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Jun 21, 2006 Commentary
Fundamentalism and science

by Massimo Pigliucci

The many facets of fundamentalism. There has been much talk about fundamentalism of late. While most people's thought on the topic go to the 9/11 attacks against the United States, or to the ongoing war in Iraq, fundamentalism is affecting science and its relationship to society in a way that may have dire long-term consequences. Of course, religious fundamentalism has always had a history of antagonism with science, and – before the birth of modern science – with philosophy, the age-old vehicle of the human attempt to exercise critical thinking and rationality to solve problems and pursue knowledge. “Fundamentalism” is defined by the Oxford Dictionary of the Social Sciences1 as “A movement that asserts the primacy of religious values in social and political life and calls for a return to a 'fundamental' or pure form of religion.” In its broadest sense, however, fundamentalism is a form of ideological intransigence which is not limited to religion, but includes political positions as well (for example, in the case of some extreme forms of “environmentalism”).

Volume 5 • Issue 02 • 2006