Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist fundamentalisms are imitations of Christian fundamentalism. They all claim to be “the original, traditional version” of their religion, but none is more than a few decades old. (Christian fundamentalism goes back to the late 1800s, but even it only became significant in the 1970s.)

Fundamentalisms claim to oppose modernity, but actually are totally modern themselves. They are expressions of “systematic mode of meaningness,” in the language of the Meaningness book. That is, they try to found all meaning, via a network of justifications, on some primal Truth. This is a modern, Western idea; it is unknown in genuine traditions. In genuine traditions, authority rests in institutional continuity, not justifications. Fundamentalisms are radical new movements that claim special insight that obsoletes the “corrupt” institutional opinions—which makes them the very antithesis of tradition.

Genuine traditions have no defense against modernity. Modernity asks “why would you believe that?” and tradition has no answer (besides, perhaps, “we always have”). Modernity’s innovation was to construct systems of justification that answer all questions of meaning. Fundamentalisms try to rebuild their traditions into systems—in imitation of modernity.


I find the whole article fascinating, so please consider clicking through and reading.

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