Lies and hypocrisy
Defamation is the communication of a false statement that harms the reputation of an individual, business, product, group, government, religion, or nation.
The conflict myth
The conflict thesis is the proposition that there is an intrinsic intellectual conflict between religion and science and that the relationship between religion and science inevitably leads to public hostility. The thesis, refined beyond its most simplistic original forms, remains generally popular. ... It was in the 1800s that relationship between science and religion became an actual formal topic of discourse, while before this no one had pittied science against religion or vice versa, though occasional interactions were expressed in the past. ... During the 20th century, historians' acceptance of the Conflict Thesis declined until rejected in the 1970s...
The flat earth myth
The myth of the Flat Earth is the modern misconception that the prevailing cosmological view during the Middle Ages saw the Earth as flat, instead of spherical. The idea seems to have been widespread during the first half of the 20th century...
The idea that medieval people thought the earth was flat appears to have spread in the late nineteenth century as a stick with which to beat the medieval Christian church, which is often blamed for restricting intellectual growth in the period. The myth also taps into people's ideas of "progress" and of the medieval era as a period of savagery without much thought.
No one before the 1830s believed that medieval people thought that the earth was flat.
There was scarcely a Christian scholar of the Middle Ages who did not acknowledge [Earth's] sphericity.
Wolfs in sheep's clothing
John William Draper, Andrew Dickson White, John Tyndall
This book has become something of a running joke among historians of science and it is dutifully mentioned as a prime example of misinformation in the preface of most modern works on science and religion. ... The flat Earth is discussed in chapter 2 and one can almost sense White's confusion that hardly any of the sources support his hypothesis that Christians widely believed in it. He finds himself grudgingly admitting that Clement, Origen, Ambrose, Augustine, Isodore, Albertus Magnus and Aquinas all accepted the Earth was a globe - in other words none of the great doctors of the church had considered the matter in doubt.
The wolfs and the sheeple
But perhaps the most intriguing focus of the book is the reason why we allow this error to persist. Do we prefer to languish in a comfortable and familiar error rather than exert the effort necessary to discover the truth?
But now, why did the false accounts of Letronne and Irving become melded and then, as early as the 1860s, begin to be served up in schools and in schoolbooks as the solemn truth? The answer is that the falsehood about the spherical earth became a colorful and unforgettable part of a larger falsehood: the falsehood of the eternal war between science (good) and religion (bad) throughout Western history. This vast web of falsehood was invented and propagated by the influential historian John William Draper (1811-1882) and many prestigious followers, such as Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918), the president of Cornell University, who made sure that the false account was perpetrated in texts, encyclopedias, and even allegedly serious scholarship, down to the present day. A lively current version of the lie can be found in Daniel Boorstin's The Discoverers, found in any bookshop or library. ... The reason for promoting both the specific lie about the sphericity of the earth and the general lie that religion and science are in natural and eternal conflict in Western society, is to defend Darwinism. The answer is really only slightly more complicated than that bald statement. The flat-earth lie was ammunition against the creationists. The argument was simple and powerful, if not elegant: "Look how stupid these Christians are. They are always getting in the way of science and progress. These people who deny evolution today are exactly the same sort of people as those idiots who for at least a thousand years denied that the earth was round. How stupid can you get?"
Andrew Dickson White, the founding president of Cornell University, vowed that this institution would "afford an asylum for Science" where truth shall be sought for truth's sake, where it shall not be the main purpose of the Faculty to stretch or cut sciences exactly to fit 'Revealed Religion'. It was not so much that university intellectuals were giving up the idea of a deity, but that for at least some influential voices, the deity was now defined as scientific method. The problem was rather that evolution as a grand scientific scheme was being used increasingly to undermine, rather than to support, traditional views of God and his design of the world.
Despite a developing consensus among scholars that science and Christianity have not been at war, the notion of conflict has refused to die.