The Fundamentalist Flaw

Fundamentalist religions give people what they think is an absolute right to dictate the destinies of others. The notion would be laughable, if the consequences weren’t so tragic. This article explores the impact of fundamentalism on future generations.

Originally published 2005

Fundamentalism is Troubling

In the Middle East, fundamentalists perform mutilations and murder, all in the name of their religion. In Iraq, they’re killing women who have the temerity to think for themselves. In Israel and elsewhere, they’re killing and maiming innocent women and children. The fact that they’re blowing themselves up in the process is of little consequence, because they’re convinced that they’re guaranteed a place a heaven.

In the West, on the other hand, we enjoy relative peace and tranquility. But to think that fundamentalist Christianity is therefore more benign and less of a threat is to jump to a premature conclusion that will be the undoing of us all. The fact is, fundamentalists are forging a terrible future, and generations ahead will pay the price.

Christian Fundamentalists are forging a terrible future, and generations ahead will pay the price. Click To Tweet

In America, fundamentalist Christians have a “Right to Life” mentality that sounds good on the surface, but which dooms their children — and everyone else’s — to a future they would certainly avoid, if they could see it coming. The impacts of that doctrine stem from their views on birth, death, and sex.

The “Right to Life” — Birth and Sex

According to fundamentalists, every fetus has a right to be born, contraceptives should never be used, and sex education should not be permitted. Good, moral people should be encouraged to be abstinent and everyone else, it seems, will have to live with the results.

Abstinence is a great idea for late bloomers. For everyone else, it’s impractial. Catholicism is still teaching that contraceptives are wrong. The idea, is apparently, is for every Catholic family to have 12 children and out-populate competing dogmas.

Meanwhile, all of the fundamentalism Christian relgions seem to agree that abortion is just plain wrong, that life is vastly more important than consciousness, and that every life, once begun, must be brought to term and given a chanced to develop that consciousness.

People have every right to feel that way, of course. But as long as they do, they should institute an Adopt a Young Mother program. It’s not enough to adopt the baby, leaving the mother wallowing in poverty and misery for her lost child.

But the real problem with the Right to Life notion is the future it foretells. A simple thought-experiment is sufficient to refute the doctrine. It goes like this: Lets collect all the pro-life enthusiasts and give them their share of the planet. If they’re 50% of the population, give them 50% of the planet. Whatever proportion is fair. Then lets build strong walls, implement tough immigration policies, and wait.

At first, their society will be very productive. They’ll replicate faster, so they’ll be able to produce more. Their standard of living will grow at a faster pace, and they’ll be the envy of the world.

In time, though, they’ll start running out of room. They’ll begin consuming the resources on their share of the planet. They’ll need more land, more food, more water. That’s when the strong walls are needed. “No,” we have to say, “You can’t come over here. You chose your policy. Now you have to live with it”.

If they come to their senses, some of their policies will change. If not, they deserve the consequences. The problem, of course, is that in the present state of affairs the consequences they’re engineering will fall on all of us — or more accurately, on our children and our children’s children.

The “Right to Life” — Deaths

As bad as the future prospects stemming from a Right to Life mentality with respect to birth and sex, however, the prospect with respect to deaths are actually much worse.

According to the “Right to Life” doctrine, everyone has a “right” to an endlessly long, excruciatingly painful death. They have a “right” to spend years on life support, even if there is no hope at all they they will ever again regain consciousness or be able to perform the simplest tasks — especially if there is any hope at all, even if it is so vanishingly small that the odds are incalculable.

Of course, what they claim as a “right” is in reality an obligation, in their eyes. They want to force everyone to endure that kind of suffering, by making it illegal to do otherwise.

Whichever side of the issue you stand on, the other side appears to be morally reprehensible. Pro-lifers appear morally reprehensible to those who see years of pain, suffering, and misery. Right-to-die advocates appear morally reprehensible to those who see God as the owner of all life.

But if you leave religious doctrine aside and simply examine the future impact of the policies, it’s clear that the Right to Life movement is once again salving their religious conscience today at the expense of a dismal, dark future.

Several trends these days are pointing to a future of global economic feudalism, controlled by international corporations. The Right to A Long, Lingering Death aids and abets that process.

