FaithWorld

Creationists claim the Giant’s Causeway

causeway-vert.jpgUntil now, there have been two explanations for the origin of the Giant’s Causeway, that magnificent collection of interlocking rock formations on the County Antrim coast in Northern Ireland. Geology tells us it is made of columns of basalt that formed after intense volcanic activity millions of years ago. Irish folklore tells us that it was a bridge that the giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) built to cross over to Scotland to fight another giant. The geologists are right, of course, but the old Irish tale is harmless fun.

Now Biblical creationists are trying to add a third interpretation. The Belfast Telegraph reports that a new group called the Causeway Creation Committee wants to add a creationist explanation to a tourist centre project being discussed.

The newspaper writes:

Their belief is that the causeway was created by a huge watery catastrophe – Noah’s flood… The committee has been set up to lobby for information on their theories to be included in any future visitors’ centre at the causeway. They say more than 1,000 people have so far signed the petition.

Founding member Stephen Moore (30) is a Christian evangelist who runs outreach programmes for young people in Portrush.

The Giant’s Causeway He explained: “We don’t believe God created it the way it is, it was definitely a result of volcanic activity. Where we differ from the official theory is that we believe the cause of that activity was the flood we read about in The Bible. It says the fountains of the great deep opened up and because of that there was volcanic activity.

Church protest chases Donald Duck from Noah’s Ark

Donald DuckDonald Duck has been expelled from Noah’s Ark.

To be more precise, a Donald Duck film clip has been removed from a replica of Noah’s Ark in the Netherlands. That came after a local church protested that the film being shown to children visiting the ark strayed too far from the Bible story.

Some background first — a Dutch evangelical named Johan Huibers has built a 50-meter (164-feet) long replica of Noah’s Ark to teach children the Bible story that most didn’t know anymore. Finished last spring, it is about one-fifth of the size mentioned in the Bible but looks like the ship portrayed in religious art. Huibers and his staff have been docking it in Dutch port cities and towns including Amsterdam and Rotterdam for several weeks at a time so local children can visit it.

One of his teaching methods was a clip from the Walt Disney film Fantasia 2000 showing the Ark story. Donald Duck appears in it as Noah’s hapless helper, herding the animals onto the ship and busying himself with odd jobs during the voyage. In another non-Biblical twist, Daisy Duck also appears, but neither she nor Donald knows the other made it aboard before the Deluge struck. Their reunion on dry land is a classic Disney happy end.

Muslim scholar questions Vatican understanding of Islam

Cardinal Jean-Louis TauranThe cautious Vatican reaction to the dialogue appeal from 138 Muslim scholars has prompted one of the signatories to question whether the top Catholic official for relations with Muslims understands Islam. More specifically, Aref Ali Nayed has asked how Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran can say that a serious theological dialogue with Muslims is not possible because they will not discuss the Koran in depth. This debate (discussed in an earlier post here) is dense and highly specialised. But it may be at this level that this unprecedented dialogue could take off or fail to ignite.

Nayed, a former professor at the Pontifical Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI) in Rome and main spokesman for the 138 scholars, flatly refutes Tauran’s view. He says Muslims have always interpreted the Koran and studied it both historically and linguistically. Their methods were even the forerunners of the “historical-critical” method that Christians use with the Bible, he says. Protestants began applying this “higher criticism” to the Bible in the 18th century and Catholics accepted it only in 1943, making them latecomers to this exercise in Nayed’s view. I am no specialist on these details and will need to hear reactions from Christian theologians.

Readers interested in Nayed’s argument can read it on the website of Islamica magazine or read Cindy Wooden’s story for the Catholic News Service on it. I’ll just quote the crisp conclusion:

Ball in Vatican’s court after Muslim dialogue appeal

Pope Benedict prays with Muslim clerics in IstanbulAn unprecedented call from 138 Muslim scholars for better Christian-Muslim understanding had a Warholesque 15-minutes-of- fame in most media last week. Their letter to world Christian leaders got covered widely in English-speaking media (including by Reuters) and much less so in many European countries, possibly because the news conferences presenting it were in London and Washington. Some reactions from Christian leaders were included in the reporting that day. The following day, the reaction from the Vatican — the main addressee of the letter that represents more than half of Christianity — made for another story (here is our report and the original Vatican Radio report in Italian).

The story has now faded from the headlines but it’s one of those developments that cry out for a next step. The Muslim scholars invited their Christian counterparts to a dialogue, so the ball is in the Christians’ court. More specifically, it’s in the Vatican’s court. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest and most centralised branch of the Christian family. The Muslims also have a bone to pick with Pope Benedict, who just over a year ago gave his famous Regensburg speech that implied Islam was violent and irrational. That sparked off violent protests in the Muslim world and, in turn, inspired 38 Muslim scholars to write a first letter in October 2006 that denounced that violence, asked for a dialogue (which Benedict had suggested in Regensburg) and questioned his understanding of Islam.

The latest letter is a follow-up, with a far larger group of signatories and the more ambitious goal of engaging in a theological dialogue with Christians. The wealth of Koran and Bible quotes cited and the argument that Islam agrees with the heart of Christian teaching — to love God and neighbour — showed these scholars want a long and serious theological discussion with Christianity.