The documentary about God’s wife/consort Asherah has aired across the pond now and a reviewer at the Telegraph shared his thoughts about it. He was slightly amused by the choice of ominous music and the choices of phrasing that were supposed to make it sound shocking enough to knock the pillars out from under Judaism and Christianity for good. Alas no. Much of what was peddled as news to “rock the foundation, or undermine the basis” of both faiths had already been published in a 2005 book with the same title as the documentary: Did God Have a Wife? by William G. Dever. The religions went on like usual, ignoring evidence from history and embracing faith as the guide.
Diverting though it may be to examine ancient texts and archaeological finds, as Dr Stavrakopoulou did, there isn’t much point trying to attack a religion using facts, because a religion isn’t built on facts. It’s built on truth, or at least what its followers believe to be truth. And they’ll go on believing it no matter how many foundations or bases Dr Stavrakopoulou attempts to shake or undermine.
I’m going to toss a review in here myself. At work this week, my friend showed me a book she’d just worked on. The language in it is an appalling hick vernacular but worse than that, Sandra Dutton’s Mary Mae and the Gospel Truth turned out to be a creationist chapter book for young children. That said, it’s gotten good reviews:
Sandra Dutton has written a gem of a book that explores the faith/science divide. Mary Mae loves her church life, but loves her school life as well. Her Mama’s mind is completely closed, and new information seems to genuinely scare her. Granny is such a breath of fresh air and an amazing character that she quickly became a favourite of mine. She has a thirst for knowledge just like Mary Mae, and she makes Mary Mae feel safe in her explorations. Because of the questioning of faith this book not might find as wide of an audience as it should, but readers will truly enjoy Mary Mae’s journey and her bravery. Dutton has the voice of the family down pat, and I think this could be an important book for those on both sides of the evolution/intelligent design debate.
The book embraces the idea that it’s okay to say God’s responsible for the fossils, so it’s okay to enjoy looking for them. I don’t think intelligent design should have made it to the threshold of a science class in the first place, so it’s not a book I’d feel like promoting. I don’t care for the idea of encouraging readers to feel comfortable giving God the credit, whether they support young earth, old earth, or whatever version of creation currently tickles their fancy. It’s not a view of the world supported by evidence, it’s all about trying to make facts fit faith. Fossilized during Noah’s flood, like the pastor in the book thinks, or only 100,000 years old like his wife thinks (page 125), it’s still not what the truth is. This book might promote the value of curiosity, but still puts God in charge of the whole process. It shouldn’t be coming down to a matter of opinion for which version you want to believe. Evolution is a lot more right than creationism will ever hope to be.
Sandra Dutton’s site for the book is interesting reading, though. She explains her choices about the language, the 1980s setting and such, bits of good review – including one from the National Council for Science Education:
Reviewing the book for RNCSE, David C. Kopaska-Merkel writes, “One thing I like about this book is its delivery through the persona of a child who is both passionate about her church and about science. She doesn’t reject either aspect of her life. She is as excited about the puppet show her Sunday School class is doing as about her interview with a trilobite for a school assignment.”
I guess for science educators, this will be an issue they’d face in their classrooms, so maybe having a book like this around to remind kids that science and faith can co-exist (to a point) would be worthwhile. I doubt the book will stop parents like Mary Mae’s mom (with less than great education herself) from thinking that they ought to educate their kids at home to avoid things they disagree with and don’t believe, but at least it’d show that their schools aren’t trying to make little atheists out of them though a devil inspired science curriculum. The aim really should be to get more kids interested in science and exploration. If people are left thinking science isn’t for the faithful, then people who might be really skilled at that are going to miss out, which means we’d all miss out in the end.
The more young people willing to get into science fields, the better, like a young prodigy featured in a story from last year. 14 year old Rui Song from Saskatoon dazzled judges at the Sanofi-Aventis BioTalent Challenge and walked away with the first place finish.