U.K.’s National Trust promotes creationism!

Reader chrisquartly called my attention to this post by Britain’s National Secular Society on the famous Giant’s Causeway, a formation of hexagonal basalt columns in Northern Ireland that is the remnant of an ancient volcanic eruption (see here for more information). It’s a UNESCO National Heritage site and is owned by the National Trust.  Here’s a photo (I’ve never visited but would love to):

The report says that the Causeway Visitor’s Center now includes an exhibit suggesting that the causeway formed as a result of the Biblical Flood:

Creationists believe the stones, which emerged from the sea-bed following intense volcanic and geological activity 60 million years ago, were in fact formed around 4,500 years ago as a result of Noah’s Flood.

Actually, this formation occurred 50-60 million years ago when extruded lava cooled quickly, forming the cracks that separate the tidy columns. Why is the National Trust lying about this to visitors? Creationist pressure, of course:

The National Trust had been under pressure from evangelical Christians to give equal prominence to its religious viewpoint in the new £18.5m (partly publicly funded) visitor centre at the UNESCO World Heritage Site on Northern Ireland’s north Antrim coast. . .

Wallace Thompson, chairman of the creationist Caleb Foundation said he was pleased with the inclusion of the creationist view:

“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.

“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.”

In a statement, The National Trust said that the exhibit gives recognition to the fact that, for creationists, the debate about the age of the Earth is still ongoing.

Here is the cowardly language of the National Trust exhibit, uncovered by reader Paul Braterman:

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.

Despite the fact that they do mention “mainstream science,” this is absolutely ridiculous, and does severe discredit to the National Trust. Yeah, maybe among creationists the debate about the age of the Earth is “still ongoing,” but for the rest of the world—including all scientists and people not blinded by faith—that debate was settled decades ago.  To give it any credibility in such an exhibit is shameful.

Britain is supposed to be far less infested by creationists than is the U.S., and while fighting creationism at home, I want to keep the UK clean.  I urge readers to contact the National Trust (information here) and register a protest. I’m sure that if they get a few thousand complaints (include your title if you’re a scientist or geologist), they’ll remove the exhibit.  Well, at least I hope so.

To reach them by email, just write to enquiries@nationaltrust.org.uk  I’ve already sent them an email. Please tell them not to teach lies to visitors. I have sent the email below, and if you’re pressed for time you’re welcome to copy and paste it. It will take only 30 seconds.

It has come to my attention that you have an exhibit in the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre promoting the creationist view that the lava formation might have resulted from the Great Flood described in the Bible.

This is, of course, completely wrong. As all scientists know, that formation is 50-60 million years old. To teach that it’s 10,000 or so years old, and resulted from the great flood, instead of from an ancient eruption of lava, is simply teaching lies to your visitors.  Don’t you want them to know the truth about the Causeway’s formation?

Regardless of any debate among creationists about the age of the earth, there is no debate among real scientists about that age, which is about 4.6 billion years. I urge you to remove all the creationist lies about the age of the Causeway from your visitor’s centre. Please—do this in the interests of science and truth.

Thank you,

94 Comments

  1. Posted July 5, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Whilst the UK has less of a creationist problem than the States, we do seem to have a very vocal minority – it’s a shame they’ve had this degree of success.

    Have already complained and blogged. Send your displeasure people!

    http://furtherthoughtsfortheday.blogspot.com/2012/07/more-charity-and-woo-national-trust-and.html

    • truthspeaker
      Posted July 5, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      …especially in Northern Ireland, from what I hear.

      • Posted July 6, 2012 at 12:11 am | Permalink

        Yes, unfortunately Northern Ireland is a hotspot for crazy beliefs – as you might expect. Religious people willing to die for their beliefs are often found bolstering those beliefs with absurdities and outright lies.

        This is a great shame. There’s a forest outside my door owned by the National Trust, and their stewardship of it has been exemplary. I really hope that this creationism problem can be confined to Norn Iron.

  2. FitzRoy
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    To split hairs, is it correct to say “As all scientists know, that formation is 50-60 million years old”?

    I would wager there are many working scientists who do not know the details of the age of this particular geological formation in Northern Ireland.

    • Notagod
      Posted July 8, 2012 at 7:31 am | Permalink

      That would be disingenuous because the statement isn’t addressing how many orders of millions of years old the formation is but, is addressing millions of years verses a few thousands of years. Anyone competent in scientific methodology and making a statement from scientific knowledge would need to acknowledge that the age of the formation is not thousands of years and is millions of years.

      If you weigh the variables; thousands of years verses millions of years correlated with is scientist verses is not scientist. Millions of years is not in question but anyone claiming thousands of years would be eligible for questioning concerning a claim that they are a scientist.

  3. Duane
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    DONE.

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted July 6, 2012 at 2:15 am | Permalink

      Done.

      • johnnyrodgersmorris
        Posted July 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        Done.

