How Religions Become Fundamentalist

I just posted an excerpt from chapter three of In Defense of Religious Moderation on the blog Religion in American History ( As the editor, Paul Harvey, notes, the "post is particularly timely here after the events in Norway and yesterday's commemoration of 9/11, both of which suggest that the ancient ideal of moderation still has an awful lot going for it."

An interview about "In Defense of Religious Moderation"

Q: What are everyday fundamentalisms?

Physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow have recently used the term "model-dependent realism" to talk about the extent to which humans can approximate knowledge of the world as it really is, independent of our senses and the media we use to grasp it. The idea is basically that different conditions require different models of reality, and there is no sense at all in talking about a model-free reality.

Defining "moderate" belief

When we believe something in a moderate, as opposed to a fundamentalist, way, we tend to think of it as subject to contestation, to correction by further or better knowledge, to discussion and interpretation. When we believe something in a fundamentalist way, in contrast, we think of it as ultimate and unchanging, never subject to further interpretation or discussion.

The historical problem of fundamentalism

José María asked: Do "fundamentalism" and "moderation" take on the same "connotations" (to use your word) when the "doctrinaire faithful" are seen as existing within a so-called "pre-political" realm (they are thus gathered as an "ecclesia" proper) as they do when the "state" makes its appearance as "the" overarching and all-encompassing form of community?

An uncertain faith

An uncertain faith is the title of the manuscript I am currently working on. It refers to an alternate definition of faith to that used by atheists to dismiss religious believers, namely, belief without evidence.