Giant’s Causeway visitor centre interpretation

The Giant’s Causeway visitor centre provides a state-of-the-art exhibition area which showcases the science and the stories of the Giant’s Causeway.

All of the information presented to visitors in relation to how the Giant’s Causeway was formed, and how old it is, clearly reflects mainstream scientific understanding that the Causeway stones were formed 60 million years ago.

For centuries the Giant’s Causeway has prompted debate about how it was formed and how old it is.

One of the exhibits in the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre tells the story of the part the Giant’s Causeway played in the historic debate about how the earth’s rocks were formed and about the age of the earth.

In this exhibit we also state that for some people this debate continues today.

A National Trust spokesperson said: “The interpretation in the visitor centre showcases the science of how the stones were formed, the history of this special place and the stories of local characters.

“We reflect, in a small part of the exhibition, that the Causeway played a role in the historic debate about the formation of the earth, and that for some people this debate continues today.

“The National Trust fully supports the scientific explanation for the creation of the stones 60 million years ago.

“We would encourage people to come along, view the interpretation and judge for themselves.”

>>>UPDATE Wednesday 3 October: Review now complete – see details here.>>>

-Ends-

Notes to editors
This is an interactive audio exhibit: by pressing buttons within this exhibit the visitor has an opportunity to hear a flavour of this debate between historical characters. In this exhibit we also reference the fact that Creationists today have a different understanding from that of mainstream science.  A transcript of this section of the exhibit is available.

The National Trust undertook extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders in the planning and development of the entire interpretative content of the exhibition.

The consultation included the local community and existing visitors to the World Heritage Site.

This exhibit is just one of many great stories we tell at the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre.  The interpretation covers many themes and topics, including science, geology, natural history, myths and legends and the stories of local characters, past and present.

The project:
The Giant’s Causeway visitor experience cost £18.5million. Of this funding package, the National Trust provided £6.25m, the Department of Enterprise Trade & Investment, through the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, awarded £9.25 million of which £6.125 million has been provided by the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland with the Heritage Lottery Fund allocating £3million.

Admission:
Ticket admission includes: access to the visitor centre, hand held pocket audio guide, orientation leaflets and car parking. Find out more on the Giant’s Causeway web pages.

Background to the National Trust:
The National Trust is a conservation charity which looks after special places throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  We look after some of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful and special places – for ever, for everyone. The places in our care range from Northern Ireland’s highest mountain, Slieve Donard, to our only World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway; from amazing gardens like Mount Stewart and Rowallane to mansions such as Castle Coole, The Argory and Florence Court and rare working mills like Patterson’s Spade Mill and Wellbrook Beetling Mill.

In all, in Northern Ireland, we protect and provide access to:

  • Over 120 miles of coastline (about one third of Northern Ireland’s coastline)
  • 40 square miles of countryside
  • More than 200 listed buildings
  • 4,000 hectares of farmed land
  • Over 1,500 archaeological sites.

We are actively supported by over 56,000 members and over 2,000 volunteers in Northern Ireland.  Well over a million visitors enjoy our sites every year. We encourage everyone to enjoy and care for our nature and heritage. In doing so, we also advocate the protection of the environment across all of Northern Ireland, not just at our own sites. Find out more at: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk

UPDATE

Transcript from debating characters on a listening point within the exhibition venue>>>

Stone or Giant Fossil? : Thomas Molyneux & St. George Ashe

Molyneux:
Ah, so you’d like to know my opinion on the matter? Thomas Molyneux is the name, State Physician of Ireland my calling.

I made a long study of the Causeway, this wonder of creation, and the first thing to say is that it has nothing to do whatsoever with ancient myths and legends and so forth – superstitious nonsense!

I believe what we have here is simply basalt rock; now hours of study through my lens show no signs of fossils in the stones… whatever others may have to say on the matter… and whoever those others may be – these ridiculous letters aren’t even signed!

Ashe:
Oh, come now, Dr. Molyneux! I do not admit to writing any letters, but I shall freely confess to being St. George Ashe, Bishop of Cloyne, and to believing firmly that the fossils are not in the stones – they are the stones themselves!

The shape of the columns tells me that they are the stems of huge, fossilized sea creatures – mighty relatives of the little Entrochus fossils that the dedicated searcher may sometimes find along the coast.

Molyneux:
Preposterous, old friend! One might as well talk of fairies and giants!

Ashe:
Tcha! We’ll see, Dr. Molyneux – we’ll see!

Forged in fire or born in water? : Nicholas Demarest & Abraham Werner

Desmarest:
Bonjour! Nicolas Desmarest at your service! And so you are interested in knowing how the great stones were created, n’est-ce pas? Bien! Amateur I may be, but I am still a man of science. And, whatever Abraham Werner says, the Causeway is exactement like the volcanic stones in the Auvergne in France. 

Werner:
No, no, no, you say volcanic – I say it is…

Desmarest:
Thank you, Herr Werner, but you will permit me to finish, s’il vous plaît! Ahem! I have observed this old lava again and again and everywhere in it – voilà! Columns. In the Giant’s Causeway, these same columns are proof of an old volcano. Werner may be a mining expert – but when it comes to geology…

Werner:
…when it comes to geology, I am Teacher of Mining and Mineralogy at the Freiberg Mining Academy und NOT un amateur! I visited the most famous basaltic hill in Saxony, near Stolpen, in person, and it is not a volcano! More – there is no volcano anywhere near it! Earth’s waters, not its fires, created its rocks!

Desmarest:
Bof! Mon dieu. Ignore Herr Werner! I myself have seen ancient lava that has flowed over great distances! You must search far to find its source – so perhaps this area, too, was once flooded with lava and…

Werner:
Nein, Monsieur Desmarest! Nein, nein, nein!

