Is Nelson McCausland overstepping his remit?

Culture minister Nelson McCausland has written to the trustees of the National Museums Northern Ireland asking them to give more prominence in their displays and exhibitions at the Ulster Museum to Ulster Scots, the Orange Order and alternative views as regards the origins of the universe specifically creationism.

The letter, written as part of a consultation for the Ulster Museums business plan for next year (Shared Future Strategy) has led to the Director of the Museums Association Mark Taylor to state that the minister has overstepped his remit by going into too much detail in his request and should not be trying to influence what is exhibited.

Given that the Museum has been shortlisted for the prestigious art prize fund (don’t forget to vote) it would seem pretty bloody obvious that the curators and custodians of the Museum (who are world class professionals) are doing a good job and don’t need any interference from a Minister (and dare I say) his old fashioned (and mythical?) views.

edited to add

Minister McCausland on the Nolan Show stated his disappointment that the letter had been leaked. He also stated that he would be failing in his ministerial responsibilities if he didn’t try to ensure in the interests of  equality and cultural rights that  ALL of Northern Irelands citizens were reflected in the museum saying it was a human rights issue. (Does that mean that the small number of BNP/C18 members should have an exhibition?) He mentioned 4 points that he had raised in the letter but only got to mention 2 of them, namely that the Orange Order and other fraternal organisations should be represented at the museum and that (the more contentious theory of) Creationism should be also represented.  Richard Dawkins was also on and asked if the Minister was so worried about inclusivity would he also be asking for the ‘Stork theory’ of evolution to be taught along with other “Crackpot theories”.

The minister went on to say that by far and away the most number of requests he received as minister responsible for the museum, was to do with the representation of the OO and reiterated that  he had raised the issues in the interest of equality and human rights.

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  • joeCanuck

    That wouldn’t work since it would require the guard to work on the Sabbath. Just put him in a darkened room and play soothing music. Maybe even show pretty pics like in Soylent Green.

  • Peter Fyfe

    It does annoy me he is using a highly paid public position to sneakily challenge the evidence based findings of history, geology geography, physics and chemistry for his own claptrap. However the most annoying aspect is how other parties have no objection to this. I know the reasons have been speculated on and I have to admit I nodded along in agreement with the reasons but is this acceptable from ministers in charge of Health or Education that the scientific method should be disregarded? That British Israeli stuff is a bit out of hand, does anybody in the royal family support spurs? Just to see if their is any evidence, of course.

  • We’re setting up a petition for anybody who really thinks Nelson’s gone too far with the creationism thing. You know, science being right and all that.

    You can sign here if you fancy.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Theres no need for the other Parties to get involved. Nelson is doing fine on his own.
    If he is “attacked” on this then a siege mentality sets in….God fearing Nelson attacked by Papists and Athiests. Thats the headline that HE wants.
    Better reaction is to let him wallow in RIDICULE….its the drip drip effect of Ridicule which will facilitae people saying “these people are crazy” and those who the gods destroy they first make mad.

    Thats the beauty of parity of esteem.
    Men with guns get into power. And people without guns have to live with it.
    Crazy people get into power and sane people have to live with it.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    No way can I sign this.
    It is the duty of our politicians to provide us with entertainment. Nelson McCausland is to be admired and supported as a National Treasure.

  • JoeJoe

    Nelson is a present to nationalists, that just keeps giving. We need more nutty unionists like this.

  • sdelaneys

    Mr J,
    how dare you sir, it’s a well known fact that electricity and beach balls were invented by Lucifer.
    Jesus only invented bakelite and chips. I read it in an OLD book once so it must be true.

  • I’m not sure whether this is purely funny, or, we should be genuinely scared.
    I don’t think Nelson gets the concept of sharing (for more see my blog on

  • Mick Fealty

    Nice piece of ‘demagogic simplification’ there Joe. Have you got an actual reason for calling for Robinson resignation?

  • Greagoir O Frainclin

    Should just have a Unionist Museum … where there can be a special place for the bible, and god, and the covenant and the Ulster covenent, and the Union Flag, and Rangers, and Adam and Eve, and Moses, and the Planters, and Planters Peanuts and Nuts etc etc

    Come on folks, is there a sizeable number of Unionists who believe in Creationism? Shake off them old shackles.

  • There’s been a few reference to Nelson being a wind up merchant which i simply don’t see. As far as i can tell, he was being serious with this insidious request.
    I agree with Joe Canuck there does seem to be more than a hint of nudge nudge wink wink with this request particularly with it’s timing and the possible budgetary cuts ahead of us all.
    This leads me to the fact that this case is as clear an indicator that there really should be a separation between state and church. Furthermore the lack of raised voices from thon un’s up the hill to speak out against McCausland does indicate a willingness by the other parties to go along with our Culture minister and his particular (and peculiar) beliefs for the sake of keeping themselves in power.

