john Mason
Mason says: "The key thing is that God created the world, I don't get excited whether it's six days or 6 million years" Getty Images

"I don't like creationism" says John Mason when I first mention it. "It's not a word that I ever use myself, like 'fundamentalist.' I'd see that as being a part of a package that's more than a belief that god created the world. If that's what you mean by creationism I'm fine with that, but I feel it has a lot of baggage. It gives a wrong impression."

Yet, to many people, John Mason is the epitome of the modern creationist. As a member of the Scottish Parliament he has tabled a motion in Holyrood last month asserting that the belief that God created the world cannot be "proved or disproved by science", and arguing that this belief must be taught in schools, alongside evolution.

Mason has since been branded a "dinosaur" for peddling a view which still holds widespread credence in America, yet is roundly mocked on this side of the Atlantic. Yet the Glasgow Shettleton MSP is unrepentant, and believes he had every right to fight for creationism – even though he feels no affinity for the term.

"I'm a mainstream Christian," Mason says. "The key thing is only that God created the world, I don't get excited whether it's six days or 6 million years. I don't think timescale is important.

"That's why I put in the motion with the option of God creating the world, be it over 6 days of six million years. That's not fundamental to me. There are some things fundamental to Christianity, such as Jesus dying on a cross, but how long God took to create the world is not one of them."

john Mason
Mason says: "I don't think science can make a statement on where we've come from" Getty Images

Mason continues by insisting that neither creationism nor evolution can be proved by science. I want to press him on this.

'The key thing is only that God created the world. I don't think timescale is important.'
John Mason MSP

Yes, evolution may be a theory, but it has become an accepted truth after years of observation and experiment. In contrast there has never been a single event that 'proves' or even hints at God's existence; a cynic might argue that the only thing creationism has in its favour is that evolution can never be proved, 100%.

So, I ask my interviewee, how much proof do you need?

"None of these positions can be disproved by science," Mason says. "Science has to know its limitations. The Bible says Jesus turned water into wine. Science can look at that wine but, assuming that miracle happened, science could not tell us whether that wine was five minutes or five months to make.

"If God creates miracles, science is out of its depth. I don't think science can make a statement on where we've come from, it is based on the assumption that God hasn't created a miracle.

"To discover something means finding out things that are already there. My fundamental belief is that God created the world and all the rules of science, so science cannot find out that god doesn't exist. I'm totally committed to the truth so I want science to find out new things. Other people start off with the assumption that god does not exist, so there are assumptions being made on both sides."

'You couldn't be Christian, Muslim or Jew without believing God created world'

Furthermore, Mason believes creationism is still a widely-held belief among Britain's religious adherents, even though a recent survey of regular Christian and Muslim worshippers showed that almost 75% accept human evolution.

"The idea of a God that creates the world is a very central belief to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. There's nothing revolutionary about it. It is fundamental to the whole Christian belief that there is a creator, and Christianity would unravel if creationism was proved wrong.

"I don't see how you could be a Christian, Muslim or Jew and not believe that God created the world. Even those who accept evolution would say there was a God who set it in motion."

john Mason
"I have no problem with gay rights, although I voted against same-sex marriage" Getty Images

Mason has also been associated with another controversy which riddles the Christian church. In fact he was heavily criticised over his opposition to same-sex marriage. However he feels that this particular criticism has given him strength to deal with the latest abuse.

'Christianity would unravel if creationism was proved wrong.'
John Mason MSP

When asked how it feels to be labelled, Mason replies: "I've been there before. On same-sex marriage I was criticised over that, and the equality act I was on the [Scottish Parliament] committee and I felt the state was interfering too much in the church's activity. I got the same sort of abuse on Twitter and Facebook, but you can't have a decent discussion on Twitter or Facebook.

The creationism controversy which engulfed Mason in January came after a scandal in East Kilbride where the American Church of Christ handed out leaflets which also denounced homosexuality and abortion.

Mason believes "that particular church probably went too far. It's a privilege for any group to be operating in schools, we've got a long historical relationship between churches and schools and the state, [but] clearly we are now in a more secular society so the churches should be sensitive.

"I am against abortion. I have no problem with gay rights, although I voted against same-sex marriage. But there's a wider issue here. We're trying to ensure that all minorities are respected, and there's been more progress on some issues than others."

Given Mason's views on evolution, some will view his desire for "progress" as slightly ironic. He is clearly a brave man, with the strength to stand up for what he believes and to take the abuse that position entails. Yet it's hard to escape the view of a man out of time, desperate to uphold views which the majority of those around him have long abandoned.

John Mason may not like the word creationism, but one feels it is a shibboleth from which he will never truly escape.