THE author of an anti-science book last night begged Science Minister Conor Lenihan not to launch his controversial work after news of the invite triggered a tirade of abuse.
Initially, Mr Lenihan defended launching a book which claims to expose "the fiction of evolution" -- a decision which caused consternation in both the scientific and academic community.
The junior minister was scheduled to attend the launch of 'The Origin of Specious Nonsense' by John J May in Buswell's Hotel, Dublin, tomorrow evening.
However, last night the author said he was reversing his decision after news of the invitation prompted a wave of criticism from the public and the scientific community.
Mr May says evolution cripples sanity, promotes myths and obscures reality.
"I admire the man. I am now asking him not to launch my book even though it is in my invitations, it has gone around to everyone," he told the Irish Independent last night.
Earlier in the evening, Mr Lenihan, speaking from the Fianna Fail parliamentary party think-in in Galway, said he was launching the book because the author was a friend and constituent. He said he did not agree with the content of the book. He said he was not launching it in his capacity as minister.
"I do not agree with the conclusions of the book," Mr Lenihan said.
Last night, the UK-based Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science reported Mr Lenihan's decision to launch the book.
One contributor to the Dawkins's website added: "The thing is, if you are a Minister of Science and you wish to appear competent to hold the post you have been appointed to, then you don't help friends publicly launch anti-science tracts. Period."
Mr May reacted with fury to the criticism last night.
"Conor Lenihan has been a friend of mine for 20 years and I am extremely angry. I am ashamed at the abuse that is being heaped on a good man and an excellent minister," he added.
Even though Mr Lenihan defended himself last night, it will be seen as another gaffe from the minister who was previously criticised for telling Joe Higgins of the Socialist Party to stick to the kebabs.
The remark was taken to refer to the Turkish workers in the Gama construction company on whose behalf Mr Higgins had been campaigning.
More recently, he joked that his brother Brian, the Finance Minister, has a lovely axe which he sometimes wields indiscriminately.