Desmarest:
Mon Dieu, ces Allemands! This is the 18th Century, n’est-ce pas?!?!

An Ancient Earth or a New Creation? : James Hutton and Dr Richardson

Richardson:
Now see here, I am deeply concerned that…oh I do beg your pardon. My name is Richardson – the Reverend Doctor William Richardson. Rector of Clonfeacle.

I am a keen naturalist, so I have every sympathy for open-minded scientific enquiry. But as I say, I am deeply concerned that Mr. Hutton may mislead you with his theories on the age of the Earth.

We know from the Bible that the Earth is 6,000 years old! One has merely to count the generations between Adam and the birth of Our Lord. And for all his eminence as a geologist, and his standing with the Royal Society in Edinburgh, that makes Mr. Hutton’s theory nonsense!

Hutton:
Now, now Dr. Richardson, I am well aware that my theory is challenging…upsetting to many…I myself find it dizzying…yet when I look at the evidence, at the slow and steady volcanic formation of rocks – occurring even as we speak! – I am driven to believe that 6,000 years is a mere blink in the life of the Earth – I see no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end!

Richardson:
Well, I shall return to Antrim once more, Mr. Hutton! I am sure I shall find proof there that all rocks are formed under the sea – and put an end to your theory of an ancient Earth!

Hutton:
Indeed? Well I wish you luck, sir…

Bamboo? : Captain Morton

Ah, good day to you! Morton’s the name – Captain Charles Morton, Royal Navy. So – want to know the real truth as to the origins of the Giant’s Causeway stones, do you?

It seems to me that anybody who’d sailed with me would have a better chance of understanding their origins than these landsmen who sit and read their books.

As for me, well, the logs will show that I served Her Majesty Queen Victoria long enough in the tropics to recognize bamboo when I see it!

The long, narrow stems – the occasional joints on the columns – why, any Jamaica Station hand would know this for bamboo.

Giant bamboo, yes, as befits the age of dinosaurs – but fossilized bamboo it must be and is!

(Chorus of laughs)

Quiet there! Quiet on deck, I say!

The Debate continues today

Like many natural phenomena around the world, the Giant’s Causeway has raised questions and prompted debate about how it was formed.

This debate has ebbed and flowed since the discovery of the Causeway to science and, historically, the Causeway became part of a global debate about how the earth’s rocks were formed.

This debate continues today for some people, who have an understanding of the formation of the earth which is different from that of current mainstream science.

Young Earth Creationists believe that the earth was created some 6000 years ago.  This is based on a specific interpretation of the Bible and in particular the account of creation in the book of Genesis.

Some people around the world, and specifically here in Northern Ireland, share this perspective. 

Young Earth Creationists continue to debate questions about the age of the earth. As we have seen from the past, and understand today, perhaps the Giant’s Causeway will continue to prompt awe and wonder, and arouse debate and challenging questions for as long as visitors come to see it.

 For further information on this exhibit, please speak to a Ranger.

- ENDS TRANSCRIPT -

To register your opinion formally please email us and our team will respond to you as soon as they are able.

If you feel you have a question which has not been answered sufficiently here please direct it to enquiries.ni@nationaltrust.org.uk.

Or you can write to: Giant’s Causeway Interpretation Issues, The National Trust, Northern Ireland Regional Office, Rowallane House, Saintfield, Co. Down, BT24 7LH, and will do our best to answer your enquires there.

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126 thoughts on “Giant’s Causeway visitor centre interpretation

  1. Yes I think the name could be a problem so we need a competition to think of another one. Safest would be ‘unusual geological formation which may have arisen quite a while ago’.

  2. The phrase “debate” suggests a level of uncertainty, please replace with “some people have a religious belief that goes against all available scientific evidence”

    • Quite right. There are many debates in geology. None of them give any credence to the idiotic rantings of creationists

    • This is the nub of it. It’s the implication that proven science is open for debate that is a dis-service to education

  3. The logical outcome of pandering to religious fundamentalists can currently be seen in the respect they show for the world heritage sites in Timbuktu.

  4. The age of the earth is simply not up for debate and even highlighting their ignorant view is giving them a platform that they should not have. I am very disappointed.

    Otherwise, if you wanted to be fair you should have included other creation myths, why single out this particular delusion?

  5. Any chance of supplying the transcript mentioned in the ‘notes to editors’ section? How prominent is the argument in favour of creationism, and how clearly is it refuted as nonsense?

  6. Clearly the stones were deposited from the great flood – but not Noah’s flood. It’s obvious they are from Utnapishtim’s flood as documented in the Epic of Gilgamesh. You know the one where the god Ea commanded Utnapishtim to build a boat large enough to keep alive “all the beasts and animals of the field.” Duh.

  7. There is no reason for a Creationist, or any other religious viewpoint, to be included in this exhibition. It is simply irrelevant. There has been “consultation” with a Creationist group in making this exhibit, and that is entirely unacceptable. There is no “debate”, only opinion. It can add nothing to the visitor experience. A truthful explanation as to what happened here would make the embarrassment of this on a world stage somewhat less painful.

  8. The NT has taken public and is using it to promote the beliefs of fundamentalist religion alongside scientific fact as if they were in anyway comparable. This is a nonsense. Do the local hospitals offer the Stork Theory in the maternity wards?
    This is a pathetic capitulation and is harmful to all those children you hope to entice to your attraction. You should return the public money or remove the propoganda.

  9. Saying that the debate about the age of Earth is ongoing is like saying we’re not absolutely sure about the cheese content of the Moon. I just can’t work out why you are happy to say “This debate continues today for some people”. Would you legitimize the following Flat Earth debate? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wppjYDj9JUc

    Are you happy that the Caleb Foundation (who say they have engaged with you on this) are saying “…the new Causeway Visitor Centre includes an acknowledgement both of the legitimacy of the creationist position on the origins of the unique Causeway stones and of the ongoing debate around this”?

