Sunday, June 20, 2010

Creationists on the march in Northern Ireland

The "teach the controversy" movement is not confined to the USA, as shown by recent events in distant Northern Ireland.  In that case, a group called the Caleb Foundation is agitating for creationism.  One of their targets is the Ulster Museum:
We fully accept that the theory of evolution is the view of the majority of scientists, but it is important to note that evolution is a theory and not a fact. A visit to the Ulster Museum would not give that impression. Indeed, the very clear assertion is made across the entire "Nature Zone", that evolution is a fact. This, presumably quite deliberate, error is further compounded by the complete absence of even the merest mention of any other theory of origins such as the Biblical account of creation, for which there is strong scientific evidence. 
Accordingly, they met with the Northern Ireland Cultural Minister who then took the demands for creationist inclusion to the museum, using the language of equality, human rights, and inclusion.
If Northern Ireland is to move towards a shared future on a genuine basis of equality and inclusivity, then it is only right that a publicly funded institution such as the Ulster Museum is fully and sensitively reflective of the various views of society as a whole - including those of evangelical Christians.
Not to be kept down, the group has also been objecting to tourist information about the Giant's Causeway.  This is an area of interlocking stone columns created 50 to 60 million years ago by volcanic activity.  And there is the source of objection, since some proclaim that the Earth is only 6,000 years old.

We could dismiss the Caleb Foundation as a small, fringe group, but the fact that they were able to get the Cultural Minister to advocate for them is a significant step in importance and power. 

We can pity the targets of their campaigns.  Scientists, educators, museum directors and others who are pressured to teach misleading and discredited information under threat of being called closed-minded and bigoted.   We can also work to improve the knowledge and critical thinking skill of those around us.

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