The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

Modernism Has Not Dispelled Myths

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Ours is an era when myths, legends, and conspiracies abound. Much of the dubious credit for this phenomenon is probably the result of the ever-present Internet. Mythological concoctions travel at the speed of light and find their way to open email inboxes where unsuspecting and gullible readers embrace them as the gospel truth. Alex Boese, author of The Museum of Hoaxes, writes that “Deception surrounds us everywhere: on TV, on the radio, in newspapers, and on the Internet. In its brief existence the Internet has become the great incubator of every lie, rumor, and half-baked idea imaginable. Internet message boards brim over with slanders and false allegations.”[1] But as he later demonstrates with a long history of examples, there is nothing new in pulling the wool over the eyes of the gullible. It’s been going on for a long time. In fact, the more unbelievable a story is, the more people want to believe it. In an odd sort of way, believing the absurd seems to bolster one’s faith. It seems that the less sense something makes, there are some people out there who will rush in to believe it.

Myths, legends, and hoaxes that have made their way into the history books—from the flat-earth tale perpetuated by Washington Irving in his three-volume History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus[2] and claims that the so-called Piltdown Man was an evolutionary missing link to the insistence by some that all the Moon landings had been staged[3] and 9–11 was a government conspiracy[4]—have been difficult to dislodge from our knowledge base. To this day, reports that “famed atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair is petitioning the federal government to ban all religious broadcasting”[5] still abound, even though she died in 1995[6]. Evolutionists continue to push the faked embryo drawings of German biologist Ernst Haeckel (1834–1919) that have been used for more than 140 years in textbooks as an accurate visual depiction of evolution in action, summed up in the phrase “ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.” Even after Haeckel’s drawings were exposed as fraudulent in his own day, in 2004 they “were used as evidence for Darwinism in the tenth edition of Starr and Taggart’s Biology: Patterns and Processes of Life; and in the third edition of Voet and Voet’s Biochemistry.”[7]

We generally hold on to the myth that science is something immune from the propagation and spreading of falsehoods. Careers, reputations, employment, tenure, and government funding often are behind the perpetuation of myths as scientific fact. While it’s generally acknowledged by Christians that evolution is a prime example of an iconic myth,[8] there are others. In his January 17, 1961 Farewell Address, President Dwight D. Eisenhower described how government grants might get in the way of what should be objective scientific discovery:

The prospects of domination of the nation’s scholars by federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present—and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, holding scientific research and discovery in respect, we would, we must always be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become a captive of a scientific-technological elite.[9]

To get to the point, people, even scientists, will do almost anything for money, power, and prestige—even lie! To put it more kindly, “like other people, scientists are interested in seeing their projects flourish, and their enthusiasm can blind them to the possible negative effects of their work.”[10]

Endnotes:

[1] Alex Boese, The Museum of Hoaxes: A Collection of Pranks, Stunts, Deceptions, and Other Wonderful Sotires Contrived for the Public from the Middle Ages to the New Millennium (New York: Dutton, 2002), 1.
[2] Jeffrey Burton Russell, Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians (New York: Praeger, 1991).
[3] Marcia Dunn, “Moon Hoax claims hard to stomp out,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (December 26, 2002), A6.
[4] David Ray Griffin, Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection and Action (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006). For a response to Griffin’s claims, see http://mu-warrior.blogspot.com/2006/08/official-presbyterian-publisher-issues.html.
[5] Doug Trouten, “Attack of the Fifty-Foot Hoax,” Charisma (April 1998), 68. For a detailed history of the supposed FCC ban, go to http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/fcc.asp
[6] The petition is cited as RM-2493. The petition still circulates, usually misspelling O’Hair as “O’Hare.”
[7] Jonathan Wells, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2006), 28. Also see Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2000).
[8] Jonathan Wells, Icons of Evolution: Science or Myth? (Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2000).
[9] Quoted in Patrick J. Michaels, Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media (Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 2004), vii.
[10] Ruth Hubbard and Elijah Wald, Exploring the Gene Myth: How Genetic Information Is Produced and manipulated by Scientists, Physicians, Employers, Insurance Companies, Educators, and Law Enforcers (Boston: Beacon Press, 1993), xiii.

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