Giant’s Causeway visitor centre interpretation statement

The National Trust has welcomed over 25,000 visitors through the new Giant’s Causeway visitor centre since we opened its doors at the beginning of July.

We have been delighted with the positive feedback we have seen and heard from our visitors.

However, one small part of the visitor centre’s interpretive display has caused mixed reactions, mainly from people reacting to media coverage and online discussions.

The display in question focuses on the role that the Giant’s Causeway has played in the historical debate about how the earth’s rocks were formed.

Our intention in this section was to provide visitors with a flavour of the wide range of opinions and views that have been put forward over the years.

Our intention was not to promote or legitimise any of these opinions or views.

Unfortunately, elements from this part of the display appear to have been taken out of context and misinterpreted by some.

A spokesman said: “Having listened to our members’ comments and concerns, we feel that clarity is needed.

“There is clearly no scientific debate about the age of the earth or how the Causeway stones were formed.

“The National Trust does not endorse or promote any other view.

“Our exhibits, literature and audio guides for visits to the Causeway stones and this renowned World Heritage Site all reflect this.

“To ensure that no further misunderstanding or misrepresentation of this exhibit can occur, we have decided to review the interpretive materials in this section.”

Our focus at the Giant’s Causeway is to ensure that the 700,000 or so visitors we expect to welcome in the coming year will have a thoroughly enjoyable, informative and rewarding visit.  During this summer we have extended opening times from 9a.m. to 9p.m. See  for details of opening times, pre booking arrangements and specials deals for those who arrive by green transport.

>>update Wednesday 3 October: Review now completed, see details here>>


216 thoughts on “Giant’s Causeway visitor centre interpretation statement

    • Thanks Paul, and having now read that I can see why you thought it sarcasm, I genuinely had not heard of the controversy. The tone of this post left those of us out of the loop expecting an earth-shattering decision like the NT selling the stones to a collector in the USA.

  1. At last and after so much bitterness, you’re finally acknowledging that many of your members have a true grievance. At last you’re not just dismissing us. Now, details please. ‘Reviewing the interpretive materials’ is not quite enough for us to lay down our weapons…

  2. This would be a wonderfull move, I am a huge fan of the NT and am (Was) looking foreward to your saving the White cliffs amongst all your other good work. Sort this out and reasure your supporters that our money is safe in your hands.
    Thankyou for doing this and for listening.

  3. A welcome commitment. Following your review and, what I hope will be a revision of the interpretive display to bring it back in line with science and sanity, I will review my decision NOT to renew our family membership of the National Trust. I will await outcome of your deliberations.

  4. Thank you for listening to those of us who have written to you about this. It shows that the National Trust is an organisation mature enough to consider that you might have made a mistake.

    • Indeed but whether I will review my decision NOT to renew my NT membership when it expires will depend on what the outcome of the deliberation is

  5. Language can be wonderfully vague and ambiguous at times and so many of us make unintended statements that are taken a different way by our listeners. The best we can hope for it to be able to bring clarity and shared understanding to our discussions and agree on what we mean. Thanks for taking the time to listen to us and work towards that clarity.

  6. Thanks for making a move on this, Many of the folks who have been vocal about your exhibit, and feel genuinely that ‘out of context’ or ‘misinterpreted’ or not – it was obviously leaving itself open to interpretation of support of a crackpot fringe, will be delighted to support any move to re-interpret this part of the causeway centre into reality

  7. I’m very pleased to see that the NT has listened and I eagerly await to discover what changes will be made. I hope the NT will realise that any further fence-sitting to appease creationists will be spotted straight away. I await a further announcement with comprehensive information about proposed amendments.

  8. While I welcome news of your intended review I will reserve full approval until the results of said review are announced. I also hope that the review will question(and make future policy commitments) about the wisdom of allowing extreemists (religious or otherwise) with a clear political agenda to use the NT as a soapbox.

  9. Well done, NT. Your re-appraisal is a welcome relief and may repair some of the damage done to Ireland’s prestige by the shocking Lennox intransigence.

  10. From your blog post;

    “There is clearly no scientific debate about the age of the earth or how the Causeway stones were formed. The National Trust does not endorse or promote any other view.

    Our exhibits, literature and audio guides for visits to the Causeway stones and this renowned World Heritage Site all reflect this.”

    While the presentation of creationism in its historical context is fine, the fact is the display does not clearly reflect the reality that there is no scientific debate ongoing. I welcome your decision to review the display and look forward to the end result, which I am sure will be just as accurately reported by the news media and bloggers as your original display.

    • We always need to remember that Creationism is a mixture of bad science (at best) utter nonsense and intentional or unintentional dishonesty. Creationism cannot be considered as remotely Christian either.

      • Who gets to define what a true Christian is? I don’t think you get to make that call.

  11. Great news! I hope the review will include my view that the Flying Spaghetti Monster made it to transport his meatballs to Scotland gets included as well.

    • I’m afraid your mistaken on your pastafarian science.

      Obviously Scotland and Ireland have high numbers of people with red hair, much fewer pirates are gingers and the FSM knew that to increase numbers of ginger pirates he would have to split apart the countries with water in between them to encourage pirating between the two nations and thus reduce global warming.

      If you tightly pack spaghetti then you can fit six strands or columns of spaghetti around the next one. This gives us the predominantly hexagonal tessellation found both in packets of spaghetti and at the Giant’s Causeway. This is clearly from where the FSM densely packed his noodly appendages like muscle fibre in order to move apart the two countries.

      This also makes the etymology of the term basalt more obvious as when the two countries were separated the gap was filled with seawater, which as we know is full of fish (bass) and salt (a well known Pastafarian seasoning), hence basalt.

      I am very disappointed that the Pastafarian viewpoint is not being represented at the Giant’s Causeway. The debate continues today…

      The Pastafarian institute

      • I am still deeply disappointed that the National Trust never responded to my brilliant letters and blogs about the Great God Sparkledeer. TEACH THE CONTROVERSY, GUYS, I HAPPEN TO BE A SCIENTIST YOU KNOW

  12. i will applaud the NT for this….. when it happens and the exhibition clearly states this revised view. The references really should not have happened in the first place,,,, there is no debate as the NT clearly show..

  13. If I might – the local people of Northern Ireland won’t take well if you remove that section. I think Northern Ireland has been largely forgotten in all of this, and it’s the cultural importance of the creationist point of view that will be why it was initially included. I’m not creationist, but I know that (in Northern Ireland) it’s important to acknowledge the existence of the view.

    • Actually jk the people of Northern Ireland spoke out against this section. A small minority supported it, but we know in NI some people have terrible views that do not need represented

      • Where are you getting that from? I’m happy to agree if I can see some evidence of it. Suggesting that the creationists are the same people who have created all the trouble over the years is somewhat unfair.

    • The people of Northern Ireland are well educated. We know the difference between the metaphors and myths written in the bible and the reality of the world around us.
      A few individuals (usually from the Free Presbyterian church, which has 12,000 members in NI) are more ‘extreme’ than most …in that they believe the bible is to be taken literally. Church of Ireland, Catholic and most Presbyterian Church members do not adhere to this view.

  14. Really disappointed at your response: as a National Trust member and creationist I would suggest that there is no conflict simply expressing the views of a significant number of people here in N.I. as the scientific age of the earth is open to discussion bearing in mind no one was around billions of years ago to confirm what is a theory. PLEASE leave the display as is. I’m simply asking for the right to have my opinion and belief represented too.

    • In that case, I want my religious views represented as well. (That the universe was sneezed out of the nose of the Great Green Arkleseizure. Those Pastafarians know nothing…)

      But I don’t want them represented as “science”.

      • There’s no call for that sort of ridiculous comment. Given that the creationist viewpoint has been around for 3200 years at least, it is reasonable to include it (only as a statement that it exists). Also, given the cultural significance of creationism being the main view of the country, it is reasonable that it is represented in the exhibition.

      • Please provide evidence “of creationism being the main view of the country”

      • Well, ok, that’s hard to evidence and was more anecdotal than anything else. I can certainly find evidence that 25% of the population are YEC, comparing with the overall UK figure of 25% being certain evolutionists. There are so many categories and overlapping groups within this spectrum of beliefs that it’s almost impossible to find out. On the other hand, I don’t think you’d hit 1% with belief in the Great Green Arkleseizure…

      • ‘No one was around billions of years ago to confirm what is a theory’ – well, who was around to prove that your Bible was not just a bunch of fairy stories pinched from older civilisations? Who was around to prove the Garden of Eden, The Flood, or anything written in the Old or New Testaments? No one. There is no proof and for anyone with more than 2 brain cells, there is no logic.

      • jk firstly the hardline creationist viewpoint as represented by Caleb and other modern creationists has only really been around for 50 years not 3200. That was the advent fo the real hardline science denial. by groups with a very narrow literal interpretation of the bible not shared by all. Before that there were, and still are, many takes on what the creation story meant and whether or not it was literal. Long before the science had any impact.

        Secondly something being believed by a percentage of the population, however large, does not make it true. Many more people believe in astrology than believe in creationism. That does not make it true, nor a valid opionion worthy of inclusion in scientific sites or debates.

        And astrology is also part of the cultural heritage of the UK and therefore culturally significant. Many early scientists such as Newton also accepted astrology and alchemy and other strange ideas like magick. Would you be happy to have your views represented on an equal footing alongside astrology? If not why not?

        And if your 50 year old minority views are represented, despite not being part of local mythology, there is no reason not to include the newer view of the Giants Causeway put forward by Yvonne that it was sneezed out of someones nose or made by elves. Yvonne’s view is just as valid as yours and supported by just as much scientific evidence after all, ie none at all. The difference is she doesn’t believe hers.

        Thirdly sectarianism has blighted NI for decades. The creationist view is very much from one part of that sectarian split – YECism is a hardline protestant view seeking to rule the world by their biblical values and mindsets, including some homophobic views.. If one narrow view from that religious divide is represented so should all views. The site belongs to the people of NI, it should be factual and neutral or genuinely completely inclusive. Factual and neutral is far more logical option.

        Lastly if the NT were going to include your views they should have been presented honestly and accurately without any of the ambiguity that allowed creaitonists to exploit and use them. The NT could honestly have stated that a small sector of the population of NI rejected all known science and the accepted non debatable real geology of the Giants Causeway in favour of a religious belief based on counting up the geneologies of the bible. That sector of the population does not represent the people of NI as a whole. I think most people would have been ok with that.

        And where did you obtain a figure of 25% by the way?. That is a very round and convenient number.

      • In reply to Kate:
        It’s true that the hardline creationist view (disputing science) was created around 50 or more (probably 80) years ago. That’s largely due to there not being a dispute previously. Until scientists had settled on evolution as the only viable option, people who would have had this view had no reason to be hardline. A spectrum of views on creation within Christianity has always existed.

        Secondly, a large percentage doesn’t make it correct, but makes it culturally significant.

        I’d be more than happy to see astrology or magical beliefs on the display if they were relevant. I don’t think they are with the causeway though. Many such sites do have mythical stories involving magic and it’s absolutely correct to include such beliefs.

        You make the mistake here of thinking I am a YEC. I’m not. I disagree with them, but think the view is historically and culturally significant in NI.

        Creationism is not in any way sectarian. Just the same as the Catholic views on saints aren’t. That’s just ignorance. Also, those of us in Northern Ireland who are working out how peace works know full well that it involves tackling issues head on, not pretending we agree on everything.]#

        25% came from a BBC report (it did link to the original scientific study, but I hadn’t the time to go through it).