  • I think the limited comment (the Beeb include quotes from Thomas Burns of the SDLP and Barry McElduff of SF) is because this is a story that tells itself. The silence is probably more eloquent since more voices would dilute the identification with Nelson. Obviously, none of colleagues have felt obliged to jump in and defend him, not even to wave a bible around at us.

  • meagain

    How about this for a shared future. Churches should be compelled to give sermons about Darwin’s Evolution of the Species. Not happy with that Nelson? Ok you can’t argue with state funded schools being compelled to teach evolutionary theory. Oh, but you already have argued against it, which is why state primary schools here in NI do not teach it, but happily ram Christianity down young people’s throats. Let’s face it, we are condemned to being a backwater as long as these dinosaurs are in charge. Sorry, I forgot, there’s no such thing as a dinosaur!

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Oh I think I know a Wind Up Merchant when I see one 🙂
    but hes a WUM in the sense that he fully “believes” what he is saying BUT ALSO is aware of its impact on a target audience……
    in this case his prime targe is not Irishness or Republicanism but rather the elitism of the Artsy and Cultural Crowd.
    And lets face it, they are a target worth winding up because of the serious way they take themselves. So good luck to Nelson.
    And frankly petitions to have him removed and all that stuff is music to his ears

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Good to see Tommy Burns back in the public domain.
    I suppose its ok to ask him about that trip to Afghanistan now.
    It should be no concern of Nationalism/Republicanism that the prime defenders of unionism are a bunch of weirdos. The more the merrier I say.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Incidently how many of these people who quote the Bible know that there are TWO Irish cities named in the Bible?

  • joeCanuck

    You misread me , Mick. I said Robinson should reassign Nelson, not that he should resign.

  • Nick

    McCausland is an embarrassment to his party, his country and himself.

    This creationism gibberish is a disturbing undercurrent still prevalent in Northern Irish society.

    And just think… if only people bothered to read a science book, or two, then this incident would get the unified, scornful and legitimate derision that it deserves.

  • joeCanuck

    Ballyjamesduff and Ballybackofbeyond?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Joe Canuck…….the two Irish cities in the Bible are SodThem and Begorrah.

  • joeCanuck

    I thought it would be something like that. I thought of Sodom and Gomorah … but couldn’t make a connection.

  • sammymehaffey

    Or perhaps a national relic.

  • apollo293867

    We need to get on and finish the job, it is time to put bibical literalism where it belongs. As Audi says Vorsprung Durch Technik

  • Fretjumper

    Is the bible wrong ie Creationism, 7 days, Adam and Eve? If so why do people rattle on about it and take it to be true? Perhaps it’s wrong about lots of other stuff too ie esp Book of Levitcus, completely bonkers. Why do people read it at all? Science is provable, evidence based knowledge gathered over years. Seems reasonable to believe that. Why does the bible tell us this nonsense? Who wrote it? When? Who are the people promoting this book if it is NOT TRUE? This begs the greater question about faith. How closely dare we look at any belief system? Catholics – pretty bound up in God too, Virgins etc etc, Protestantism – so many types, look at Nelson as an example. Creationists – again lots or various types and as pointed out on the radio what about Hindu, Indian, Autralian Aboriginal Creation stories? Are they wrong, nor Protestant enough, not British…What sort of a mad house has humanity (with its gift and need for stories) produced at all. Thank God I’m an atheist!

  • Driftwood

    This story has hit the World Wide web

    Dawkins site and loads of others are covering it. Northern Ireland has become a laughing stock once again.


  • Davespt

    It seems to me that for sensible unionists comments like these should be very worrying.

    Everytime unionists hit the headlines in Britian its for all the wrong and cringeworthy reasons.

    Unionism has no popular support in England or Wales because of people like Mr. McCausland – you are ensuring that Unionism remains isolated and ridiculed and illigitmate.

    You and your kind are a complete embarassment, if only you could understand the sheer damage you are doing.

    It also seems to me that whilst nationalism can boast many intellectuals and international statesmen historically (eg. Hume), Unionism is devoid of any progressive characters and this is why you are ensuring that N.I. is doomed politically and economically

  • Neil

    Interesting stuff Driftwood. There is already a display on the OO, McCausland’s complaining that it’s smaller than that of the United Irishman one (or IRB or whatever it is). And that’s fair enough, the OO should be represented there, they have played a significant role in our history. An impartial examination of that subject would be sensible enough.

    It’s also fine by me for the rest of the world to have a laugh at us for the whole creationism bullshit these people try to enforce on the vast uninterested majority. If you guys don’t like this guy, stop voting for him ffs. But as the man said, we get the politicians we deserve. We must have been real assholes in our last life wha? (<— supernatural humour. Only kidding).

  • Philip

    I have been deeply saddened by the comments of athiests on this page. One day you will acknowledge that God indeed is the Creator. Nelson might look foolish now, but you will on that day.

    Please turn to Jesus Christ today.

  • Mickles

    But Philip, which of the 33,820 denominations of Christianity should we turn to? Do we have to pick one or is it not OK by you to praise God in our own way – why do you condemn us because we don’t follow your particular brand of beliefs?