  10. Creationists have no recognised proof to back up their ‘arguments’.
    They are not scientists.
    They are not part of the ‘debate’.
    Shame on the National Trust for giving their agenda credibility

    • Creationists have scientific evidence to back up their arguments…God designed and created the universe approximately 6000 years ago as recorded in the Holy Bible by men given the facts by God

      • And the Spiderman book is irrefutable evidence of the existence of Spiderman.

      • Simon – whilst I respect your right to hold a view – and equally with the fundamentalist Pastafarian’s (blessed be their noodley repasts) who believe in the later visitation theory, you do not make any reference to scientific evidence. A rational objective study of the rocks (independent from these so called ‘conventional’ scientists) will show that his Noodliness created the rocks in 1200…or possibly 1201…..about middayish!! Your theory of spiderman is about as plausible as these YEC nutters. I hope you will come to value objective and rational judgement…and that the NT will also do the same.

        Dakey
        Junior Paster
        Townside Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (Reformed)

  11. If the exhibit shows “the science of how the stones were formed” then why does there need to be any other views on its formation?

    I’m frankly disappointed that anything other than scientific fact and history would be displayed here for learning purposes.

    • That is the point….the scientific fact and history is what you read in the Bible….Darwin only turned anti-God due to the death of his daughter…he told the lies about evolution all the deluded intellectuals such as Dawkins are believing

  12. We at the Auschwitz Visitor Centre respect a wide range of views and consulted with many local groups, including National Socialists in putting together our visitor experience. Obviously the camp plays a big part in the debate about whether the Holocaust ever took place. This debate still contiues today. Come along and visit the gas ovens and the railway tracks and judge for yourselves!

  13. There is no scientific controversy about the age of the earth, or about the origin of the Giants Causeway.

    There is an attempt by religiously motivated fanatics to pretend that there is some disagreement about the science, which the National Trust has abetted through this poorly thought out presentation.

  14. You could have included the creationist view with other mythological material, I suppose, but it is dishonest to pretend that it has any scientific credibility.

  15. Pingback: National Trust hits back: we’re not pandering to Creationism | Liberal Conspiracy

  16. I am appalled at the text of the audio description you have included in the Giant’s Causeway Visitors Centre, which can be interpreted as allowing support for the views of Creationism in the formation of the causeway.

    Although a spokesperson claimed this morning that the viewpoint of the National Trust was to fully support the incontrovertible scientific evidence of its age and formation, it is clear that the text was written to imply some sort of debate continues.

    I find this perplexing, I assume this means that the National Trust would also produce similar text at the White Cliffs of Dover and other geological formations which it oversees?

    I am afraid that I cannot countenance any more visits to National Trust properties by myself or my family, if this is the poor excuse for factual information that the National Trust approves of. Your reputation has been sullied.

  17. This “debate” is all nonsense. Of course the rocks are made up of fossilised noodle extrusions, left as a signature by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, when He made the earth some time before 1650AD.

    • I believe this to be true – I hope our views will be represented in the visitor centre. Praise Flying Spaghetti Monster (sauce be upon him)

    • I object to these fundamentalist Pastafarians being given airtime when the scientific evidence clearly points to a much earlier visitation by his noodliness. From examination of the red stains on the rocks there is clear scientific evidence that his visit was in 1200CE. Why does the NT allow such unscientific twaddle to be peddled? I have written in protest to them – see below

      Dear National Trust
      I am very disappointed to read that in your exhibition at the Giant’s Causeway you have chosen to represent some very narrow religious views regarding the origins of the Giant’s Causeway and have neglected other equally valid views which differ from so call ‘main stream science’.

      As a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti monster I am affronted that you have refused to recognise the clear evidence and deeply held beliefs of the many many pastafarians in the UK and around the world. Any objective rational examination of the evidence shows that the rock formations were formed in the late 12th century by his noodley tendrils and if there are any doubts, analysis of the rock colouring will show that they originate from tomato and basil sauce.

      I would ask that you include this alternative view if you are to have any claim at being reasonable and balanced.


      Dakey
      Junior Deacon, Townside Community Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (reformed).
      Haddenham

  18. Showing how in less enlightened times people made up stories to explain how the Giants Causeway was created is fine. But consulting with evangelical Christian groups when creating the exhibit can only give credence to their anti-scientific views. A foolish misjudgement – the NT should have known better.

  19. Pingback: New age proposed for Giants Causeway | lithics

  20. This is obvious religious discrimination.

    The National Trust is presenting the beliefs of one religious group with regards to the origin of the Giant’s Causeway but ignoring the rest. If one unproven supernatural explanation is to be presented, why not other ones with equal amounts of evidence?

    In the interests of fairness and equality, surely the National Trust has a responsibility to present all religious views equally. As F5F5F5 has pointed, Pastafarians believe that the Giant’s Causeway has a noodly origin. Where is the mention of this?

    Considering now that 2 Flying Spaghetti Monsterists have expressed belief in the Noodle theory of origins in this thread, presumably we can look forward to seeing the NT present the Pastafarian explanation alongside the scientific, evidence-based explantation and the conjectural explanation based on a literal meaning of a 2000 year old allegorical text.

      • Make that four, for we Pastafarians are legion. But please, all you who read this, ignore all previous heretical screeds by the deluded factionalists within our holy church. If you want evidence, simply view these stones from a great hight, much as you would the Nazca lines and it becomes obvious that they represent the Sprig of Parsley which adorned His Noodly Plate, and as is also clear from the evidence, they were created by His Noodlyness at 10:37am, on August 14, 1194, CE. I believe it was a Friday. I confidently anticipate an addendum referring to this equally valid viewpoint will be added to the information provided to tourists and school children who visit this Holy and cultural site.