      • Yvonne how dare you say us pastafarians know nothing? You infidel, there shall be Ragu spilt…

        JK it is generally good form when providing a source to actually provide a source, you know, like a link to a webpage. You really do give the impression of somebody who’s never come across the religion topic or debated anybody on a deep level. If you want me to explain this situation to you then find me on the removal facebook group and send me a message, I’ll explain the situation there since this 2 reply format is ridiculous.

    • It is important that our true story is included: the one about one of our demigods, Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) and how he created our Causeway. It is believed by the Tuathe de Danaan and for this, you must respect our religion by including the Fenian Cycle in your revised exhibition. If Christian creationists are to have their fair share, then we, the Tuathe, must have our fair share too.

    • Significant number of people in NI? How many are you calling significant? Seriously provide some figures for that otherwise you’re talking nonsense as creationism is a tiny fringe viewpoint akin to Scientology with you being one of the brainwashed few who doesn’t realise it. The scientific age of the Earth is not up for debate, an error bar does not mean that there is doubt enough to have physical evidence ignored.

      “no one was around billions of years ago to confirm what is a theory” – this shows you have no idea what you’re talking about.
      Firstly you weren’t around 6000 years ago, neither were the writers of the Bible, it was written millenia after you think the world was created. Not only that but let me put a little perspective into how wrong your figures are, you believe that the Earth was created after the domestication of the dog, after the Chinese mass production of rice began. We don’t have to actually be there for there to be evidence as we can rely on natural phenomena to date things. Your dismissal of radiometric dating because it doesn’t agree with your holy book is your problem, not one for the rest of the world.
      Secondly a theory in science is defined differently to the vernacular use of it, Creationism is a mere hypothesis and one that has failed at that.

      The National Trust can either represent all views or none. I’m a pastafarian, should my belief that His noodliness created the Giant’s causeway by separating Scotland and Ireland with his noodly appendages be represented too? There’s actually more evidence that I’m right than you are (despite what Yvonne says). You don’t get special treatment. Young Earth Creationism is nothing more than an anti-scientific movement designed to lull in the uneducated/gullible. If your only defence of your viewpoint is that creationism has been around for a long time then seriously why don’t we get rid of the periodic table and just go back to Earth, Fire, Air and Water like in Greek times? Your views are pathetic and not to be taken seriously by any modern society.

    • “as the scientific age of the earth is open to discussion bearing in mind no one was around billions of years ago to confirm what is a theory.”

      No it’s not. To claim otherwise is to misrepresent science, or what a scientific theory actually is. This is a typical creationist trick to claim no one was about then, therefore we cant know. Yet, you would accept the same tools to deduce I had a great grandfather despite the fact you were not there to confirm this.
      Likewise, you were not there to see that god/moses wrote the bible. By your standards, you can not verify this, so why should you want to promote a view that by your *own* criteria you can not verify? Such is the double dealing of creationists

    • A significant number of people, mostly Hindus, believe that the world was created 350 billion years ago. Another significant number, including many Christians, believe that the earth is flat, and others believe that the earth is a hollow sphere.

      It’s important to acknowledge of all views and there is no conflict in expressing them. These people have a right to have their opinions and beliefs represented too. They are equally supported by science, are equally relevant to the geology of the formation, and are equally sincerely held.

      Why aren’t you standing up for their rights?

    • Oh no! Not the “no one was around” argument. No one was around because, when the planet started forming, a scientifically proven 4,540,000,000 years ago (± 1%), it was a bit too hot to support anything but the building blocks of life. When the earth cooled to a sufficient degree, current research indicating that was about 3.8bn years ago, the very simplest forms of life (e.g. bacteria, creationists, etc.) started to appear. My very best advice to you is to read some books, by reputable scientists, rather than listen to myths and legends based on a book written around 4,000 years ago by (understandably) scientifically ignorant men who didn’t know any better. There are shelf-miles of these books, as opposed to 2 inches occupied by creationist “scientists”. I agree that, in certain cases, the minority can be right whilst the majority is wrong, but this is as far as it is possible to get away from being such a case.

    • Hmm… When replying to ‘Where did you get it from?’ I usually feel it significant to give an answer of where I got it from, rather than giving a web-link (that isn’t requested). If you’re really that concerned that I may have made it up, you can ask for the link nicely and I’ll provide it. I didn’t think it necessary to go into so much detail on a national trust comments page. It’s not really designed for debating as you’ve pointed out.

  15. I await the presence of the said spokesperson on the national news, with the display clearly revised and fully refuting the claims of the Caleb Foundation and friends. I also await contact from the Chairman’s Office regarding the complaint submitted last week.

    Until this happens, I will be forced to retain my conclusion that the National Trust is happy to be associated with bigotry and sectarianism.

      • In what way is the Caleb foundation sectarian or bigoted? Just because they primarily represent the views of Evangelical Protestants (that’s what they claim anyway), does not make them sectarian. I have read through a fair bit of their website (certainly statement of beliefs) and nothing seems sectarian or bigoted.

      • Evangelical Protestants who thinks its okay to attack the Catholic Church and bully Catholics? It’s like the Orange Lodges who forbids Catholics from joining their Lodges – oh, they’re not sectarian? Get real.

      • Yes, it’s wrong of the Orange Lodges to forbid Catholic membership, but that’s got nothing to do with the Caleb foundation. Just because there are some evangelical protestants who are sectarian does not mean that the caleb foundation are also.
        I’d disagree with your comment on them being homophobic (only on definition of the word though, so there’s no point debating it). It’s not bigotry in any way though…

      • Just to reiterate what we are talking about here jk, this is from the caleb foundation website, dated 9th July.

        “Caleb congratulates the National Trust on the opening of its brand new state-of-the-art Visitor Centre at the Giant’s Causeway.

        As an umbrella organisation which represents the interests of mainstream evangelical Christians in Northern Ireland,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. We are pleased that the National Trust worked positively with us and that this has now been included at the new Visitor Centre.

        This is, as far as we are aware, a first for the National Trust anywhere in the UK, and it sets a precedent for others to follow. We feel that it is important that the centre, which has been largely funded out of the public purse, should be inclusive and representative of the whole community, and we have therefore been engaged in detailed and constructive discussions with the Trust in order to secure the outcome we have today.

        We want to thank senior National Trust officials who have worked closely with us over a prolonged period, and we are pleased that this constructive engagement has helped to bring about such a positive result.”

        That is what i disagree with, legitimising their position, NO! setting a precedent NO! And i suspect this is what is causing such disquiet for NT, fact is that creationists are misrepresenting everything for their own ends.

        As for the bigotry comment, that makes me laugh!

        the caleb foundation also actively argues against outlawing sexual orientation discrimination

        strikes me as bigotry. With a capital B.

        That’s the fruits of three minutes research, so please stop telling mis-truths.

      • Well, no, I don’t agree with the Caleb foundation’s statement. I don’t think that the National Trust has legitimised the position. That’s not the National Trust’s fault though, and simply reflects badly on the Caleb Foundation.
        It’s also got nothing to do with sectarianism or bigotry.

        On the homosexuality issue – it’s not bigotry to stand up for your own beliefs. They don’t suggest intolerance or hatred towards homosexuals, they are only protecting their own beliefs. I suppose that’s all debatable, but it’s not for here.

        I’m not trying to protect the Caleb Foundation here, I’m merely saying that the National Trust, in my opinion, hasn’t done any wrong to consult with them.

      • jk

        as i think has been made clear the problem with the NT is in the presentation of the creationist position. Its been presented as scientific and as part of an ongoing debate when its not either of things. If they want to put creationism in the fairy tales and mythology section then great, it seems a more suitable home than in the ‘scientific’ part of the exhibition.

        I don’t accept that ‘standing up for your own beliefs’ argument either, anything that single out someone as less worthy of being treated equally is bigotry, no matter how it may be dressed up, and do bear in mind that some of the wording of that pdf is far from kind.

        As we’ve said all along, consult with who you choose, but just be aware how you present information. Because those who choose to use your organisation to promote their own ideology will do so no matter when you ‘intend’ to do. the exhibition needs changing and lessons should be learned, so that the NT doesn’t place itself in such a position again.

      • “it’s not bigotry to stand up for your own beliefs”

        It is when they are bigoted beliefs.

      • JK – if someone’s beliefs come under the heading of ‘bigotry’ then those beliefs should not be supported and protected just because it’s their faith. That faith should be challenged and, through education (which is why they want to open their own schools), the beliefs changed. If a CEO of an organisation refused to hire gays or treated women as 2nd class citizens, would that be acceptable if it was his faith? I don’t think so.

        It’s a lot of people’s faith to circumsice girls so they are mutilated and in pain for the rest of their lives. It’s a lot of people’s faith to blow up anyone who doesn’t share their faith. Is this acceptable just because it’s faith?

        Until we stop pussyfooting around bigotry and hatred because it comes under the magic umbrella of ‘faith’ society will never be free of these hatemongers.

  16. It won’t be good news until it good changes are made. It took the NT so absurdly long to get here that the bad news has not yet been cancelled. Can we trust NT to get it right this time? Perhaps, perhaps not.
    My protest (minimum possible on-line) £3 for the White Cliff’s appeal produced a letter thanking me for my ‘generous donation’. I think that was incompetence not sarcasm.

    So please, please, prove me wrong, and get it right this time. How about circulating a draft?

  17. Please leave the exhibit alone. Your recognition within the exhibition is so small yet rightly states that there is an alternative point of view. What is wrong with holding an alternative view?

    • I think you’re making the mistake, that on scientific matters, all opinions are equally valid. Thats just not true. A geologists opinion, with significant supporting evidence, holds more weight than someone whose only evidence is in a 2000 year old book.
      Alternate views should only be recognised when there is significant evidence, that seriously questions the existing scientific consensus.

      • Actually, you’re wrong on this one. I’m not a YEC, but I disagree that there’s a problem disbelieving evolution (or the historic geologic method). One seems more likely, but that doesn’t make it true.
        If the world were only 6000 years old, then a book written 3200 years ago is actually going to be incredibly significant.
        Again, I don’t support the view, I just want honest dialogue between the two sides of the debate (yes, there is one).

      • jk

        You may not be YEC, but you are certainly on your own with that view! There is no debate, there’s no one here who would say there was, except YEC.

        NT shouldn’t have included the viewpoint in the exhibition, there are so many questions as to why it was included and so few answers, i hope that they take steps to formulate a policy that stops this happening again.

        Oh and 25% seems very hopeful, but even if that is the case where is the other 75%’s viewpoint, unless of course you are saying that creationism is the only religious viewpoint that should be considered?

        Best to leave religious rhetoric where it belongs, outside of a charity which is here to look after national treasures.

      • One has significant evidence supporting it; the other has none.
        Even if evolution was disproved (big if), that wouldn’t prove Creationism. Creationists have to prove Crationism in its own right, not just disprove evolution.
        The NT should be telling people the truth about the causeway; not something that it knows to be false.

      • @jk
        “If the world were only 6000 years old, then a book written 3200 years ago is actually going to be incredibly significant.”
        But if the world is 4.5 billion years old, the book just becomes antediluvian!
        (Only joking, it was actually written 1300 years after the flood. Allegedly.)

