Does anyone have any advice on how to gingerly deal with a literalist Christian line when it comes up in student work? When you need to give that work a bad grade because it is not good work? I am wary of this because a student at this university launched a high-profile lawsuit against a professor here, claiming that the professor wasn't respecting this student's fundamentalist faith.
I have in front of me a critical response to an article, in which the student is countering the author's claim that the Bible contains myths. (An offhand claim, by the way - biblical myth isn't the point of the article.) The student writes, "[t]his article is incorrect to say that this belief system is a myth." Erm. And then also says "God is the source of life to all" and talks about Adam and Eve as if they are his/her next-door neighbours, giving an account of what "actually" happened between them. Uhhhh. The student also says the article is characterized by "false pretences" and "should not have been published." I am not sure what to do with this, and I don't want to start up the culture wars in my classrooom. So far I want to say the following, which is likely guaranteed to further piss off the student and lead to the wars:
- Genesis may be an account of truth to you, but it also fits the standard definition of a myth - a story that functions as an explanatory framework or origin story. "Myth" is not by definition a pejorative term in this context, nor is it necessarily opposed to "truth."
- You "strongly believe in what the Bible shows": Adam was asleep when Eve was created, etc. But there is no evidence for the account of Eden that you give.
- You claim the article is characterized by false pretences, but have not provided a convincing argument for why they are false, since the counter-argument you provide is based upon speculation about what Adam and Eve were feeling and doing.
- The article "should not have been published"...?????
I can't believe I am getting into issues of empirical verification of the existence of figures from Genesis! What the hell?