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Meditation 495
Can Fundamentalism Truly Be Religion?

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Occasionally I get questions on whether agnosticism can truly be considered a religion. I have argued that it can, if we consider religion in a broad sense. However in a narrow theological sense an argument can be made that atheism and agnosticism cannot be religions because they do not deal with the transcendent: atheism denies the transcendent, agnosticism questions it.

But if religion is considered to deal with the transcendent; those things outside the material world, those things outside physical experience, those things outside verifiable knowledge, those things taken on faith; then what do we make of fundamentalism?

The common characteristic of fundamentalism, regardless of which religion its followers claim to follow, is absolute certainty. Fundamentalists have no doubts. They take all those things which rational religion considers to be a matter of faith, and they regard them as a matter of fact.

Fundamentalists do not have faith. They have what they consider knowledge.

Fundamentalists know with certainty that their God exists.

Fundamentalists know with certainty that their scripture is the infallible word of their God.

Fundamentalists know with certainty that their interpretation of their scripture is the only correct interpretation.

Fundamentalists know with certainty what lies beyond the material world.

Fundamentalists know with certainty what happens after death.

Fundamentalists know with certainty what their version of God wants them to do.

Fundamentalist know with certainty that fundamentalists with different certain knowledge are absolutely wrong.

Fundamentalists know with certainty that those of differing beliefs will be punished in an afterlife; they know with certainty that only those who completely share their own beliefs will be rewarded.

As the transcendent deals with those things that cannot be known, fundamentalism denies the transcendent. In that sense, fundamentalism lies outside the realm of religion.