      • I wasn’t suggesting that creationism is a scientifically valid viewpoint, merely that there is a debate that is ongoing. The truth is that if you want to convince creationists of your viewpoint, then you’re going to have to listen to them too.

      • If creationism isn’t a scientifically valid viewpoint then why should it be in the section explaining the science on how the causeway was made?
        By all mean have it in the Myths and Legends sections with Finn McCool, but don’t display it as a valid alternative explaination.

      • JK

        I think you misunderstand, there is no debate. Not between the viewpoints being discussed here.

        I’m pretty certain no one wants to convince creationists of anything, belief is personal but it isn’t scientific. The creationists would certainly not have a debate, because their mind is totally made up, completely and utterly, so where is the debate to be had?

        So, no, no debate, no need to convince anyone, any more than we need to ‘convince’ any other religion.

        The exhibition should be changed.

    • There is absolutely nothing wrong with stating that some people including myself believe that the universe was intelligently designed rather than coming into existence by chance.

      • There is when you’re trying to tell children that it’s scientifically valid to think that the Earth is 6000 years old. That is lying to them. If you want to think the Earth is intelligently designed then you’re free to do so. What you can’t do is misrepresent the science to say something it doesn’t, the science gives us an age for the rocks well in excess of 6000 years. It is then up to people what they personally believe, it is not the job of the NT to endorse any particular religious viewpoint. They should either represent none of them or all of them. To do otherwise is unfair.

      • Your beliefs are not relevant. It is no more appropriate to describe them on a display at the Giant’s Causeway than it would be to post a sign stating that there are people who believe that Xenu was the ruler of a Galactic Confederacy 75 million years ago. That fact about Scientologists equally true fact, and equally inappropriate for a NT display. (And equally false, I might add.)

      • It’s important to keep children informed of the beliefs of others. There’s no point hiding them up and pretending they don’t exist, or children will get really scared when they confront these issues later on. There’s no reason to keep the culture and history of such a place as the giant’s causeway out of an exhibition. Science is very important, but so are religion, beliefs, culture and history. Lets not deny children a real education.

      • I agree. Teach children about the religions of the world. But that isn’t really the job for the NT.

      • “Science is very important, but so are religion, beliefs, culture and history. Lets not deny children a real education.”

        Absolutely. There should be classes like “Human Myths and Legends” where this material is taught. It just doesn’t belong in the science class. And a broad exposure should be required, and no particular version of mythology presented as “correct”.

      • Unfortunately, it is not illegal for parents to indoctrinate their children with their own “beliefs” (as opposed to scientifically accepted fact), however crackpot, which Richard Dawkins has correctly described as mental “child abuse”.

        It can take years for religion-based indoctrination to be left behind, as a young person enters the wider world and starts to understand reason, rationality and science and, sadly, many never manage to shake it off, hence its perpetuation.

        Nutty ideas, that have not a shred of actual empirical evidence, belong only in the ignorant minds, the homes, and the places of worship, of those who hold the nutty ideas. They absolutely do not belong in places of provision of education and accurate, science-based information like the Causeway visitor’s centre.

        Also, if the universe was “intelligently designed” the designer must have had an extraordinarily microscopic IQ. That’s always supposing that the designer had the intention of making earth entirely suitable for human life. And the idea that all the diversity of human life is descended from two white hippies, in a garden with a talking snake, is not even worthy of comment.

        Sadly, very sadly, there are those who believe in, and have faith in, imaginary gods. More accurately, most religionists only believe in one of out of the 3,500 to 4,000 gods worshiped on earth and every one of the believers knows that their own god is the only one true god and can argue why all the others are not. They just can’t understand the arguments of the other religions as to why their own god is false. (Atheists, basically, just believe in one less of the 3,500 to 4,000 man-created gods than religionists do, dismissing the arguments for all the gods and not accepting even just the one.)

        History is littered with examples of religion putting the brakes on scientific advances. Fortunately for humanity, mainstream science is now powerful enough to sideline religion-based ignorance but we need to be ever-vigilant to ensure that our hard-fought for freedoms to research and explore are not trampled upon again by some sect, religion or cult looking to make everyone as ignorant as it is.

    • I like the part where you say “an alternative view”, there are hundreds, why should your pseudoscience and particular theology get airtime at the trust when hundreds of others don’t? I assume you’d be ok with having a mention of Hindu gods, Xenu, Zeus et c. They’re all alternative views. There’s nothing wrong with holding an alternative view but they should not present themselves as something they are not. Creation theology is not science.

  18. Pingback: National Trust: “To ensure that no further misunderstanding or misrepresentation of this exhibit can occur, we have decided to review the interpretive materials in this section.” « Slugger O'Toole

  19. That you’ve agreed to look at this again is good news, though it would be nice if you didn’t downplay or dismiss concerns as “out of context”, “misinterpreted” or “misunderstood” – many of us understand all too well what happened, which is why we are so upset.

    I’ve been very fond of the NT over the years, and have backed up that fondness with quite a bit of cash. It gives me no pleasure at all to be so disappointed with the NT, both with the initial inclusion of this idiocy in the Causeway display, and then with your disastrous, cack-handed PR response. Crackpot views and sectarianism have no place in any NT exhibit, in NI or anywhere else. It doesn’t matter that it’s a small part of the display – it shouldn’t be there at all. I look forward to your press release confirming that you have removed this nonsense, then we can all get on with enjoying (and funding) the NT as we should.

  20. I’m pleased that the NT is reviewing the information, i will even forgive the barb about the ‘mixed reaction’ coming ‘mainly from news coverage and online discussions’ as surely an exhibition should be all about garnering positive feedback from these audiences as well as those there on a day trip.

    I look forward to the next update regarding what changes are going to be made. As has been regularly stated, there are questions about the YEC segment not only on the grounds that NT shouldn’t be seen to affiliate itself with religious groups but also about the validity of the ascribed ‘quotes’ in the first place.

    I’m sure a lot of people will be watching with interest.

    I also hope that NT will develop a policy which will allow them to avoid falling into such ‘misunderstandings’ in the future, a charity such as this should keep themselves well above such things.

    I await developments.

    • I really don’t see how this has been taken out of context or misinterpreted, the NT had the creationist display next to the scientific one saying “the debate continues today”, it really doesn’t. There is the scientific/geological answer and there are myths, there is evidence and there is faith. I do not see the NT representing this view to any degree in other places along with the multitude of other religious views.

      If they were talking about some kind of “historical debate” then they really wouldn’t be using YEC as their precedent OEC has been historically much more prevalent, this is not the one that’s being presented.

      Instead the narrow views of YEC is getting air time at the NT thanks to the Caleb Foundation who are very happy that this is happening and are hoping that it will lead to more displays around the country. This is very simply a ploy by them to legitimise their position, they is no more reason for their views to be represented than those of scientologists or other fringe religious groups. The best part is though that they are so brainwashed they don’t even understand that.

      It doesn’t matter whether it was the intent of the NT to legitimise such views or not. They are doing so by keeping the display there, by keeping the display they are endorsing it and promoting it. If there truly is no debate then get rid of it! Don’t review, remove!

  21. Pingback: An open letter to the National Trust « Rule The Web

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

  23. Creationism should not be represented in a educational display, unless it is put in contect of a debate which has now receded into history, a debate which has been over since scientists stopped trying to fit the universe to their religious beliefs. I don’t know how many people in Northern Ireland believe the Earth is 6000 years old, but I doubt any of them have studied the actual science behind how scientists have worked out the actual age. Saying that their view should be included because there’s lots of them is like saying the RSC should start doing plays about Batman because he’s much more popular than Hamlet. The NT educational visitors’ centre is not the place for ideas which are wrong, no matter how popular they are.

  24. I am delighted with the news and I very much hope that the National Trust (and many other organisations) will learn from what has happened and take due care in future.

    As someone who spent a number of years as a trustee (effectively an non-executive director) on a major national charity I can imaging the horror at Board level when the rocket went up. I am sure a lot of careful planning went into the visitor centre, and it is not possible for senior management to pick up on “small errors” of detail (as a percentage of all the paperwork that must have been flying around).

    I don’t know who first raised the question over the unfortunate wording and objected – but I very much suspect that the storm arose directly from posts on the Internet made by Young Earth Creationist gloating over the fact that the National Trust had given their views publicity. Protests arose because (1) the Young Earth Creationist posts quite deliberately distorted what was on the display and (2) many people (but apparently not the National Trust Exhibition designers) knew that the group regularly used misquotations and other dishonourable and unscientific method to try and advance their cause. If people like Ken Ham had kept their mouth shut, or has been honest and made it clear that the exhibits as a whole gave a valid scientific representation of the facts, very few people would have known or cared about the issue.

    I believe the statement that the National Trust is “To ensure that no further misunderstanding or misrepresentation of this exhibit can occur, we have decided to review the interpretive materials in this section.” is a reasonable response at this stage and as a result I have made a small donation (i.e. within my O.A.P. Budget) to the White Cliffs of Dover appeal.

    I will make another similar donation once I know the new wording (possibly via a press release on this blog) – and in the absence of any news from the National Trust of changes I have over six months to consider whether to renew my subscription next year.

  25. No comment at present …
    Will await the outcome of the “review”….

    Frankly ,after this debacle ,I’m no longer willing to trust the integrity.of The National Trust.
    But time will tell.

  26. I am delighted that you (NT) have decided to review the materials in this display, and I hope and assume that you will remove, reword and/or reposition (to fable) the offending elements. I think a genuine mistake was made, and then once it was pointed out, you allowed yourselves to be backed into a corner defending the error, rather than reviewing immediately.
    We all look forward to clarification as to how the exhibit will be changed.

  27. Hopefully the NT will resolve the issue soon. A clear statement in the national press that they feel they have been misrepresented by the Caleb foundation and the removal of any suggestion that there is a debate and that there is something called ‘mainstream’ science as opposed to just science. Plus either the removal of the exhibit or a more honest unambigous appraisal of creationism along the lines of creationists rejecting all scientific explanations for the age of the earth in favour of calculating a purely religious age based on counting up the people in the bible.

    I say soon because the summer holidays start on Friday and to get best value from the NT I’d love to be able to renew my membership by then! Our local NT are doing so many interesting things locallly that the kids would love. But then we don’t have hardline vocal creationists interfering.

  28. Great news NT, thank you for listening.

    However I’ve absolutely disgusted by your line “Unfortunately, elements from this part of the display appear to have been taken out of context and misinterpreted by some”

    I beg your pardon? You’ve made a huge mistake and it is somehow our mistake for misinterpretting what you really meant? I am seriously insulted by that.

    So a review is a good thing – but I’m worried if it is so you can correct what you see as my misinterpretation.

    So we don’t end up with several rounds of this, please, in a spirit of openness, could you publsh the terms of reference for the review, its timetable, participants and decision makers? I would also like to know how the outcome of the review will be communicated as well as whether the outcome will include a detailed raionale for any decision.

    Thank you

    • Have you been? Have you seen it? If not you have no idea whatsoever if you have been misled by anyone misrepresenting the display, None whatsoever.

      • GrumpyChris, sorry that idea doesn’t run, the concept that to have an opinion you must see it first hand eradicates religion straight away, were you with adam and eve, who alive today was? Also we cant comment on any historical events that we weren’t there to witness in person, like WW2, slavery, 9/11, we can’t have an opinion on them either right?.

