AN MSP has been branded a "dinosaur" after calling for Scottish school pupils to be made aware of creationism, claiming it cannot be "disproved by science".

John Mason, SNP MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, sparked controversy after lodging a motion in Holyrood on Friday which stated that beliefs about God creating the world in six days - or longer - and evolution cannot be "proved or disproved by science". He argued children in Scottish schools should be aware of these "different belief systems".

But in response Professor Paul Braterman, an honorary senior research fellow in chemistry at Glasgow University and scientific adviser to the Scottish Secular Society (SSS) said it showed there is a "real live dinosaur sitting in the Scottish Parliament".

It comes as Holyrood's public petitions committee this week makes its final consideration of a petition lodged by the SSS calling for a ban on the teaching of creationism as a viable alternative to evolution in classrooms.

Yesterday in a tongue-in-cheek blog Braterman wrote: "John Mason's challenge to me and pretty well every other scientist on the planet: prove the world was not created in six days. Now here's my challenge to Mr Mason: prove you are not a dinosaur.

"What is the evidence that you are not a dinosaur? Why is it not a valid belief for people to hold that you really are a dinosaur?

"How does the evidence compare with the evidence against a six-day creation from geology, physics, astronomy and cosmology, geography."

He added: "I have decided that I believe, as a matter of faith, that you really are a dinosaur, and I maintain that this is a valid belief for people to hold, and further consider that children in Scotland's schools should be aware of this different belief system."

Braterman cited a range of evidence from geology, physics, astronomy and cosmology and geography to back his argument. He pointed out, for example, that galaxies have been seen 12-billion light years away, which means "they've been receding from us for 12 billion years. Not six days."

He concluded: "I think all Scottish schoolchildren, or at a very minimum all schoolchildren in Mr Mason's constituency, be made aware of the theory that Mr Mason is an Intelligently Designed dinosaur.

"Otherwise we risk bringing them up with closed minds; minds closed against what we know from overwhelming evidence to be utter absurdities. And that would never do."

The motion from Mason, who describes himself as a Christian-Baptist, was put before Parliament in response to tough new measures introduced last week by South Lanarkshire council on chaplains in non-denominational schools.

The local authority, which was at the centre of a row over the promotion of young earth creationism in one of its schools, has drawn up guidance to ensure homophobic or creationist teaching is barred and parents will be told who is talking to their children in school.

Two years ago there was an outcry after it emerged US-based sect the West Mains Church of Christ had been handing out young earth creationist books - which showed mankind living alongside dinosaurs - to pupils at Kirktonholme Primary in East Kilbride.

Mason's motion states that the parliament notes that South Lanarkshire Council has issued the guidance and "understands that some people believe that God created the world in six days, some people believe that God created the world over a longer period of time and some people believe that the world came about without anyone creating it.'

The motion calls on the Parliament to support his belief "that none of these positions can be proved or disproved by science and all are valid beliefs for people to hold, and further considers that children in Scotland's schools should be aware of all of these different belief systems."

Last night Mason did not respond to a request for comment from the Sunday Herald.

However speaking about the motion on Friday he said: "I also believe that Jesus could turn water into wine; even if a scientific study of that wine showed it was years old.

"These are the beliefs of Christians, Muslims and of Jews and as far as I am concerned they cannot be proved or disproved by science."