        • Posted July 7, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

          Done. Email written, posted on their FB page.

  4. Craig Smith
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    I’d just like to point out that Scotland has a separate National Trust to the one in this story, so referring to it as the UK’s National Trust isn’t entirely accurate.

    • Posted July 7, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Well, that’s the UK’s National Trust for Scotland! ;-)

      /@ (Praha)

  5. Posted July 5, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    I would be perfectly fine if they simply added an addendum: “Of course, this is complete hogwash and flies in the face of all scientific evidence that we have available.”

    • Posted July 7, 2012 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      I disagree.

      They have no need to include ANY (of all thousands and thousands) of wrong creation stories about this formation, then to say “oh but these are wrong”.

      For nothing else because some people stop reading before the disclaimer; second because “any publicity is better than no publicity” so it’s still giving credence to the view. To quote Pauli, the creationist view is not even wrong.

      • Notagod
        Posted July 8, 2012 at 7:40 am | Permalink

        Especially when considering that christian parents will have cause to read the statement to their children who are unable to read and will, as is the christian custom, not include the relevant parts.

  6. Posted July 5, 2012 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    While I took your advice, I went with a different take on the letter. Given that Young Earth Creationists believe in giants like Goliath, would they support the teaching of the legendary Fionn Mac Cumhaill as fact?

    Full letter here: http://geoffsshorts.blogspot.ie/2012/07/one-giants-leap-for-creationists.html

  7. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I have sent the following letter. The quibble about “global” may have not been necessary, but here it is.

    I have learned that at your exhibit in the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre you have a placard mentioning the creationist view that the lava formation might have resulted from the Great Flood described in the Bible.

    While I give you credit for stating that this is the view of “some people, who have an understanding… different from that of current mainstream science” you misleadingly state earlier that “the debate has ebbed and flowed” when in fact it has been settled within mainstream science for a long time.

    You go on to characterize the debate as “global”. In a sense that’s true, but the debate is mainly generated by a prominent anti-science Americans who have gotten busy exporting their war on science to other countries, mainly Christian or Islamic. Notably, the only Far Eastern country with a prominent creationist presence is South Korea, the only such country dominated by Western religion. Creationism has no foothold in Japan, China, Vietnam or other countries still mainly Buddhist, Taoist, or whatever. It has virtually no foothold in India or Israel either.

    One of many problems with these folks is that you give them an inch, they take a mile. They thirst for whatever scrap of legitimacy you can lend them in order to perpetuate patterns of incoherent thinking which ultimately threaten the integrity of both science and our education system. They may seem to be merely very eccentric and may not seem to be harmful as a hate group such as a neo-Nazi party, but they still represent a threat to rational thought.

    I doubt that the Geological Museum in Cairo has a space talking about current flat earth theories. I don’t think the Astronomy museum in Chicago has a space acknowledging people who still believe Ptolemy’s terra-centric astronomy. Please have the dignity and grace to not legitimate this fringe but vocal interest-group by maintaining your exhibit.

    Jonathan Harvey

  8. chrisquartly
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the mention, Jerry :) I’ve enjoyed National Trust sites back home in the past so this was particularly disappointing.

    As Adam Rutherford said on his twitter feed: A proposal: let’s have signs in big churches that say ‘some people recognise that the evidence for god is non-existent: judge for yourself’!

  9. Posted July 5, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    “Actually, this formation occurred 50-60 million years ago when extruded lava cooled quickly, forming the cracks that separate the tidy columns. Why is the National Trust lying about this to visitors? Creationist pressure, of course”

    No, they’re not lying, the real story (check out their web site at http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/giants-causeway/) is clearly presented as established fact, starting with the plain statement “Volcanic crashing and burning starting sixty million years ago led to the formation of the Giant’s Causeway”, and Finn M’Cool gets more space than the Cretins.

    Yes, it was indeed creationist pressure that got this language in, from the Caleb Society, but I think they scored an Own Goal. It’s Northern Ireland, everyone thereabouts will have been exposed to Paisleyite Cretinism, and the deflating language used, referring to “a specific interpretation of the Bible”, will if anything, I fear, be an eyeopener to the Upright Faithful, who have been told that such literalism is the only possible interpretation.

    Jerry, you shouldn’t rely on secondary sources, even if, as in this instance, the secondary source is me.

  10. E.A. Blair
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I decided to take another approach. Here is the text of the email I sent to the Visitor’s Centre:

    Greetings;

    I have been informed that you have an exhibit in the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre which considers the Christian creationist view that the lava formation was a result of the Great Flood described in the Bible.

    This is, of course, completely wrong. As a practicing Hindu, I believe that the world is supported by the great tortoise Akūpāra, who, as all devout and well-read men know, carries the world on his back, upholding the Earth and the sea, as told in the Bhagavata Purana, a sacred text that is at least as old, if not older, than the Christian bible. It is obvious that the formation known as The Devil’s Causeway is a manifestation of the plates of Akūpāra’s shell, which were thrust upward when he shifted to a more comfortable position, some thirty Satya-Yugas ago. As all men of learning know, those shifts are the causes of the earthquakes that plague the world from time to time.