        The truth is that when something concerns you, you ask about it, get information back, assess the reaction from others (including the YEC) and if you still aren’t happy then you ask more, questions and debate what’s happening, it’s called being in a democracy.

        The fact here seems to be that there is some disquiet amongst the NT itself, regarding the reaction to this (not just those that complain, but the reaction from creationists as well) meaning that they are reassessing the exhibit. All seems quite proper to me.

      • We don’t actually have to see the display in person as the words are available word for word in various places. I’ve read the full transcript of what it says on the removal facebook group.

      • Hi Grumpy Chris, No I haven’t been. However I have read the transcripts of all the audios provided by the National Trust press office. In doing this, I have made the assumption that the transcripts provided by the National Trust press office are accurate.

  29. “Our intention was not to promote or legitimise any of these opinions or views.”

    You really ought to understand that it is OK to promote a factual representation of the Giant’s Causeway. Indeed, that is your duty. The age of the earth, and the Causeway, is not a matter of controversy. Just state the facts and stop trying to mollify religious lunatics.

    • There are some of us when we visit such monuments and areas of natural beauty who find it interesting to see what others have made of them. We manage to do this and still come away knowing the actual facts and science, but we also find ourselves enlightened a touch on the range of human thought.

      If this display in any way put creationism on a scientific footing or presented it as a real alternative view to the scientific, then that’s wrong. But presenting it as a history of thought on such natural phenomena – along with other myths and legends – is absolutely fine. I’d be disappointed if I went and accounts of giants and other myths weren’t given.

      • If the presentation really was a side note saying “here are a number of peculiar ideas people have had about the causeway” and listed a batch of odd-ball notions, that would be fine. But that’s not what we have here. What is offered is a weak-tea version of equivalence: “most scientists believe, but some people think…” This is misleading and implies that the age of the earth and the origin of the Causeway stones was a matter of opinion and up for debate. It isn’t.

      • What range of views are being displayed at the Causeway? At least Finn McCool is actually relevant to the Causeway itself, YEC isn’t, if the national trust is to show the range of human thought then they’re not going to do it by just having 2/3 views, they should have all of them.

  30. Pingback: National Trust to review creationist exhibit at Giant’s Causeway | Secular News Daily

  31. Pingback: The National Trust to review Giant’s Causeway exhibition | Secular News Daily

  32. Have ANY of you so adamant this was so terrible actually seen the display? The only reports I’ve seen (pro or anti) have simply promotied their own agenda, without any regard for how the NT actually put a display together. Non showed pictures. None could back up that it placed Creationism as a live scientific debate. It was all pure hyperbole by those keen to latch onto something – most reports simply rehashed some quotes on Twitter from Brian Cox – no journalism or seeking to identify facts, just scaremongering because it fitted their on going narrative.

    I’m absolutley against creationism in any way being given scientific credibility by any org such as the NT. But so much of this has been conjecture and barraging by people keen to push their own view with no regard for actually establishing that facts of the matter for themselves. Very scientific folks, bravo.

    • The transcript is available in many places online and the photograph of the display that says “the debate continues today” is available in a lot more places, both are available on the removal page. If you go to the removal facebook page you will see our plan b to have the display changed to something that doesn’t imply that this view carries any scientific weight if it is decided that the display is not to be removed.

      Have *you* seen the display? It quite clearly implies that there is a scientific debate because it’s next to the scientific case and the visual is “the debate continues today”.

      Here is the audio transcript: “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.”

      This quite clearly implies that there is scientific debate about the legitimacy of YEC “science” to this day. I’m glad to hear that you don’t support them but please do not generalise about whether people have done their research or not.

  33. I am a Christian and Theologian but I would not describe myself as a creationist in it’s usually accepted form. I believe that God created the world in the first place but I am open to discussion and debate on evolution. I am also happy like many Christians to accept that the earth is not just 6000 years old. In fact I don’t know of ANY that believes that. Other religions and some fringe forms of Christianity do but not mainstream.

    What concerns me most is the utter arrogance of many posting here that their view MUST be the right one. We have no explanation of the recently found Higgs Boson particle for instance. There are many holes in science’s theories that are yet to be filled which may be interesting. No scientist yet has actually been able to prove without doubt the age of the world or how it came into existence.

    However what disturbs me most is the bullying aggressive language that I see here and which NT seem to be allowing. Name calling such as “religious lunatics, Creationism is a mixture of bad science (at best) utter nonsense, There is no proof and for anyone with more than 2 brain cells, there is no logic.Your views are pathetic”. I see no such response from those like myself who disagree.

    If this is going to be a genuine debate then we all have to act like adults and accept that we don’t all agree. By the way there are more than 2 billion Christians in the world.

    According to a 2007 Tearfund survey, Northern Ireland is the most religious part of the UK, with 45% regularly attending church each week. And on top of that there are Muslims and Jews in NI who also believe that God created the world. That’s a lot of “lunatics”.

    • You’re clearly not familiar with Young Earth Creationists if you’ve only just heard about them and you’re trying to defend them. They have some of the most amazing doublethink I’ve seen in my entire life and are as you say a fringe group. They openly claim to want to spread their poisonous view that the Earth is only 6000 years old despite the really easy-to-understand and obvious evidence that contradicts this. They like to whip up their congregations into an anti-science, anti-thinking politically active group.

      It is not arrogant to say that science is right and that creationists are wrong. There are no holes in radiometric dating. Don’t get the insults aimed at creationists confused with people insulting religion in general. Of course we are insulting to the position of these anti-intellectual bigots much as we would be if the views of a similar fringe group like scientology were trying to air their views through the NT.

      There is no debate with these people as they won’t accept evidence. It is impossible to argue with people who won’t accept physical evidence and reasoned logic. We have tried to debate with people on the removal facebook page but it’s like playing chess with a pigeon; they just knock over all the pieces, poop on the board and fly off claiming victory. None of them have been blocked on the removal page to my knowledge but those who have been thoroughly debunked have just gone to their own page and claimed that we don’t know what we’re talking about. Such open debate is not allowed on their page, any opposing view is immediately deleted and the poster blocked. These are not people who are interested in truth, only to try to gain legitimacy for their viewpoint.

      You seem to be under the impression that this is some sort of atheist vs Christianity debate. It is not. This is about a fringe anti-intellectual group (who happen to be Christian) trying to push their agenda and make it seem like it has scientific credence. In all the other NT sites the actual scientific view is presented and people can reconcile that with their own views and there has been no issue with them remaining secular to date.

      If you wish to speak to somebody who is well versed in their ways then feel free to find me on the removal facebook page.

      PS: Tearfund look like a really objective source since they have appeals to prayer on their homepage and are a Christian organisation…

    • I tend to disagree, ahmesser, i haven’t found there to be that much abuse, certainly much less than is thrown between various sections of the religious community.

      I also think that looking at this aspect deflects from the real question, which is the presentation of creationism as a ‘scientific theory’ and that ‘the debate continues’ both of which do not stand up to scrutiny.

      I have no problem with religion being mentioned (although what it has to do with the NT is debatable) the problem is that one particular view was chosen above all others and we are asking for the reasoning behind that. This seems to be what is what is now being reviewed. As you say there are lots of different religions represented in NI, surely you would want them all represented if any were at all?

    • It is a quaint fact that there are a large number of religious believers in Northern Ireland. And completely irrelevant. There is no debate over whether the Earth is more than a few thousand years old. There are people who believe goddidit in 4000 BC because they are extremely uninformed and credulous. There are are also people who believe that Earth is supported on the backs of a stack of turtles. Such beliefs are not relevant to NT displays like the Giant’s Causeway and implying that these notions deserve anything but mockery is itself a bad joke.

      Sorry that your feelings are hurt, but foolish religious ideas deserve no special kid-glove treatment. These are silly ideas that the NT has no business promoting, even in the most innocuous of ways.

    • So sorry if we’re using bullying language to get our point across, but maybe it’s what we were taught in our churches/synagogues etc before we learned to think for ourselves and bailed out into the light side.

      Just because there are holes in science does not mean we need to fill it with god. That’s what ancient man did with thunder and lightening, rainbows and floods but now we know the science behind them so god has been removed. Copernicus did it, Gallileo did it and it took the Catholics until 1997 to admit that he was right! Darwin did it and was so aware of just how much he was removing god that he kept the Origin of the Species hidden in his drawer for over 20 years. He was right. As ever.

      And can you please tell me why your god – the Christian god – is the one who you believe created all this. What about all the other gods – of the other billions of people on earth who believe in one deity or another? And what about all the ancient gods who have shuffled off to their retirement homes? There is as much proof and evidence that Zeus and Bacchus ever existed as your god so what makes you right and the Ancient Greeks wrong?

    • Also who said anything about evolution? This is a point of geological fact. While the two are interlinked one could easily know nothing about evolution and still see how the YEC claims are false with a really basic understanding of physics or geology.

    • I am not sure that pointing out how religious Northern Ireland is is a good way to distance the religious from the charge of lunacy. It’s a bit like pointing out how religious members of the American Tea Party are. As for creationism being bad science, it’s not. It is not science at all. It is, in fact, anti-science.

    • I agree with you on this. What I can’t understand is why it’s such a problem that the National Trust has at most acknowledged the existence of YECs. I will also agree with the other comments below, though, that this isn’t really about religion. At some level it is – it seems to be 100% acceptable to put mythology in the display which is known to be false, but not ok to put in religious beliefs – but in general it’s simply about how much recognition can be given to something that’s known to be false.
      I personally think the National Trust has hit it perfectly, stating the existence of the viewpoint, but not going any further.

      • It is ok to have the creationist view included, but in the Myths and Legends section. Phrases like “the debate continues” suggests its a scientific alternative view, which it isn’t.

      • You really haven’t understood the issues here jk… The display doesn’t portray the YEC view as a religious/mythological one, it represents it as one that is currently a part of scientific debate. It is not.

        Also if the National Trust is acknowledging the existence of YEC shouldn’t they also be representing the views of every other religious group out there? Otherwise it would be favouritism towards YEC views. There aren’t any displays there saying that the Causeway was created by the various gods of the Hindu religion, old earth creationism, Zeus, created by the flying spaghetti monster’s broken off noodly appendages, willed into existence by the almighty Xenu. Who are you, or any of us, especially the national trust, to say which of these religious beliefs has credence enough to be in the display? Who is to say which are mythology and which are religious?

        Nobody is saying there’s a debate going on wrt Finn McCool and is clearly known as a myth, that is not how creationism is being presented.

      • jk it has not ‘just’ acknowledged the existence of YECs the issues have arisen because it has said for some the ‘debate’ continues – it does not. There is not a debate, nothing at all remotely suggests the earth is 6000 years old. That is a religious belief and not part of any scientific debate.

        Also it used the term ‘mainstream’ science suggesting there is some kind of YEC alternative science. There is not, nor is there any such thing as mainstream science there is just science.

        As for the mythology section, only one myth is there and that is specific to the history and legends surrounding the Giants CausewayTherefore it is relevant to the place. YECism is not part of the local mythology unless you can find point me to where the Giants Causeway is mentioned in Genesis or to early myths and legends where Genesis is reference in the area. YECism is modern belief held by some of the population. If it is included than all current beliefs held in the region should be included or none.

        However if the existence of the creationist view is to be represented, and I don’t actually know why that view and yet not scientology, Catholicism etc, I would not argue if it were represented honestly. That is that some people reject science relating to the age of the earth, and the Giants Causeway, preferring a religious date calculated by adding together the geneologies in the bible.

