Culture minister in creationism row

Published Wednesday, 26 May 2010
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The Culture minister Nelson McCausland has come under fire for asking the Ulster Museum to give more prominence to alternative views on the origin of the universe.

The DUP minister wrote a letter to the museum's board of trustees urging them to consider "how alternative views on the origin of the universe and the origin of life can be recognised and accommodate in national museums".

"It was a request to the trustees asking is there any way in which you can reflect or accommodate the fact that here, in Northern Ireland, a third of the population would believe in either creation or intelligent design," Mr McCausland told UTV.

In his letter to the museum's trustees, Mr McCausland said he had "a common desire to ensure that museums are reflective of the views, beliefs and cultural traditions that make up society in Northern Ireland", including creationism, the Ulster-Scots and the Orange Order.

National Museums Northern Ireland has confirmed it received the letter and will give it appropriate consideration.

A spokesperson said: "I can confirm that the Board of Trustees for National Museums Northern Ireland has received a letter from Culture Minister Nelson McCausland and will give it appropriate consideration."

But critics say the minister had no right to interfere with the independence of museums.

Sinn Fein said Mr McCausland's letter was "wholly improper and wrong".

"Mr McCausland's letter amounts to undue political interference in the running of our museums, including the Ulster Museum", the Sinn Fein chair of the Culture, Arts and Leisure Committee, Barry McElduff, told UTV.

"It is wholly improper and wrong. It's unacceptable that a minister would engage in this type of political interference."

Mark Taylor, director of the Museums Association, said: "I have been working in museums over 20 years and I can't recall in the UK an example of such blatant political interference."

Brian Mc Clinton, from the Humanist Association NI, also told UTV: "I think the government has no right to interfere with the independence of a scientifically based organisation."

DUP representatives have been at the forefront of campaigns to promote anti-Darwinian theories.

Last year, McCausland's party colleague and North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey raised objections to notices at the Giant's Causeway informing the public that the rock formation was about 550 million years old, as, according to the Bible, the earth was created only several thousand years before Christ's birth.

Earlier this month the Ulster Museum was shortlisted for the UK's largest single arts prize. The Art Fund Prize annually awards £100,000 to a museum or gallery for a project completed in the last year.

(The poll was removed on Thursday at 3pm due to obvious irregularities in the voting pattern. The irregularities were the result of a malicious spam attack which threatened site security. As a result, the poll had to be removed.)