    It is irresponsible to promote the scientific chronology of one religion while disregarding those of others. I understand that there are at least half a million, and possibly as many as a million and a half Hindus in your country. How can you ignore their beliefs while accomodating the beliefs of others? I am sure that you can find a Hindu scholar in your country who can assist you in preparing a suitable addendum to your display.

    Sincerely,

    • Posted July 5, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      “I have been informed that you have an exhibit in the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre which considers the Christian creationist view that the lava formation was a result of the Great Flood described in the Bible.”

      Not by me you weren’t. Check out what the Trust DID say, please.

      • E.A. Blair
        Posted July 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

        BFD. I used satire. And did I say that it was you that informed me? I suppose you’re one of those people who believes that The Onion is a real newspaper.

        If you’re going to be like that, I guess I’ll have to send you each and every one of my emails for your approval. And while you’re at it, grow a senso of humour.

        • Posted July 11, 2012 at 5:46 am | Permalink

          I love turtles, all the way down, and worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster, where I subscribe to the Gluten Free heresy. But the Trust did NOT even mention the Great Flood.

          Now a little of the dust has settled, we can see that the Trust were idiots to agree to mention the 6,000 year old earth, and to speak of “a different understanding”, when there’s no understanding involved.

          However, the Caleb Trust are (surprise, surprise) lying about what the trust actually did. As always, give them an inch and they’ll steal a mile; but no need to swallow their claim that that mile actually belongs to them.

    • Posted July 6, 2012 at 12:18 am | Permalink

      Brilliant.

  11. johndhynes
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Nonsense! Everyone knows it was built by Finn McCool.

  12. Laurence Hurst
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Done – you can also email the head of the national trust directly
    simon.jenkins@guardian.co.uk

    I happen to be a member of the national trust, but would encourage all fellow members to reconsider their membership should the society not remove the nonsense. I have encouraged them to replace the nonsense with the details of the evidential basis for the correct estimate.

  13. Mattapult
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    For those in the US who want to see similar formations, go to Devils Postpile near Mammoth Mountain, Ca. Such a catchy name for creationists.

    It’s around 10,000′. Let’s see… 25,000 feet of water in about 1000 hours (40 days) or 5 inches of water per minute. Devils Postpile would have been cooled around day 16 of gods vengeance on kittens and 99.99% of everything else he created.

    But if you want to see what lava really looks like when it’s cooled instantly by water, a trip to Hawaii would be in order.

    • Curt Cameron
      Posted July 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      I was going to suggest Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. It’s the same kind of formation from cooled lava, but the land surrounding the lava has eroded away, leaving just the spout of lava sticking up 380 meters above the landscape. The vertical lines up the sides of the tower are the sides of those tall (mostly) hexagonal columns.

      • Posted July 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

        I agree on the suggestion to visit Devil’s Tower – it’s very beautiful and much more impressive in person than in photos. It’s a bit different from the other columnar jointed volcanics because it’s a leucite phonolite porphyry, not a basalt. Much lighter in color and the lava was probably more viscous or “sticky”.

        Other spectacular columnnar-jointed basalt sites include Garni Gorge (Armenia; I would love to see this one) and Gulfoss waterfall (Iceland; I saw this in 1985 as part of a day tour of some of Iceland’s geological wonders).

  14. Dermot C
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Done. (NT member for 10 years). Btw, the NT is the largest organisation by membership in the UK, 3 million, I think. Can’t let such a culturally influential body get away wuth this tosh. Thanks, JAC.

  15. Gordon
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I sent this:

    The Giant’s Causeway comes with a ready made myth about Finn MacCool that can be used to add to your Visitor Centre alongside the real geology. There is no need, or excuse, to treat creationism as on a par with either.

    Obviously I was very disappointed.

    • David Leech
      Posted July 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      Exactly, there is nothing wrong in promoting myths and legends to certain ‘historical sites’ as it adds colour and makes the experience more enjoyable for the visitors. Think King Arthur and his knights, Merlin and Robin hood and his merry men to name but a few. Though to crowbar in a Gilgamesh flood myth that has no connection to the place is just pandering.

  16. MNb
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Done.

  17. Jon
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Sent. Thanks for raising this.

  18. Posted July 5, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    The National Trust twitter feed is melting under the outrage. Torches and pitchforks at the ready!

  19. David
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    OK, I’m in.

    It has come to my attention that you have an exhibit in the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Center promoting the creationist view that the lava formation might have resulted from the Great Flood described in the Bible.

    There can be only one global reason why there is still a Creationist debate about the age of the earth and that reason is the same for snake handling considered as worship and the same for female genital mutilation considered as good health. That reason is faith in ignorant superstitions. That the well respected National Trust assists in promoting such quackery is beyond understanding. Please regain your sense of honesty and remove this blighting exhibit to ignorance and superstition.

