The Giant’s Causeway: a bunch of hexagonal shaped rocks is Northern Ireland’s most famous landmark which attracts thousands of tourists a year. In the past primitive superstitious people with no understanding of science attributed its creation to the actions of a giant called Finn MacCool during a rivalry with a Scottish giant. We now all know that it was formed 60 million years ago from the rapid cooling and cracking of basaltic lava as it flowed into water.
Actually, not all of us know that. The primitive superstitious people with no understanding of science have raised their heads once more. The Causeway Creation Society is a new group championing a biblical interpretation of this famous geological formation. They claim it can’t be 60 million years old as the Earth is only 5000 years old and that it was actually formed by that old favourite amongst hard-line young Earthers: Noah’s flood.
They have lobbied that the Causeway’s visitor’s centre include a biblical perspective on the causeway, they would also like to see exhibits in the Ulster Museum altered to include biblical perspectives on dinosaurs. Forty years of violence hasn’t done enough harm to N. Ireland’s reputation, now they want to advertise to the country’s visitors that we are superstitious and backwards.
The Centre has also written to several assembly members and have put together a petition which they intend on presenting at the Stormont assembly. Are they a bizarre fringe group that will be ignored? If they were in England, Scotland or Wales the answer would probably be yes. Although there is a worryingly growing creationist movement in Great Britain, I don’t think it’s strong enough for these people to get any serious respect or influence. However, this is Northern Ireland.
By far the most religious part of the UK, we protested the Civil Partnership Act (it wasn’t that long ago homosexuality was illegal) and we have as our most senior religious figure a man who renounced the Pope as the antichrist (worth a watch).
Now that the Protestants and Catholics are no longer fighting with each other their extremists are able to unite to tackle their common enemies, evolution seems to be high on the agenda. Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party has been writing to schools in my own home town of Lisburn to encourage them to teach “alternative theories to evolution”. Our Arts and Culture minister Edwin Poots has made it clear that he believes in a literal interpretation of the Bible as do many of his DUP colleagues. Happily there is some resistance to this
“Lisburn wants to be known as a centre of educational excellence and not a medieval and inward looking town,”
Said Dr Quinn of St Patrick’s High School. Lisburn does have some very good schools whose reputation can only be tarnished by this farce. There seems to be less resistance from the protestant schools, even the highly respected protestant grammar schools, one of which was recently used as a venue for Answers in Genesis’s Paul Taylor.
Due to the religious divide in Northern Ireland most schools have a strong Christian ethos be it Protestant or Catholic and sympathy for creationist views will be easily found amongst many school’s board of governors. There are also plenty of people in the Stormont assembly and local councils who will support these creationist movements.
The people and politicians of Northern Ireland need to decide if they want to maintain their reputation for educational excellence or if Ulster says no to reason, science, education, dignity and international respect.