Northern Ireland minister calls on Ulster Museum to promote ...
Northern Ireland's born-again Christian culture minister has called on the Ulster Museum to put on exhibits reflecting the view that the world was made by God only several thousand years ago.
Nelson McCausland, who believes that Ulster Protestants are one of the lost tribes of Israel, has written to the museum's board of trustees urging them to reflect creationist and intelligent design theories of the universe's origins.
The Democratic Unionist minister said the inclusion of anti-Darwinian theories in the museum was "a human rights issue".
McCausland defended a letter he wrote to the trustees calling for anti-evolution exhibitions at the museum. He claimed that around one third of Northern Ireland's population believed either in intelligent design or the creationist view that the universe was created about 6,000 years ago.
"I have had more letters from the public on this issue than any other issue," he said.
The minister said he wrote a "very balanced letter" to the museum because he wanted to "reflect the views of all the people in Northern Ireland in all its richness and diversity".
Earlier in his letter to the museum's trustees McCausland said he had "a common desire to ensure that museums are reflective of the views, beliefs and cultural traditions that make up society in Northern Ireland".
His call was condemned by the evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins, who said: "If the museum was to go down that road then perhaps they should bring in the stork theory of where babies come from. Or perhaps the museum should introduce the flat earth theory."
Dawkins said it was irrelevant if a large number of people in Northern Ireland refused to believe in evolution. "Scientific evidence can't be democratically decided," Dawkins said.
Storey, who has chaired the Northern Ireland assembly's education committee, has denied that man descended from apes. He believes in the theory that the world was created several thousand years ago, even though the most famous tourist attraction in his own constituency – the Giant's Causeway on the North Antrim coast – is according to all the geological evidence millions of years old.
This latest row over Darwin versus creationism in Northern Ireland comes at a delicate time for the Ulster Museum. Earlier this month it was shortlisted for the UK's largest single arts prize. The Art Fund Prizeannually awards £100,000 to a museum or gallery for a project completed in the last year.
The belief that the Earth was divinely created in 4004 BC originates with the writings of another Ulster-based Protestant, Archbishop of Armagh James Ussher, in 1654. Ussher calculated the date based on textual clues in the Old Testament, even settling on a date and time for the moment of creation: in the early hours of 23 October.