  20. Steve Barnard
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    As a UK resident I am shocked and astonished at the National Trust and have sent them an email of complaint as suggested by Jerry

  21. BigBob
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Done

    I have been made aware that display material at the Causeway Visitor Centre includes references to the ridiculous creationist view, that the Causeway is a consequence of the biblical flood, suggesting that it is just a few thousand years old instead of the 50-60 million years established by science.

    As reported in the national press:

    Wallace Thompson, chairman of the creationist Caleb Foundation said he was pleased with the inclusion of the creationist view:

    “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”.

    “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”.

    Young Earth Creationists may still be willing to debate the age of the earth and their other delusions, but that is no reason to give creationist views any space in a display of information that is meant to educate and inform the public. Also, as Thomson points out, this sets a [dangerous] precedent; does the trust really want to be responsible for such an error? Will you please reconsider the content of the display and restore the National Trust’s credibility in this respect?

    Bob(Big)

  22. the Siliconopolitan
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Creationists believe the stones, which emerged from the sea-bed following intense volcanic and geological activity 60 million years ago, were in fact formed around 4,500 years ago as a result of Noah’s Flood.

    That’s technically true, of course.

    Can’t we make a compromise and just add another sentence?:

    “Thus it can be concluded that Creationists are frikkin’ morons.”

  23. BigBob
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    U.TV has a poll.

    http://tinyurl.com/bnw55ms

    Do you think creationist views should be represented at the Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre?

    Yes
    21.7%
    No
    78.0%
    Whut?
    0.3%

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted July 5, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

      Uh oh.

      Do you think creationist views should be represented at the Giant’s Causeway Visitors’ Centre?
      RESULTS
      12348 Votes so far
      Yes
      36.3%
      No
      63.4%
      Don’t know
      0.3%

      We may need to pharyngulate this.

      • Posted July 5, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

        It’s been Pharyngulated, the Christians are getting in on the act too.

        • bric
          Posted July 6, 2012 at 12:16 am | Permalink

          It seems you can vote as many times as you like, and I guess those zealots don’t have much else that matters to them . . .

  24. Adam M.
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    I can see why it’s cause for concern, but I don’t see how it’s lying to say “Creationists believe the stones … were in fact formed around 4,500 years ago as a result of Noah’s Flood” because that’s why they believe!

    If anything, they’re privileging one particular Abrahamic creation myth over other creation myths, but then I suppose no other religion has bothered to create a myth about those stones…

    • Adam M.
      Posted July 5, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      s/why/what

    • David Leech
      Posted July 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      Erm… Fionn mac Cumhaill.

  25. mandrellian
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Done, finished, polite incredulity expressed and humble urging to remove the bollocks sent post-haste.

    I also included this:

    “… if adding colour to the site by including mythology was the intent, surely the Genesis “explanation” (which, judging by creationists’ words and actions, explains every natural feature in the world, not just the Causeway) should be eschewed in favour of the legend of Fionn mac Cumhaill, who built the causeway to fight Scottish warrior Benandonner. Not only is this the indigenous mythology concerning the Causeway, it is also known universally as mythology, unlike Biblical creationism.”

    • Launcher
      Posted July 7, 2012 at 12:01 am | Permalink

      I visited the Giant’s Causeway back in early March, and at some point our shuttle bus driver told the cute story of the two quarreling giants. You’re right – it’s a much more compelling (and believable!) mythology than Creationism.

  26. Posted July 5, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    I spent some time on the National Trust website and found a page asking me to sponsor/adopt a giant stone, so I wrote an email explaining why I would not contribute to the cause:

    On your website, http://agiantcause.nationaltrust.org.uk/sponsoragiantstone, you encourage me to adopt a stone to ensure the “protection of the Causeway for future generations.” I won’t buy a stone because you have already failed to protect the Giant’s Causeway.

    While you do state on the Causeway website that “the formation of this otherworldly landscape can be explained by science,” it has come to my attention that you have included in the myth and legends surrounding this site a myth that is, in this case, a widely held but false belief or idea held by Young Earth Creationists that the earth was created some 6000 years ago. Harmless myths and legends are fun and entertaining; misinformation is not.

  27. DJ
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Just read this on the NT twatter page (I hate the idea of twitter). It was in reply to a twittest (whatever)…
    “We’re a small team (of 1.5 ppl)”
    – indeed, only half a person (split down the middle – half-a-brain, you see ?) could have green-lighted such a travesty at the causeway !

  28. John Harshman
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    I just love hexagonal columnar jointing. There’s some exactly like this at Eagle Lake in Northern California. Chico State has a field station there, and I spent a summer doing field work there mumble years ago. Beautiful geology, and the birds are nice too.

