Friday, 28 May 2010

Created: a controversy

ANNOYED the BBC? Check! Annoyed the Republicans? Check! Annoyed the scientists? Check!

This week was mission achieved for Nelson McCausland – our esteemed and thoughtful Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure. He succeeded in annoying almost everybody outside the DUP (apart from a few mission halls where politics is never discussed but who think that it all went downhill for religion when Galileo first peaked through a telescope.)

To be fair to Nelson – and that is a phrase not always heard in any reasonable conversation - he made two good points. The first: The Orange Order; like it or loathe it, the Order and other ‘fraternal’ organisations played a role for better or worse in Northern Ireland’s history. The second point he made over Ulster-Scots part in history is also well made as the Plantation did indeed happen.

However, ‘alternative views of the origin of the universe’ comes under the Nelson and his DUP mates (plus a few wide eyed and staring types) are of the opinion that 99% of archaeologists, 99% of biologists, 99% of physicists, 99% of cosmologists, 99% of palaeontologists and 99% of all reputable scientists of other disciplines who have studied long and hard, published peer-reviewed papers and conducted painstaking experiments and postulated complex matters that require years of study are wrong.

Einstein was wrong according to Nelson and co, Darwin was wrong, and so on and so on. The role of science is outwith the remit of any Minister, and while he may have a view he has a duty; that duty is not to refute scientific evidence.

But then again Nelson is only doing what every Northern Ireland politician has done in recent years – ignore the facts and press on, preferably to the sound of a marching band.

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