  • You’re assuming that all those who disagree with Creationism are atheists. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

  • Karin

    Do not preach to me – you are entitled to your beliefs but I maintain the right to disagree. I most certainly will not acknowledge that God is the creator – you might find yourself looking foolish on whatever day you are referring to; I assume you mean at the moment of death. Death holds no fear for me – it is a natural process and by not believing in a Creator, I make each day count as I will not pass this way again.

  • vanhelsing

    Hmmm seems like lot’s of people love Dick Dawkins. Dick believes in ‘big bang theory’ as opposed some inherent supernatural force that created ‘something’.

    Of course there were dinosaurs and the world was created a long, long time ago but that is not to say that God did not create it. I would like to talk figures though – the key to a competely scientific start to the world as we know it is for the start of cell formation. Rem Dick believes there was nothing there at the start.

    Sir Fred Hoyle a mathematician and astronomer calculated that the probability of one simple enzyme forming by chance is 10 to the power of 20 (one with twenty zeros behind it), to 1. Hence for one cell to form, about 2000 enzymes are needed, which makes the probability of the first self replicating cell forming by random movement of atoms as 10 to the power of 40000 to 1. One bitter critic of Hoyle begrudgingly said that that this figure is ‘probably not overly exaggerated’.

    It has been said that this is as likely as a cyclone going through a junkyard and producing a fully functional jumbo jet.

    Personally I’d prefer to believe that God created it – and on a qualitative level when you look around does the world not scream intelligent design?

    Apologies if this is not completely on topic but as this thread seems to be just whipping boy stuff, well I thought some needs to explain the alternative…


  • Michael

    ‘Jesus’ I have no problem with, or at least his teachings on love, forgiveness, empathy etc
    Not so keen on the hebrew equivalent of the book of invasions as a guide to modern living however.

  • Kevin McIlhennon

    Perhaps you should look at the evidence for and against evolution by means of natural selection and creationism. If you did, then maybe you would accept that the Bible is nothing more than a work of literary fiction, albeit a poor quality piece. The scientific method is the only way that allows us to question preconceptions and to improve upon our knowledge instead of simply taking a work of fiction at face value. And I will never be converted to religion. I am an intellectual atheist which means that, unless I suddenly become stupid, I will never believe in a divine creator who supposedly created plants and animals with such obvious flaws and a world that is dangerous to its’ inhabitants.

  • Garza

    I can’t wait to see the astrology or geocentrism exhibit in the museum.

  • Neil

    Philip, the problem isn’t that he has his beliefs (most people do, and for that they are entitled to respect); in much the same way as Nelson cannot disprove evolutionary theory and should respect the views of people who have spent vast amounts of time studying in that area.

    The problem is that Nelson’s trying to get his pet projects enforced on people who just aren’t interested. He might be one of thousands here who believe in creationism, but he’s still in the minority. Anyone who has any desire to find out about creationism can go to a church. The Museum should be run by the professionals employed there, and from what the word is they’re doing a pretty good job in not great circumstances.

    This has nothing to do with equality, it’s simply Nelson pushing his pet projects up to the top of the list, but the declining membership of the OO, and the minority religious views he harbours point to the fact that we, the majority, don’t give a monkeys, and if we decide that we’ve changed our minds and we do give a monkeys now we can find plenty of info on these subjects in churches and orange lodges. So no need to ram anything down anyone’s throat then. Those who want to find out about creationism can take themselves off to a church and learn there.

    The orange thing is a bit different as even the most ardent enemy of the OO has to admit that it is part of the history here, but on the same token there are plenty of lodges out there to promote themselves and where people can go to find out info without forcing the museum to increase it’s existing Orange Order exhibit to match that of the United Irishmen exhibit as Nelson wants.

    The suggestion that the OO has no representation in the museum is wrong, Nelson’s just worried that an organisation firmly rooted in history (i.e. no longer exists and therefore can only be found out about in museums and libraries) has a larger exhibit that the Order (which whether we like it or not is part of the present and can be found out about in lodges, and has the ability to propogate it’s own message, which it unsuccesfully tries to do).

    That’s the nub of the problem. People’s interest is on the decrease, and Nelson wants to force it on people to try to increase their interest instead of recognising the fact that just because you believe in something ardently yourself, doesn’t mean you’re right, people care or that you should try to force your minority views on the majority of disinterested citizens and tourists.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Absolutely Andrew — most of my family are sincere Christians, but not one subscribes to the 4000/6000 years nonsense, which is a relatively recent ‘development’ in terms of the Christian religion.

    Fact is that creationism is merely a matter of faith — it has little or no support within the scientific community and as mentioned elsewhere, adoption of creationism as being somehow equivalent to Darwinism would make NI museums a laughing stock.

    Philip I don’t doubt that you are sincere in your beliefs and I would strongly defend your right to hold them (which is a lot more than religionists have conferred on atheists down the centuries), but neither Nelson nor anyone else has the right to demand that his religious belief be represented within the context of a scientific exhibit.

