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ss triple helix - autumn 2000,  Six Modern Myths (Book Review)

Six Modern Myths (Book Review)

Six Modern Myths - Philip J Sampson - IVP, Leicester 2000 - £8.99 Pb 182pp ISBN 0851116590

This is a very important book. The author cogently argues that behind the six most common areas where Christians are criticised, there has been much misinformation, some of which has been deliberate.

It has been popularly said that the church in the middle ages was anti-science and suppressed the research of Galileo. Such stories have been spread by the writings of men like the rationalist eighteenth century historian William Lecky, the atheist philosopher Bertrand Russell, George Bernard Shaw and Bertot Brecht's plays. They all had their reasons to show the church in a bad light and were happy to be very selective about what they said. The author is very persuasive in his review of the evidence and shows that these writers did not present 'the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth'.

The presentation of the story of Darwin is even more disturbing. We have all heard of the debate between Thomas Huxley for the Darwinians and Bishop 'Soapy Sam' Wilberforce for the church at the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1860. The Bishop is often presented as a buffoon whereas the truth is that he was a very learned scientist who was vice president of that association. Far from being ignorant, he had already reviewed Darwin's 'Origin of Species' and there is no evidence that the Bishop was flattened by Huxley's erudition. The bias used in the presentation of much of the evidence in favour of neo-Darwinism is exposed.

This chapter then discusses the way that this theory has been the basis of some horrendous practices, based on 'eugenics'. If human life is simply the product of chance evolutionary forces, then the elimination of 'low grade stocks'of human beings, even if for political ends, can be rationalised, and then practised. The other myths investigated are:

  • The environment - is the Bible at the root of global exploitation?
  • The missionaries - was Christian mission a vehicle of colonial oppression?
  • The human body - is Christianity essentially repressive and 'anti-body'?
  • The witches - how true was the witch-hunt as an example of the subjugation of women?

When there is so much adverse publicity today, depicting as irrational those who still believe in a personal creator God who is concerned about how his world runs, it is very good to have such a scholarly paperback that gives clear replies. The book argues that it is not the Christian who is turning a blind eye to the evidence for and the consequences of such modern teaching. It also strongly suggested that there are some that want to alter people's understanding of what is true by presenting very biased evidence and perceptions.

It is written in a 'thesis' mode and subsequently can be a little 'bitty' in its flow, with references everywhere, but I am very grateful to have read it and will use many of the arguments put forward and the quotes used, in future discussions.

Reviewed by:
Bernard Palmer
General Surgeon in Stevenage

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