Fundamentalism, Secularization and the ‘Three Religions of the Book’

Date: 09/25/2013
Time: 4:15 pm - 6:00 pm

Location: John Hope Franklin Center Room 240

Speaker: Christina von Braun, Institute for Cultural Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin

Phone: 919-681-3262


Join the Center for European Studies for a seminar presented by Christina von Braun.

Usually, fundamentalism is considered a phenomenon of religion, and indeed it is mostly so. Yet, taking a closer look at the characteristics of fundamentalism it becomes apparent that this can hardly be the case. A common trait of all forms of religious fundamentalism – be they Jewish, Christian or Islamic – is a deep set belief in the ‘truth’ of the Holy texts. This characteristic described as ‘literalism’ takes the text as describing historical truth, rather than being understood as an allegory for religious beliefs and their historical development. With the age of Enlightenment ‘literalism’ begins to the belief in the absolute truth of science. And yet, Enlightenment was a way of thinking that developed within Christian culture and traditions and carries many of its religious heritages into the secular world. Moreover, the history of literalism is more deeply rooted in Christian thought, based on a full (vocalized) alphabet, than it is in the other two ‘Religions of the Book’ where the Holy texts are written in consonant alphabets. The talk will focus on the influence enlightened ‘literarism’ had on fundamentalist movements in the three monotheistic religions.

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