Re: Religion(s)

Fred Pearl (fred@ACS.TAMU.EDU)
Tue, 9 Apr 1996 06:47:43 -0500

BM Howell writes:
>Do you, Dr. Kephart, believe it is the duty of the anthropology
>instructor to "teach" students that their religion is false and that to
>think otherwise is ethnocentric?

This is precisely why mythology should not have a burden of truth, they are
simply stories about what people believe (complete with a compendium of
literary elements such as heroes, foils, plots, themes, etc).
Anthropologists may sometimes themselves to be aetheistic but they
shouldn't be in the business of telling people that their beliefs are
untrue; even 1st year undergrads.

These issues seem to be gray within our own culture, which I think is a
topic of discussion worthy of itself. In America we tend to be teachers, so
it is our job to profess our beliefs to others, while in the field we are
ethnographers, trained to see, hear, and listen, but not judge.

Fred Pearl

Center for Environmental Archaeology
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-4352