  29. Torbjörn Larsson, OM
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Done!

  30. Posted July 5, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Some years ago I took a geological backpacking trip that started at Devils Postpile near Mammoth Lakes, and if I remember correctly, part of the explanation of the formation is that it had SLOW cooling, and was formed at some depth, then it was eroded away to expose the faceted surface. Maybe some geologist could comment.

  31. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted July 5, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    “Creationists believe the stones, which emerged from the sea-bed following intense volcanic and geological activity 60 million years ago, were in fact formed around 4,500 years ago as a result of Noah’s Flood.”

    I find it quite commendable that the statement explicitly contradicts the Creationist view even while it’s quoting it.

    If only all accomodationism was similarly forthright.

    • Joe 'Blondie' Manco
      Posted July 6, 2012 at 2:59 am | Permalink

      I noticed this, and it is commendable. But I sent a letter of disapproval as well.

  32. Mike Lee
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    Reminds me of the “Bimini” underwater rock formation that featured some time back in a documentary on the destruction of Atlantis. But proved to be simply a geologically formed formation of rocks!
    Anybody having travelled by train between Muizenberg and Simonstown on the False Bay coastline near Cape Town, would not but help seeing similar squared, flattened rocks worn by the action of waves, quite incredibly geometric in shape!
    It’s really unbelievable how ignorant and poorly informed the biblical bunch are.

  33. Posted July 6, 2012 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    Whot a load of bollocks. I can’t believe the NT did this!!
    So – ‘done’, as was suggested.

  34. Posted July 6, 2012 at 3:37 am | Permalink

    RationalWiki page on the Caleb Foundation, the creationists who pushed for this. Needs more.

  35. Posted July 6, 2012 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    The Northern Ireland government is full of creationists, e.g. Mervyn Storey, who personally pushed for creationism in the Giants Causeway exhibit.

  36. Ray Moscow
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 4:47 am | Permalink

    I’m a NT member and shall be complaining. Thanks for the heads-up.

  37. Robbie A
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 5:03 am | Permalink

    I’ve kindly asked The National Trust if they would include Pastafarian interpretation that the The Great and Holy Flying Spaghetti Monster created this as a side dish. The true beginnings of croutons.

  38. Robbie A
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    My full email:

    ‘Hello, I have recently become aware that you have come to accept a Young Earth Creationist view as fact in your visitor centre at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. As a Pastafarian, I do not think that this is a fair representation of the viewpoints that the people who come to visit your spectacular attraction share. I am writing to ask you to include the one and only true explanation of the creation of the rock formation, and that is that the Great And Holy Flying Spaghetti Monster created these as a very early blueprint for what are known today as croutons.

    I assume you will adopt this quickly and without question as you did for the Christians, so thanks in advance, Robbie.’

  39. Pray Hard
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Noah, schmoah …
    Flood, schmood … (just pretend it rhymes)

  40. Posted July 6, 2012 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    Some more history on this specific matter:

    http://splinteredsunrise.wordpress.com/2007/10/11/creationism-at-the-causeway/

  41. Nick Evans
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Norn Iron is infested with religionists, and the two governing parties are in government precisely because they reflect the two main religious viewpoints of the province. I think at the time that the Causeway’s visitor centre was seeking funding, the relevant minister was a DUP politician, so a representative of hardline protestant views. It’s sadly not a surprise that the NT does make a nod towards creationism, although it is nice that they contradict saying “the stones, which emerged from the sea-bed following intense volcanic and geological activity 60 million years ago” in the very same sentence that explains the creationist view.

    Also, “Britain is supposed to be far less infested by creationists than is the U.S., and while fighting creationism at home, I want to keep the UK clean”. So far as this particular incarnation of creationism is concerned, it does show the difference between Britain (England, Scotland & Wales), and the UK (Britain & NI).

  42. heindsight
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I suppose the Greenwich Observatory will soon be updating their visitors info to accommodate the Flat Earth Society…

  43. Stephen Moreton
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    There exists a detailed technical rebuttal of creationist claims specifically about the Giant’s Causeway. I know because I wrote it. Anyone writing to the National Trust, the local press, or anywhere else, should draw attention to it. The creationists have known for years that their claims have been refuted (I drew their attention to the article shortly after it was published) and have responded with – silence. If people keep mentioning that the creationists’ claims about the Causeway have been debunked it will make it harder for them to ignore it. The reference is: Moreton, S. (2009) Facts meet fantasies at the Giant’s Causeway. Earth Science Ireland, Issue 6, p. 37-39. On-line: http://www.habitas.org.uk/es2k/ click “Magazine”.

    • Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Just read and blogged this article. Loved it. I particularly liked the “Perhaps the Palaeocene cedars and pines could run faster than the Carboniferous ferns and mosses.” Nice!

  44. Tim Harris
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    done

  45. Posted July 7, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    There is now also a Facebook group asking for its removal, for those of you so inclined to join one:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/263351503764526/

  46. Posted July 7, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Here’s some sensible discussion of the issue in the Belfast Telegraph.

