Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why Politics and Science Don't Mix

A royal row is brewing over in Ireland where the Culture Minister, Nelson McCausland, has written a letter to the Ulster Museum encouraging them to change their exhibits to include more creationism. As Henry McDonald of the Guardian reports:
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.
Richard Dawkins responded typically but correctly:
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.
This is similar to the US movement for "academic freedom" bills, although not nearly as extreme. The US is somewhat shielded from this sort of nonsense because of the establishment clause. Apparently, no such thing exists in UK law. Of course the museum could just ignore the letter but the YEC movement is quite strong in Ireland and so I am guessing this is not the last we will hear of this.

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