  21. Pingback: An open letter to the National Trust « Oliver's Paleo Blog

  22. “Mainstream scientific understanding”? As opposed to what? Fantasy scientific understanding? That is shameful pandering to a fringe religious lobby. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

  23. There is a fact, determined by a mountain of evidence and there is a mythological story from a book, written by men, which some religious people (and only some, many are happy to accept the science as the two are not mutually exclusive). This is not a debate. Debate implies a conclusion is yet to be reached. When it comes to the Earth’s (approximate) age there are those who accept the evidence and those that ignore it. There is no debate between the two because it would be futile – neither could be convinced to change their position.

    Suggesting there is equal weight behind each view is misleading and utterly disgraceful. Present the facts and make it clear that the creation myth is supported by NO evidence.

    Also, if you insist on putting forward all viewpoints then it really should be ALL, not just those of the Abrahamic religions. You should include all creation myths under the heading of ‘Myths and Legends.’

  24. Creationists do not have an understanding, and NT should not be mentioning them in any exhibit guides or labelling. You should not respect wackos even if they have money.

  25. Come on NT, wake up and smell the Coffee, These Creationist fools are using you. All they seek is to get bodies like yourself to “Recognise The Contoversy” You are undermining the Serious work and effort that many have undertaken to stop these people gaining parity of recognition for their views in schools and other establishments.
    This is a sad day for those of us who trust and support you, You need to fix this NOW.

  26. The whole “the deabte continues” bit is very dodgy. The implication being that there’s a possibility creationists might be proved right on day. Science is science – there is no ‘mainstream’ science, which is what creationists like to call ideas they don’t like.

  27. I have no objection to the historical part of the dialogue. But it is simply false to suggest that “the debate continues today”. It does not. Therefore you have misled people, particularly children who have come to be educated. You should be emphasising that the the science is settled, the facts are in. We now know the answers to the questions that Messrs Molyneux, Ashe, Demarest, Werner, Hutton, Richardson, & Morton were asking. We completely understand how and when the causeway was formed.

    You should be celebrating this triumph of human reason. Instead, you pander to those who deny it. I see absolutely no reason for your exhibit to make any reference whatsoever to today’s Young Earth Creationists. What have those ignorants got to do with it?

    You pay them the compliment of saying they “have an understanding of the formation of the earth which is different from that of current mainstream science”.

    What was that – “understanding” – ? Don’t you mean “wilful misunderstanding”?

    And you say “different from that of current mainstream science”? Surely you mean “flatly contradicted by every serious scientist on the planet” or maybe “wildly, ludicrously wrong”?

    Come to think of it, why are the words “current” and “mainstream” in there at all? I’ll tell you: to give the false impression that there is room for legitimate disagreement. Sure, “current” science holds that the moon is made of rock rather than cheese, but who knows, perhaps next year scientists will change their minds. Yes “mainstream” scientsts think that thunder is caused by the release of electric charge from clouds, but others – brave radicals on the margins – are daring to suggest that it might be Thor banging his hammer.

  28. By the way the ‘Specifically here’ phrase about Creationism is, I feel to be deeply insulting as a resident of Northern Ireland. I suggest that if you were to suggest that Edward’s castles in Wales were seen by some people as a way of repressing the Welsh ‘Specifically in England’ it might raise a few letters to the Times. Or probably the Guardian. We may have our problems but we do not have a higher % of nutjobs than anyone else. (though admittedly we may have more in government)

  29. http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Balance_fallacy

    “The balance fallacy, also known as false balance, occurs when two sides of an argument are assumed to have equal value regardless of their respective merits. The application of the fallacy leads to two major problems:

    * Firstly, it can lead to equal exposure to arguments despite their merits or relevance. This may arise due to a misunderstanding of probability; that two outcomes or positions lead to a probability of 50:50 for each, and so both deserve an equal chance to put themselves forward. In fact, probability is not necessarily equal.

    * Secondly, it can lead to the belief that the truth must lie somewhere in between the two opposing sides, when in fact it’s possible that one side is completely wrong. In this context the balance fallacy may be the result of attempts to reach a compromise between mutually exclusive positions, as often found in political debate where there is not necessarily an objective “truth”, as such, to be found behind a political policy. “

  30. A serious question:

    Did the National Trust accept any money from organisations espousing creationist views wishing their viewpoint noted in or around this or any other National Trust exhibit?

    If the answer is “no”, then I suggest you state that very clearly, very quickly.

    If the answer is “yes”, then you have some explaining to do as to what you were thinking.

    • Hi David

      The £18.5 million project for the new facilities, interpretation and trails was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£3million), £9.25million from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board with support from the European Union Regional Development fund and £6.25 million from the National Trust.

      • Was the NI Assembly involved in any of the discussions regarding the funding? Could perhaps the views of some well known DUP members with Creationist sympathies been involved? Is the Pope……well you know very well where this is going….

  31. Disappointed to say the least that you are giving one iota of space to the credibility of Young Earth Creationists. The ‘debate’ over the age of the earth exists only in their heads with no reasonable scientist giving any credence to their narrow world view.

