The image of the Virgin Mary is reported to have been seen on a tree stump in the village of Rathkeale, and thousands of people have flocked there. And yes, this is quite absurd.
But is it more preposterous to believe that that piece of timber, and the willow tree from which it came, and the eye that beheld the wood, arrived in this world entirely by accident?
For in this, the 150th anniversary of the publication of ‘The Origin of Species’, that is what we’ve been endlessly told this year.
Before Darwinian dogmatists sneer the words ‘intelligent design’ and ‘creationism’, let me declare that I embrace neither concept. But nor do I reject them.
The “Darwinian dogmatists” line is a bit of a giveaway, now isn’t it? And there’s more. Much more. And it doesn’t get any better.
Even the title of Darwin’s book hasn’t been answered adequately. How do separate species emerge, in the process of ‘speciation’? How do outwardly identical, but reproductively-discrete species emerge alongside one another in the same ecological niche, as many kinds of fish have done?
Mr Myers, meet Drs Coyne and Orr who have penned a wee book on this matter (“Speciation”). You can thank me later.
“One of the world’s most beautiful and best-loved countries, Ireland has recently become one of the most respected as well: dynamic, go-ahead, modern, civilised – a green and pleasant silicon valley. This preposterous blasphemy law puts all that respect at risk.” He said it would be too kind to call the law a ridiculous anachronism.
“It is a wretched, backward, uncivilised regression to the middle ages. Who was the bright spark who thought to besmirch the revered name of Ireland by proposing anything so stupid?”
Not content with worshipping tree stumps, my fellow citizens of Ireland have allowed their politicians to pass a blasphemy law that is vague, unnecessary, and asinine. In other words, it is the typical actions of the Fianna Fail government.
36. Publication or utterance of blasphemous matter.
(1) A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €25,000
(2) For the purposes of this section, a person publishes or utters blasphemous matter if (a) he or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion, and (b) he or she intends, by the publication or utterance of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage.
(3) It shall be a defence to proceedings for an offence under this section for the defendant to prove that a reasonable person would find genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value in the matter to which the offence relates.
Short version: if you say anything that a believer thinks is “grossly abusive or insulting” be prepared to prove it has “genuine literary, artistic, political, scientific, or academic value” or you’ll be fined (up to approximately $35,000) and the material seized by force (under section 37 of the legislation). All for offending some believers sensibilities. At least the Government removed an imprisonment clause.
I’m guessing that students in my alma mater (University College Dublin) won’t be watching The Life of Brian as we did in groups in the 1980’s. Bill Maher won’t be touring. Dawkins will be persona non grata. Makes you proud to be Irish, don’t it.
Turns out that the Government lost the first vote (22-21) only to call for a second “walk through” vote which took ten minutes, enough time for the Government to find two more senators and seal their victory.
This just in from Ireland. Nearly 2,000 people want to prevent the removal of a tree stump (above) which they believe depicts an image of the Blessed Virgin. Words of wisdom from the local parish priest: “There’s nothing there . . . it’s just a tree . . . you can’t worship a tree.” Indeed.