Archive for September, 2008

God’s nob case adjourned till September

<b>Semi censored</b>: Koh's Jesus statue, with the knee-high penis, offends Christians

Semi censored: Koh's Jesus statue, with the knee-high penis, offends Christians - therefore it must not be seen be anybody

The case against the Baltic art gallery, which we reported on in July, had its first hearing yesterday at Gateshead Magistrates Court. It was adjourned until September 23, when it will be heard at Crown Court.

Emily Mapfuwa, of Brentwood Essex, is bringing the private prosecution on the grounds that the statue was likely to harass, alarm or distress people who viewed it. It is not clear whether she visited the gallery herself, or if she is taking offence by proxy. She is supported by the Christian Legal Centre, which claims it

believes in freedom of expression but this statue served no other purpose than to offend Christians and to denigrate Christ.

A spokesman for the Baltic said:

Baltic denies the allegations that have been made by Ms Mapfuwa and will vigorously defend itself in court.

Protesters jumped the gun in Northampton museum case

It appears that the National Secular Society and other anti-censorship campaigners reacted too quickly to reports of creationist meddling in a Northampton museum’s Darwin exhibition. A protest was held on Sunday outside the museum, and the great comics writer Alan Moore reportedly gave a rousing speech.

But it turns out that the original complaint, made three years ago by local Christian Lewis Houston, had nothing to do with trying to suppress scientific knowledge in favour of creationist ignorance. Here is the original wording of the sign:

He used the same layers of fossils that had supported the Genesis view of evolution to show the slow changes that are taking place over the millennia of earth history, each small change enabling a species to the rigours of it’s (sic) environment – the struggle for survival through natural selection leading to the survival of the fittest.

The new sign will read:

He used the same layers of fossils to show the slow changes that are taking place over the millennia of earth history, each small change enabling a species to adapt to the rigours of its environment – the struggle for survival, through the natural selection, leading to the survival of the fittest.

As you can see it is not the information on evolution that was altered. What Lewis was objecting to was the suggestion that there is a “Genesis view of evolution”. There isn’t. The authors of Genesis knew next to nothing about the origins of species, as a cursory reading of chapters 1 and 2 of that Bronze-age tome will quickly reveal.

Lewis’s letter to Northants Chronicle explains it quite clearly:

My only complaint was five words – ‘the biblical view of evolution’. The Bible describes the Creator at work in His creation, therefore the biblical view is one of creation, not evolution. Whether you believe this or not is not the issue. The original quote conveys to the reader the idea that the Bible conveys an evolutionary view, which from an educator’s perspective is inaccurate.

Hence NBC agreed with my point and rather than try and reword a quote from a now out of print book, they decided to cover up part of the display. This was on the basis at the time that plans to replace and upgrade the displays were already in hand.

While it could be argued that Genesis has been reinterpreted by modern Christians in order to accommodate the otherwise uncomfortable evidence for our evolutionary origins, it remains quite a stretch to claim that there is a “biblical view of evolution”. And you can’t really blame anyone – bible-believer or not – for pointing this out.

Random House dropped from prize list

An American literary prize trust has blacklisted all Random House publications until The Jewel of Medina is published. The principled stance has been taken by the Langum Charitable Trust.

The founder of the trust, David Langum, gives the reasons for the decision:

No one should expect that publishers print every piece of trash that comes into their offices, and The Jewel of Medina may be neither good literature nor good history. That is beside the point since Random House had already paid a $100,000 advance, arranged for book club publication, and foreign publication. It changed course and self-censored solely on the political grounds of fear of offending Muslims or fomenting violence.

That form of cowardice will only lead to more and more of this form of self-censorship and is an attack on the integrity of literary publication. We must stand up to it, in whatever ways are available to us. The form that was available to our small foundation was to put Random House out of the running for our prizes