  32. Unfortunately in many places the debate DOES continue, however obvious the scientific evidence seems to many of us. The Giants Causeway is an international symbol and will have an international audience, we have only seen the transcript of one part of the display, I would assume this makes up less than 10% of the information visitors see/ hear, I can only assume the rest gives the fully explained scientific reason for the formation of the causeway and states it as fact.
    What also has to be seen is that the ‘fundamentalist’ group that will have been consulted will probably be the local population, many of whom will be Catholic and have clear creationist views, this gives the Christian creation story more relevance than, say, Pastafarianism.
    There are a large amount of scientists who do still believe in God and creation yet still lecture on their particular scientific field and some seek to use scientific theory to prove Biblical teachings so to say the debate doesn’t continue is to ignore some rather unsavoury facts about parts of society, both general and scientific.
    I categorically disagree with these people beliefs, but we have to acknowledge that they exist and that as Christianity grows (and in the wider world it is) they will grow with it. Whilst I wouldn’t have expected the NT to enter the debate I can only assume that as they spoke to many locals they encountered the debate and felt they had to acknowledge it – image the criticism from Catholics if their view had been ignored in their own country. It isn’t for the NT to censor anyone, just reflect the facts, and the facts are that people are still debating these topics. Science may be the West’s new religion and to have replaced religious teachings with (for myself) far more satisfying answers to life’s mysteries, but the very nature of scientific enquiry means that there is never an absolute and the answers may change, so in fact the debate never really ends. At least this portrays it as a (largely) historical debate, and at the same times gives some over due credit to Hutton.
    Perhaps the answer is to see the exhibition centre for ourselves before we truly judge the tone of what visitors will learn.

  33. Thank you for providing the transcript, it is always good to see some evidence of what people are talking about. The historical debate part is fine, it shows how science has advanced, and how the Causeway has been part of that debate. I can understand why the visitors’ centre would wish to highlight the Causeway’s part in helping to debunk a mythical origin to the Earth.

    Your conclusion to this section is quite worrying – it suggests that the Young Earth viewpoint has a validity outside of ‘current mainstream science’ when in fact it is outside science altogether. To infer that this viewpoint is especially popular in Northern Ireland is insulting to the general population; as Wikipedia would say, who are ‘some’ people? To finish with a paragraph that suggests that the scientific debate on the age of the Earth is still open is unforgiveable.

    The Giants Causeway is something that had long been on my list of things that I should see, but at least now I know to steer clear of the visitors’ centre, at a minimum.

  34. As a child I read that Finn McCool built the Giant’s Causeway, he also created the Isle of Man when he pulled up a sod of earth (thus creating Lough Neagh) and threw it across the sea towards Britain – I presume you will “respect” my “belief” and note that I have ” an understanding of the formation of the earth which is different from that of current mainstream science”.

  35. In note that Nelson McCausland, Minister for Social Development in Northern Ireland, is a member of the Caleb Group on Facebook… http://www.facebook.com/groups/120251888003861/
    a party colleague of Arlene Foster, Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Development, which provided £9.25m in funding to the visitor centre. Now I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but could an invisible hand be at work? They’ll be locking up the swings again on Sunday next…

  36. Pingback: Crass stupidity from the National Trust « cartesian product

  37. I had huge respect for the NT as an academic organisation. This has made you look foolish. There is no debate, creationism is abject nonsense and giving it any sort of platform is handing validity to religious inspired ignorance. I will not be visiting, I will not be recommending anybody visits and I will probably extend this to all other NT properties for who knows what other distasteful and intellectually repugnant treats you have in store for my family. Uttery disgusted.

  38. There is absolutely NO excuse for including this twaddle about creationism in what should be a factual description. Take it out and stick to FACTS. You are letting down the reputation and history of the National Trust down by trying to be inclusive of such nonsense.

  39. What an absolute disgrace. Shame on you National Trust. There is no place for this irrational and fantastical dogma, so called creationism, alongside objective and rigorously tested scientific theory. There is simply no comparison and nor does there exist any real debate. Science is a bank of knowledge that has developed from the some of the greatest minds and accrued over many centuries through rigorous experimentation, intuitive insight and critical peer review. Creationism is a recent idea, essentially borne out of the collective fear, lived out by those who believe that the Bible, for some silly reason, should be taken literally. It is not Science, never was and never will be! Even the Catholic Church recognises the allegorical nature of the Bible.
    Yours truly appalled,
    John Mair

  40. Pingback: Beatrix Potter and the National Trust: for science | Edinburgh Eye

  41. To suggest that there is any debate today about the age of the earth and the origins of the Causway is an absolute disgrace. What we see in NI and elsewhere cannot be called “debate” with any honesty – the creationist barratry is no more than the havering of a superstitious and myth-ridden clique; how can you even imply that such nonsense could be set against the evidence-based conclusions of many hundreds of scientists across a vast range of disciplines?The NT should be deeply ashamed of giving these charlatans even this much pseudo-respectability as they pursue their campaign to undermine real education wherever they can gain political influence. The presentation could arguably mention in passing that some people still like to cling to certain delusions about the Causeway – if indeed it mentions other myths and legends on the same footing – but it should be amended to make it quite clear that there is no “debate”; the facts are known.

  42. I came to this page because what I had heard was leading me to consider resigning as a member of the National Trust – and I am not reassured. As a piece of history I don’t object to the historical conversation involving Dr Richardson – as long as there really was a Dr Richardson who wrote about the Giant’s Causeway in this way. However I strongly object to the section about the debate continuing, for reasons others have already given, but there is one important point which other commentators seem to have overlooked.

    For years Northern Ireland has been in a state of turmoil, because different groups of Christian could not agree on their interpretation of the bible, and acted as if Jesus preached hate rather than love. As a result many local people suffered and the tourist industry was severely damaged. In the commentary the National Trust has given credence to one very narrow minded Christian view – when many Christians (and presumably all non-Christians) reject this interpretation of the bible. Bearing in mind the recent history of Christianity in Northern Ireland the National Trust only had two responsible choices. Either it should make it clear that the scientific evidence is unambiguous – and there is no scientific debate – or it should say there is a religious debate and give equal weight all religious views (both Christian and other religions). The decision to give special credence to one particularly narrow-minded Christian sect on a site which hopes to attract tourists is highly divisive and could well be counter-productive in reminding tourists what a dangerous place Northern Ireland could be.

