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Why do fundies hate/fear knowledge so much?


Black Aliss

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Another book burning, this time by Islamist fundies who attempted to destroy a priceless collection of 30,000 manuscripts, dating back to the 13th century, in Timbuktu. They would have succeeded, had it not been for the efforts of handful of scholars, mostly elderly men, who smuggled the books out of the city. The fundies succeeded in destroying "only" 5% of the collection. In that light I guess you could consider this a good news story. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/people-t ... s-invaders

I'm thinking the Mayans would be thrilled to still have 95% of the thousands of ancient codices that the Christianists destroyed during the spanish conquest of Meso-America. Only three of their manuscripts survived because the priests believed the documents, which they couldn't read or begin to understand, were a deterrent to their conversion efforts.

There have been many other library burnings throughout history and of course not all of them carried out by religious zealots. Hwever it seems like the deliberate destruction of scientific and other intellectual content is one of the hallmarks of fundamentalists.

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To fundies, it doesn't matter what knowledge or history those books have. Their way is the only way that matters. In their opinion, anything that is against whatever religion they subscribe to is absolutely useless and is actually making a negative, evil impact in the world.

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It's because knowledge of other religions would lead to questioning of their beliefs. Can't convert heathens if you see them as human as you are.

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I think one of the reasons has to do with having all the answers. Over in the thread asking our members who used to be fundie if they liked themselves at the time (viewtopic.php?f=8&t=15335), many have talked about self-esteem issues. I believe that one of the prevailing mindsets that leads to fundamentalism is a desire to find the one true way to do things as a way to improve their self-esteem (i.e. my fundamental religion has this checklist that is the only way to live a truly godly life and I've checked off everything on that list, therefore I am better than all those heathens out there who don't follow the checklist). Where the fear of knowledge comes into the equation comes from knowledge providing alternatives to their one true way. If their way isn't the only way than maybe just maybe they aren't so superior to everyone else and they have to face their self-esteem issues.

Another reason is the control, plain and simple, which we've talked about ad naseum. If people don't know that there are alternatives out there then they can't leave their fundie group.

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Maybe they have doubts buried deep down about their faith and are afraid the doubts will be proven true. Then they would look and feel rather silly. So they guard against that by sticking their heads in the sand, so to speak.

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I know some people who seem to believe that there is a major conspiracy against their faith. Every nonbeliever is somehow involved or tricked into being a part of this conspiracy. Writers, scientists, teachers, are all either knowingly or unknowingly trying to destroy religion. The reality is that there is no conscious plot to tear down religion. As our understanding grows about how the world works, many fundamentalist beliefs become harder to hold. To retain followers, fundamentalists must control the flow of information that enters their society. The outrage and disgust that many fundamentalist express over anything that might possibly cause questioning of their faith is part of their defense mechanism. It is part of the reason why American Christians claim persecution when anything reminds them that other faiths and belief systems exist.

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It really boils down to power. Keep them ignorant and they can't/won't question the authority of whatever figurehead is trying to control them.

I'm still pretty immersed in FLDS stories/books and it's pretty obvious. Warren Jeffs and his father both began the systemic dumbing down of their members by first taking control of the public school in their area, then closing it, then running their own, then finally just having no school whatsoever. There are entire generations of FLDS kids who are pretty ignorant and uneducated. Warren Jeffs also espouses getting girls pregnant as soon as they're able to keep them from running, so they're 12-13, uneducated, and pregnant.

Beyond that, it's really hard for a lot of people that are completely sold on a particular belief to accept change, to accept that a scientific explanation of what they viewed as a deity or a miracle or proof of a deity or whatever, is really based in tangible science and not faith and religion. It's got to be a hard pill to swallow, and to still keep your faith intact in light of such things is probably not as easy as people want. Much easier to just claim it's the work of the devil or whatever.

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Bethella has nailed most of it.