    Likewise his promotion of the laughably titled Ulster-Scots ‘language’ and the OO (who are already represented in the Ulster Museum) is completely out of line with both practicality and reality.

  • joeCanuck

    Sir Fred Hoyle calculated nothing of the sort. He made some personal guesses, nothing more.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Lets be honest Nelson McCausland is in a “win-win” situation.
    He has made himself immune to being sacked by a DUP First Minister.
    Not only that the Arts/Culture elitist lobby arranged against him are impotent and hypocritical.
    While his remarks will probably cause much angst in the staff canteen in the Ulster Museum…….with words like “bible thumper” and “philistine” thrown around, these self same people will be small talking with Minister McCausland in the Long Gallery at Stormont as soon as the invitation hits the floor in Stranmillis.
    They might feel they want to hold their nose while shaking his hand and discussing the vol-au-vents but McCausland is now untouchable.
    Likewise the artsy crowd in the Cahedral Quarter will be outraged but if Nelson shows up there for a launch of one of their publicly funded projects……the great and the good will be falling over themselves to get pictured in the Tatler with the philistine.
    Thats how Norn Iron works.

  • Has anybody picked up a science text book recently?

    Read of my recent experience in my blog.

  • joeCanuck

    Interesting article but you lost me with “Both you and I know the answer ..”. I don’t but perhaps it’s because I haven’t looked at the basic level textbooks recently. Too complicated or too simple?

  • Brendan

    While McCausland and his party’s belief in Creationism is troubling and embarrassing – only because it demonstrates their jaw-dropping naïvety and ignorance – it’s seems the most pernicious and noxious idea held by McCausland has been overlooked amongst all the debates over whether or not Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the back of a T-Rex. The fantasy about Ulster Protestants being one of the great, long lost tribes of Israel, is almost reminiscent of the kind of psuedo-religious Nordic blood myths that Hitler and the Nazis used to spew. The racist fantasising and innuendo that spread the reactionary idea that certain people were inherently superior to others, and swallowed whole by credulous idiots. Does hard-line unionism still need further denazification? I think journalists and McCausland’s political opponents should be inquiring as to how serious he holds this doctrine.

  • vanhelsing

    That’s rubbish; I could quote any number of non Christian sources that the chances of big bang are unimaginable. The calculations of one of the most reknown current mathematicians, Roger Penrose [like Fred Hoyle – with no faith to speak of] show that the probability of universe conducive to life occurring by chance is in 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123 take that down to Eastwoods and stick your house on it.

    You’re blinded by your own disbelief which is ironically what you’re accusing Nelson McC of…

  • John East Belfast

    Andrew, Gerry

    “You’re assuming that all those who disagree with Creationism are atheists. Nothing could be farther from the truth”.

    I have something of a problem with this.

    As I see it response to religious beliefs can be divided three ways

    Those who believe in the supernatural
    Those who think it is complete bollix

    However I am not so sure that those who believe in the supernatural can be on firm ground in chastising those who believe in the Creation bit.

    ie if Jesus can die and rise from the dead then isnt anything possible ?
    ie if that same God wanted to create the world in 7 days or 700 hundred or whatever then he could do it ?
    ie why suspend belief for some of the supernatural but become all inetellectual over creation ?

    Considering the number of Catholics here who regularly go to mass then if they believe when the bell dings the wine and wafer actually become the blood and body of Christ then how can they not suspend the same belief when it comes to creation ?

    On a general point creationism has no place in a museum – that is for the Churches to teach.

    At the same time I think evolution should also be allowed to be viewed with more sceptism than it appears to currently tolerate.
    There are massive gaps in the process of evolution and explanations to suit the generally accepted narrative are forced upon us as fact.

    At least Christians are honest and say it is a leap of faith – scientists rarely know such humility

  • Hello there

    Sorry that phrase got left in when I edited. They are lots of studies as to why science is not popular among some schoolkids, the sheep and goats division between the arts and the sciences, the relatively poor pay for scientists, lab technicians etc etc.

    As to the text books. Modern science textbooks are unlike anything that have gone before They are bright and breezy, well written, plenty of diagrams, clearly headed etc with a lot more concentration on understanding rather than fact for facts sake. Fascinating reading and a real eye opener.

    I only ever did physics and maths. I missed out big time on chemistry and biology. Hey ho.

  • Procrasnow

    I for a change agree with Nelson McCausland, (I know that is difficult to swallow) but The Orange Order deserves a place in the Museum,

    In fact it is the only place in Northern Ireland where I believe the Orange Order belongs and should be found.

    I would suggest that a suitable display for ‘Creationism’ would be a Bible, opened at Genesis 1, set on a display stand, on one side being an animated talking snake and on the other with an animated talking ass.