    In any case the Young Earth Creationist view is not specifically about the Giants Causeway – and their views are applicable to every NT site which has any geology or early human context. If you allow one selected minority group to use the National Trust, without introducing proper balance I can foresee displays going up on Hadrian’s Wall naming the British National Party saying that there is active and current debate about the horrendous Roman Policy of allowing people from Africa and Asia into England. What is happening at the Giant’s Causeway is the first step on a very dangerous slippery slope of allowing religious and political groups to rewrite history by allowing them to put one side of what is really a religious or political debate without also allowing all other religious and political groups to have their say.

    I have made a note in my diary to cancel my membership renewal if I haven’t heard by the end of the year that the display has been changed.

  43. Pingback: The Giant’s Causeway controversy: some free advice « The New Creationism

  44. Time to decide where my charitable donation goes this month. Wouldn’t want to encourage religious fundamentalism with my charitable giving, so won’t be giving to National Trust.

  45. I see in your post you consulted with Stakeholders. I put it to you that some of the stakeholders, investors and pursestrings’ bearers insisted on this rubbish to be put in the centre. As I live quite near it, I am aware of the beliefs of some of the invested parties.

    You capitulated to get funding.

    For that alone, you should be ashamed.

  46. The words of Wallace Thompson, chairman of the creationist Caleb Foundation demonstrate quite clearly what is going on here “We have worked closely with the National Trust over many months with a view to ensuring that the new Causeway Visitor Centre includes an acknowledgement both of the legitimacy of the creationist position on the origins of the unique Causeway stones and of the ongoing debate around this.”

    They are using the NT to claim legitimacy for their crackpot views. They have now been given a platform by the NT to claim that there is a debate. Spouting ignorant dogma is not debate.

  47. At the very least, you should alter

    “This debate continues today for some people, who have an understanding of the formation of the earth which is different from that of current mainstream science.”

    to

    “This debate continues today for some people, who have an understanding of the formation of the earth which is different from that of science.”

  48. Pingback: An update from the team at Giant’s Causeway | National Trust Press Office

  49. I agree with other comments above that the problem is not the presentation of the role the Giant’s Causeway played in past debate over the age of the earth, but the implication that there is still a scientific debate shames an organization which, I as a member for several years, am usually proud to support.

    At the very least the NT needs to remove the words “current mainstream” from the sentence “This debate continues today for some people, who have an understanding of the formation of the earth which is different from that of current mainstream science.” as the YEC position has no scientific credibility, mainstream or otherwise.

    I can’t for the life of me see why the be;liefs of YECs should be privilaged over other current unscientific beliefs about the creation of the world…will we see aboriginal or Hindu creation myths referenced in the same way? The NT should simple remove the whole of the following section.

    “Young Earth Creationists believe that the earth was created some 6000 years ago. This is based on a specific interpretation of the Bible and in particular the account of creation in the book of Genesis.

    Some people around the world, and specifically here in Northern Ireland, share this perspective.

    Young Earth Creationists continue to debate questions about the age of the earth. As we have seen from the past, and understand today, perhaps the Giant’s Causeway will continue to prompt awe and wonder, and arouse debate and challenging questions for as long as visitors come to see it.”

    And remove it before more damage is done to their reputation.

    • As a life member of the NT, I couldn’t agree more. Even when I received a christian education I was never asked to believe that Genesis was anything but a myth.

  50. Pingback: Giants’ Causeway Interpretive Centre: “The National Trust fully supports the scientific explanation for the creation of the stones 60 million years ago” « Slugger O'Toole

  51. Almost as astonishing as giving the oxygen of further publicity to this creationist nonsense is the use of the word debate, as if there is some legitimate scientific questioning over whether or not Yoda made the stones. The National Trust have gone from respectable guardians of heritage to clowns overnight.

  52. If the Creationist “debate” portion of the exhibition really is just an historical aside, then your justification of it could do with some photographs to put it in context…

    • Hi Bob

      We’re working on creating a video to show the exhibit in context – hopefully we’ll have it very soon.

      • There’s a Creationist ‘museum’ in Kentucky that will presumably lend you lots of videos of men feeding their pet dinosaurs. Either that or just show an episode of the Flintstones….. Seriously just have the kahoonas to dump it and take the flack from the God botherers.

  53. Dear National Trust,

    As an occasional volunteer for your organisation, I would just like to let you know that I will henceforth cease all association with the organisation, and convince everyone I know to cancel subscriptions and donations, until such time as the National Trust ceases to promote Christian Fundamentalism in the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre.

    Have you gone completely mad? I can imagine the Caleb Foundation are delighted that you caved in to promote their ridiculous viewpoints which have no place outside of their churches, and less still in a publicly funded UNESCO World Heritage site. I was horrified to see the National Trust representative saying that they wanted to indicate that there is a “debate”. Is there a debate that dinosaurs existed over 65M years ago, and not side by side with humans? That the white cliffs of Dover are the fossilised remains of sea creatures? That the Earth orbits the Sun?

    You have probably opened the floodgates so that these fanatics make demands that the creationist viewpoint be portrayed at all of your sites. The Caleb Foundation representative almost said as much. Are you going to pander to their every desire from now on? The long term goal of these groups will be to have creationism in our children’s science books, as already happens in the US. You have given them their first step to victory on this path.

    I would have expected this kind of grossly irresponsible and illogical action in Kentucky or Afghanistan, but not here. Rectify it before it is too late.

    Yours, Graham Burns

  54. Congratulations to the National Trust for their courage in including this challenging and educational material. I know that many people would like to have material presented as black-and-white settled fact but geology is not like that. There are many unknowns and even more opinions. Even in recent decades some long-cherished geological beliefs have been overturned. I think the Trust has done a service in presenting the science in the way it has. Well done.