Everything is a house of cards and you pull out one, it tumbles. Take a hypothetical fundie-light-to-middlin' background for an intelligent young woman. Lets say she's not rebellious and has been raised with a good fundie upbringing and is working to be a good SAHD, keep sweet, and preparing to be a helpmeet.

Suddenly, she reads Dawkins and rejects his atheism but starts questioning creationism and swallows the theory of evolution...

scales may as well just fall from her eyes because suddenly, the inerrant word of God is capable of either being wrong or having multiple interpretations.

Even if she sayd "well, the Old Testament is allegorical, the New Testament is all truth", suddenly those absolutes are, instead of black and white, dark dark gray and almost perfectly whiteish gray. Which isn't a lot different than black and white --they're still ALMOST black and ALMOST white...but if she admits there's variance, she's allowing that the variance exists at all.

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Its because if they allow people to know the facts about evolution, they wont be a creationist anymore and might question their faith.

They dont allow their kids to watch TV or anything, because it would interfere with their beliefs that the world is scary and evil outside. It also shows Christians doing things that they believe their religion is against.

Its all about control as well, if you keep followers uneducated, theyre easier to control and less likely to escape.

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Everything builds in fundie-worlds.

If the story of Adam and Eve isn't literal, then the subjugation of women is a social construct--and one worth questioning.

Then...maybe the new testament can be questioned. What if...what if the words of Paul are assumed to be not-quite-inerrant, and to hold less weight than the words of Jesus?...suddenly being Gay may not be a big deal. Or being female.

Maybe pre-marital sex isn't forbidden with that much vehemence...

zomgs, the entire worldview just fell apart!

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It's a matter of control. If you cannot form coherent thoughts, and lack the words to even think them, you are not going to question authority. There's a reason dictators bring down the poets, artists and scholars first. Poets, artists and scholars teach us to think and to question.

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I think the control thing and the "not letting the kids question" thing are effects, rather than the cause. You have to be pretty afraid of knowledge to take up the banner of fundamentalism in the first place. Once you're taken in, though, it's easy to see why you wouldn't want the kids questioning -- wouldn't want them to burn in hell, after all.

So I think (this is just armchair musing) that the primary reason is difficulty with ambiguity. I was thinking about this in one of my neuropsychology classes. Neuropsych, if you don't know, is a very young science where lots of seemingly contradictory discoveries are made all the time (because we don't really know what we're looking at yet). As a result, 90% of my textbook is like "it could be either A or B, or something else we haven't thought of. All we know is that it probably isn't C, although it might be. Basically, your guess is as good as ours." And that sort of thing can be very difficult for a lot of people who want straight answers.

Or take something like, say, vegetarianism. It's easy to say "God wants us to eat meat." (Or on the flip side, "eating meat is evil and unnatural.") It's somewhat harder to say "Eating meat hurts animals and the environment, but many humans would not survive without meat, and many more would suffer because they can't thrive on vegetarian diets." Is vegetarianism the answer? Better regulations for the care of animals? Maintaining the status quo? This is a moral ambiguity that many people struggle with.

I think people drawn to fundamentalism (or other types of authoritarianism) are people who don't want to be unsure of the right thing to do. They can't handle grey areas. They want to say "God said it, I believe it, that settles it." If knowledge gets in the way of that ability, it's knowledge that is in the wrong.

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Interesting thread and some good points here. Here's my view based on personal experience:

I wasn't raised fundie, in fact, I am from a liberal mainline Protestant demonination. But having watched some family and friends fall into fundamentalism, I often saw it as a coping mechanism in the wake of something that rocked their world and made them actually question things. In order to cope with all the pain and turmoil that the questioning produced, it was easier to adopt a mindset that had all the answers and established things in terms of black and white, even as these individuals were learning, sometimes the hard way, that there are often are no definite/easy answers (or if there's any one answer at all) and that there are many shades of grey. So in this way, they found some relief to their pain and turmoil, but anything that might challenge it and send them back to that questioning state becomes feared and to be avoided at all costs.

Hope that made sense. I am no psychologist!

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