      • Firstly, on the wording; I perfectly understood what the NT meant by saying ‘mainstream science’. It isn’t the best wording they could have used, but it’s also unfair to suggest that there aren’t scientific studies performed within YEC (Just because something is incorrect, does not mean that it isn’t science). If anything were to be changed, it would simply be that one specific word.

        Secondly, on the idea of representing other views; There are no other views believed by a large number of local people with regards to the Giant’s Causeway. There are two local views: That it was created over the course of millions of years, or that it is of flood origins much more recently. The national trust has put in a mention of the one they do not believe correct because it is culturally relevant.

      • jk

        In response to your comments 4.15 on 24th. I really don’t get this one! ‘Mainstream science’ suggests that there is other science, there isn’t.

        The idea that the YEC have undertaken ‘scientific studies’, pardon? How can you perform a study when you know the conclusion ‘hey guys, you’ll never guess it came out in line with gods teachings again’ ‘Yay!’. Care to provide some evidence of these ‘studies’ then? That just doesn’t wash.

        ‘There are no other views’ so no one in NI who believes something else, what about the rest of the UK, (its the national trust after all) and what about the YEC’s stated plans to use this as a springboard to getting their views used at other locations? By your own maths, the majority view (75% allowing for your figure of creationist representation) thinks that the YEC spouts garbage, so ‘no other view’again, doesn’t wash.

        ‘Cultural relevance’ is not science, so its not changing one word, its changing the whole context and removing ‘the debate continues’ as it doesn’t. Maybe it should go in fairy stories instead.

      • jk there is no such thing as creation ‘science’. There are people using scientific jargon to confuse, but no creationist has ever published a reputable piece of peer reviewed (by scientists) research that remotely dents the idea that the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and we evolved from a common ancestor. They do not even attempt to present their ramblings to anyone with the wherewithal to tear it to shreds. And as you can clearly see from the Caleb foundations statement on the Giants Causeway they mislead anyone they can.

        As for Calebs view being culturally relevant – how and why is it? As far as I can ascertain from the members of their council of reference and the 2001 census of religious belief in NI, they represent less than 6% of the population. Their creationist science denial has not been around for the hundreds of years that the Finn McCool legend has and the early legends surrounding the Giants Causeway have never mentioned Genesis, nor does Genesis mention the Giants Causeway. So in what way are they culturally relevant to this particular geological feature other than living in the same region. I’m sure their are other folk living nearby with equally bizarre beliefs, why not include them?.

      • Firstly, on wording; When I say it wasn’t the best wording, what I mean is that it was bad wording. I don’t think the National Trust were trying to represent it as an alternative to science and I think most people who read the piece in question are capable of understanding that. When I say scientific studies are performed within YEC, I was more talking about the number of scientists (a small number, granted) who are YECs but still take part in scientific research and don’t see it as contradictory. In that sense it’s fair to say that YEC isn’t mainstream science, because it fits with some parts of science and not others. Again, bad wording is the problem.

        Secondly, there aren’t any other views held in the locality that are believed by more than perhaps 1% of the population (I haven’t taken that from a study, just from my own experience of the area). To take the 25% view and say that 75% believe the alternative is twisting the truth enormously. It’s the case that it’s 25% of people believe in creationism, but the majority simply have no particular scientific viewpoint. I’ve explained elsewhere why the 6% argument for the Caleb Foundation is unfair.

      • jk what do you mean by scientific studies that are performed within YEC? Of the tiny number of YECs with science qualifications very few are working in real science. Break that down into the number working in the relevant scientific disciplines like geology or biology and the percentage almost disappears. The fact they keep wheeling the same professor out (whilst conveniently ignoring the fact he is actually a professor of engineer working in engineering) is evidence of that.

        Of the people doing so called creation ‘science’ for the creationist organisations (like Paul Garner), they do not present their creationist ‘papers’ and so called research on YECism to the genuine scientific community for scientific peer review. Ocassionally some will present something that is nothing to do with creationism (such as Paul Garner and his sandstone) but they’ve never presented anything YEC related to the scientific community. Presenting work that is nothing to do with YEC is not doing YEC science!

        Now they do also claim to do their own special YEC ‘science’ and have their own peer review system and journals. But that does not make it real science. And for real science, peer review means review by scientists with the expertise to criticise or re test in well established relevant scientific journals. Peer review by fellow creationists may be loosely termed peer review but it is not scientific peer review. After all astrologers also carry out research and have their own journals, and thay to have it peer reviewed by fellow astrologers but nobody pretends that is science.

        There is a very good reason for creationists avoiding real peer review by scientists as well. Because when real scientists look at it they tear it to shreds because it is at best dishonest rubbish. And YECism does not fit with real science at all. YEC science is a misnomer.

        There is science and pseudoscience (eg astrology, creationism, clairvoyance) not mainstream and YEC alternative. That is why the word mainstream has caused such a problem and that is why if the creaitonist view is to be represented it must be honestly as science denial not as a debate that does not exist..

      • I’ll simply refer you to my previous comment:
        ” I was more talking about the number of scientists (a small number, granted) who are YECs but still take part in scientific research and don’t see it as contradictory.”
        To give an example: A physicist may study stars that are thousands of light-years away, yet still be a YEC. Not doing research specifically into the age of the Earth, perhaps, but who is still fully aware of the scientific basis or contradictions of both viewpoints.

        Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not claiming any validity in the YEC viewpoint, I’m merely saying that the NT have simply not chosen the best wording, and that there is no problem with including the actual content (the way it was originally intended to be read) in the exhibition.

      • JK: You said “A physicist may study stars that are thousands of light-years away, yet still be a YEC.”

        No, that would not be a physicist “studying” the stars. YEC types believe the story in Genesis. Stars were created after the Earth. So anyone, physicist or not, who understands the meaning of “light year” could not be a YEC and be studying stars. Perhaps you were thinking of “astrologer” instead?

      • You’re simply wrong on this. There are a number of astronomers who are YECs and don’t see such a large conflict. To give you an example of one way to get around the problem (to show how such a scientist may think it out), they could simply believe God to have made the light that has travelled from the star to also exist – though created at the same time as the star, the light is as it would have been if the star had been there previously.
        Perhaps you want to believe that every scientist believes the same thing as you, but it’s simply not true I’m afraid.

      • JK, you simply missed the point on this one. There are certainly some scientists who do some kind of science that allows the to keep separate their work from their worse-than-wrong YEC faith. I just think your particular example is incredibly bad because it requires way to much willful ignorance. Had you picked an example from, say, Material Science, where the researcher spent his time figuring out new kinds of adhesives, I would not have objected. Your astronomy example is simply not believable.

      • jk There are no real scientists doing YEC work. There are a tiny number of real scientists doing real science that is nothing to do with YECism, mainly it seems in fields like engineering and computing and occasionally chemistry. And they are a very tiny number indeed. Then there are some people, with science qualifications doing creation ‘science’ for creationist organisations, which are not actually science.

        Science requires conclusions to follow evidence, conclusions adapt as more evidence is found. Science represents the accumulated knowledge of thousands of years. It doesn’t know everything, nor does it claim to. It is led by what is found. What is found is then brutally peer reviewed by others equally competent. It is challenged and re tested by other experts in that particular field..

        Things like the age of the universe, Earth and evolution have been examined to destruction by experts and found to be the only realistic explanations for the mountains of current evidence. There are no other possible ways to interpret the growing body of evidence without resorting to deceit. But if new evidence changes that or throws up new issues those explanations will change! And that is the important fact about science, the science will change if evidence dictates. It happened when steady state theory moved to big bang. That is science.

        Creation ‘science’ on the other hand starts with the conclusion that Genesis is literal and then tries to fit the evidence to that. That conclusion will never change no matter what the evidence – just try talking to a creationist for five minutes if you don’t believe me. That is why it is not science but a narrow religious belief. And because the evidence has long since not only been impossible to fit to a 6000 year old earth and flood but have actually disproved them, creationists have resorted to underhand methods, like claiming they are just interpreting the evidence differently. They aren’t cos they can’t. – not honestly and totally openly anyway.

        For those reasons nothing they do is presented to real scientists in the genuine scientific arena for peer review. When it is found by real scientists it is ripped to shreds within seconds. I suggest you look to the talkorigins websites to see each YEC claim destroyed by people who understand the real science.

        It is those underhand methods, that deceive and mislead, that people find distasteful not the religious belief. If creationists stated they rejected current science for religious reasons nobody would have a problem. It would be poor theology as most Christians are more than able to reconcile their faith with genuine science, but at least it would be honest.

        The fact you seem to have bought into the notion that there is creation ‘science’ and creation ‘scientists’ is evidence of just how devious they are. Particularly in their attempts to hijack the education of children, which I’ve seen first hand as a science teacher. Children who will need a far greater understanding of what science is really about than their parents or grandparents did – remember creationists also tend to deny many important issues like global warming as well as evolution. That is why I’m so concerned that a reputable organisation like the NT has given legitimacy to a disreputable ideology like creationism. Because not only is it inane it is dangerous and damaging.

  34. Myths and legends presented as such, lovely. Scentific facts on the Causeway, brilliant. Religion, of any kind, should never have come into it and I am delighted to see that the NT is finally seeing the light of day on this one. Thank you.

  35. Pingback: Is the National Trust bailing on creationism? « Why Evolution Is True

  36. Pingback: hip, hip, hoora…… oh dear | manoftrent

  37. To all who are commenting here I would make one point. Within Eauropean Law we are all granted the gift of ree speech. We are allowed to express our opinions in whatever we like. We are also protected under law from those who would like to take our freedom away. Please remember that when you are commenting in an aggressive manner.

    • I absolutely agree and Freedom of Speech is something we should all cherish. But is it right to allow that same freedom to organisations (of which there are many) whose ultimate aim is to take away freedoms from other people? To take away the rights of free speech, the rights of free thinking, of equality. Organisations whose aim is to spread lies, bigotry, fear and hate. Organisations who want to so brainwash the children in their ‘care’ that those children will be unable to live a normal, useful, healthy life in a multi-cultural, tolerant and liberal society. I passionately believe in Freedom of Speech, but not when I would be supporting something that wants to remove that Freedom from me and my children.

    • … and I’m going to use my free speech to firstly tell you to spell things properly. There is no law saying that we can’t use our right to free speech in an aggressive manner. Nobody here is using hate speech. The only freedom that is being taken away here is the freedom to spread pseudoscience. Everybody else is exercising their freedom from pseudoscience. Which do you think carries more weight?

    • surely then that free speech also applies to those who are commenting in ‘an aggressive manner’ (in your opinion) as well then? i would very much doubt that anyone at all is arguing for a denial free speech, maybe you would care to point me in the direction of the comments you feel are attacking the concept of free speech.

      Instead what i see is people merely arguing for ‘correct speech’ and ‘correct interpretation’, which in this case is removing creationist theology from the scientific section of the exhibition and also removing misleading phrases like ‘the debate continues’, maybe placing it more correctly with ‘fairytales and mythology’, if it needs to be mentioned at all.

      free speech entails responsibility and that falls on every one of us, even more intensely on those who wish to misrepresent words to their own ends, as the YEC have done in this case.

      Simply saying what we like when we like, representing facts incorrectly, treating others without respect, they need to be challenged. We don’t need to ‘stop’ people saying things, but they should not be allowed to go unchallenged. And if YEC can’t take the criticism and the religious community in general object to it then i would have to ask who is looking to censor who’s free speech.