  47. tallybee
    Posted July 8, 2012 at 2:19 am | Permalink

    Email sent. Stock reply received….

  48. Posted July 8, 2012 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    Is this not a little bit of an over-reaction?

    “Creationists believe the stones, which emerged from the sea-bed following intense volcanic and geological activity 60 million years ago, were in fact formed around 4,500 years ago as a result of Noah’s Flood.”

    To say that this is promoting Creationism is complete crap. If it said “Scientists believe… Creationists believe…” then you may have a point but it doesn’t. It states quite clearly that the stones emerged from the sea-bed following intense volcanic and geological activity 60 million years ago.

    A lot of Irish history is steeped in myths and legends of various sources. The Giant’s Causeway itself is named because legend has it that it was created by a Scottish giant coming over to fight an Irish giant. Are you suggesting that by keeping that name, they are promoting belief in giants?

    I think it is important that we have the myths and legends alongside the science – not as equal points of view regarding truth but as examples of how our beliefs and knowledge have matured through time. How many people are going to read that and think “Wow, the Flood must have happened, how blind have I been?” versus, “Crikey, Creationists believe that?!”

    • Posted July 8, 2012 at 4:53 am | Permalink

      PS. Just to clarify… if you can give some examples of where they actually promote this belief rather than just state that it exists, I will also complain. (I am a NT member.) I visited the Causeway a couple of years ago and certainly don’t remember seeing anything that outlandish. The transcript on the National Secular Society page is slightly worse than the quote above but still does not give it any legitimacy beyond saying that it exists. If we react in an over-the-top fashion any time anyone acknowledges that other views exist, I think that we are in real danger of lending credence to the Creationist bleating that their views are repressed. They’re just nonsense and we should not be seen to be running scared from them. Put them alongside the science along with all the other myths (such as stones being hurled into place by giants) and it is quickly apparent which position provides any actual explanation of the phenomenon.

      • Posted July 21, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        yup, cabbages. Let’s not be so ultra-sensitive. As you point out, that sentence points out that the creationist view has no validity without saying it outright

    • Posted July 8, 2012 at 5:01 am | Permalink

      PPS. Just noticed that the quote above is from the article, not the NT itself. (Note to self: do not reply to posts before morning brain juice imbibed.) I still think that it is important to see the actual display in context before complaining, though. If we complain about stuff that they are not actually doing, we’re just like the boy who cried wolf and it will erode our legitimacy when there is something really worth complaining about.

    • Posted July 8, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      PPPS. Adendum: it was, of course, the Irish giant that built the causeway in the legend.

    • Notagod
      Posted July 8, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      Let me change your highlight to what the christian will actually see and promote.

      Creationists believe the stones, which emerged from the sea-bed following intense volcanic and geological activity 60 million years ago, were in fact formed around 4,500 years ago as a result of Noah’s Flood.

      If you were being genuine in your complaint you would need to be promoting the inclusion of giant mythology instead of dismissing it, as that is far more relevant to the story than is christian mythology.

      In addition, it is important to note the tactics of christians. Christians do not see this as a victory that is now settled, they see it as a small step in an effort to promote their god to relevance in every aspect of human life. The christians take aim at hundreds of targets each year hoping that some of the targets will be soft enough to be pierced then the christians do it again the next year while enhancing the soft targets that have already fallen. It isn’t a one stop event for the christians as you suggest. The christian mode of operation in forcing their mythology into society is to take many small steps which when combined equal significant force.

      cabbagesofdoom, when you dismiss this particular instance as not worthy of your concern you are revealing that you are either not aware of christian goals and methods or maybe you support the christian agenda.

      There is likely to be few large changes that the christians try to force on the public, for that is not how they work. The christian method is to push many small changes that eventually result in christianity as being the dominant policy.

      • Posted July 9, 2012 at 2:02 am | Permalink

        Actually, that bit was quoted from the National Secular Society article, not the National Trust. (I didn’t realise this at first.) The Trust says:

        “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.”

        To me, this clearly indicates that it is a religious position, not a scientific one. I am aware of Creationist tactics and I do not support the “Christian agenda” but I am deeply concerned that this is a case of the “Slippery Slope fallacy” and that by over-reacting and falsely accusing third-party organisations of “promoting” Creationism, we make ourselves look like the crazy and irrational ones on some kind of crusade. This is a National Trust visitor centre, which deals with history and culture as well as science. It is not a science museum or a science textbook. I stand for truth first, science second. I am not prepared to lie in defense of science nor persecute others for truthfully revealing that a position that I disagree with (and find preposterous) is still held by “some people” “based on a specific interpretation of the Bible”. The moment they cross the line and suggest there is a scientific debate or “controversy”, I’ll be writing letters as a National Trust member.

        • Posted July 9, 2012 at 4:03 am | Permalink

          “The moment they cross the line and suggest there is a scientific debate or “controversy”, I’ll be writing letters as a National Trust member.”

