Item description for 6 Modern Myths About Christianity and Western Civilization by Philip J. Sampson...
Overview Here are postmodern stories that everybody believes are true but aren't! Offering an enlightening look at the complexities of truth, Sampson explores---and dispels---anti-Christian myths that even Christians accept as historical. He'll help you sort out fact from fiction in the "legends" surrounding Galileo, Darwin, the ecological crisis, the persecution of witches, and more.
Publishers Description When did you last encounter a myth? Maybe watching a movie, touring a museum or browsing the sci-fi section of your local bookstore? To contemporary men and women, myths seem mere relics of a premodern era--legendary stories of capricious gods, heroic deeds and lost cities. The physical and social anxieties that gave rise to myths have been dealt with more productively in our century by science, government and art. Right? "Not at all," says Philip Sampson. In 6 Modern Myths he shows that all societies, even sophisticated and skeptical societies like ours, nurture myths that distort both science and history to further cultural goals. Such myths are important guides to a society's understanding of itself. How often have you heard the story, for example, of plucky Galileo, armed merely with a telescope and reason, doing battle with a superstitious church only to be condemned as a heretic and harshly imprisoned? Even though most of the "facts" commonly assumed to be true about this story are just not so, the romanticized myth of Galileo boldly marches forward. Sampson dispels this myth and five others--that the rise of Christianity led to ecological crisis, that missionaries have oppressed native peoples, that Darwin's evolutionary ideas were embraced by scientists but vilified by religious leaders, that the church was responsible for persecution of witches, and that Christianity teaches the repression of bodily pleasures--all woven nearly inextricably into the fabric of Christianity and Western civilization. To tease apart historical fact from cultural fiction Sampson tells different stories, rich in historical detail, fascinating characters and surprising twists.6 Modern Myths offers you a historical tapestry that unsettles conventional wisdom and provides an enlightening look at the complexities of truth.
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Studio: IVP Books
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.22" Width: 5.46" Height: 0.58" Weight: 0.5 lbs.
Release Date Feb 11, 2001
Publisher IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN 083082281X ISBN13 9780830822812
Availability 0 units.
More About Philip J. Sampson
Sampson is a mediator, family court advisor and research fellow. He holds a Ph.D. in social sciences from the University of Southampton in England.
Reviews - What do customers think about 6 Modern Myths About Christianity and Western Civilization?
We need more books like this! Nov 22, 2007
What most people don't realize is that history is being re-written to make Christians (or "xtians" as hate mongers spell it) into the bad guys of history. Apologetics is the new frontier of Christian ministry, and this book should be on every Christian's reading list. I think you should buy two copies and give one to your local library. I'll stop short of saying if every Wiccan were made to read this book, it would probably be the end of their religion!
Great resource Aug 14, 2007
We tend to believe that mythology is only for the ancients. What this author demonstrates is that our society now has our own mythology surrounding certain influential historical events. If nothing else, the true Galileo story makes this book worth a read. The fact is that Galileo was going against the scientific consensus of his day. The church merely was supporting the scientific consensus of the day. And we all know what "scientific consensus" means....
A Cogent Rebuttal of Modern Anti-Christian Myths Aug 1, 2005
Social scientist Philip Sampson takes on six anti-Christian myths that are incessantly propagated through the news media, popular culture, the public schools, and academia. By "myth" Sampson means a story line in which a basic core of historical facts is altered - by addition, distortion, or subtraction - to create a picture in which Christianity is seen as a monolithic and destructive entity fundamentally hostile to humanistic values.
As timely as today's headlines, these modern "myths" include: (1) the story of Galileo versus the Catholic Church; (2) the ongoing Christian fight against Darwinism; (3) the pernicious influence of Christian missionaries on native societies; (4) Christian denigration of the body and sexuality; (5) Christian disregard for the environment; and (5) Christian persecution of witches. Sampson shows how in each case a generally accepted story has been created which seriously misrepresents the historical facts.
For example, in the chapter on Darwin, Sampson shows how the accepted story line of "Darwin and reason versus the church and superstition" overlooks the widespread scientific opposition to Darwin's ideas, both then and now, and the relative lack of empirical support for Darwinism. Moreover, Christians were not uniformly hostile to Darwin, nor were their objections necessarily based on Biblical fundamentalism.
