I was listening to an Aboriginal women speak about indigenous rights and the government. She made a few references juxtaposing Christianity and their beliefs. For example, it is perverse and uneducated to think Adam and Eve (and their children) could populate all of man. Immediately after she went on to talk about Turtle Island which is the belief that North America is on the back of a living turtle (I know wikipedia says it's just an Aboriginal name for North America, but the speaker definitely stated her people believe it to be more than that).

What world would be used to describe the speakers attitude or speech towards Christianity? At first I thought it would be racist but then I realized religion has got nothing to do with race. Also she did not necessarily say it's inferior to another. Is my understanding correct: that by definition for something to be considered racist it must make a generalization about a race (usually based on skin colour) and say it's inferior to another? What would a better term be used to describe the way Christianity was disused?

  • Aboriginal meaning from Australia? Or do you mean Native American, because that's small A aboriginal.
    – David M
    Feb 25, 2014 at 14:56

5 Answers 5


I am afraid that this question invites mostly opinion based answers, because the question itself is immensely opinionated.

However, the adjective "opinionated" could be used for what the woman was saying.

The speakers attitude towards Christianity is one that could simply be called rational, and possibly judgemental. But while holding on to the assumption that one religion's supernatural claims are more valid than another's it will be impossible to objectively discuss this from a language point of view.

edit: I may have misread the last question as implying that it is strange to reject an "accepted " religious view in favour of another.

As the comment states

My point was on one hand they use science when it's convenient to them, and on the other abandon it.

I would simply call that religion, or religious zealotry.

Not because the word religion is coined to describe this behaviour, but because it is an incredibly common attribute of religion to show this kind of behaviour.

But there we do go into opinions anyway, I am afraid...

  • I don't understand how turning the question around show's that it's invalid. My point was on one hand they use science when it's convenient to them, and on the other abandon it. Though I agree this may be an issue language may not resolve
    – Celeritas
    Feb 25, 2014 at 8:55
  • I may have misread your question, please see my edit.
    – oerkelens
    Feb 25, 2014 at 9:01
  • 2
    I would call that "human nature", not "religious zealotry". ;-)
    – Hellion
    Feb 25, 2014 at 14:12

How about calling it what it is: "reality" ?

Yes, most religious people get defensive or hostile when their fundamental tenets are described as mythology, but that's their problem, not the speakers. If you haven't read them, grab Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth books.


This person is simply ignorant of basic geography and plate tectonics, at least on a global scale.

  • Ignorance is the basis of all religion. If we start discounting that … well …
    – David M
    Feb 25, 2014 at 14:57
  • 1
    @DavidM My point is that you don't have to associate this behavior exclusively with their religious (or other) beliefs. It would be interesting to see the effects if we had global efforts from the perspective of reducing scientific and factual ignorance rather than the perspective of "attacking" a religion, for example.
    – TylerH
    Feb 25, 2014 at 15:05
  • See my answer below.
    – David M
    Feb 25, 2014 at 15:28

Consider the term chauvinism

unreasoning devotion to one's race, sex, etc. with contempt for other races, the opposite sex, etc

The term can be applied to many different personal characteristics (either ascribed or acquired), including race, religion, gender, nationality, hair color, etc.

As to your final question, the difference between magic, miracle, and misdirection is in the eye of the beholder. Many people hold multiple views that seem wholly congruent to them but irrational to an observer. Most religions require an acceptance of unprovable tenets (often characterized as demanding faith). That doesn't mean that the adherents have to accept every unexplainable phenomenon or claim.


I believe that what you are seeing is known as fundamentalism.

Religious fundamentalism is the strict adherence to the core tenets of any religion to the exclusion of all others. (And, hence the immediate discount of all others.)

This person's beliefs are valid. (I believe I'm legally required to say that!). And her view of the world creation myth is real enough to her to make yours seem utterly ridiculous.

In fact, you are experiencing a shade of fundamentalism yourself. While you may not inherently believe that Adam and Eve created all human life, the idea is less preposterous to you than another belief system that is not the fundamental one you grew up hearing.

I would argue, sub-conciously, you have created a tier system for how you view religions. And, given that you seem to not believe in the Judeo-Christian ethos (mythos seems insulting here, but apt?), you've assigned it a low tier level of ignorance based upon your familiarity. Next we have other belief systems to which you have ascribed a higher tier of ignorance (at no fault of your own).

Keep in mind, I'm not calling you a monster or any such insult. This is a NORMAL human thing to do. We compartmentalize our world into things we feel we understand, and those we do not.

  • Fundamentalism is inherently religious (it was even coined by religious people to talk about religion); I'm not sure if you're trying to say that OP is experiencing a shade of fundamentalism in a secular sense, which is why I bring it up. Also, you might be assuming too much by claiming to know that the OP views Adam & Eve as "far less preposterous than" say, a giant world-bearing turtle.
    – TylerH
    Feb 25, 2014 at 15:37
  • @TylerH That might be true. I will scale it back a bit. But, he is experiencing fundamentalism even in a secular sense, because it is his world view that colors his opinion of why this other point of view is at least equally-preposterous to him. Fundamentalism can be experienced by secularists because they still rely upon their frame of reference.
    – David M
    Feb 25, 2014 at 15:39
  • I disagree that fundamentalism can be used non-religiously in this sense.
    – TylerH
    Feb 25, 2014 at 15:41
  • @tylerh You've never heard it used in sports? In any case, I am using it to describe religion. Regardless of whether you are a firm believer in that religion, you will tend to value the core beliefs of the religion you are familiar with over others.
    – David M
    Feb 25, 2014 at 15:41
  • Nope. Which sports? I've heard of fundamentals, but that word has entirely different meanings than fundamentalism. The term is only from the 20th century and it was coined to refer specifically to literal religious beliefs.
    – TylerH
    Feb 25, 2014 at 15:44

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