    The front of the display could have other objects such as a Santa, A bunny Rabbit and a model of a fairy

    If anyone is intelligent enough to believe in a snake capable of a conversation with a human as in the book of Genesis, and an ass capable of a conversation with a human, as in the book of Numbers, they will be intelligent enough to believe in father Christmas, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and probably do not accept that other people may have other theories on the subject.

    Could it be that the author of Shrek got his/her Ideas from Numbers 22 or Genesis 3?

  • joeCanuck

    Just physics and maths for me too. My grammar school didn’t have biology classes!

  • The process by which chemical reactions produced RNA which later evolved into DNA is at the frontier of science. The events happened more than 4 billion years ago, so it is a very complex task, figuring out what the most likely sequence was. But many diligent and intelligent scientists are working on the job and progress is being made.

    One thing is pretty clear. It is ridiculous to imagine that the writings of 2000 BC camel-herders will shed any light on the problem. And it is equally ridiculous to think that people today who believe every word the camel-herders wrote, like Nelson McCausland, have anything useful to contribute to the process either. If those people want to wallow in the ignorance of camel-herders, there are numerous religious institutions to cater for them.

    McCausland has no business telling the staff of the Museum how to do their job. He clearly has little idea of how to do his own. He should be reassigned to a post more fitting for his limited talents.

  • Procrasnow

    Where is he?

    Is he out of Jail yet?

    It is just that a while ago I was reading that the (then) partner of Mary Winehouse while he was in jail found Jesus there. It didn’t say what Jesus was in jail for.

    Has he been released yet?

  • Procrasnow

    Mahatma Gandhi, didn’t have a problem with Jesus either, he said ‘Jesus I like, it is the Christians I have a problem with, they are so unlike him’

    Strange that the author of that statement is also the initial author of the statement ‘Love the Sinner. Hate the Sin’ which the same Christians are so found of using

    Of the Ironies of Life!

  • vanhelsing

    I’m nearly amazed at your own self righteousness. The evidence and calcuations are there aleady to give us a scientific probability of the chances of BB and evo. I accept your own personal view and others on BB I happen to have a personal faith which by the way is more likely to be true that the chances of us crawling out of the mud.

  • Mr Canuck

    I guess you just had to get out there and learn about biology!

  • It’s not meaningful to start estimating probabilities if you don’t understand the science well enough. The origin of life is one of science’s greatest grey areas, so any numbers must be taken with a very large pinch of salt. I don’t think any serious biologist suggests that a functional modern cell just appeared at random, which is what Hoyle’s calculation assumes, but rather that it evolved gradually from something more primitive that we don’t yet understand.

  • Driftwood
  • joeCanuck

    Discovering that girls were really different helped advance my knowledge!

  • joeCanuck

    scientists rarely know such humility

    Not exactly true although some are a bit too smug. Scientists don’t claim to know that anything is true. They come up with theories to try to explain things but those theories are always provisional. They know that further observation may shed new light on things; i.e the theories are falsifiable. Religious “beliefs” cannot be falsified. Creationism cannot even remotely be described as science.

  • padraig

    Nuts are inlined to drive everybody else nuts. Which is why we lock them up. For their protection and ours.

    Nelson is a case in point.

  • vanhelsing

    Actually I don’t think that it’s THAT small a minority of people over here who actually are Creationists, just the majority on this site obviously…

    ‘68.5 per cent of the general UK population described themselves as believers’ (Telegraph 2008). Over here I would say it’s much higher. I’m not saying that they are all creationists but balance it out with the religious beliefs across both sides of our community and those people have a right to have their views represented by, well Museums for example….

    Nelson McC is repping the beliefs of those in NI across both sides of the community who do believe God created the earth, even if it was millions of years ago. I have yet to here one sensible arguement amongst all this psuedo intellectual drivel that proves that Big Bang – you know what – you can’t and the odds against it are enormous – so stop whining….

  • Peter Fyfe

    If the the universe and all in it was created only 6,000 years ago, how is it possible to observe light emitted from stars from galaxies billions of light years away? Is that not all the proof you need? For the less informed, I know it’s not required for most, That means the light has taken billions of years to reach us.

    I went back to listen to the Nolan show that was on Wednesday morning, please don’t tell me it’s true a third of Northern Ireland believe this. Dick bitch slapped Nelson over the maths professor. Nelson was caught telling porkies, please tell me somebody else laughed at that.

  • johnf

    hold on a wee minnit…. the piling up of random chances is no way to evolve ANYTHING.
    No more than employing an army of monkeys to try and type out War and Peace.
    It takes an Editor, whether by the laws of chemical combination,the availability of raw materials, the effects of competition, or whatever.. to ruthlessly prune out unsuitable (for the current, no doubt changeing environment) mutations.
    Dawkins, who I find to be just a bit too strident in his attitude, puts the topic very well with his computer iterations.
    I find him very cold blooded in his assessment of humanity`s
    emotional and political/religious aspects.
    I think that EMPATHY which is a high level shared mental process, which enables the emotions of others to be manipulated, is a motivator for altruism on the one hand and sectarian/ racial/
    political/sporting divisions as a full spectrum on the other. So it is reasonable to see how God , who is one of us, of course, can bring such comfort to the believer and can generate such fear of the deviant and unbeliever . Is it not true that human society depends as much on mental pictures as on physical things?