          … that being precisely what they did: “The debate continues today.”

          • Posted July 9, 2012 at 8:10 am | Permalink

            “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.”

            To me, it makes it clear that this is a position derived from religion, and not one based on science. Is there anything in the context that implies that there is any scientific debate? I am willing to accept that I do not have all the information but I cannot complain on the basis of hearsay and inference.

            • truthspeaker
              Posted July 9, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

              The problem isn’t as much with the audio guide (although I’m not sure why creationism is even worth mentioning), but with the National Trust’s press release.

            • Posted July 9, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

              I think that, to be safe, I will write a letter to the National Trust anyway but not accuse them of anything – just make it very clear where, as a scientist and an NT member, I think the line should be drawn. If it was a press release problem, then the damage has been done but they have clarified their position that they do not believe there is a scientific controversy. If the display does cross the line, it needs to be altered.

              Personally, I would prefer to see the addition of an explicit statement that YEC has no credible scientific support, rather than removal of the statement that some people choose to believe an ancient book rather than science.

              I can actually see why Creationism is worth mentioning in the light of the historical impact of the Causeway – and the NT is first and foremost about history in my experience as a member. There was a time when such things were debated scientifically. That debate does not continue, though, – and if the placement and labelling of the button imply otherwise (even if the audio does not) then there is a problem.

      • Posted July 10, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

        @Notagod, you really should change all your “Christians” to “Creationists” – one of the most vocal people that I know opposing Creationism is a Christian Biochemistry professor who has debated Behe and others on the radio.

        I would also point out that I did not say it was “not worthy of my concern” but rather that I feared that people were over-reacting and should see the display in context before just complaining.

        I stand by this. The National Trust were NOT “promoting Creationism”. In all their press releases and official statements, they have made it abundantly clear that they do not support or endorse the YEC position and the only science they discuss (and link to from their website) is the real stuff.

        HOWEVER, I have now seen more of the context – http://ntpressoffice.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/giants-causeway-visitor-centre-interpretation/ and http://ntpressoffice.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/an-update-from-the-team-at-giants-causeway/ – and it *is* bad enough to warrant complaint. Just the right kind of complaint.

        The problem here is that the first four “debates” presented in that (albeit small) section of the exhibit seem to be genuine scientific discussions of their age. Young Earth Creationism is not. It was a genuine scientific discussion of a by-gone age but the age question is one long-settled by science and the YEC stance is wildly inaccurate. To suggest that “the debate continues” in this context does imply it is a scientific debate. It is not. The fact that the audio subsequently makes it clear that the debate only continues for “some people … based on a specific interpretation of the Bible” does not entirely undo this initial error. Although I am willing to believe that this is an accident and the NT did not mean to imply that the scientific debate continues, the fact that some people interpret it this way is reason enough, in my book, to change it. This was their first big mistake.

        The second big mistake was the use of the word “mainstream” in the sentence: “This debate continues today for some people, who have an understanding of the formation of the earth which is different from that of current mainstream science.” Again, although this is immediately followed by a sentence that makes it clear that these people have a different understanding for religious (not scientific) reasons, I find myself agreeing with those commentors who see this sentence as implying that there is some other kind of science that disagrees with the current “understanding of the formation of the earth”. There isn’t. This is misleading and, even if not giving YEC legitimacy, it reduces the legitimacy of the NT exhibit.

        I stand by my original view that the words themselves are true but it is clear that the context and exact choice of phrase – whether deliberate or accidental – is not giving an impression that is consistent with the Trust’s stated position on this topic. For this reason alone, they must revise the wording of the exhibit, even if they do not drop the YEC reference altogether. Given the context of that exhibit, though – as a present-day continuation of legitimate debate rather than an historical view that is still held by some folks despite the evidence to the contrary – I find it hard to justify how they can keep the exhibit at all. When it comes to educational resources, good intentions ultimately count for nothing, I’m afraid. It’s the consequences that count.

        I will be writing to tell them as much. I will not be accusing them of promoting Creationism.

  49. seagoon
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    I was totally unaware of this until i saw it mentioned on YT, by an American YTuber. Thanks for providing the contact details. I have sent a rather lengthy email outlining why young earth creationism is the opposite of the scientific method by manufacturing “facts” to fit a predetermined conclusion. I have also sent the same, via conventional post, to the Director General at the National Trust Central Office in Swindon.

  50. Robbie A
    Posted July 9, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Just received a reply from the National Trust for the email I sent earlier (see comment 38):

    “Dear Robbie,

    Thank you for your e-mail in relation to interpretation at the new Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre.

    We would like to stress that all of the information presented to visitors in relation to how the Giant’s Causeway was formed, and how old it is, clearly reflects the science, i.e. that the Causeway stones are 60 million years old. This is reflected in the visitor centre, the audio trails which visitors use to explore the Causeway stones, and in all the literature provided both before and during the visit.

