If you were talking to a group of particle physicists and mentioned the word ‘fundamentalism’, they would assume that you were referring to Isaac Newton (who kept his belief in alchemy a well-guarded secret). To stem-cell researchers fundamentalism would mean going back to Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of blood. Post-Darwinians wouldn’t pass the time of day with Creationists.
Over six millennia of civilisation, fundamentalism was not only not a dirty word; the concept was the plinth, the fundamental basis, the trunk of the tree on which a system of beliefs was built and from which other branches grew. Saul of Tarsus, post-Damascus, was accused of violating the fundamentals of Christ’s teaching, but it was St Paul, not Jesus nor the upside-down- crucified Peter, who established the Catholic Church as we know it today.