American Culture Essay Fundamentalism Written Knowledge Is Power Essay
The fundamentalist Christian revival has spread beyond its particular social and cultural bounds in the US to become a major force within every area of social life.Not only has ‘intelligent design’ — the refashioned notion of creationism — made a major assault on the US educational system, but large, fundamentalist-style churches, with a charismatic and ecstatic form of worship involving stadium-style Christian rock concerts and assemblies, have gathered large numbers of young followers.However much the radical content of post-war humanism was diluted into individualistic strands or particular causes from drugs to health foods, there can be no doubt that it provided the energy behind that movement, and that problems began to develop once that movement ran out of steam in the late 1970s.Once such a project vanishes from the popular imagination, once the construction of a secular worldview and value system becomes detached from a wider project of liberation, then such non-religious value systems lose their capacity to command participation and motivate action.As Barbara Ehrenreich observes in Bait and Switch, her undercover account of job-seeking in the white collar jungles, Christian uplift has become a default setting for encouraging people to having a positive attitude to social redundancy.
Dennett sets out with the air of an early enlightenment philosopher to comprehensively demolish any notion that there could be any sort of thing called God worth speaking of, while Dawkins takes the line that religion is necessarily a veil of ignorance and thereby the major, if not sole, cause of war and oppression in the world.
Increasingly in the US, whole firms have established themselves as specifically Christian, trading with other Christian firms, just as Christians have constituted themselves as huge audience bases for films such as novels — blockbusters about the coming of ‘the rapture’ and the struggle between good and evil prior to the day of judgment.
Through the subcontracting of US social services, many welfare programs are now administered by Christian agencies, as are many counselling services.
Both have an air of achieving their arguments by some sleight of hand: in Dennett’s case by ignoring or being ignorant of more complex theological constructions of God that arose in the twentieth century, and in Dawkins’s case by playing up the pseudo-religious elements of a movement such as Stalinism in order to back away from the fact that it was consciously humanist and atheist.
More importantly, neither seems willing, or perhaps able, to give much thought to the gap that exists between those who live within the world of science and the production of original knowledge, and the vast majority within modernity who inhabit a world the understanding of which is closed to them and which seems to consist of large impersonal forces beyond their control.