Dr. Kathleen Taylor seems to think that advances in neuroscience will allow us to one day cure people of “certain beliefs.” The hypotheticals she uses are radical Islam, cult ideology, and the belief that it’s okay to beat one’s children. She says in the future we can see adverse beliefs that are detrimental to society as a mental illness and then begin steps to curing that mental illness. Of course, the darker aspect of this statement is that what is viewed as “detrimental” to society or as “fundamentalism” is completely subjective to to that society.
For instance, what if Richard Dawkins was in charge of deciding what is and is not “religious fundamentalism” or “harmful to society?” What if he was in charge of what constituted abuse to one’s child? If that were the case, then he would most likely attempt to cure anyone who had religious beliefs and label nearly all religious beliefs as a sign of mental illness. Alternatively, what if Paul Golding of the “Britain First” party gained actual power and had control over what constituted a “fundamentalist” belief? In that case, any and all Muslims or those who believed in supporting the EU or immigration would be the subject of “re-education.”
What constitutes a threat to a nation is subjective to the individual or group talking about the threat. To the Communist, all fascists are threats to the nation and radicals. To the Fascist, all Communists are threats to the nation and radicals. To the Libertarian, both the fascist and communist are threats to the nation and radicals. To those who adhere to orthodox Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, they hold to a stringent belief that their religion is the only correct religion. Such a belief, once commonplace in the West and a quite logical position to hold, is considered a “fundamentalist” viewpoint in the modern world.
What Dr. Taylor seems to support is the forcible re-education of anyone society doesn’t like. In other words, if the majority of people find you to be a fundamentalist, then it’s off to re-education for you. It is the tyranny of democracy, the tyranny of the majority wherein the minority is no longer protected, but persecuted. It brings to mind the political abuse that the Soviet’s used in their attempts to re-educate opponents.
Science has tried its best to divorce itself from religion, but in doing so it has divorced itself from morality and common sense. Science is a tool in life, but not the guide of life. We need religion and morality to teach us that human beings hold innate value. Science cannot speak for or against such a teaching, we must leave this teaching up to ethical philosophy and philosophical anthropology. Likewise, perhaps one day we can “cure” those we disagree with via scientific discoveries, but we should have the ethical restraint to avoid doing such a thing as it robs humans of freedom and dignity. But perhaps that just makes me a fundamentalist in need of being cured.