Sampson also offers some interesting background on the famous Scopes "Monkey Trial," providing a much needed corrective for how that trial is often presented in the popular press. Even more to the point, Sampson shows how social policies derived from Darwinist assumptions - imperialism, eugenics, unfettered capitalism - were often OPPOSED by Christians.
And that is perhaps Sampson's major point: many of the attitudes for which Christianity is blamed are actually products of Enlightenment rationalism or Greek philosophy. Thus, the Indians were conquered not so much because Christianity demanded it but because modern, progressive, enlightened civilization demanded it; and if the environment is degraded, it is because since the Enlightenment we no longer see this as God's world, but man's, to do with as we please.
Sampson does not hide Christianity's historical sins. Rather, he puts them in perspective and shows how they often intertwined with other factors that are now overlooked. As a defense of a nuanced view of both actual history and intellectual history, Sampson provides an excellent antidote to the simplistic and bigoted myths which so often pass for fact.
Valuable book for defending Christian worldview Apr 23, 2004
Sampson has provided a valuable historical treatise for defending the historic integrity of the Christian faith from modern myths. He points out how key issues regarding Christian history have been distorted by non-believing scholars. Their efforts have been so successful, they have become modern myths accepted without thinking.
Get it. Read it. You'll love it.
Enlightening Sober History Jun 11, 2003
The overall theme of the book is fighting myths of Christianity with sober historical facts. He does not ignore the not-so-friendly aspects of those doing bad things in the name of Christianity. For instance he mentions the people killed in witch burnings is appalling and admits there were some missionaries that did more harm than good. But he does let readers know legitimate and relevant information of history that paint a rather different overall picture than what many popular myths have insinuated. Some of the historical information he presents might raise an eyebrow or two. Below are a couple of examples.
Some myths of Galileo made it appear that this scientist had the scientific facts on his side and that the Church was against heliocentric theory, ignoring the scientific evidence, for religious reasons, thereby making this a simple "science vs. religion" dispute. To give a taste of what he says, what the author puts into light is that the secular scientists of that era were actually against heliocentric theory, the evidence supporting heliocentric theory had not yet arrived, and that the Church really didn't care much about defending geocentricism at all, pointing out that it had let Copernicus publish the idea before Galileo was born and that many of Galileo's supporters were in the Church rather than among secular scientists. The motives behind the Catholic Church forcing Galileo to renounce heliocentricism and the lenient punishment are also explained, though the explanation of motives could have been done more thoroughly. While the Catholic Church is not portrayed as perfectly saintly, the notion of the whole conflict centering on "science vs. religion" is refuted fairly well.
The witch craze is put into perspective with some surprising facts. The number of witch trials was lowest precisely where the Church and the Inquisition were involved. The Church was also more skeptical of witch accusations than one might expect (the more radical ones anyway, such as claiming to have slept with Satan), and the author provided examples to illustrate that point. In the so-called burning times, the substantial majority of towns and villages never experienced a single witch trial. While he acknowledges that the number of people died in Europe, North America etc. (most recent estimates total to about 150 to 300 people per year, a total of 40,000 to 100,000 overall; he mentions that some exaggerations of the numbers have been falsely stretched into the millions) is a terrible enough catalog of human suffering, he puts it into perspective with the far greater amounts of bloodshed in recent history. For instance, the Battle of Somme in 1916 killed a million people in five months, twenty five thousand the first day. The point is reinforced with several more notable historical facts of the twentieth century.
What is somewhat disappointing is that he goes into a little, but only a very little, into how these myths emerged. I would like to have learned more about that in a book such as this. Another possible flaw is that on the section of Darwin, he mentions that the acceptance of Darwin's theory was patchy at best (which is in fact true), but what he leaves out is that most (though certainly not all) still nonetheless accepted some form of biological evolution; many scientists accepted evolution because of the book yet rejected Darwin's theory of it. This may have inadvertently left a false impression in the mind of the reader. All things considered though, the benefits and enlightening historical data still outweigh its possible flaws and I highly recommend this book to those who have a historical interest in Christianity, as well as those people who have been suspicious of such anti-religious claims of Christian history.