You said this:
Surely you can not classify Bush and Bin Laden in the same category? Well, sure I can put Bush and bin Laden in the same category.
In fact, it's possible to put them in many same categories, or any two philosophically dissimilar people in the same category...
After all, zoologically speaking, they share the same kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species, regardless of how different they are in terms of their philosophical agendas. And this is not some clever form of cuteness I employ to stretch a point... because the point I'm trying to make is that it's possible to take the notion of differences too far, with comments like, "oh, they're not even in the same category".
Be aware, I'm not singling you out or picking on you, because lots of people express this sort of sentimental statement... but I do have to start somewhere, and you happen to be available.
Anyways, Bush and bin Laden are both men, capable of making choices in their lives. Both have chosen to tap into religion as a source of power and charisma... That's why I call them "charismatics".
However, Bush has chosen a relatively more benign and humane -- albeit by my assessment a somewhat sneakery-inspiring -- religion, and bin Laden has chosen (and it's probably not much of a choice, if you consider the likely consequences of choosing otherwise in an Arab culture) Islam, which contains in its holy book, The Qur'an, the option of being horrific and vicious... if one so chooses.
And bin Laden so chooses... most enthusiastically.
Then you said this:
Can an athiest be described as a fundamentalist? I like this question, because it gives me a chance to comment on atheism as a "religion".
First of all, the word atheism breaks down into "a-theism". The prefix "a-" means "no", and Webster's defines "theism" as being:
belief in the existence of a god or gods; specifically : belief in the existence of one God viewed as the creative source of man and the world who transcends yet is immanent in the world.Therefore, atheism means the non-belief in a god or gods. Therefore, it is not a set of beliefs, but a rebuking of beliefs. A-theism is not a thing, but the absence of a thing. It has always and only ever been a process of removal and, once achieved, a state of emptiness. And because the word itself only declares what it is not for, and not what it is for, then in and of itself it is not a usable philosophy of life...
And actually, a true atheist is an impossibility, because living people always require a basic philosophical "operating system" upon which to exist in the world, and so they always employ one, whether or not they know it or admit it. Basically, a true atheist is an impossibility, unless one is stone cold dead, mind you. Then no philosophy is required or even possible... except for nihilism, perhaps, which I regard as being impossible for any living person to ever truthfully live by, until they put a gun to their head.
Objectivism, however, starts with atheism and actually builds something upon it... in fact, it builds something quite vibrant and bountiful in that necessary void that atheism creates from religion: it creates a thorough and specific set of criteria for living a life of real truth and whereby enormously beneficial accomplishments can be created.
This is why I stringently object whenever I hear people say that they are atheists... because everybody employs some philosophy, even if it's not a god-based one. The problem with atheists is that they don't really think about communicating with a proper label, what they are really for.
So this brings me back to your main question of whether an atheist can be a fundamentalist.
Because the true definition of atheism implies no pro-mandates, only non-mandates, in my mind there are therefore no fundamental rules of affirmation to follow, and therefore no possibility that an atheist can be a fundamentalist.
However, I suppose that others could argue that the deconstructionist (and yes, I'm using that term, because atheism deconstructs religion) principles of atheism could be thought of as constituting fundamentals of the atheistic process, that an atheist could therefore choose to adhere to those strict fundamentals only and be considered a fundamentalist.
The only problem with this notion is that I'm not aware that atheism has ever been formally articulated in terms of actual, standardized fundamentals and principles to follow, but that it is only a vague sense of rebuking of god-based religion. If this is true, then it has no fundamentals and the notion of "atheist fundamentalists" is impossible in honest practice.
Does this make sense?
(Edited by Orion Reasoner on 11/03, 9:38am)