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Aaran Boyd in Bangor wrote (1,417 days ago):
There is no point in trying to argue with someone like Alex Lennox. He has obviously made his mind up what he wants to believe and no amount of evidence will make him pull his head out of the sand. As Gregory House said, if you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people.
MiDutch in Michigan, USA wrote (1,417 days ago):
Alex Lennox wrote, "MIDUTCH, supplied me with his shopping list of transitional forms, there were some I was already familiar with and knew had been debunked a long time ago, and not just by creationist but by others also; but there were some in his list that I was not familiar with so I had a look at them, as to be expected they to have been debunked, ..." Well, Alex Lennox will have to show where all of the transitional species on my list were debunked (outside of "creationist" websites) because pretty much all of the world's scientists and the vast majority of the world's population seem to have missed it. He goes on to present his argument against Pakicetus inachus by saying it couldn't be a whale because it looked like a wolf and was a terrestrial animal, NOT realizing or understanding that SCIENCE also says it looked like a wolf and was a terrestrial animal, but still in the lineage that eventually returned to the seas as whales. For more information go here to start and please note the information about the structure of the inner ear being found ONLY in Cetaceans. Merely repeating the information that scientists use to validate the Theory of Evolution, no matter how disparaging the intent or tone does not invalidate the Theory of Evolution. Besides, the list I presented wasn't for Alex Lennox anyway, it was for the readers who may be interested in actually learning what REAL science looks like and what the Theory of Evolution actually says. As for my being "ungracious, unkind, deliberately offensive, and ... resort[ing] to name calling", I will leave that judgement to others as well as whether I have "lost the argument". I would also ask the readers of this article and these comments to consider that while Mr. Alex Lennox may "criticize" the science, biology and the Theory Evolution all he wants, he has so far FAILED to present any research or empirical evidence in support of his "creationism". Unfortunately for him, this is NOT a new problem. In the MILLENNIA that "creationism" has been around, including an iron fisted monopoly on Western scientific thought from around the time Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire (often enforced upon penalty of death), it has UTTERLY FAILED to produce anything of scientific significance in support. And while he may ignore, dismiss and denigrate it all he wants, the truth of the matter, which anyone can verify, is that there are BILLIONS of bits of information, data and empirical evidence, studied and researched by MILLIONS of scientists and technicians, from EVERY scientific discipline, form EVERY religious denomination, in TENS OF THOUSANDS of museums, universities, research laboratories, excavation sites, observatories, hospitals, etc. all around the world. Anyone with access to the internet, a local museum, a local college or university or local library can EASILY find the vast amount of evidence that supports the biological Theory of Evolution as the best scientific explanation for the diversity of life that we see on planet Earth past and present.
Alex Lennox in Scotland wrote (1,417 days ago):
MIDUTCH, supplied me with his shopping list of transitional forms, there were some I was already familiar with and knew had been debunked a long time ago, and not just by creationist but by others also; but there were some in his list that I was not familiar with so I had a look at them, as to be expected they to have been debunked, unfortunately there are some like Midutch who are in denial and continue to religiously hold to these pipedream. Among his list of so called transitional forms were ‘Cats, Ants, Newts, Deer, snakes, which were exactly just that, Cats, Ants, Newts, etc, etc? BUT NO TRANSITIONAL FORM! Throughout this forum he have shown himself to be ungracious, unkind, deliberately offensive, and has resorted to name calling, all of which show that he have lost the argument. And what about his mythical walking whale? Fossil remains of the extinct mammal Pakicetus inachus, to give it its proper name, first came onto the agenda in 1983. P. D. Gingerich and his assistants, who found the fossil, had no hesitation in immediately claiming that it was a "primitive whale," even though they actually only found a skull. Yet the fossil has absolutely no connection with the whale. Its skeleton turned out to be a four-footed structure, similar to that of common wolves. It was found in a region full of iron ore, and containing fossils of such terrestrial creatures as snails, tortoises, and crocodiles. In other words, it was part of a land stratum, not an aquatic one. So, why was a quadrupedal land dweller announced to be a "primitive whale" and why is it still presented as such by evolutionist sources like National Geographic? The magazine gives the following reply: What causes scientists to declare the creature a whale? Subtle clues in combination-the arrangement of cusps on the molar teeth, a folding in a bone of the middle ear, and the positioning of the ear bones within the skull-are absent in other land mammals but a signature of later Eocene whales.160 In other words, based on some details in its teeth and ear bones, National Geographic felt able to describe this quadrupedal, wolf-like land dweller as a "walking whale." These features, however, are not compelling evidence on which to base a link between Pakicetus and the whale: - As National Geographic also indirectly stated while writing "subtle clues in combination," some of these features are actually found in terrestrial animals as well. See the rest of this at
Alex Lennox in Scotland wrote (1,417 days ago):
