Sunday, 14 September 2008

A creationist, some archaeologists and a politician go to this museum . . .

Sounds like the first line of a joke doesn't it?

Well in the past few weeks a little local difficulty has engulfed the Northampton Borough Council amid claims that a scientific display was censored after complaints from a creationist.

We covered the initial story briefly here.  At the time we commented that we did not really know enough to say if this really was a creationist complaint.
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Quite a bit has come to light since then. Here is a quick summary list of the various stories and comments so you can go and look at them all for yourself;

The initial Northampton Chronicle story.

The follow up in the Chronicle covering the NSS offering to fund a new sign.

Another Chronicle story with comment from the council.

The latest Chronicle story covering the fact that the museum staff member who has resigned over the issue.

The couple who complained about the sign being covered and the chap who resigned over the issue have made further comment on this web site and more recently here.
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It seems fairly clear that not everyone can be telling the whole truth here. Certainly the claims of Gary Arthur who has now resigned from his job at the museum agree completely with the account given by the Chapmans who complained at the cover up and got the story into the press in the first place.

Discrepancies only start to appear when we look at council claims regarding which bit of the text was covered up and why.  The Creationist who made the original complaint also now seems to be rather vague about exactly what went on.

The BCSE originally drew attention to Lewis Houston's creationist activities.  We now learn that, despite the fact that he has claimed not to be involved in the Northants Creation Group for quite some time his contact details have still been displayed on the web for them.  Well until recently.

Ironically we now find that the contact details of the Northants Creation Group appear to have been censored (correction - are subject to payment of a subscription - this only happened this month).  Check the "blanks" - guess what name fits them exactly?

The phrase "a tangled web" springs to mind.
Lewis Houston did not ask for the text to be covered up because he thinks that a literal interpretation of the bible trumps empirical evidence, even though this is his view. Instead he made some comment about the "biblical view" (although he is not exactly sure what) and the whole text was covered up for 3 years.

It is important to note that Creationists are not used to compromising with science or other Christians and no doubt Lewis will still claim that his interpretation of the bible is the only true one.  BCSE is pleased to highlight the fact that many people of faith do entirely accept the evidence for evolution and see it as part of their creator's work.  It does not appear to be the case that the council checked with any (more mainstream) christians regarding Lewis's comments.  Instead they appear to have accepted his claim as a generally held view of people of faith.  This is very far from the truth and if they had thought of this at the time then perhaps the whole thing could have been avoided.
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The BCSE takes great comfort from the fact that even raising the question that a creationist might have influenced a museum like this, generated a great deal of local and national interest.

If there is one unambigous lesson to be learned here it is surely a lesson for creationists;

"If you try to censor science by asserting your extreme religious views then the British people will not allow it."

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