    • Freedom of speech is a right. With rights come responsibilities. And my rights end where someone elses begin. The right of creationists to speak within their churches, or on the streets or in church halls to their followers is one thing. I would not demand they allow scientists in to rip their creationist arguments to shreds, no matter how beneficial I think it would be for their followers to hear reason. Nor would I petition their pastors to demand balance. I would certainly not expect anyone to demand Richard Dawkins be allowed into churches to give the opposite view to their religious ones either. Nobody is debating the right of creaitonists to reject science at all.

      The right to have those unscientific, religious views represented in a museum, visitor centre or any arena discussing science, to which they have contributed nothing, is an infringement on the rights of others. The people who go to those sites expecting to learn about them in a neutral and informative environment. It is an infringement of their right not to be misled into thinking there is a debate when there isn’t by a group that they should be able to trust like the NT…

      And not all opinions are equally valid, presenting them as such would be dishonest. There is no debate, there is no alternative science suggesting the earth is 6000 years old. The opinions of the geologists and other earth scientists have validity based on expertise and evidence gathered over hundreds of years, the pseudoscientific opinions of creationists no more validity than those claiming it was built by elves. To allow creationists to claim their opinion is as valid, as suggesting there is a debate does, is the same as allowing holocaust deniers the right to express their opinons that there is a debate over the scale of the holocaust at memorial sites.

      Lets face it creationists do not even represent Christians, most of whom happily accept all science. I find the non creationist Christian views of Genesis far more valid than those of the Caleb foundation, yet they aren’t represented. So what about the rights of non creationist Christians not to be embarrassed by public association with science rejection? Many of the christians I know have to now spend hours distancing themselves from creationism, which does not make them happy.

      If you wish to see real aggressive language the best place to see it is on some of the creationist websites supportive of Calebs move. Creation Ministries International is the best place to witness nastiness of the most unpleasant kind to anyone who doesn’t agree. Especially fellow Christians who are not creationists.

  38. in your review, i trust you will find that the creationist YEC element of your display was not taken out of context or indeed, misinterpreted. as it stands now, there is a glaringly obvious ambiguity in the display which suggests the age of the rocks remains a subject of scientific debate. this is patently not so, as you have declared in several statements issued subsequest to the initial requests for clarification. “the debate continues” within a religious context alone. there appears to be scientists who align themselves with this purely religious speculation concerning the age of the causeway – as there are religious leaders who accept that evidence which establishes its age in fixed, certain and entirely scientific terms. these “creation” scientists do not appear to enjoy credibility in scientific circles – as those christians who accept science may not be considered sufficiently “religious” in their less than literal acceptance of the bible. in either case, however, this so-called “continuing debate” remains religious in nature and has nothing what-so-ever to do with the discipline of science.

  39. Pingback: Cheers & Boos: NT endorses evolution, EH taunts the public and the Maidens are merrier. « The Heritage Journal

  40. The mere suggestion that people believe and interpretate something different from those that oppose the suggestion certainly does fuel debate in any quarter. What about educating children that a Giant created the stones surely if we really take it as black or white, this is also a ‘suspect’ interpretation and conveys misconceptions to the guilable. At least adults, in most cases, have had the benefit of an education which should have covered many of the points being raised….by the way that was a cynical comment and not my viewpoint. Personally from viewing and listening to the interpretation I found it wonderful to see the myriad of stories and believes both scientific and non scientific that had been covered. I did not find the interpretation changing my viewpoint nor did I find it offensive but really interesting in conveying all possible believes openly…I personally did not know of that believe until I listened to the interpretation – so thank you NT for being informative regarding the causeway..

  41. Would it be possible to ask why many people here are stating that the veiws of the creationist Caleb foundation should be recognised by the NT in NI because they are culturally significant? As far as I can see from their council of reference they are made up of various relatively modern fringe Christian denominations such as the Free Presbyterian church (an 1960s Ian Paisley run breakaway from the Presbyterian church), Elims, Congregationals and Free Methodists. A statistical breakdown of the religious groups in NI does not even categorise these idiviidually, they seem to come under the heading ‘other Christian or Christian related religions’ which seems to comprose 6.1% of the population?

    So it would appear that the non Caleb foundation churches are in the majority, including RC 40.3%, CofI15.3%, Presbyterian 20.7%, Methodist 3.5% Other 0.3%.

    So in what way are the Calebs culturally significant to the region when they seem to represent less than 6% of the population? And in what way is their modern American branch of hardline young earth creationism more culturally significant in the area than say the older RC or Church of Ireland views, or even ancient pagan celtic ones?

    • Whilst the Caleb foundation only represents a small proportion of the community, the beliefs they put forwards with regards to Young Earth Creationism are shared by a large number of others in the country. It would be untrue to say that creationism is not a prevalent belief in the RC, CofI, Presbyterian or other Church groups. Most of those within these churches are much less ‘hard-line’ on the issue (and perhaps it’s worth including the part in the display to encourage them to come and consider the scientific viewpoint – they may change their minds).

      You’re right in saying that the RC and Anglican views (and other historic views) are culturally important, but that would only make me ask why these haven’t been included rather than try to remove the one cultural view that is there.

      • Because this is a display about the Giant’s Causeway, not a display about the weird and wonderful “cultural views” (a.k.a. fantasies) abroad in the land.

      • Jk

        By ‘much less hard line’ i take it you mean, ‘completely ignore’. because the only group I have found that propagate the 6000 years theory is the YEC. As i understand this, the clue may be in the name.

        As many of us involved in this have stated, there is no problem with including as many religious viewpoints as NT want, they can go for fairy tales and folk stories galore. the problem is that they have presented the YEC ‘theory’ as scientific and stated that ‘the debate continue’ that is what we are talking about.

        So that remains the reason for the questioning of NT. Lets await the next NT update..

      • jk the other religions you mention do not have a 6000 year old earth as their central premise. Nor is the wholesale rejection of any science related to the age of the earth or evolution a huge part of their beliefs. Nor do they produce, disseminate or believe the reams of pseudoscientific nonsense produced by creationists. Nor have they felt it necessary to poke their noses into a scientific, non religious visitor centre.

        Secondly where is your proof that creationist beliefs are shared by large numbers in the community? The RC church seems to make up 40% of the population and as an ex member I can tell you they are not YECs. Nor are the CofI and I know of Methodists and Baptists who are hugely embarrassed by creationisms links to their faith. In fact I know many Christians who are fairly disgusted by it and want to stand up to and distance their religion from it. Perhaps their views should be represented?

        Thirdly even if everyone in the area believed as they did it is still nonsensical and not true. And therefore the NT using the words debate and mainstream science is wrong, misleading and ultimately failing the children who will be brought there by creationists, and others conned by them into thinking science is some kind of popularity contest based on any old opinion. Surely the job of any reputable organisation is to attempt to educate people who do mistakenly hold creationist views and not to pander to something that is so clearly and obviously wrong? It is not to mislead them by using ambigous terms that suggest they might be onto something. That is not helping them at all, merely making things worse.

        Lastly the views of all religions may be culturally relevant but in specific contexts. In places devoted to religion, cultural history, wars or the troubles. None of those views are culturally relevant in a site of geological interest. Least of all creationist science denial ones.

      • I’m not really going to comment on the Christian viewpoint again. I really wish it wasn’t true, but in Northern Ireland the majority of Christians from all Protestant denominations are creationist. I can’t speak for the RC church, but I do know that some members are YEC.

        What is important, though, are the local cultural beliefs. Just the same as if I visited a cave in Devon, I would expect a display to tell me about how it was formed scientifically, but also about the local cultural beliefs relating to it, religious beliefs significant to the site and the history of the site. Lets not pretend that a tourist site is simply about science – that’s just daft.

    • jk if the religious beliefs of the Caleb or anyone else were relevant to the site I would agree they should be there – though represented accurately as a group denying science for religious reasons not as part of a debate. But they aren’t relevant other than they live nearby – how exactly does that make them relevant.

      Near where I live we have a NT property that belonged to a catholic family who were extremely influential in the gunpowder plot. The catholicism associated with it is therefore highly relevant to all the displays, it was a safe house for the plotters and one of the places they would have met on route to escaping had the plot been sucessful. But the religious views of people currently living in that area are not represented because they are not relevant. And other properties nearby that have nothing to with that piece of history, even though they’re nearby, have nothing to say about the religious beliefs or otherwise of locals, because they aren’t relevant..

      If the Giants Causeway were a museum of NI traditions or current life, maybe they’d be relevant. But it isn’t it is a site that legend states was made by giants and science states was formed 60 million years ago. Both the legend and early real scientific debates about the place are therefore relevant.

      The Caleb and creationist beliefs in general are not traditionally associated with the Giants Causeway. Nowhere are there ancient legends linking it to Genesis. Nor is modern creationism contributed anything to the earlier scientific debates or current ones. It hasn’t really contributed anything at all. The only relevance seems to be that they live nearby and shout loudly as far as I can see.

      • So you think a geographical site has nothing to do with the local people? I can understand your points with regards to a house, but it’s completely different when it comes to a piece of local coastline that has for so long been a large piece of local heritage. The question really is; How do local people observe this site, given their disbelief of the scientific time-scale?
        It was relevant to me when I was growing up, living fairly local to the site. Often being told that the Earth was so young by creationists, sites like the Giant’s Causeway helped prevent me from ignoring the science. It’s vital not to forget that the Giant’s Causeway has played a huge part scientifically, but it’s also been important in the minds of many Creationists. This should be acknowledged in the exhibition, not simply ignored like it doesn’t exist.

      • “How do local people observe this site, given their disbelief of the scientific time-scale?” This is neither an interesting fact nor is it relevant to a site like the Causeway.

        Creationists believe the same thing about every rock and grain of sand on the planet. The same signage would be equally useful at spots on Earth. If we took your advice every town would be littered with “Caution: Profoundly Uninformed People LIve Nearby” signs.

      • “The question really is; How do local people observe this site, given their disbelief of the scientific time-scale?”

        All such “sites” are, by definition, ‘local’. How can they be anything else? It’s not as though they are ever going to be moved, apart from by tectonic shift, of course.

        Creationists are ignorant. They choose to ignore scientific, peer reviewed fact. They literally choose to ignore reality. There can be no rational reason for wilfully refusing to properly read and study the – by now – millions of peer reviewed, scientific studies of earth’s development. In the same way, there can be no rational reason for randomly selecting just one of the thousands of the ancient, pre-science, myths and legends, dreamt up by unknowing human beings, to explain the, then, inexplicable, effectively instantaneous popping into existence of our planet and all that exists upon it.

        The creation myth of the Bible is, indeed, the ignorance of choice of the Caleb foundation. Far from being local to the Northern Ireland, though, The Giant’s Causeway, as a World Heritage Site, must be seen as ‘local’ to our planet and not only to the north-eastern corner of the island of Ireland. It attracts visitors from around the world, so is it not unfair that the creation myths from around the planet, all of which are as equally valid and credible as the Biblical creation myth, are not equally represented at the centre?

        In the interests of balance, I would suggest that the NT builds a new, separate, building – maybe it could be ‘The World Centre of Creationist Ignorance’ – where ALL the thousands of creation myths are explained. This would create a clear demarcation between the reality of scientific research – truth – and the bewildering stupidity of international creationist myth believers.

