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PETER FROST takes a walk on the beach to discover God’s little puzzles

 It’s always best to visit the beach at East Quantoxhead after a storm or a particularly high tide. High or violent waves will erode the cliffs here and expose a new crop of amazing examples of life on earth millions of years ago.

This amazing Somerset beach where the Quantock hills jut out into Bridgewater Bay is one of the best places in Britain to discover fossils. On the beach you will walk over huge ammonites the size of dustbin lids set firmly in the limestone pavement.

Everywhere are fragments of ancient extinct wildlife buried in the rock for countless millennia now released by the violent action of the ocean waves and last night’s storm. Pre-history is revealed in all its glory.

Experienced fossil hunters will be beneath the cliffs using their special pointed hammers to split the often soft layers of shale rock to expose a fern frond, a reptile or a fish that hasn’t seen the light of day for millions of years.

Small children will pick up their first few fossils and marvel at the intricate beauty of these primitive plants and creatures long extinct.

It’s a great place for a bracing early morning stroll and a place to learn a little – or a lot – about the origins of life on earth.

Well it is – but only if you believe Mr. Charles Darwin and his remarkable theory on the Origin of Species.

Why wouldn’t you? Well at the last count some 49 per cent of the population of the USA said they don’t believe Darwin’s theory at all and are firmly of the opinion that God created the world fully formed in every detail just six thousand years ago.

The more lunatic fringe of fundamental Christians believe that not only did God create every species of plant and animal exactly as they exist today but also diseases including Aids, cancer, smallpox, syphilis and even David Attenborough’s famous parasitic worm that eats African children’s eyes. Nice inventive creature their God.

Hard working too; God would have to have designed and created at least ten million different species, and if the prediction of how many species are still to be identified is accurate, nearer one hundred million. Not bad going in seven days.

Not only that – but when He (God is always a he for these people) had almost finished he buried a few fossils in the rocks just to make the world more interesting and presumably to confuse Charles Darwin, Richard Dawkins and me.

In case you think that these are only a few crazy uneducated Americans it is worth remembering that when the Republican chose their Presidential candidate recently none of the six front runners interviewed on television was prepared to state publically that he or she believed in Darwin’s theory of Evolution.

Back in 1925’s the State of Tennessee prosecuted a Dayton school teacher, Tom Scopes just for mentioning evolution. At the resulting ‘Monkey Trial’ defense attorney Clarence Darrow made the Southern Bible Belt a laughing stock around the world.

Yet amazingly even today the Tennessee Education Board is demanding equal exposure in schools for both evolution and the theory that God created the world just six thousand years ago – they call it Creationism – I call it daft.

Now that fossilised thinking from across the pond is reaching more and more churches and Christians on this side of the Atlantic. Some of our much praised faith schools are demanding the right to teach their fundamental creationist nonsense alongside proven scientific facts.

He who pays the educational piper it seems can call the fundamentalist tune.  Sadly Tories, Liberals and even Labour all say “amen” to that.

I need a walk on the beach to clear my head. East Quantoxhead might be a good place to start. I hear there was a good storm last night.

This article first published in the Morning Star, 2013

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