From Marianne Talbot, I have learned a useful expression: a self-sealing argument. This is an argument which cannot be refuted, because it doesn’t allow any counter-argument. Almost every fundamentalist argument is self-sealing. This is why, in the end, I concluded that fundamentalism couldn’t possibly be true. Some will accuse me of scientism for this, but I concluded that unless a belief is testable, there’s no point holding it. All will become clearer if I show you an example.
The worst insult a fundamentalist can ever throw at you is ‘unbeliever’. On the face of it, this is a very strange accusation to make.
Liberal Christian: “I don’t believe the virgin birth was a literal event.”
Fundamentalist: “A pox on thee, UNBELIEVER!!!!!!!!!”
LC: “Er… yes, I don’t believe that, so you could well describe me as an ‘unbeliever’ if you like.”
Fundamentalist: So you admit it! You are full of UNBELIEF!!!!1111!!!
LC: *puzzled face* Read the rest of this entry
Over the past six weeks, a commenter identifying herself as “Caroline” has been setting me to rights on fundamentalism. From these comments, I’ve deduced that she is (or possibly was) a home schooled student in Accelerated Christian Education, and a fundamentalist.
I’m also assuming that English is not Caroline’s first language (well, that’s the charitable interpretation). If that’s correct, I also infer that, in this instance at least, ACE has not worked well as a method for teaching English as a second language. What else can we learn from Caroline?