Paul Wallace Claims Fundamentalism, Gnu Atheism, and Modernism Are All Doomed

In a blog post at RD Magazine titled, “Atheism is Doomed,” Paul Wallace draws a curious equivalence between fundamentalism and atheism for which he provides no evidence:

[T]he sound and fury of contemporary religious fundamentalism is the last desperation of a dying worldview. It is the final struggle before the inevitable end. . . . But religious fundamentalism is not the only branch attached to the dying vine of modernity. So too is the rigid scientism of the so-called New Atheists. . . . Any worldview, religious or not, that relies on the props of modernity — Enlightenment-style rationalism, an obsession with material evidence, extreme individualism — is doomed. Because modernity itself is doomed.

Now, let’s see. Religious fundamentalism, as a reaction to modernism, is doomed. Gnu atheism, as a defender of modernism, is also doomed. And even modernism itself is doomed.

Does Paul Wallace offer any evidence for his claims? No. Why would he? He’s so past the Enlightenment. 

But, then, does he at least give us his prediction of what will replace fundamentalism, gnu atheism, and modernism? Again, no.

Contra Paul Wallace, I think that Enlightenment rationality, argumentation based in evidence, and respect for the individual over the ummah (or whatever other Herderian community you might envision) aren’t going anywhere. Therefore, modernism isn’t going anywhere.

What evidence might I offer for this? Urbanization. The percentage of the human population living in cities is increasing every year. Urbanization favors the proclivities we tend to associate with the Enlightenment and modernism.

It follows that gnu atheism and fundamentalism aren’t going anywhere either. So long as Enlightenment modes of thought and modernism continue to advance, they will have friends and enemies. I’m not a gnu atheist (perhaps I would call myself a “gnu agnostic”), but, without the least reservation, I wish to associate myself as a friend of modernism and the Enlightenment.

I wonder why Paul Wallace does not.

Urban & rural population

Image source: UN Population Division.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to Paul Wallace Claims Fundamentalism, Gnu Atheism, and Modernism Are All Doomed

  1. This is kinda my field, and I suppose I should reply with something about postmodernism, Foucault’s anti-humanism, the socially constructed nature of truth, etc…

    But i’m too tired. Bed 🙂

    • santitafarella says:

      If you have any energy to return to this thread, please share your thoughts on this as a sociologist: why do you think modernism is in its death-throws (if you think it is)?

      —Santi : )

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