Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

How did we end up taking a Giant step backwards?

Greetings from sunny Crete! As I write this, in 36 degrees of heat, it's hard to type, but even harder to care too much about what's happening back in NI.

I'm here on what you might call a working holiday, so it's not all sun, sea and severe jealousy of all the skinny good-looking people on the beach.

Obviously that's a big part of it. But after a dip in the Med, there has to be time, too, to dip into the internet to keep up with what's going on in the rest of the world. Unfortunately, the cyber sea is less appetising than the real one.

Just when you thought it was safe to tell all the lovely people you meet about how wonderful Northern Ireland is now, you go and read online about the row over the exhibition at the Giant's Causeway.

"Oh yes, Northern Ireland's a wonderful place to visit! You must go sometime. It's all moved forward so well.

"No trouble, people are friendly, the sights are spectacular (if the weather permits you actually to see them) and when it comes to technology we're just as sophisticated as anywhere in Europe."

So far so true.

But hold on a moment, what's this? A new state-of-the-art visitor centre at our only World Heritage Site? Wonderful! The State sure knows how to protect our heritage and sell it to the visiting world. Money well invested.

But hold on just another moment. What's this? The National Trust has caved in to pressure from the loony Christian right-wing and allowed them to have their fairy tale beliefs presented in the visitors' exhibition?

What the heck?

Ok, it's only a small part of a large exhibition, but still. They're saying that for some people the "debate" still goes on about the origins of the stones.

Eh, no, it doesn't. Some people firmly believe that the Earth was created 6,000 years ago. There's no debate for them. 99.999% of people believe it evolved over millions of years. There's no debate for them either.

For the National Trust's bid to fudge this issue by using mealy-mouthed sentences to appease the likes of Nelson McCausland and his buddies in the Caleb Foundation, is a disgraceful thin end of the wedge.

We wanted peace here and we've got it more or less.

But the price is being paid now in this kind of pandering to fundamentalism. Some views just don't deserve parity of esteem.

I'm sure some people really believe in talking mice, but you don't see Disneyworld describing their life sized Mickeys as part of a "debate" on whether or not rodents actually walk on two legs, talk and wear cute shorts.

Live and let live, sure. But when the ideas being promoted are anti-liberty, anti-science, anti-sense, you gotta say "Woah!".

One of the things fundamental Protestants objected to most about a united independent state of Ireland was the interference in the State by the Catholic Church.

But it seems they're happy to interfere when the teachings suit them.

So it's not a point of principle, just a resentment that the church doing the interfering isn't their own.

Was inclusion of this Creationist story in the Giant's Causeway exhibition a pre-requisite for funding from government?

If so, that's a prospect even more scary than some of the sights on the beach here in Crete.

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