Fundamentalism the oldest folly
Dictionaries define a fundamentalist as ‘one who believes in the literalinterpretation and the infallibility of the Bible’ as if fundamentalismwere unique to Christianity alone. This definition may be modifiedsome day, but, the problem of fundamentalism will continue to tormentus. Even the rationalists and the atheists are not free from its evilinfluence. The literal interpretation of the purpose of life assuggested by the religious books (pleasing god and striving for heavenetc.) does not appeal to them so they deny any purpose whatsoever.Before we embark upon the purpose of life, it would be prudent toresolve the old dispute about god’s existence. Believers say that godcreated the universe whereas the atheists say that it has come up bychance. Although logically, devoid of emotion, god and chance conveythe same human ignorance about how this beautiful cosmos cameabout. But, what distinguishes the two, in practice, is the element ofpurpose. When an atheist discovers a deep purpose in life his chancebecomes god. God or chance is, therefore, our choice depending uponour own mental states. We generally oscillate between them beforematurity.Now, for the sake of simplicity and immediacy, let us restrict ourdiscussion to the purpose of human life. And even among us, it wouldbe helpful to bear in mind, the purpose, as a member of species isdifferent from the purpose as an individual. Since each human being isas unique as his/her genes and environment, it is reasonable to acceptthat his/her purpose as an individual, too, is unique. After theseelementary reservations, self-actualization stands out as the generalpurpose for human life. Even the realization of self or enlightenmentis merely the process of self-actualization for some of us.Coming back to fundamentalism, after the hasty retreat ofrationalists from the domain of religion, the priests of every shadewere free to misinterpret the purpose of human life to the extentthat it became one for all - a blind adherence to a particular creed.This period when religion was a fig leaf for moral fascism is known inhistory as the Dark Age.