Galileo was tortured by the Inquisition because his discoveries did not jibe with church teachings. Charles Darwin hesitated to publish his work because he feared a backlash from clergy. Missionaries systematically destroyed native cultures around the globe. Millions of witches were burned in the Middle Ages because the church didn't want women to have any power.

All of the above statements have three things in common. One, they are frequently repeated in popular and even scholarly writing. Two, they portray Christians in exceedingly unfavorable light. Three, they are all false.

In the new book 6 Modern Myths About Christianity & Western Civilization (InterVarsity), Philip J. Sampson deconstructs such "modern stories of our place in the universe [which] cannot be regarded as history simply because they are recent texts." In addition to the four myths mentioned above, he tackles the notions that Genesis is an environmentalist's nightmare and that Christians loathe the human body.

Sampson traces each myth to its origins, often in the nineteenth century, then gives it the drubbing it deserves. Frequently even a cursory look at the historical facts uncovers fraud. For example, Sampson notes, Galileo was never tortured; he had servants during his imprisonment and died peacefully in his bed. Darwin was far more concerned about ridicule from his scientific colleagues than about opposition from Christians. Missionaries were usually the most vocal opponents of colonial injustices such as slavery, the liquor trade, and the abuse of native women. By the best recent estimates, fewer than 100,000 witches were executed in Europe and North America over 300 years of "witch-hunting," and the numbers were comparatively low in the countries ...

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