  • Cuchlar

    Wait a minute, Arlene Foster believes this too! And people here are arguing she would be an intelligent replacement as DUP leader?? I seriously worry about this. To shut your mind off to every intellectual discussion of the last 500 odd years does not, to me, seem a good qualification. I accept that all faiths are just that, a leap of faith. What I can’t accept are those who have the built-in remit to preach/convert/browbeat the ‘unsaved’ of any belief or none.
    I also worry that this discussion is softening up people for a severe cut to the ‘arts’ sector; an area where we have always punched above our weight.

  • Reub9

    it took life a billion years to begin on earth as far as we are aware. when the earth was young it was very unstable and lots of chemical reactions occured, on a planets so big you could expect thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands per second. considering this your probablilty of 1*10^40000:1 is not improbable but almost inevitable. Surely this is obvious to anyone with a little bit of common sense….

  • johnf,

    Again the enemies of evolution misrepresent what it is. It is not a “piling up of random chances”. It does not take an Editor to prune out unsuitable mutations – the clue is in the words themselves. If it is an unsuitable mutation it will fail to survive and thereby prune itself.

    Natural selection is in a sense tautological: that which is good at surviving will survive. Its simplicity is its strength.

  • meagain

    Speaking as one of the ‘artsy crowd’ in Cathedral Quarter,can I assure you that the Tatler never turn up to cover any arts events in the area. I think you are getting mixed up with the ‘artsy crowd’ in the University area, or Queen’s Quarter. Sorry, I digress. So, Nelson is immune to being sacked and Northern Ireland is held up to international ridicule. Meanwhile, the people of Northern Ireland have a Minister for Culture who is an oxymoron. Sad that we elect politicians as much on who they aren’t as who they are. What a crappy situation.

  • meagain

    The real problem here is not that the Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure suggests such extreme ideas for the content of the Ulster Museum. The problem is that we have a Minister for Culture Arts and Leisure who holds such beliefs because this is a reflection that the people of Northern Ireland are not sufficiently enraged or empowered to stop such an appointment.
    People need to wake up to the fact that Creationists already have an insidious hold on Northern Ireland. State education is riddled with their influence. Did you know that it is actually contentious to teach evolutionary theory at primary school level in many schools in Northern Ireland. Some of the most surprising schools forbid it – yes even in affluent South Belfast! Wake up to the dangers and do something about it please.

  • Fretjumper

    In her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, penned by a US resident, which was posted on the Internet. It’s funny, as well as informative:

    Dear Dr. Laura:

    Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God’s Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination … End of debate.

    I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God’s Laws and how to follow them.

    1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

    2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness – Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

    4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbours. They claim the odour is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    5. I have a neighbour who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

    6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree.
    Can you settle this? Are there ‘degrees’ of abomination?

    7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

    8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

    9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

    10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws?
    (Lev. 20:14)

    I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I’m confident you can help.

    Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

    Your adoring fan.

    James M. Kauffman,

    Ed.D. Professor Emeritus,
    Dept. Of Curriculum,
    Instruction, and Special Education University of Virginia

    PS (It would be a damn shame if we couldn’t own a Canadian 🙂

  • Greenflag

    ‘please don’t tell me it’s true a third of Northern Ireland believe this.’

    Look on the bright side -it could be worse . Some 40% of Americans don’t believe in evolution as an explanation for the diverse life forms on the planet .

    As I said the ‘enlightenment ‘ is ongoing but with Belfast closing down libraries to save money one can easily see where the ‘priorities’ of the political leaders lie . I suppose we should be grateful that they haven’t yet called for a public burning of books that suggest the world is a ‘little’ more than 6,000 years old .

    Ignorance loves and preys on itself 🙁

  • Peter Fyfe

    great letter.

    Alias’s two nations in N.I got me thinking. Where can I buy a unionist slave?

  • Peter Fyfe

    Is this the wrong type of nation I am thinking of? Do they have to be recognised by the UN?

  • Greenflag


    ‘So it is reasonable to see how God , who is one of us, ‘

    Is that so ? Can you prove it ?

    Dawkins is a first rate genius with an attiude . He doesn’t suffer creationist fools easily nor should he
    By reason and not by superstious nonsense mankind moves forward .

    McCausland and McIlveen and their ilk are sad reminders that some will always be left behind clinging to their creationist fantasies long after most of humanity has moved on. Maybe they both need to consider Iran as a place of abode where they will find even more fellow minded creationists and both can grow beards like the local mullahs so that we may never have to be reminded of them 🙁

  • Greenflag

    ‘Where can I buy a unionist slave?’

    You can’t . The markets sewn up. They’ve all been bought already 😉 The buyer I’m told is based at Exchequer Buildings but works out of number 11 Downing Street .

