Faith Is Easy; Thinking Is Hard
I had the misfortune to hear a radio interview a couple of weeks back that was both hilarious and terrifying at the same time. On this little isle of ours, up north in Belfast to be exact, the Minister for Arts and Culture has recommended that the Ulster Museum include 'alternative views' on the creation of the universe.
Well, you ask, exactly which models does he mean? Newtonian? Lorenzian? Machian? All of these might deserve some mention as they each compete with the prevailing cosmological theory, famously known as the Big Bang.
He means the theory that 'God Did It.' Don't understand something? Who cares–God Did It. Not bright enough to challenge a mathematical genius like Lemaître (a Jesuit priest, no less) and formulate your own theory of the primaeval atom? No worries–God Did It!
While being interviewed on the Nolan Show (BBC Radio Ulster) Nelson McCausland, the aforementioned minister, bolstered his flimsy argument with suggestions that scientists/atheists were arrogant and disrespectful. This from a man who apparently claims to categorically 'know' beyond a doubt the eternal origins of the universe. A little hypocritical maybe?
The traditional mantra of 'let's teach the debate' was clumsily wheeled out and sounded just as flat as ever. There is no debate, not in the scientific community (even Richard Dawkins phoned in to clear that up). The only debate seems to be whether there is a debate or not (and there isn't!).
The real question is exactly where to allow a mention of Creationism. We have to be careful. While being a scientific museum for the most part, the Ulster Museum, in addition to its zoological, botanical, and other scientific exhibits, also provides some historical and cultural displays.
So, if it also houses some kind of interpretive cultural centre where the quirky folk tales and superstitions of unlettered yokels are recorded for posterity, then fine. Let them have their mention, no use in pretending Creationism doesn't exist.
But not in the Minerals, Rocks and Fossils area. Not in the Archaeology department. Not in the New Discovery Centres for children. Religious views are not scientific, how difficult is that to understand?
Those people who believe the earth is 6,000 years old, and that dinosaur fossils are just God's little prank, are not scientists. They look uncomprehendingly at the big, bad world and make up silly little stories about how things got here. That's fine for six-year olds but it's simply not science.
In a letter to the Belfast Telegraph, the Rev Philip Campbell weighed in on the Creationist side, claiming that it's a view
thoughtfully held by thousands of Christians.
Thoughtful? Did they really put much thought into it? Honestly. Thousands of people believe Elvis is alive too–and there's a lot more evidence for that. He would also like us to
consider the strong scientific evidence for the Christian position according to the Bible.
Seriously? Strong scientific evidence? I must somehow have missed that particular paper when it was published in Unscientific American.
You may think that this is just a storm in a teacup. You may say it's all a little silly but what harm can it do? But visiting a museum is a special activity, especially for the young. It's a place of heightened awareness, that oozes with the authority of a thousand of years of scientific progress.
Do we really want to add elements that are simply untrue? Should we give credence and a veneer of respectability to this dangerous hokum? Do we want our children to learn that facts can change simply because wishing makes it so? Do we want them to grow up without even the slightest curiosity about the world, since all the answers are already known–God Did It?
Well, I can certainly agree with the Reverend Campbell on one point, he demands that the
creation model of human origins be treated with appropriate respect.
Yep. I'm going to give it exactly the amount it deserves.