        In the alternative, of course, why not just remove all references to any creation myths, save for including them, where they belong, with the myth of Finn McCool and any other crazy notions people choose to think up?

      • “Caution: Profoundly Uninformed People LIve Nearby” signs would not accurately convey the truth. These individuals have all been informed of the truth. The problem is that they have made a conscious choice, in the face of scientific truth, to ignore the truth. The signage should, therefore, read, “Caution: Profoundly Ignorant People LIve Nearby”.

  42. While I too welcome the rethink, the NT is still sticking to its position that we have all taken this issue out of context and misinterpreted this section of the audio display. No NT, you got it wrong by giving in to pressure applied by the Caleb Foundation. Now put it right.

  43. To Bev Brown. I really don’t think that your comments apply to this conversation. O only wrote that to say that I have as much right to my point of view as everyone else has in this context and all others.

    • You have a right to your opinion. Creationists have a right to theirs. They do not have an automatic right to have that opinion represented exactly as they want, ie incorrectly and misleadingly in a site of scientific interest. There is no debate and no such thing as mainstream science, it is science because there is no alternative to it.

      If creationists wish to mislead in their own churches with pretend creation ‘science’ and made up notions of debate, nobody can or should stop them, (even though that might actually be good for their members). But that does not then give them the right to peddle those pretences on other sites that are set up to inform rather than mislead. If they are accorded the right to have their existence acknowledged than it should be honestly which is as a minority fringe branch of Christianity and as a minority but vocal section of the people of NI that reject science for religious reasons and calculate the Earth by adding up the geneologies in the bible.

      If I was in NI I’d perhaps also like it noted that they do represent everyone in the province and the majority of educated people there are not creationists. Just for balance.

      When the creationists invite real scientists into their churches to rip their pseudoscience to shreds, or invite in people like Richard Dawkins to talk in their churches then this will not seem so hypocritical.

      And every thinking person in the world has just as much right to be appalled and distressed by the NTs decision to give creationists houseroom. Especially given the damage they are trying to inflict on education.

  44. NT, please can you publish details of your review? Numerous people have asked this.

    The scope, time scale, participants, what inputs are being taken and who the decision makers are? This should not be hard.

    A lot of credibility was lost in the initial slow response to this scandal. Emerging from an effective wall of silence, saying we are reviewing and retreating behind the wall of silence once more isn’t great behaviour.


  45. I’m another person whose NT membership is on the line.

    Totally gobsmacked that they could do such a stupid thing. It’s obvious that creationism is anti-science, and that creationists take every opportunity to twist facts and misrepresent opinions. There’s a good reason so many scientists refuse to engage with them. The NT have let them get a foot in the door now, and the only thing to do that will salvage any scrap of dignity is to remove this altogether, and state that it was a big mistake.

    I suspect people will be leaving in droves unless this is removed.

    Waiting and watching, but not for too long.

  46. Well said Ben. Scientist should indeed not engage with those who hold irrational beliefs whether they be creationists, scientologists or holocaust deniers. Science is the creature of evidence and is our greatest achievement. Creationists, Scientologists and Holocaust deniers wish to damage it.

  47. Yeah, and? What’s to review? It’s pretty clear the idea of a “controversy” needs to be removed, and the scientific facts presented without false colour or irrelevant cultural asides. There, review done! But nothing from the NT. Looks like they are politicking us. I for one do not have any trust in their integrity. Every day of silence drives this point home further.


  48. gfroddam said: “NT, please can you publish details of your review?”

    The delay is unsettling and compounds the error, can NT not see that? The revised statement couldn’t be simpler:
    Historically and currently the Giants Causeway was and is cited by creationists as being of recent origin but that and all creationism was and is utterly rejected by science.

    That couldn’t be simpler, or quicker to produce, so any delay is bound to prompt the suspicion the revision will (a.) cloud the fact the original statement was a big mistake and (b.) will give a bit of respect to the creationism concept. Since either of those will infuriate NT members it would be best if NT settled this matter straight away I’d have thought.

  49. fyi the Northern Ireland Regional Advisory board (because the NT has 3 websites! but this information isn’t online)

    I have listed our Regional Advisory Board members below.

    Roy Bailie OBE

    Advisory Board Members
    Louise Browne
    Robert Burgess
    David Flinn
    Nick Garbutt
    Orla McKibbin
    Phil Mowat
    Wendy Osborne OBE
    Susan Ward

    who are these people?

  50. OK NT any idea of a time line on this “review” ….

    You wouldn’t be deliberately dragging your feet over this … would you.?

    I realise that the failure of your previous “stone walling” tactic must have been a disappointment ,but you must surely realise that a “keep quiet ,say nothing and all the nasty people will just go away ” strategy just will not do.

    Come on NT ,at least pretend your a competent organisation get your act together and lets have some responses.

    (I’m just so grateful Stonehenge is in the care of English Heritage)

  51. Are there any reasons for the delay. Is the NT still trying to negotiate with Caleb? On the Calebs website they have made this comment

    “We have written to the Trust to ask if this review will include any public consultation, given that there is a significant amount of public money involved. We have no doubt that there would also be a significant public interest in such a review and any decisions flowing from it.”

    Which sounds vaguely threatening in tone. Though I know people in NI who are not YECs and who are extremely upset by the NTs original decision.

  52. NT I definitely want to see details of the review… also I note your blog post states that you confirm that there is no debate, so… why is the word “debate” used in the exhibit? Hmmm? Care to comment? Hmmm? Put the creationist information in the correct area: “myths, legends and total fantasy” asap.

    • Well it’s going to depend how you define debate. There is debate in the sense that there is public argument on both sides, but it’s also true to say that there is no legitimate scientific debate, in the sense that only one side has legitimate views. It’s just the way our language works…

      • JK, when someone says there is a “debate” about some subject, it is generally assumed that they are talking about legitimate debate. We don’t squander the word on fantasies. If we did we’d be constantly talking about the debate over the existence of fairies. And psych wards would be known as debating halls.

      • It’s generally assumed they are talking about a legitimate debate, but only in the academic world. Beyond academia the word is used for the other meaning very often. Scientists and academics might be used to a statement ‘There is some debate on this issue’ as meaning that there are several possible theories, but it’s not the same to the outside world. For example, it would be perfectly normal for me to say ‘YECs continually debate that the world is 6000 years old’.

      • You should, perhaps, preface what is perfectly normal for you to say with a note: “Caution: comments by JK use idiosyncratic word definitions”.

        I don’t hang out in academia but somehow am aware of what the word “debate” means. It doesn’t mean “someone says”. Without the notion of “legitimate point of view” associated with it, the word is meaningless and there would be no subject over which no debate existed. So, JK, assuming your fluid over-broad of the word, give me an example of a subject over which there is no debate.

    • jk I would define debate as equally valid differences of opinion over things that people have opinions about, such as whether one author is better than another. Or a difference of opinion about whether David Cameron or Ed Milliband would be better at running the economy. I don’t think the word debate really extends to the existence or otherwise of clear facts. For example, no matter what anybody feels about David Cameron there is no debate over the fact he is currently prime minister! Likewise, no matter what people feel about royalty there is no debate about the fact that we have a Queen! Likewise there is no debate over the fact that 2+2=4.

      The scientific conclusions about the age of the Earth and evolution are drawn from hard facts not choices or opinions or likes/dislikes. The creationist view is drawn from a complete denial and distortion of those facts. There is no debate, the facts exist and cannot be argued away just cos some people don’t like them.

      Creationists have not produced any scientific facts to negate the ones science has produced. Nor do they have any valid or realistic intrepretations or opinions of them that can be used to alter the conclusions. They argue from a position of wilful ignorance and denial of what is under their noses – not from alternative interpretations of evidence. It would be like me claiming that I can interpret David Cameron’s face differently to come to the conclusion that Ed Milliband is prime minister!! It is that clear cut. There is no debate because the creationists have not provided any reasons to have one beyond not liking reality.

  53. Increasingly annoyed that the Trust appears to have going into ‘ignore them and they will go away’ stance. This is simple communication skills. You’ve taken a positive step agreeing to review the creationist content. People have asked basic and natural questions over the scope, timescales and participants. Why not answer these questions?

  54. Well at lest I’ve had a response via e-mail. To everyone wondering when the review will complete, don’t hold your breath. Almost three weeks after announcing the review, the Trust have confirm that the terms of reference are ‘still being refined’

    • What terms of reference? All they need to do is remove the words ‘debate’ and ‘mainstream’ science. If they have to include Calebs views for political reasons than they can do so honestly. Some people reject the scientifc fact that the earth is 4.5 billion years old in favour of a religious belief that it is 6000 years old based SOLELY on calculating the geneologies found in the Bible! Those are the simple fact, what is taking them so long?

      I would guess it is the fact that Caleb like to pretend there is some kind of creationi ‘science’? But there isn’t.

  55. will NT’s ongoing consideration of the interpretive material in the “debate continues” section of the giant’s causeway display take into account the recent landing of “curiosity” on the planet mars? if so, what consideration will NT allow for photos beamed back from the red planet, in regards to the biblical story of noah’s ark here on earth?

  56. Having lost patience with the complete wall of silence on this issue from the National Trust, I’ve now raised a formal complaint against the trust. It is really sad I’ve had to resort to this when some basic communication over the details of the review would have avioded this.

  57. Hi all – thanks for your patience. As Ged Roddam notes we are still examining the detail of the exhibition. As soon as we have the results of the review we’ll post them here.

    • You know, ntsteve, this is not that complicated. This delay makes the National Trust look like a bunch of ignorant yahoos.

      • that just stinks of inaction in the hope we will all go away, Cant trust the national trust?
        Seriously how long does it take to get a couple of managers to review this nonsence?

    • sorry ntsteve, but like the other respondents i don’t see what ‘detail’ there is to examine, you’ve already posted the transcript of the exhibition that has caused the problem and in the hundreds of responses sent to the NT it has been made clear what the solution is. So an explanation of what ‘detail’ is being examined is required as a minimum, wouldn’t you agree ntsteve?

      Please stop treating us like idiots. I know its been holiday time at the NT, maybe a little honesty would help, ‘sorry folks, we’ve all been on holiday so we haven’t got anywhere with this’ or ‘we’re hoping for all this to go away, so by saying nothing there’s a chance that everyone will forget about it’.

      Please treat us with some respect, we are the people that financially contribute to the organisation after all. And also please identify who it is that comes up with the wording of NT updates, because time and again the PR from NT only manages to make the situation even worse.

      Simple questions? What process is being undertaken to decide what changes are being made? What is the timescale for this process to be undertaken? Surely you can manage to answer that, unless the NT feels it is above explaining itself to its members of course…

    • “still examining the detail of the exhibition” – why bother? Just get a sledgehammer and knock it down, that would take a minute maximum and yet it has taken the NT well over a month to mess about with this. What is so hard about this? Please explain it to me, I’m a little bit thick like that. The creationist display is falsely implying that it has scientific merit, it does not. Ergo it does not belong there. Nobody has misinterpreted it and I highly doubt that you’ll be broadcasting the views of every other religious group out there so why the special treatment for YEC groups and their wedge strategies that they clearly advertise?

      The only reason I can see for it not being immediately removed is if there are large sums of money involved, . Obviously I’m only saying this is an alleged possibility but it’s what a lot of people are thinking. Millions of people are aware of this issue now. Delaying tactics aren’t going to get people to ignore it.

