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Northern Ireland news

Kids' creationist dinosaur roadshow criticised for 'alternative facts'

Promotional artwork for the upcoming 'Prehistoric Preachers' event by Creation Ministries
Paul Ainsworth

AN organisation is to tour Ireland with an event teaching children that dinosaurs and humans existed on Earth at the same time.

The ‘Prehistoric Preachers Dinosaur Roadshow’ is hosted by Creation Ministries, which promotes the belief that the world is only around 6,000 years old.

The fundamentalist Christian organisation says the roadshow - to visit four venues across the north during May before moving to five locations in the Republic – will teach the “true history of the world to young and old alike”.

Children are offered the chance to sit on life-size replicas of dinosaurs and take home an “educational free gift”.

However, it has been warned that the message that dinosaurs did not die out 65 million years ago flies in the face of conventional understanding of natural history, with one critic dubbing the claims put forward by organisers as “dangerous alternative facts”.

Creation Ministries previously sparked controversy when an event aimed at encouraging the teaching of creationism in the north’s schools was backed by DUP West Tyrone MLA Thomas Buchanan.

The assembly member praised the event last October for “reaching out to children who have been corrupted by the teaching of evolution”.

On its website, Creation Ministries states that “humans and dinosaurs did coexist” and speakers will explain their beliefs at the roadshow venues at churches in Belfast, Derry and Dungannon.

However, Ulster Museum palaeontologist Dr Michael Simms told The Irish News that it was important to teach children “conventional scientific theories”.

“These are accepted by scholars and scientists to describe life on Earth from the earliest evidence of fossils. This is consistent with approaches taken by museums of renown across the world,” he said.

Mainstream science teaches that the last dinosaurs died out suddenly about 65 million years ago, while the fossils of the earliest human ancestors are only about 6 million years old.

Boyd Sleator of the NI Humanists group criticised the teaching of “myths” to children who may be impressionable due to their age.

“This is simply dangerous alternative facts being presented to children in an ‘entertaining’ fashion,” he said.

“There is no evidence for these creationist beliefs, and we have a duty to protect young people from being told there is any basis for them.”

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