The trends I speak of are threefold, and are well-documented by others:

  • American wages and standard of living are dropping, and the middle class is disappearing.
  • Wealth is concentrating, as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
  • Global resource shortages loom: Water by 2020, Oil by 2040, food soon to follow.

There is a clear trend towards having more wealth and power at the top of the pyramid, and little or nothing at the bottom. Meanwhile, the large middle class that was created by progressive policies early in the 20th century — the middle class that formed a large, round Buddha-belly in the middle of the economic profile, is rapidly being trimmed down to the point that the sides of pyramid, far from being straight, are becoming concave.

In other words, the global economic profile is coming to resemble the Eiffel Tower, with a very small cadre of very rich individuals at the top, a thin collection of reasonably well off people in the middle, with the vast majority of humanity, wallowing in poverty, making up the base.

We’re not there yet, of course, but we are moving inexorably in that direction, and “Right to Life” fundamentalism is hastening the day.

Consider: Modern science has grown so powerful that they can keep the body going long after there is anyone left to inhabit it. They keep a body on life support for years. And it’s expensive. So the accumulated wealth that a person has managed to acquire in a lifetime of toil winds up going to the doctors, hospitals, and drug companies, instead of being passed on to their children or to causes they believe in.

How bad is it? Here’s a quote from Arianna Huffington’s newsletter on 3/9/2005:

“a recent study by Harvard University found that half of last year’s 1.6 million bankruptcies were the result of crushing medical bills. Put another way: Every 30 seconds, someone in this country files for bankruptcy in the wake of a serious illness. How’s that for a shocking stat? Here’s another: Three-quarters of the so-called medically bankrupt had health insurance. It just wasn’t enough to cover the dramatic rise in health-care costs.”

In other words, nearly a million families are being financially wiped out every year.

Nearly a million families are financially wiped out every year, mostly by medical bills. Click To Tweet

Students of finance and economics quickly see the result. The law of compounding interest says that wealth accumulates exponentially over time. When wealth accumulates from generation to generation, at some point a family has enough to invest in their dreams. They can start their own business, purchase a small farm, or engage in study or leisure pursuits.

But those who thing that wealth is simply being redistributed are missing an important point: The money that goes to doctors and nurses won’t stay in their hands, either. When their time comes, they’ll have the financial fat trimmed from their bones, as well. In other words, only corporations will accumulate money, because they never die.)

When you take away that capacity for personal capital accumulation, and you’re left with one thing — the necessity of work. You work, or you don’t eat. You work, or you don’t have a roof over your head. You work, or you die. In the Eiffel Tower economic future that lies before us, that means your children will be working for a corporation. For minimum wage.

The Widening Gulf

In The Day After Tomorrow, one of the heroes faces the sad moment when he can’t convince others to stay in the safety of their shelter. Instead, they insist on going out into the snow — to what they think is a better future, but to what in fact is their demise.

Watching that movie, I was struck by how right it was that some should go, and some should stay. Each side thought they were doing the right thing. Of course, only one group could survive. But because people were  walking both sides of the track, humanity was guaranteed to survive. Contrast that situation with one in which everyone does the same thing. All it takes is one wrong decision, and everyone dies.

Fundamentalists believe they are right. There’s nothing particularly astonishing about that. It’s part of the human condition. But what makes fundamentalists particularly dangerous is the belief that they have the right to dictate life’s terms to everyone else. After all, they reason, they’re saving souls. How could it be otherwise?

In doing so, however, they eliminate the diversity that ensures mankind’s survival in difficult situations like the one in the movie. And although the situation facing us is not as extreme, nor as visible, it is no less dire. Our children’s children face a future of abject poverty, toiling their entire lives from dawn to dusk just to eke out an existence.

It seems preposterous today, but the trends say that we are headed in that direction. And religious fundamentalism only exacerbates the problem.

The nice thing about Dan Brown’s book, The Da Vinci Code, is that it strikes at the very root of religious fundamentalism. It exposes the myths, propaganda, and brutal force that brought it into existence. In the process, it clears the way for a more humanitarian perspective on religion, and a greater concern for Mother Earth.

Unfortunately, the impact of that book appears to be confined to the major urban centers. In the heartland of America, it seems, the Bible is still the only book worth reading.

It is our children, and our children’s children, who will pay the price.

Copyright © 2005-2017, TreeLight PenWorks

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