My “myth” take

So, the freethinking community is all abuzz over the case of a father who wants to ban a science textbook because it refers to the Biblical creation tale as “myth.”  Once again, it’s “accommodationists” vs. “militant” types, with most of the players familiar to those who follow such tiffs.

PZ has already weighed in, of course, as as Massimo Pigliucci (toward whom I confess a bias that may or may not be influenced by the fact that I once had dinner with him). And while I certainly don’t advocate giving an inch to creationists who are guaranteed to try to take a mile in response, I do have to admit that I think there’s something approaching a valid point.

A passage in a science textbook that explicitly calls a major religion’s teaching a “myth” is tangentially related to science at best, and at worst it’s a gratuitous slap that’s both rude and tactically unwise. Is the Bible’s creation story a myth? Of course it is. Is it polite to remind Christians that it’s a myth (especially when a significant minority of them don’t accept that)? I’d say no.

Catholics don’t refer to Jews and Protestants as “people who are going to hell” in polite conversation, even though that’s what Catholic doctrine says. And non-Catholics don’t politely refer to Catholics as “people whose donations have probably supported pedophilia coverups,” even though that’s an accurate description.

(pic via Living With Mormons)

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by nktrygg on April 21, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    I wonder what it will take to get science and religion to keep to their own areas?

    I think it’s time for religion to make a good faith gesture and just stop embarrassing themselves. They should stick with the supernatural stuff and withdraw from trying to caulk the knowledge gaps with god.

    natural and supernatural – each to your own corner and no spitting into each others well.

    and science can just be gracious and stop baiting them



  2. Posted by Brian E on April 22, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    So where were the Greek Apologists when I was taught Greek ‘Mythology’ in middle school? How DARE they refer to Zeus and Thor as myths!

    When millions of people in the country believe the ‘myth’, then the myth is NOT only ‘tangentially related to science at best’; it is unfortunately ingrained, and at that point it becomes part of science’s job to separate the truth from myth.


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