The Knox County school board is in the midst of a controversy, having discovered that it has a biology book which refers to the creation of the world by the Judeo-Christian God as a "myth." This has upset enough parents to have the school board trembling.
As all good East Tennesseans know, God created heaven and earth and placed the sun and the moon and the stars in place during a six-day period about 6,000 years ago. Some people find this confusing unless you understand that God has a bizarre sense of humor.
For instance. He arranged for light to arrive on Earth seemingly from stars that are so far away the light would have to have started a billion years ago.
He evidently created a lot of bones of scary creatures and salted them around the earth in various places leading some people to believe in dinosaurs. There is no mention of dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden and the dinosaur fossils appear to be hundreds of thousands of years older than humans. If man was created the same week as everything else, how can this be?
There are people who think that the world was created by an intelligent being, a Creator if you will. But they also believe that the universe is billions of years old and that the account in Genesis is a wonderful metaphorical description of the event, but not a literal account. This reconciles science and religion and it is the position of many modern-day Christians.
The problem with this position is that it leaves these Christians in the position of seeing the Genesis account as, well, a myth. A wonderful, poetic, grand vision and one of the most creative concepts humans have ever produced. This description was created at a time before philosophy and science were even invented.
Seems almost divine, doesn't it?
But it is either the literal truth, which conflicts with what we know about physical science, astronomy and biology, or it's a mythical account and an attempt by early humans to understand their world and how it came to be. It can't be both.
There was a time when Christians were fed to lions, stretched on racks and crucified. Many of them had to flee their countries to seek religious freedom, including many of the early settlers in America. They suffered trials and tribulations for their faith. Many of them died for their faith.
It is a far cry from the "persecution" of Christians in America today. In most cases, as in the Farragut biology book case, it consists of having their feelings hurt.
The language in the Knox County biology book was brought to the attention of adults by students. It is obvious that these students are getting strong religious instruction at home and in church—as they should. Does anyone think a single paragraph in a biology book will shake their faith, change their minds, or overcome the instruction they are getting at church and at home?
School biology class isn't the place to deal with theology and neither agnostics nor fundamentalist Christians should think having public school teachers explaining religious doctrine is a good idea. The idea that schools "should teach both" ideas of creation is a dangerous fallacy. Teaching science should be about what is, leave the "how come and the who" to theologians and churches.
Let's don't even get started on the creation "myths" of the rather diverse population of Knoxville's non-Christians—shouldn't they get equal time? Are we to have a chapter on Amon Ra, Odin, Zeus and Vishnu? Why not? They figure in the creation of the world in various cultures. Surely we aren't going to say we will only teach Christianity in biology. Where does it end?
It's hard for the school board to deal with emotional and explosive topics like this one. But it can be a teaching moment. Stand up and do what you know is the right thing to do.
Leave the book alone.