Though I agree entirely with the statement in the book part of me wants to say that the man is actually right. If the text book is being offered as being based on science then it has no right to include statements on spiritual belief. It can offer that it is presenting a theory/idea that the editors/authors claim is logical and supported by fact.
Having tried to explain that I would like to be fair to all by the above statement allow me to ruin my credentials completely by offering that the gentleman seems to be an example of the American statistic that every third American weighs as much as the other two together.
part of me wants to say that the man is actually right. If the text book is being offered as being based on science then it has no right to include statements on spiritual belief.
Of course the problem with modern American creationism is that does not stop at spiritual belief. In America (particularly this part of America) the majority of the population are of the opinion that Genesis is a logical scientific theory, supported by factual evidence, and very few teachers are willing to relieve them of this conviction, on the contrary, many are trying to promote it. When spiritual belief is being encouraged to trespass so far into the domain of scientific study, this prevailing opinion should be explicitly corrected in a science text book.
I know where you are coming from with your objection, it's the same reason Dawkins refused to debate creationists, but this rebuttal is not being shouted out of the blue just to piss off Christians and be provocative. It is something that does need saying when so many of the population as so utterly ignorant. It's not really any different from saying, “it used to be thought that the earth was flat, but thanks to our study of the orbits of planets and so on, we now know this to be a myth”. Perhaps they should not have singled out Christianity, they should have just said it was once believed that the world was only ten thousand years old, but through science we now know this to be a myth, but that would be tiptoeing around this issue of astonishing Christianity-based scientific illiteracy in America.
I like to think such a claim would be inappropriate in Britain for the reason you suggest, but I'm not so sure these days. The creationism 'situation' does not seem to be going away just by scientists refusing to acknowledge it as a rival idea.
I agree with much that you say, Puke, especially that every opportunity should be made use of to promote the scientific version of how life started and developed.
I suppose it is the apparent wording that concerned me. If one is writing a book that sets out to be contentious one can put things in a contentious, even "belittling" way. But most such books are written for the already converted or to stir up the opposition.
If one writes a book that compares and contrasts the two versions, especially for school kids or students, one should give each the same respect, not even subtly belittle one by describing it in terms that use emotive words like "myth".
In a school text book one has to be very careful and subtle. I would say that it would be perfectly OK to introduce the book as, "A description of the story of life on Earth based on scientific theory and factual evidence" (assuming that it is not written to be deliberately contentious.) From what the man said I gather that it was that single passage the he found offensive.
This describes the book and promotes science and knowledge without offering anything that fundies can get their teeth into (assuming they don't just complain that such a book is sacrilege anyway). It does not have to compare it to the Biblical version, that would probably come up in discussion in class anyway and the tone of that discussion would have to be determined by the school policy on such matters. Far better to discuss such than try to hammer it into the kids. If some kids decide that God-did-it and science is crap that is up to them, it's their right.
I still say that to describe the opposing version in terms that are bound to tread on the feet of the fundies (them looking for any excuse they can find to get such books banned) if patently counter-productive - it puts the placing of the book in schools in jeopardy anywhere that there are fundies (just about everywhere in the US then).