Watching this video reminded me of the variety of both content and quality that exists, both in academia, and at the click of a mouse.
In this case, not a good thing. Only someone ignorant of history, or disposed to believing conspiracy theories would be taken in by this nonsense.
First, Stephen Harper, if he is anything, is a Fundamentalist. Unfortunately, many people use this term pejoratively, without really understanding it.
To oversimplify a bit, it all goes back to the Protestant Reformation. Apart from the political concerns, the reformation was about freedom from the church.
Before the reformation, in the west, priests presented themselves as the conduit to the divine. Catholics still hold to this (Traditionalist) view, which is why confessing, to a priest, is so important. Protestantism, rebelled against this, and asserted that even lay people had direct access to salvation through prayer and reading the words of the bible. No priest required.
This “common sense” view of salvation not only broke the power of the church, but also led directly to ‘biblical literalism”. Before the reformation only highly trained priests, and a few literate others, had access to the words. English translations, and the printing press gave a wider range of people access to the ‘word of god’. Later, in America, this literalism, or lay-interpretation of the bible, would be used against modernism.
Modernism is really a child of the European Enlightenment. Before the Enlightenment, Traditionalists would talk of the “Great Chain of Being”:
Regardless of how one reads Genesis, literal or not, an important distinction is made. Man has his place in a hierarchy; he was created separately from the animals, and is given dominion over them.
Now, to understand how this changed in the Enlightenment, you need to know one word: progress.
The theory of evolution, the industrial revolution, and even ‘the American dream’ of getting rich, were all part of this idea of progress, and improvement.
An eastern parallel was the shift from the Hindu caste system, as a ladder to nirvana, to the Buddhist idea, that regardless of caste, one could attain spiritual enlightenment in their lifetime.
Those who are paying attention, will note that evolution doesn’t actually work this way. Man is not the pinnacle, the most ‘evolved’. Rather, biological evolution tends to move sideways, its generally about adaptation to circumstance. Its not about progress towards perfection, or a goal.
The process of evolution is more in line with… wait for it… POSTmodernism. Contemporary ecology no longer refers to the ‘food chain’, because that implies a hierarchy that is not really present. Food web, better describes this. Some biologists are even questioning the somewhat arbitrary hierarchy of species. This doesn’t mean that differences don’t exist, but rather that the way we categorize is based on useful assumptions, not something implicit to the natural world itself.
A serious problem with postmodernism is that many people define it too narrowly, insisting that it belongs to this or that philosopher. However, there is postmodern architecture, art, quite diverse philosophy, and literary criticism.
A second problem is that due to the ‘science wars‘ of the 1990s, postmodernism is seen by many to be anti-science. Postmodernists may be critical of scientific ‘method’ and the modernist idea of progress, but this is quite different from throwing the baby out with the bathwater and dismissing the accomplishments of science entirely.
One important aspect of postmodern thought, is the prominence of contextual truth and subjective experience. If one were inclined to compare postmodernism and fundamentalism on a very superficial level this is where one might find similarity. And this is the tenuous link that appears to be the subject of the video.
The problem here is that fundamentalism doesn’t advocate for subjective/relative or context centered truth, but rather for absolute truth that is divinely revealed to the individual.
The difference isn’t trivial. It is central to both the fundamentalist and postmodern worldviews. Calling Stephen Harper a postmodernist is like calling Deepak Chopra a quantum physicist.
It is true that many fundamentalists are now using the language of both science and postmodernism to forward their political agenda, but that doesn’t mean that they are no longer fundamentalists.
If you are going to defend science you need to know where the criticism is coming from, and not just ignorantly charge into battle at the first sign of criticism.