushing for a theocracy. Here I thought you were just a troll.
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