Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Ulster Museum controversy (3)

Eamonn Mallie's comments on the museum controversy

Even if one disagrees with Creationism v Science what would be wrong with juxtaposing the two illustratively in Museum? End absolutism.

3:17 AM May 26th via UberTwitter

We must all learn to be a broad church in NI. I would like to know and be exposed to manifestations of Ulster Scots even in Museum.

3:14 AM May 26th via UberTwitter

Can you imagine if the Ulster Museum mounted a century of GAA history the hundreds of thousands of people that would suck into the Museum?

3:10 AM May 26th via UberTwitter

World has moved on. Member of Orange Order gives talk in my Alma Mater Abbey CBS Newry. Why not? We need to understand each other.

3:09 AM May 26th via UberTwitter

Some kneejerking to N/Mc Causland's untimely intervention in Museum affairs just as Museum is in running for top award. Debate worth having.

3:06 AM May 26th via UberTwitter

I welcome these thoughtful comments from Eamonn Mallie and there is a debate that is worth having.  We need to understand each other better if we are to build a 'shared future' and that was the basis of my letter. 

He refers to members of the Orange Order speaking in the Abbey Christian Brothers School in Newry and some years ago, when I was convenor of the Orange Order's education committee, I visited the school to speak to the students and answer their questions.


  1. "Even if one disagrees with Creationism v Science what would be wrong with juxtaposing the two illustratively in Museum? End absolutism."

    I don't know if Eamon Mallie is playing devil's advocate here or being sincere. In any event it's perfectly clear what's wrong with "teaching the controversy" (as some US evangelicals put it). Creationism and evolutionary science are not equally valid opposing points of view. Creationism is not science: it is a creation story of the sort that humans have been telling one another for hundreds of thousands of years. All societies have had them, and all have had their gods, all of which were believed in sincerely by those societies, and all of which have since been disregarded. (It's been pointed out that Christians are atheists too with regard to almost all the gods that have been believed in throughout history. Today's atheists just go one god further.)

    Gods - including the God of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam - used to be the best explanation we had; now we have vastly better ones. God is no longer an explanation of anything, but has itself become something that would need an insurmountable amount of explaining. Creationism, and its little brother Intelligent Design, are not scientific theories and can be dismissed without evidence because they are asserted without evidence. There is no kinder way of putting it than to say that the reason why creationism and evolution cannot be given joint billing in a museum - an organisation dedicated to human learning and enlightenment - is because evolution is fact and creationism is fiction.

    On the other hand, there is of course nothing wrong with including creationism in a socio-cultural context in a museum, alongside other creation myths in history, as an example of how societies have developed their understanding of the working of the world and the origins of mankind. "This is what we used to think; now we know better."

  2. Nelson,
    As someone who knows only too well the self-righteous arrogance of the cultural establishment in NI, congratulations on identifying the 3 main pillars of prejudice. Check out my own stance on the 'fact' of evolution on my 'Soul-Searching' blog. I guess you already know mine on Ulster-Scots.


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