    The market for ‘republican ‘ slaves is somewhat depressed at the moment in that prices are relatively high . Market sentiment favours a lowering of the slave price following major upcoming cuts in the supply of funds to this ungrateful element of the population 😉

  • Greenflag

    I’ve seen it before but it’s always worth a read if only to be reminded that there are many in Northern Ireland and tens of millions in the USA who actually believe the Book of Leviticus is the literal word of God and its tenets followed by all Christians .

    I wonder if Dr Laura Schlesinger ever replied to Prof Kauffman’s letter ??

    Something on the lines of ‘ *&%#@^&* you already’ I would think might have been the shorter version of any response from the orthodox lady ;)?

  • Peter Fyfe

    Regarding those from Northern Ireland who do believe in creationism. I heard one woman from west belfast say all christians share this belief. I know that is not true but does anybody have any idea how many creationists there is here? It was claimed that a third of us were on Nolan. That can not be right, can it? It is certainly not what we were taught to believe even in R.E. never mind as a science. Through school one of my RE teachers doubled as a history teacher, the other, a chemistry teacher. The former did not take it literally, she went as far as mocking those that did, the healthy approach if you are trying to educate any young mind. There would be problems if either did believe in it though I suspect some how some people can marry what they learn in Science and their religious beliefs.

    My core problem with this is the essence of either. Science is a make-up of theory supported by empirical evidence. Religion is more like a language, it evolves through peoples actions and thoughts, a language can be added to without evidence or need to, through the wait of numbers, new words will evolve and be added. I think that’s what Richard Dawkins was describing when referring to science not being open to taking on ideas by their democratic appeal to the masses. The evidence suggests it is either very likely to be true, though never certain, or it is not true. There is no similar evidence for creationism whether people believe it or not. Except for some secondary evidence that says it happened. Were these people never taught the most basic idea in science in that it is the study of understanding through evidence based theory? In truth, I don’t ever remember this being pointed out to me at school though it is not hard to see. Is there a problem in our approach to science teaching in that so many can hold on to ideas that are wrong? The fact stars have emitted light over 6,000 years ago proves the existence of the universe beyond them 6,000 years. I am not speculating on what did happen, that is not needed to disprove the theory of creationism. Evolution does not need to be proved in order to prove that creationism (I.E The universe and all in it only came into being 6,000 years ago) is not true. It does not even need to be explained. This leads to the point where science does have the tools to refute ideas presented in language/religion, no matter how eloquent they may be made, by experimentation and evidence. Though people may try to manipulate research through their presentation of it, they can not alter the evidence itself.

    I am not expecting a reply to that second paragraph from you greenflag. It was just me writing some thoughts on why you can say creationism most certainly is not true without having to explain evolution or the big bang which both rely on theory. Observing light that was emitted millions of years ago is empirical irrefutable evidence that star existed millions of light years ago.

  • Peter Fyfe

    Are they not of the same British nation? Your ideas sound very ungodly. I may have to stone you.

  • Peter Fyfe

    Correction to the last line;

    Observing light that was emitted millions of years ago is empirical irrefutable evidence that star existed millions of years ago.

    Didn’t mean to type light in at the third last world. Silly me, changing a unit of time to a unit of distance with my carelessness. It made as much sense as creationism.

  • Greenflag

    As an ungodly non christian I will of course have no compunction in returning your stoning with a return stoning plus a smiting as per Leviticus .

    Are they not of the same British nation?

    Immaterial -a slave is a slave is a slave . Cows bulls and calves but cattle one and all as Milchu would say when he dragged a few slaves off the boat following a successful raid . History tells us that those Britons can make treacherous slaves .One of them was brought here about 1,500 years ago -called himself Patricius I believe . Anyway the bugger escaped and then came back a few years later and caused untold havoc persuading our previously mathematically adept chieftains that one God was no longer one God but it could include three gods including the first God . I mean three in one I ask you .I suppose it’s all in the marketing skills . Still his innovative selling point of the three leaf in one shamrock to old King Laoghaire was a world class con job worthy of a latter day Bernie Madoff . We’d have burned him at the stake as a heretic but we were then ignorant of the later Christian fire ritual as the best means of dealing with malcontents , free thinkers and heretics .

    Gotta hand it those Christians though -they really knew how to set a heretic on fire in their day. Old Leviticus was a wimp in comparison eh ;)?

  • markyboy

    Newton was a creationist!!

  • markyboy

    Les, “a very complex process”. that just happened by chance?? 4 million years ago. I take it scientists have found date tags to “prove” these dates are correct. An awful lot of assumptions and faith involved in evolutionary science. But what would I know? What right would a goat herder like me have to point anything out to some clever monkeys??

  • jon the raver

    Poor ‘platform’ piece in the News Letter (Thursday) from David McConaghy – supposedly of the Caleb Foundation in support of the minister’s comments.

