Most of this fuss has resulted from press reports stating that the creationist viewpoint is included and most of the criticism has deplored the National Trust for suggesting that the creationist viewpoint had any scientific merit.
We asked the National Trust to publish the full details of what is actually said at the centre before commenting.
They have now published the transcript and this is the relevant quote, which follows some comments on the local myths about feuding giants and a brief history of geological thinking;
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.On balance we have no issues with this, although it might be more accurate to have said that "Young Earth Creationists continue to debate questions about the age of the earth amongst themselves."
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 issue does illustrate a couple of points about Creationists though;
- They will not pass up an opportunity to promote their nonsense as if it was actually science.
- They tell lies.
Here is the Caleb Foundation web page write up about the above National Trust wording (our emphasis);
As an umbrellaorganisation 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.
And they now seem to be looking for their next target;
This is, as far as we are aware, a first for the National Trust anywhere in theUK, and it sets a precedent for others to follow.
So the Caleb Foundation are bragging about a triumph that does not exist, whilst the National Trust give an excellent account of the geology, and actually give Finn M’Cool more visibility than the creationists.
We have previously published several wiki articles on the Caleb foundation, you can see them listed here. We have also done several blog postings on Creationism in Northern Ireland and you can read them here.
As a breath of fresh air read this extract from a statement by the Geological Society;
The young-Earth creationists’ view of Earth history, based upon their literal interpretation of the Bible, is quite simply wrong. It is a manifest untruth. It is as wrong as saying that the Sun orbits around the Earth, or that the Moon is made of green cheese, or that the Giant’s Causeway was constructed by Finn MacCool, the giant of Irish legend. Nor are we dealing with "alternative views" of the universe. We are dealing with the difference between reason and unreason. For it is unreasonable, indeed fantastical, in any impartial examination of the evidence (evidence that was sufficient even in Victorian times, and now that has been corroborated a thousandfold), to state that the Earth is only a few thousand years old.
This is not a case of censorship. We do not question the right of creationists to hold or expound their views, to write pamphlets and books, hold meetings, or set up websites; nor would we for our part demand to distribute articles on the scientific evidence of the age of the Earth in church halls. But we profoundly disagree with any suggestion that creationist views should be given space in publicly-funded museums or visitor centres that explain natural history, or in school science lessons or science textbooks.
The significance of this point goes far beyond questions of a philosophical interpretation of humanity’s place in the universe. Humanity is now struggling to maintain itself on an overcrowded planet, on an Earth in which the life-support systems of air and water and food and land are being imperilled by human action. To deal with the many crises facing us, we need to deal with the Earth as it is - not with the utterly unreal Earth that the young-Earth creationists have convinced themselves of, by over-literal interpretation of scriptural texts.
This is not at all to say that the world’s religions have no part to play in, say, the growing threat of global warming. On the contrary: the moral standpoints they provide may perhaps prove crucial in influencing individual or collective action that might counter this threat. But human reason as applied to the reality of the world around us – which is in essence what science is – must lie at the heart of any civilised society. The Giant’s Causeway, and its 60-million year history, must be used to help promote that reason, and to better understand the real Earth on which we live.