      We have regardless been patient but last month on the 18th we were told that the review could take a month. On the 18th Aug the pressure will be back on in full force. I really don’t see how the decision can be anything other than complete removal and lots of apologising for the misrepresenting of science on the display and the way that the matter has been dealt with (ignoring members, accusing them of misinterpretation, pandering to fringe groups, the silencing/delaying tactics). That is the only way I see that will bring myself and others back to the NT after this farce.

    • ntsteve, you completely misinterpret my attitude as ‘patience’. I am absolutely fuming at first of all at the NT falling prey to creationist lobbying and secondly the truly abysmal way the NT has handled the reaction caused by this. After what is close to two months, messages like ‘we are still examining’ are unacceptable. Tell us the timeline that you are working to. If you aren’t working to a timeline, then why not? It would be amateurish in the extreme not to.

    • Hey ntsteve

      I see that NT have managed to place a (rather pointless and distinctly unpopular) new artistic display at Giants Causeway, but sadly have been unable to do anything about the valid complaints of many of your members (myself included).

      You have also been able to welcome the prime minister, which is nice, yet more promotion whilst still overlooking the valid complaints of your members.

      This is completely out of order, its disrespectful to your supporters and those who care about the issues that have been raised here.

      I expect an update from you within the week, at the very least to explain what ‘process is being undertaken’, by whom and when this whole sorry saga is to be concluded.


    • So it took you a MONTH to ‘examine’ a few sentences and you are STILL not ready? Are you counting molecules in the loudspeakers?

  58. Far too little … far too late …
    It seems the NT only responds when pressured.
    Well done Ged …
    ntsteve , can I please ask , during this extended period of assessment has the offending display been removed (or at least labelled as highly suspect in nature). I worry that children may be being exposed to this.

  59. I cancelled my membership (renewal) yesterday. I was surprised the gentleman on the phone didn’t know what I was talking about; I suppose we’ll have to make more noise.

      • Hi ntsteve

        well we are still here in the middle of september and nothing.

        i would be grateful if you could inform me of what steps i can take now, as its evident that you are ignoring the concerns of your members. Is there an official complaint that i can put in against you and the rest of the PR team for the mistruths you have propagated about this being looked at when it is not? Please forward me the complaint form. It strikes me that if people within PR cannot perform that function then they should not be employed to do so.

        Secondly i would like details to be provided of public meetings of the board / executive of the NT that i (and other members) could attend and speak at. If you are not willing to be straightforward and honest with your members then you may need to be shamed, very publicly, into doing so. Maybe that will be the way to get some action, organising some protests to highlight this issue, i’m sire something would happen if the organisations pocket was hit.

        If there are no public meetings (which i can’t believe with you being a charity and all) then I’m happy to accept an invite to a closed meeting, but i will report what happens on this site. Transparency is important to all charities, right?

        I am disappointed in the attitude that has been shown by NT, it’s the oldest plan there is, ignore the complaints and hope it goes away. well it won’t. As you may have seen there are many forms of peaceful but effective protest available these days and there are enough concerned citizens to make things happen.

        Of course it would be easier for you to do what you said you would two months ago, but it seems that you, as an organisation, view yourself as being above having to answer to your members.

        I expect a response within seven days.

      • Hi Andy

        It’s not a mistruth – the team there are looking at this, considering the options and we will issue an update here in due course.

        You can of course complain if you are unhappy with our service – details of how to do this are here:

        And you would be most welcome at our AGM on 10 November –

        We’ll update you all with review findings as soon as we are able.

      • may i ask ntsteve, that if you are unable to confirm when (or indeed if, being as this is all SO difficult for you all) a review is taking place, could you at least furnish us with the detail as to who is doing the review (‘the team’ doesn’t cover it), when they are expecting to meet next, if this will be on the agenda of that meeting, if that meeting would be open to the public, none of which should be beyond your remit (surely).

        At least then we could estimate the next time we should be contacting you again to complain at no action being taken and the utter disregard you have for your members. If this information is to difficult for you to find out i would suggest that maybe there should be changes to the management structure of the NT.

        Thanks for the complaint form i will be pursuing this as far as is possible.

        And yes, i shall look forward to the AGM, i think its about time the senior management of the organisation were answering questions about this farce. It might also be a good time for the organisation to consider putting in place a policy to deal with relations to religious groups to avoid such problems in the future.

      • “I expect a response within seven days.”

        Annoyed Andy… I’ve learned not to expect such things from the NT.

      • ntsteve,

        It is with great pleasure that we learn today that you have not, in fact, been raptured up. Given that you are still here among the living, and apparently still representing the NT, can you indicate precisely when the NT will directly address this issue? And can leave aside phrases like “in due course” since a response for such a straight-forward matter is long past due.

      • Thank you for the concern – yes very much still among the living (just) but I’m afraid I can only say as soon as we have our findings we will post them here.

    • I believe the NT telephoned the Rev Ian Brown of the Caleb foundation yesterday (30/08) to consult about the new visitor centre. Can I ask ntsteve have they telephoned any secular or humanist organisations to ask about it? Any Catholic ones given Calebs links to the orange order? Or perhaps in the light of Calebs antipathy to gay rights and the rights of women (their role in tightening the legislation that allowed victims or rape to have terminations or terminations for fetal abnormalities) have the NT contacted any womens rights groups or Stonewall about their views on them pandering and sucking up to the whims of Caleb!

      I can honestly say my opinion of the NT can get no lower now, and I will definitely NOT be renewing my membership and will be informing others not to join or renew theirs.

    • Oh! I can answer that!! Me, Sir! Please Sir!

      How about the sort of company that recieves a formal complaint, acknowledges it, then does’t reply within their own specified deadline.

      Not even a response to agree a different deadline.


  60. The Caleb Foundation are saying that they can use your display to help them lie to people about the age of the world.

    “This new feature at the Causeway Centre also has another wider significance. Every church group, Sunday school, youth fellowship etc can now go to the Causeway Centre, take on board what is said about the continuing debate and, from that starting point, tell children, young people, men’s groups, ladies’ fellowships or senior citizens about the wealth of evidence in all branches of science – evidence that some would seek to suppress – in all creation, that points to the hand of a sovereign God in this world. From there, they can show how this is in harmony with the Bible’s revelation of the grace of God in reaching down to mankind to redeem from sin.”

    CAUSEWAY DEBATE FEATURE PROMOTES HEALTHY DEBATE – David McConaghie (Press Officer) News Letter, 10 July 2012

    They have no evidence to disprove almost everything about several branches of science, and none of it is being suppressed by anyone (at least there’s no-one stopping them putting on the internet for everyone to see); at most they have a couple of as-yet unanswered questions, and most of those I’ve seen put forward as such have actually been scientifically answered.

  61. Todays Belfast Telegraph seems to be querying the amount of infuluence the Caleb foundation enjoys within the DUP. It also suggests anywhere else in the UK Caleb would represent extremist religious views not shared by many of the population and certainly not taken seriously. Beyond its creationist notions it does not seemt to be a tolerant organisation, nor one supportive of the rights and freedoms of all. So whilst supporting its right to hold any views it wishes, could I ask the NT again, why it felt the need to consult with them and represent their extremist views when they do not respect the views of others?. And when the review will be completed?

    I have now received a standard letter from the NT reminding me that my membership has expired and asking me to reconsider or tell them why I’m leaving. I shall now add their representation of an intolerant group of religious extremists to the use of the words debate and mainstream science in my reply.

  62. It’s been TWO MONTHS, and we are still asking. What stage of the reviewing process have you reached? When will you release at least a provisional date by which we can expect the exhibit to be changed? Why is no one responding to e-mails in any of your offices?

  63. Pingback: Review of the matters surrounding the Creationist Display at the Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre | Belfast Skeptics

  64. Hi,

    Can you please say if you’ve closed comments or give me a reason why you’re not passing my comments through moderation after two weeks? I can’t help wondering if there are others in the same position as me.

    Nothing would delight me more than to re-join the NT, but I’m not about to unless this gets sorted out in a sensible way.

  65. Pingback: Betrayal of Trust : The National Trust promotes Young Earth Creationism |

  66. Pingback: The National Trust to review Giant | British Humanist AssociationBritish Humanist Association

  67. Pingback: The National Trust to review Giant's Causeway exhibition | British Humanist AssociationBritish Humanist Association

  68. Just a note to say that my comments since the 24th August were finally published today (along with some others), without explanation for the delay.

  69. NTSteve, it sounds like you’ve been ill; sorry to hear it and I hope you’re fully recovered.

    Presumably, though, you’re not the only person working on this, so there should have been some progress while you were away.

    Having listened to a recording of the exhibit, I have to say it does seem to imply that science may one day agree with the ideas of the YEC, and that’s never going to happen (the age of the earth may not be exactly known, but it’s not out by a factor of millions).

  70. OK I think NT has had long enough. Add me and the wife to the list of those not renewing membership in protest. We’ll rejoin if this gets to a reasonable conclusion.

  71. Hello NT. You really have had enough time to sort out the creationist exhibit at the Causeway visitor centre. 80 days have passed since you set a woeful precedent by including creationist views in your exhibit. They have been lauding the precedent you set, expecting other doors to open so they can confuse their religion with everyone else’s science in schools and museums all over the place. You admitted your error by agreeing to review the exhibit. Can I please have a date by when the review will have concluded and the exhibit removed? …oh, and maybe a response to my formal complaint of 8th July??

  72. Steve

    As someone who has been a trustee of a major national charity (admitedly dealiing with people rather than property) I am getting worried about a lack of a proper statement.

    If I was a National Trust trustee I wold expect the matter to be refered to the Board of Trustees as it raises very important issues about how the National Trust deals with external bodies who may be more interested in exploiting the National Trust’s good name. If exisiting policies have been breached there could be disciplinary procedures to follow and there may be real political complications connected with future relations between the the National Trust and the D.U.P. in Northern Ireland.

    Comments that “the team” is doing something is inadequate. If the matter has been raised at Trustee level, AS IT SHOULD BE, it is wrong to give the impression that a team in the Press Office (who are not empowered to make policy decisions of this nature) are working on it. As the matter affects the world-wide reputation of the National Trust a purely Northern Ireland team would be equally inappropriate. If something similar had cropped up in the charity whose trustee board I was on cropped up (In our case it might have involved a murder by one of our clients and adverse judge’s commentsspread all over the national press) I would have expected a top level executive team reporting directly to the board, and possibly involving one or two trustee representatives.

    If the matter is being considered by the full National Trust Board (including Trustees) why keep on pussyfooting around with vague statments and say (1) There is a boar level committee looking at the implications of what has happend and (2) the Trustee boards only meetx X times a year so progress will be slow.

    • hertfordshirechris raises an excellent point – it’s what every contributor to this thread has been saying or would have said, had they been so eloquent, rational or as well-mannered as he. please address this issue now.

  73. Your front page no longer seems to have the “Most Popular” item on the right hand side; it used to be below “Archives”, if I recall correctly.

    I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the change has removed the Giant’s Causeway posts from the front page.

    I fully expect the “Tag Cloud” to disappear next.

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

  75. Pingback: The National Trust to review Giant’s Causeway exhibition | British Humanist Association

  76. Pingback: The National Trust amends Giant’s Causeway exhibition | British Humanist Association

  77. Pingback: The National Trust to review Giant's Causeway exhibition » British Humanist Association

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