    • Mr Walker, I know you to be a creationist and a “biblical geologist” or something like that. I am not debating with you about the age of Earth because there can be no rational debate about this.

      In fact, I hope you never read this. I’m not really writing to you at all. What I am doing here is refuting your argument above which is about the process of science.

      Many “long-cherished geological beliefs” have been overturned in the distant past, but only because they were beliefs, usually arising from some religion or other. None of the historical geology or science to which you would seek to refer was based on belief. If it were, it would not be science. You’re mixing up myth and science.

      All the scientists who have responded to this post, horrified by the NT’s cack-handed legitimization of this non-debate, would on the other hand admit joyfully that the current models and theories around the origins of the Giant’s Causeway are liable to update or change. The giant of Science would take this in its stride. In fact, we love a paradigm shift. We don’t need to believe to progress our science, you see, although we might choose to believe in other stuff such as some god, or kindness, or honesty. We also do dreams and imagination.

      So while I expect you will go on labouring under the misapprehension that you can “overturn” the fact (not “geological belief”) that Earth is around 4.54 bn years old you can be sure that by definition this will just not happen. Some future unspecified change in what geologists think about the Giant’s Causeway will just not do this. There can be no rational debate about it, so stop bothering me.

      So, while I don’t care what you think about the age of Earth I do care that you misrepresent the methods of science.

  55. The NT needs to go back, take this silly display down and publicly apologise for misspending money on total rubbish. Then it needs to get its house in order and reflect only the best in British culture and heritage, not the worst of international stupidity and ignorance, the worst of human experience.

  56. the creationist display must be removed. it’s simply not acceptable to have a state sponsored institution promoting dangerous junk science. giving kids the impression that it’s in any way legitimate is an abuse.

  57. I entirely agree with Paul Browne above in not understanding why the beliefs of YECs should be privileged over other current unscientific beliefs about the creation of the world…
    By referencing it as a current ‘debate’ you are muddying the distinction between myth, personal belief and our most up-to-date scientific consensus based on facts from geologists, biologists, archaelogists and other experts.
    As a parent it deeply worries me that the National Trust is bowing to such funding pressure from minority groups. It completely undermines your status as having educational value.

    I second Paul Brown in requesting that NT should remove the whole of the following section.

    “Young Earth Creationists believe that the earth was created some 6000 years ago. This is based on a specific interpretation of the Bible and in particular the account of creation in the book of Genesis.
    Some people around the world, and specifically here in Northern Ireland, share this perspective.
    Young Earth Creationists continue to debate questions about the age of the earth. As we have seen from the past, and understand today, perhaps the Giant’s Causeway will continue to prompt awe and wonder, and arouse debate and challenging questions for as long as visitors come to see it.”

    Before more damage is done to their reputation.

  58. Pingback: National Trust Panders to Religious Extremists | joyjunky

  59. Interesting that the ‘Caleb Foundation’ a wacky Kentucky bible belt bunch includes the political editor of ‘The Belfast Telegraph’ among its members, going by its Facebook page. As it’s also a DUP offshoot, the Belfast Telegraph must be operating its party agenda.

  60. The YEC may wish to “continue the debate”, but you can only have a debate where there is conflicting evidence. Nuff said.

  61. I think the National Trust needs to change its name. I have lost TRUST in them, they should now be called The National disappointment!
    Andrew

  62. Presumably the National Trust would have been well aware of the controversy and negative publicity likely to ensue from the decision to include a YEC viewpoint. I can only suspect some form of political pressure. Whatever the reason it has resulted in a biblically based belief which has no foundation whatsoever in science being given a mainstream platform. It was totally wrong of the NT to work in close consultation with a lobbying group such as the Caleb Foundation. I would love the NT to provide an honest answer as to why this was ever considered but doubt this will ever be forthcoming. One can only despair.

  63. This embarrassing mistake by the National Trust is now spreading throughout Australia. International embarrassment. Remove it.

  64. it is extremely clear that you are not just presenting the options in a debate. You are very clearly presenting (and implicitly promoting) an exceptionally fringe view. A view that no mainstream scientist would give any thinking time to. There is no debate about the matter of creationism. One can only wonder why you have decided to give any publicity at all to this extreme minority view.

    WERE YOU GIVEN ANY MONEY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS EXHIBIT BY GROUPS PROMOTING CREATIONISM?

    I urge you to reconsider your presentation of this part of your exhibition.

      • Were you given any money by government departments that have in their line management minister or politicians who are in the public record as supporting Young Earth Creationist movements like the Caleb foundation? Again a simple yes no will suffice….. (now think carefully before you answer)

    • Hi Richard,

      I note that Nelson McCausland, Minister for Social Development in Northern Ireland, and Nigel Dodds, previously Minister of Finance and Personnel are members of the Caleb Group on Facebook… http://www.facebook.com/groups/120251888003861/ Both are party colleagues of Arlene Foster, Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Development, which provided £9.25m in funding to the visitor centre. Now I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but I have a feeling that more than just a few words…shall we say…passed hands?

      • This is just plain ignorance. You clearly aren’t understanding the culture in Northern Ireland. It is a country where perhaps about 50% or more of the population are creationist. It would be impossible for the National Trust not to include creationists both in the fundraising and development of the project. Likewise, it’s only because it’s so culturally significant that the National Trust have acknowledged the existence of the viewpoint (not the validity).

  65. Hi all

    Given the levels of interest we have decided to switch the option to comment on these articles back on.

    We had originally switched off the option as we felt most questions had been answered and the conversation was drifting away from the National Trust.

    Where we spot a new question we will do our best to answer as soon as we can.

    Comments are approved in office hours.