    Would this be the same Mr McConaghy who is oft quoted in the Portadown Times as Chairman of the DUP in Upper Bann ? And pictured in various election campaign stuff ?

    For my two sents – there is acessible material/preechings on creationism/christianity every Sunday in churches – for accessible understandable complex scientific material most museums excel.

    It’s always going to be a trickly balance – but explaining the relevance of the Orange Order would be eye opening

  • jaywalker

    This “inclusiveness” is in fact a trojan horse for creationism.Thats the real goal here for Nelson and his cohorts(shhh Mervyn Storey et all).And when challenged by a man of science like Richard Dawkins on the Nolan Show,Nelson plays the victim and says dont pick on me for my beliefs in magic,myth,you only understand factual evidence for life on earth.Stick to what you know Nelson,you are not a scientist and so keep yer mitts off our museums.Dont pray in our museums and we wont think in your church.

  • Finally getting to respond to the “Artsy Crowd in the Catherdal Quarter” as i too would be one of them. Certainly i’ve had a pint or two with one of their photographers but the CQ is too left field for the Tatler imo. As for the publically funded bit would you much rather that the thriving community down there is replaced with binge drinking stag and hen parties ala Templebar or would you rather it was as it is with crime figures that confound the local PSNI commander because they are so low(that said there has of late been a slight rise in crimes against businesses).

    I think the Museum would be quite right to display a Narwahls tusk telling visitors that people used to believe it was from a Unicorn, in the same way that some folks believe in fairies, others that the earth was/is flat and that it was created in just 6 days.
    As for the Orange Order it is still in existence and has an Orange Fest yearly which gets good coverage on the 12th and they have the Museum at Schomberg House which will tell you all you need to know about it then and now.
    I really think this was an insidious attempt by the Minister to influence the Museum when their budgets are being discussed and there are massive cuts to publically funded projects across the board on the way.
    And as for the Ulster Scots dialect malarky how come, at the unveiling of Ross Wilson’s statue ‘Millie’ on the corner of Cambrai St and the Crumlin Rd,a fella from their Agency stood up to say how happy the agency was to be involved with the Statue etc etc and he didn’t speak ONE word of the dialect. The migration of people is certainly of historical note…the language dialect is not.

  • TrueNewtonian

    Amazes me the secular fascist hysteria on here trying to stop any alternative view of science being advanced.

    Evolution is not science – it is not falsifiable. Interesting theory but cannot be proven as the conditions required to test it are not ascertainable again. Please do not cite Newton, Kepler, Maxwell as purveyors of secularism as all were radical Theists who would have stood shoulder to shoulder with McCausland and would have looked at Dawkins with horror.

    Interesting article that should keep some of you humble here in your atheistic rantings:

    Seems not all (even the majority of scientists) enbraces the rantings of Dawkins and his fanclub here.

    A little knowledge…….eh

  • markyboy
  • markyboy

    I disagree with Dawkins on many issues including creation, but I will give him credit for realising where the battle is. He quite rightly sees that if you knock away the first eleven chapters of the Bible that the Christian faith is pointless. After all, if there was no Adam to sin then there was no need for Jesus to atone for sin. Perhaps it’s time the Christian church could see the big picture. I make no apology for being a Christian or a creationist. There are many Christian scientists including former evolutionist and atheist Dr Walter Veith and Dr John Baumgardner, who is widely acknowledged as having developed the world’s leading three dimensional computer model of plate techtonics, the preeminent theory of the earth’s outer structure.
    Scentists all have the same evidense to examine but their conclusions will depend on their world view either Biblical or secular. I always think that if the Scriptures said that in the beginning there was a big bang and that after millions of years man evolved from an apelike creature it would be considered ridiculous!

  • Thomas Mourne

    We would be the poorer without characters like Nelson to give us a laugh now and again. What a duller place N. I. would be without them.

    However, on a slightly more serious note, if the Ulster Museum is giving us a social history of “Ulster” then he has a point. I have only had a fleeting visit to the “new” museum so I’m not sure what is covered. I assume that this social history will include the genocide against the native people by the English in the 16th century and the cleansing of the country to make way for the new immigrants from England and Scotland.

    After Nelson has sorted out the museum I should think his next task is to take on the N. I. Tourist Board [ for which I think he has responsibility] and do something about their ridiculous claim that the only World Heritage site in N. I. – the Giants Causeway – had its origins 60 million years ago. Finn McCool deserves to get proper recognition for his efforts.

  • Peter Fyfe


    I am only seeing this link today, what a sad excuse this is.

  • Peadar

    Dare I point out that the Deputy prime minister of the United Kingdom is looking for laws to repeal?
    Without going so far as to suggest the Act of Union of 1801, the Administration of Justice (Language) Act (Ireland) is, so far as I can tell, in the Westminster area of responsibility.
    Would the Unionists in the house sleep easier if we labelled An Gaeilge “Gaelic” rather than “Irish”?….seeing as many of the plantationers came from Earra Gaidheal…which was still at least breac-Gaeltacht last time I looked.