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CREATION MYTHS

A few years ago, when I was visiting friends in Colorado, my host suggested going for a walk in the foothills of the Rockies. I readily agreed. We were accompanied by a friend of my host, a university-educated woman in her forties.


As we walked, I looked at the towering mountains around us, with their rock strata clearly visible, and said “Isn’t it extraordinary to reflect that what we are looking at took literally many millions of years to be formed?”


“Or it might have happened very quickly”, said my host’s friend, “because of pressure”.


“What do you mean ‘pressure’?”, I asked.


“The strata might have been created very quickly, by the pressure of God’s hand,” she replied.


I was stunned. I knew that there were still people alive, even in a modern society like the US, where people believe that the universe was created a few thousand years ago, but I did not expect to meet such a person, aged in their forties, with a university education, at the end of the 20th century.


But then I came across a survey of opinion conducted in the US in 2008. People were asked which of the following statements came closest to their views on the origin and development of human beings:


• Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process.

• Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in the process.

• God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.


Astonishingly, 44% of respondents in the survey chose the third option, indicating that they believed humans had been created by God in “pretty much their present form” within the last 10,000 years.


I consoled myself that New Zealanders would be much better informed.


But recently my attention was drawn to what appear to be officially approved notes for primary school teachers teaching science. After explaining the orthodox view of the “water cycle” driven by the sun – with water evaporating, rising into the air, condensing in the atmosphere’s cooler temperatures, and eventually falling as rain – the notes explain that


in a Maori world view, life began with the separation of Ranginui (sky father) and Papatuanuku (earth mother). From them emerged the various atua (gods).


Aspects of the water cycle are beautifully represented in the story of Ranginui and Papatuanuku. Rain is represented as tears while mist is explained as the sighs of Papatuanuku. The waterways are created by the tears of Ranginui and Papatuanuku….


Tanemahuta and Tangaroa are the children of Ranginui and Papatuanuku. Tanemahuta is the atua of the forest. He created the plants and animals that inhabit the forest (including humans)…


In a Maori world view, all things in the natural world (eg. streams, rivers, mountains, plants and animals) have their own mauri (life force).


I don’t know of course how many New Zealand school children will get stuck with the myth that Tanemahuta “created the plants and animals that inhabit the forest (including humans)”. Most grow out of the myth that Father Christmas travels the world on Christmas Eve distributing presents to reward good behaviour, so perhaps I shouldn’t worry too much.


But it’s depressing that we teach myths like that in a school system which in principle is supposed to be entirely secular. There would rightly be an uproar if we found teachers telling our children that the world was created by God within the last 10,000 years, even if we hoped they would grow out of that myth as they grew older.


Is it any wonder that New Zealand’s performance in international assessments of Year 9 children in Maths and Science has fallen in recent years, and is now below the mid-point of the international results in both subjects?


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133 Comments


KT
KT
Jul 07, 2021

I just wanted to add a further thought on the matter of religion. It seems to me that, as people universally grapple with issues of life (and meaning), so they universally will seek to incorporate within their worldview answers to existential-type questions. We understand the world in complex ways, because the world is complex. We apply filters that shape understanding, and the ultimate and overarching filter is an ontological one. This is where we make decisions about purpose and meaning ... ontological knowing is subjective because its subject matter cannot be measured, multiple world-views thus compete in the public square. I have noticed that movements we would not normally consider religious, have features of religion embedded in them, …


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davidwharwood176
davidwharwood176
Jul 08, 2021
Replying to

cant help thinking you could apply all of this thinking to big business and you would come out with about the same conclusion

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tjalling.jonker
tjalling.jonker
Jul 06, 2021

..... on the upside, all kiwi kids will be well versed with the collected works of marx and engels to name but two prominent communists. who needs maths, adopting utopian philosophies on economics, financial management? 🤣😂

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Al Man
Al Man
Jul 06, 2021

Isn't it extremely interesting how education guidance has restricted Christian education in schools, given the Judeo-Christian culture helped form about all of our culture and legal systems.


And then we get Maori religion made compulsory on it children.


Interesting to consider the double standards in play.


Yet more segregation and cancel culture underway.

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Unknown member
Jul 21, 2021
Replying to

Maybe but having neither is also evens stevens.

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I think recent events (gloabl warming/climate change and Covid) clearly show that a questionable narrative can gain promenince. I believe Dawinism got the same treatment but without the regulating feature of the internet. I'm no fool, but as an academic in first language aquisition I can tell you that there is no way our ability for language evolved.

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As a person of faith, I would much prefer my children were taught maths, science and English in school, ahead of religion.


Our schools are currently failing to teach much of anything, aside from Leftist ideology. Teaching *how* rather than *what* to think would be a good start.

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