Origins of Fundamentalist Take-Over in Pre-Theocratic Countries

When bad religious people combine, good atheists must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice, in a contemptible struggle.

These foreboding words are set out in the style of Edmund Burke (1729-1797. Vol. 1, p. 526, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents) who wrote:

“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice, in a contemptible struggle.”

Tags: Edmund Burke

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Replies to This Discussion

Theists certainly want to dis-empower Atheists. Why should we turn the other cheek about it?
We shouldn't. That's the simplest answer. If we have to we should fight tooth and nail, spilling blood if we have to, to defend our rights to the freedom of speech and the freedom of thought.
These are the most basic of human rights, but also amongst the most essential.
Spilling Blood ? How Christian of you Harley :)

I would like to think the pen to be more powerful than the sword.....Or in this day and age.....the keyboard?
Aye, but if religious people try to take our freedom by force we will have no choice but to defend it by force.
I feel somewhat disheartened that there are people having this kind of trouble. I guess I'm somewhat lucky that the friends I've made for the most part haven't been poisoned by religion, or are outright atheists.

The major issue still is that there seems to be this embedded cultural notion that people's religions should be accepted without question even if they have no merit, and criticising or going against them is 'disrespectful'.
Hi Bonnie. You say (and I think truthfully) that no one can control you unless you let them. However, sometimes it can be very difficult to not let them. The church made Galileo recant. It was not his free will to recant but he was put under so much pressure that he broke. Do you blame him for this? If there had been an organized voice espousing his perspective the church would not have been able to dominate him so badly. We need an organized voice also or there will be those of us who will break as well.
Burke captured in those words the very essence - and current plight - of the struggle for the Enlightenment.

What is it about, if it is not the struggle for the illumination of wisdom and learning for all mankind - against the wishes of those who would seek to maintain a servant underclass for their own personal benefit?

Today, we live in a world in which the Enlightenment, because of its values, is under attack to a degree that has not happened since the rise of National Socialism. And it is because evil men are using a variety of tools to obtain and conserve for themselves power over others.

Fundamentalism is but one tool being used, that one to neutralize opposition by the masses to their ruthless exploitation. The deliberate encouragement of academic cults is leading to a squandering of the empowerment offered by education. The creation of political ideologies that seek to create a moral justification for selfishness is undermining democratic governance. The control of media and the institutions of public "education" to create and enforce ignorance.

It is not an accident that these trends are all happening at once. They are the result, not of an overt conspiracy, but of a confluence of interests among ruling elites who have discovered that it is possible to enslave the masses to their benefit, not by force, messy as that is, but by ideology. And whole universities exist to create in the minds of the elite a moral justification for that enslavement; political science departments that eschew the concept of self-governance, economics departments that create economic systems in which wealth is transferred from producers of wealth to those who have accumulated it, and philosophies that hold that the weak and impoverished are "parasites" and "looters" and therefore deserve their exploitation. Hardly a wonder, then, that the elites will kick the man sleeping in the gutter while they are on their way to the opera - and kick him because they believe he deserves it. That is what they have been taught.

So let us not fool ourselves into thinking that the problem is just fundamentalism, or even religion. It is much, much broader than that - it is a frontal assault on the Enlightenment itself, because of its values, and until we recognize that, and begin to deal with that harsh reality in a meaningful way, we are doomed to an end of what the USAnian neoconservatives have sneeringly called "the modern project," to be replaced with a new dark age, and a return to medieval feudalism. Ah, the good old days of the 13th century!
I was watching a programme on early cultures and whilst they were covering cuneiform tablets a thought struck me over Moses and his tablets. What if they were an early example of a technologically advanced culture overpowering another. something not unique and continues to this day.
The thought struck me because the narrator mentioned that the cuneiform tablets were fired in a kiln, whereas I had somehow presumed them sun dried. If Moses was in fact imperialising a less developed tribe then the fired clay could be seen as cast in stone.
The chronology of such a possibility makes yet more of a nonsense of the theist's own timescales, in fact it would put the beginnings of the imperialism of religion pre-agrarian.
I make the point because I feel had it been somebody just coming down the mountain with stone/clay tablets in extant (for that society), writings and or techniques it would not have had the same effect.
So first take advantage of somebodies lack of understanding/lack of technique, enslave them and then wilfully keep them in ignorance, which of course the religous still do in this day an age. The 21st century. I have to repeat that sometimes as I can't believe it when I see some of the things happening. They still wilfully and criminally keep people in ignorance.
“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice, in a contemptible struggle.”

While that says what happens, it does not say why and that appears to me to be the question being asked by the title of this thread. So here are my ideas on that question.

Here are some additional thoughts...

I would suggest that the reason "why" has a lot to do with the intellectually lazy finding an appeal in religion that they are among the cognoscenti who have a knowledge not available to the rest of us, and that their special knowledge (and hence moral superiority resulting from the acceptance of it) entitles them to rule the rest of us.

The obvious problem is the reliability of their knowledge. Religious memes answer this, and reinforce themselves, in a number of ways; demeaning competing memes ("Islam is the religion of terrorists"), appeals to ego ("we are God's chosen people"), appeals to fear ("rejection of the testimony of Jesus is the greatest unforgivable sin"), appeals to group loyalty ("Onward, Christian soldiers!"), assertions of societal usefulness ("religion is the only moralizing influence"), etc. None by themselves is a strong hook (by design; a strong hook would make the fallaciousness obvious and invite in that mortal enemy, critical thinking), but the numerous weak hooks synergize very effectively to reinforce belief in the moral supremacy of the meme, and therefore the implied notion of the moral right to spread it, by force if necessary.

My personal experience with fundamentalist religions (which I define as any religion which places a higher priority on ideological conformity than pragmatically seeking the stated moral objectives) suggests to me that the more fundamentalist it is, the more insistent it is in enforcing its moral strictures on non-believers, and that is evidence of the priority they place on doctrinal conformity. The higher the priority on ideological conformity, the greater the intolerance of dissent, either within or outside the group.

This is where Burke comes in. All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. That is what we are seeing in the United States today, both politically and religiously - because fundamentalists of both the religious and political varieties are on the march, and are becoming increasingly ideological and hence intolerant of opposing views. And good men continue to do little if anything about it.

What is at stake, IMO, is nothing less than the Enlightenment itself. At least one major political organization, currently very powerful and influential in the U.S., has stated publicly on its web site that its objective is nothing less than putting an end to what it sneeringly calls "the modern project," by which it clearly means the Enlightenment, with its egalitarian values and empowerment of the common man.

Hardly a surprise, then, when it makes common cause with fundamentalist religions to work towards the same end, because they share the same goal: empowerment of their own group, to be accomplished by the disempowerment of everyone else.

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