Ship of Fools

I do like a good piece of public art. At Heysham’s Half Moon Bay sits Anne Gillespie’s Ship. Her website’s blurb explains:

Symbolically positioned on the boundary between land and sea, benefitting from dramatic backdrops of the tides, horizon and stunning coastal sunsets, the outline of a ship's hull is mounted with two opposing figures at each end, one facing 'the new' of Heysham Nuclear Power Station and the other facing 'the old' of the ancient monument of St Patrick's Chapel.

This is quite remarkable, and it never occurred to me as I examined the installation. A nuclear power station on one side, a ruined Saxon chapel on the other. One seems futuristic, or at least very contemporary, the other an incomprehensible relic of the past. The power plant is well built and solid, the old chapel roofless and precarious as it balances on that cliff edge. Perhaps we see a contrast between science and faith, that perceived battle of ideology which is fought in so many minds. To most in the West, that battle is already won. The brave new world of clipboards, lab coats and test tubes has vanquished the old order of vestments, candles and prayer. The scientist is the new prophet, the doctor the parish priest. We people of faith are pitied for our failure to move on and accept defeat, clinging to the delusions of the past. Our chapels are empty, ruined and cold.

Yet all is not well in modernity. The nuclear age and the secular ideology in hot pursuit offers little fulfilment. Unlike Gillespie’s sculpture, few in modern Britain look toward faith, placing instead all their hopes in 'science'. If only they realised that the Creator designed and planned a universe to operate according to His own laws and principles. A self-generating, random explosion could never produce a biosphere of such regularity, purpose and beauty as ours. Science points to God. We who know Him see no conflict between the chapel and the reactor, Christian truth and empirical enquiry. 

On 15 August 2019, Reactor 8 malfunctioned inside Heysham 2 Power Station, with loud bangs heard nearly 8 miles away. Quite worrying for people in the vicinity. Quite worrying for people further afield, who could remember Chernobyl in 1986 and Windscale in 1957. The technological progress in which we soley place our confidence we find more terrifying than the almighty Creator whose existence we deny and whose power we mock.