    There is no creationist interpretation and no alternative theories as to the formation of the Causeway are presented.

    This is a stunning state of the art interpretation centre with over 50 exhibits and interactive displays and two hours of audio trails. One of the exhibits in the Visitor Centre interpretation tells the story of the part the Giant’s Causeway played in the historical debate which took place about how the earth’s rocks were formed and about the age of the earth. This is an interactive installation in which by pressing buttons visitors can hear a flavour of some of the different debates from historical characters over centuries. In the context of this exhibit listeners hear a statement that for some people this debate continues today and that Creationists have a different understanding from that of science. We do not explain, justify or support that view.

    We are sorry that you are unhappy about this exhibit. However, we hope that you will have the opportunity to come to the Giant’s Causeway, enjoy the visitor centre and see the interpretation in its entirety. The Centre, which opened on 3rd July, is receiving great feedback from visitors.

    Regards

    Customer Enquiries Team”

    If what they have said in this email is true, then to be honest I think we may have gotten a little riled up over nothing…

    • Kieran
      Posted July 10, 2012 at 5:53 am | Permalink

      Have you read the transcript of what is said, it is pure creationist double speak. It indicates a scienctific debate were there is none.
      It also elevates one religious view above others in a country where under the belfast agreement there is a freedom of religion clause. As such public money should not be spent supporting one religious view over another.

    • Posted July 11, 2012 at 3:20 am | Permalink

      I just got exactly the same e-mail from the NT!
      Completely in denial…
      I’m still considering not renewing my membership.
      Cheers,
      MalJ

      • Posted July 11, 2012 at 3:35 am | Permalink

        Don’t renew, and tell them that sending form letters that completely ignore complaints is your reason.

        Then join National Trust Scotland, which has a fully reciprocal agreement with NT England/Wales/NI ;-)

        • Posted July 11, 2012 at 11:07 am | Permalink

          Hi
          Just got this back from NT(NI)…
          Anyone else got the same ???

          I also got a call from the NT this afternoon…. interesting….?
          He asked what my favorite NT property was… I replied “Batemans”…. “Oh… mine is the Giants Causeway”, he replied…. more interesting….?

          I told him I had just unleashed another email to them… about the GC….

          I told him that ANY mention of a creationist idea was unjustified… and that he should correct his (alleged) ignorance of the debate before he ‘phoned anyone else with my views…

          I think they are rattled…

          “Dear Mr Jxxxxxx
          Thank you for your e-mail in relation to interpretation at the new Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre.

          We would like to stress that all of the information presented to visitors in relation to how the Giant’s Causeway was formed, and how old it is, clearly reflects the science, i.e. that the Causeway stones are 60 million years old. This is reflected in the visitor centre, the audio trails which visitors use to explore the Causeway stones, and in all the literature provided both before and during the visit.

          There is no creationist interpretation and no alternative theories as to the formation of the Causeway are presented.

          This is a stunning state of the art interpretation centre with over 50 exhibits and interactive displays and two hours of audio trails. One of the exhibits in the Visitor Centre interpretation tells the story of the part the Giant’s Causeway played in the historical debate which took place about how the earth’s rocks were formed and about the age of the earth. This is an interactive installation in which by pressing buttons visitors can hear a flavour of some of the different debates from historical characters over centuries. In the context of this exhibit listeners hear a statement that for some people this debate continues today and that Creationists have a different understanding from that of science. We do not explain, justify or support that view.

          We are very sorry that you are considering resignation of your membership of the National Trust as a result of this issue, as your membership is very important to us. We do hope that our explanation has gone some way towards reassuring you. We hope you will reconsider your decision in due course and that you will have the opportunity to come to the Giant’s Causeway, enjoy the visitor centre and see the interpretation in its entirety. The Centre, which opened on 3rd July, is receiving great feedback from visitors.

          Regards

          Customer Enquiries Team”

  51. gerdien
    Posted July 11, 2012 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Just got exactly the same email as Robbie.

    In the context of this exhibit listeners hear a statement that for some people this debate continues today and that Creationists have a different understanding from that of science. We do not explain, justify or support that view.
    If the last sentence is sincere, there was no need for mentioning any creationist view.


5 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] U.K.’s National Trust promotes creationism! (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com) [...]

  2. [...] Yesterday I posted the news that the National Trust had included creationism in its new visitor exhibition at the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim. I predicted that this would set the cat among the pigeons and I wasn’t wrong. The National Trust has been besieged by critics – egged on by the likes of P Z Myers and Jerry Coyne. [...]

  3. [...] (h/t JC) [...]

  4. [...] to make this declaration… I’m glad they are following a more sensible course than the U.K. National Trust. Share this:EmailRedditTumblrTwitterFacebookMoreDiggStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like [...]

  5. [...] on the north coast of Ireland. The site managed by the National trust who have been receiving a lot of criticism for the inclusion of a young earth creationist interpretation of the formation at the [...]

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