    You can email our Northern Ireland team on enquiries.ni@nationaltrust.org.uk or write to them at

    Giant’s Causeway Interpretation Issues, The National Trust, Northern Ireland Regional Office, Rowallane House, Saintfield, Co. Down, BT24 7LH

  66. @ntsteve Has the NT been asked to or published any context about the interpretation around the site? I am thinking how this exhibit was financed, whether there was specific consultation with people like Jeremy Martin who obviously represents a creationist viewpoint, whether other NT sites take a similar line, either in NI or elsewhere in the UK? At first sight this is a pretty shocking transcript …

    • The £18.5 million project for the new facilities, interpretation and trails was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£3million), £9.25million from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board with support from the European Union Regional Development fund and £6.25 million from the National Trust. We advertised at the time of announcing the project that we were consulting on the exhibition – as we would do normally for a project of this significance – hundreds of community groups and individuals came forward. As a reminder, this is presented in the context of the historical debate around the formation of the stones which is why it’s in there at all. We are a science-led organisation, as we’ve clearly stated. It’s not relevant anywhere else

      • Sigh. It is irrelevant where it is presented – as its no more relevant to the context of the historical debate than Finn McCool. YEC-ers have never been part of any debate about the causeway until now. Unfortunately you will probably have to change the exhibit to explain how the NT linked the pressure groups of the fundamentalist christian right to the causeway, in order to pander to NI assembly members. That’s how its going to read in the history books. I feel for you mate – honest I do, I’ll take a wild guess that there’s a whole load of face palming going on round the NT water cooler.

    • to quote from one of the responses to this article – from Steve660:

      “There is no equality in science. If the evidence proves that something is wrong, then it is wrong. Period. Acknowledging a wrong belief like young earthism at the Causeway is like acknowledging astrology at Jodrell Bank.”

      Well said Steve600 !

  67. Could someone at the NT, please explain to me just what is “Mainstream Science”. Because by implication you seem to be saying there are different kinds of Science, “Mainstream” and another as yet undefined Science. Please try to be as explicit as possible. Thanks.

    • Ted,

      Is there a point cleverly wrapped up in your comment that I haven’t yet been able to decipher? Out of all the very many comments on this blog there are only 3 that in any way support the presentation of this so called debate. These 3 comments, I assume, would have come from ‘creationists’. I have no idea what sort of scientist they are!

    • Ted – I think you mis-read the quote. This does not need to mean that there is non-mainstream scientific opinion; rather it means I suspect that the scientific opinion is mainstream, and thankfully so.

      • If that’s the case, then why phrase it like this. “clearly reflects mainstream scientific understanding”. I’m sorry, but I believe there is a clear implication here that there is some other scientific understanding that is not “mainstream”. Why not just state, “clearly reflects scientific understanding”. Clear and unambiguous, no?. Perhaps the NT would be good enough to clarify?

      • I have no doubt the NT will “clarify” it that way – but the phrase “current mainstream science” when used in opposition to creationist ideas is precisely a creationist dog whistle term which they very much use to try to imply that creationism constitutes a valid non-mainstream science, rather than mythology. This is why the Caleb Foundation is crowing over the NT adopting the term. And the NT knows this, and their claims otherwise are entirely disingenuous and assume we’re stupid.

  68. I cannot help fund your position of promoting ignorance at the Giants Causeway Visitors Centre and therefore will not be renewing my membership. The same can be said for my wife and 9 other members of the National Trust I know that I have made aware of this issue.

    PLEASE EMAIL THE NATIONAL TRUST IF YOU ARE A MEMBER AND THREATEN CANCELLATION / NOT RENEWING MEMBERSHIP IF THEY DO NOT CHANGE THE DISPLAY.

  69. Pingback: Creationism and Geological History: What Do They Have in Common? | Geo-HeritageScience

  70. This is all wrong and you know it Steve. The real question is who are more important to the National Trust – the overwhelming majority of members who are clearly outraged by this shocking and indefensible decision and want it removed/changed? Or the tiny religous minority who have (very successfully) hoodwinked you? The answer should be entirely obvious. In, short, do our comments have any effect or are you just going to bash on regardless? If not, then the future of the National Trust does not look very rosey. We’ve seen what happened to banking institutions that no-one ever thought would collapse, ditto a certain football team in Glasgow. Don’t take your membership for granted or the National Trust may be the next national institution to go down the plug hole.

    Cheers
    Stu.

    • Yes, but chances are that the majority of Northern Irish members are creationist. Why threaten the national trust anyway? I’ve weighed up all the reasons on here, and I still completely fail to see where they’ve gone wrong (and I’m not a creationist if you’re thinking that way).

      • Read the comments. It’s explained very clearly several times. If you can’t see what is wrong with jumbling creationist myths in with scientific fact and then stating that there is a “controversy”, then I guess you buy medicine from pick’n’mix buckets in the market, instead of from a pharmacy? Or you are just a religious liar pretending to be a moderate person. Liar.

  71. Pingback: National Trust to review Giant’s Causeway exhibition « The New Creationism

    • I’m not certain, but I believe it is an automatic link made back to a blog that refers to this blog entry (they are both WordPress blogs, which would make this interpretation even more likely).

      It’s a blog that doesn’t appear to allow comments, as is usual for a creationist blog, so nobody can explain to the author and his readers why they disagree with his position. Yes, it is apparently a small thing, but yes, it does matter. Facts matter.

      Whether the Stones or the Beatles were the better band is debatable, an assertion that the Stones composed Yellow Submarine for King Henry VIII in 26BCE is not.

  72. Pingback: Review completed at Giant’s Causeway visitor centre | National Trust Press Office

  73. Pingback: The National Trust amends Giant's Causeway exhibition » British Humanist Association

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