Term applied to strictly conservative religious belief; in Christianity it holds the entire Bible in its original languages to be free from historical, theological, and scientific error. Fundamentalists oppose the teaching of evolution and all concessions to modern thought embraced by liberal Christianity. They tend to emphasize the demands of personal morality rather than social issues. The term derives from a series of tracts which began to appear in the USA in 1909 and which affirmed five fundamentals of faith: the verbal inerrancy of scripture (which is primary), the divinity of Christ, his birth of a virgin, a substitutionary theory of the atonement, and the physical resurrection and bodily return of Christ—doctrines dependent on the primacy of the first; not defended as Christology, or theodicy, or soteriology, but on the sole authority of the written word of scripture. Christian Fundamentalists maintain that being inspired by God (who cannot err) the Bible offers totally accurate history. The authority exercised by Jesus among his disciples is available in the Bible, so that the OT account of the origin of creation is more acceptable than a theory of evolution by natural selection. God has not revealed everything, but what he has revealed we can know with certainty. Fundamentalists distance themselves from theological sophistication, and what some call ‘neo‐fundamentalism’ defends biblical inerrancy by means of what opponents suspect as rhetoric rather than mainstream scholarship.
Fundamentalism is a target for modern atheists, who attack it for its chauvinism, intolerance, and anti‐intellectualism. Theologians have argued that there also exists an aetheistic fundamentalism which is equally bigoted in its dream of a perfect human society achieved through science and rationalism while being blind to human corruption and capacity for evil.