Neil Marron wrote: According to the creationist story, in the beginning God said "let there be light". But 3 days later he made the stars? If all light comes from stars then i must say that this intelligent designer doesnt sound very intellegent. Niel the Bible is a spiritual book and cannot understood by the canral mind. I found this, you may or may not find it interesting. Light on the first day of Creation by Richard M. Davidson As I read the account of creation in Genesis, I find that on the first day of Creation God said, “‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” (1:3, NIV). A few verses later, however, I read that on the fourth day of Creation week God ordered into existence “‘lights in the expanse of the sky... to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness’” (1:14-18). As a Bible-believing Christian, I wonder what was the source of the light that illumined our planet before the fourth day, if it did not come from the Sun. Havannah Beetson, Boroko, Papua New Guinea Several explanations have been given. One possibility is that God’s presence was the source of light on the first day of Creation. Psalm 104 is a stylized account of the creation story, and it mentions God covering Himself with “light as with a garment” in the section paralleling the first day of Creation (v. 2). During the first three days God could have separated the light from darkness (as He later separated light from darkness at the Red Sea, Exodus 14:19, 20). By God Himself being the light source for the first part of the week, He would be emphasizing the theocentric (God-centered), not the heliocentric (sun-centered) nature of Creation. This would forestall any temptation to worship the sun that might have been encouraged if the sun were the first object created. A second option suggests that the sun was created before the fourth day, but became visible on that day as the cloud cover was removed. This would explain the evening/morning cycle before day 4. The Hebrew syntax of Genesis 1:14 is different than the pattern of the other days of Creation. Verse 14 literally reads, “Let lights in the firmament of the heavens divide the day from the night” (not “Let there be lights…to divide…” as in most translations), perhaps implying that the lights were already in existence before the fourth day. The “greater” and “lesser” lights as well the stars could have been created “in the beginning” (before Creation week, v. 1; cf. John 1:1-3) and not on the fourth day. On the fourth day they were given a purpose,“to separate the day from the night” and “to mark seasons and days and years.” A variant of this view is that the sun and moon were created before Creation week, but in their tohu-bohu (“unformed-unfilled”) state like the earth (see v. 2), and on the fourth day were further formed into their fully-functional state (v. 16). A third suggestion is that God created the physical properties of visible light and the rest of the electromagnetic spectrum on the first day. This idea, however, is not satisfactory if the universe and light from other galaxies are older than life on earth. Several passages of Scripture suggest that celestial bodies and intelligent beings were created before life was brought into existence on this planet (Job 38:7; Eze. 28:15). In addition, the Hebrew syntax of Genesis 1:16 doesn’t require the creation of the stars on day 4, and in fact suggests that they were already in existence. A fourth suggestion is that the literary structure of Genesis 1 dictated the order of the days of Creation: the sun on the fourth day to provide the light on the first; birds and fish on the fifth to inhabit the air dividing the water on the second; animals on the sixth to live on the dry land and eat of the vegetation of the third. However, the symmetry seems reverse on the first and fourth days, since the light appears before its physical source. A fifth answer suggests that the Genesis 1 creation story is intended to undergird the monotheistic religion of Israel, in contrast to the polytheism of the surrounding nations. The story deliberately altered the relationship of the sun, light, and daily cycle to convey the power of the Creator God. For example, the term translated “greater light” was used rather than the Hebrew word for sun, to avoid any confusion with the pagan sun-god. However, both this and the previous answer rely on a figurative rather than on a literal understanding of the Creation narrative. Of the above options, the first two seem to be most in harmony with the biblical data. Perhaps a combination of these two views is possible: the sun and the moon may have been created (at least in their “unformed-unfilled” state) before creation week, but God Himself was the light source until day four. Genesis 1 is clearly intended by the author to be a literal account of Creation. (Note that the heading “these are the generations/accounts/history” is used in Genesis 2:4, as well as with the nine other sections of Genesis, indicating that the author intended the Creation to be taken just as literally as the rest of Genesis.) Part of suggestion four may also be true in that God seems to have artistically created in such a way that the first three days formed the tohu (“unformed”) mentioned in verse 2, and the last three days filled the bohu (“unfilled”) of verse 2. Part of suggestion five is also true in that God created in such a way (and had Moses accurately report the creation account in appropriate terms) to serve as a polemic against the polytheism of the surrounding nations. Regardless of the answer(s) preferred, the Genesis story refutes the worship of nature, including the popular sun-god. Light and the daily cycle were created by God and are dependent on Him. Later in the Creation week, God gave these responsibilities in the heavens to the sun and the moon, just as He passed on to human beings the responsibility for stewardship of the earth, its natural cover, and its creatures. Ultimately, the heavens, the natural world, and any human ability to control or thoroughly understand them are still totally dependent on God who alone deserves our worship. Richard M. Davidson (Ph.D., Andrews University), the author of several articles and books, is chairman of the Old Testament Department at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, U.S.A. E-mail:
MIDutch in Michigan, USA wrote (1,418 days ago):
And the same old "creationist" tactics continue. "criticize" the Theory of Evolution by IGNORING the vast amount of empirical evidence that supports the ToE and complaining that it doesn't explain every biological minutiae and then baldly assert that "creationism" is a better explanation without ever providing a shred of scientific research or evidence in support of "creation science". Odd that the "creationists" can so easily disparage the BILLIONS of bits of information, data and empirical evidence, studied and researched by MILLIONS of scientists and technicians, from EVERY scientific discipline, form EVERY religious denomination, in TENS OF THOUSANDS of museums, universities, research laboratories, excavation sites, observatories, hospitals, etc. all around the world, and yet think they can make an UNSUPPORTED claim that a few bronze age fairy tales somehow are more scientifically valid. Do they actually think this is still the dark ages where it was NOT possible for the average world citizen to access a world full of scientific information with just a few keystrokes and where the Biblical proclamations handed down from the pulpit (no matter how absurd) were theocratic law?
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