Below is a fascinating TED Talks by Leslie Hazleton, who has recently written a biography of Muhammad. She believes in order for faith to have meaning, it must be a questioning faith. Doubt is an essential ingredient to true faith. For the questions faith grapples with have no easy answers. Hazelton uses this insight as a springboard to criticize fundamentalism from the perspective of faith.
I admire this talk but I suspect a rationalist’s argument with fundamentalism will only convince the already converted. It’s impossible for the rationalist and the fundamentalist to meet as equals, the necessary starting point of an honest debate. If one does not share the common precepts of the fundamentalist, to challenge their belief is folly. For the fundamentalist to even accept rational arguments is to admit to fractures in his belief, which is to concede the debate.
The toxicity inherent in fundamentalism is that it so often engenders an absolutist response. As such, it builds on itself. Nonetheless, I see no other avenue but the one taken by Hazleton: Rally the rationalists and plant the seed of doubt in the minds of the fundamentalists.