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Jul 05 2012

A poll to determine whether Northern Ireland sucks

The National Trust of Northern Ireland should be embarrassed: they’ve taken one of the geological wonders of their country and slathered it in creationist bullshit in a visitor’s centre at the Giant’s Causeway.

The trust said that the exhibit gives recognition to the fact that, for creationists, the debate about the age of the Earth is still ongoing.

A statement read: "The Giants’ Causeway has always prompted debate about how it was formed and how old it is.

"One of the exhibits in the Giants’ Causeway Visitors’ Centre interpretation tells the story of the part the Giants’ Causeway played in the debate about how the Earth’s rocks were formed and the age of the Earth.

"This is an interactive audio exhibition in which visitors can hear some of the different debates from historical characters.

"In this exhibition we also acknowledge that for some people, this debate continues today and we reflect and respect the fact that creationists today have a different perspective on the age of the Earth from that of mainstream science."

The National Trust worked alongside the Caleb Foundation, which represents mainstream evangelical Christians in Northern Ireland, during the development of the centre.

Its chairman, Wallace Thompson, said he is pleased with the result of the engagement and 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," Mr Thompson said.

Just because idiots disagree with science doesn’t mean there is a serious debate. There is no scientific argument over whether the earth is less than 10,000 years old or more then 4 billion, just as there is no scientific debate over whether stars are little holes punched in the firmament, or whether the moon is a great wheel of cheese drifting overhead. That a creationist organization is now claiming that their views have been legitimized by their inclusion ought to give them second thoughts.

There is a poll. Maybe Northern Ireland doesn’t suck too much, since it’s already going in the right way…but clearly they’ve got a lot of gullible faithheads in positions of responsibility in their government.

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

Yes 21.0%
No 78.6%
Don’t know 0.4%

92 comments

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  1. 1
    anubisprime

    Alternative views indeed…did they include the view that …

    The Giant’s Causeway was built by Finn McCool as a walk way to fight the Scottish giant Benandonner.

    Finn fell asleep before going across to Scotland and he woke up to find the Scottish giant appearing on the horizon. Finn realised Benandonner was much bigger than himself and ran to his wife Oonagh wondering what he should do. Oonagh disguised Finn as a baby and made him curl up in an enormous cradle. Benandonner saw the huge ‘child’ in the cradle and began to wonder what size his father would be. Benandonner returned to Scotland and destroyed the Causeway as he returned home

    Equally valid!

    “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,”

    What legitimacy?

  2. 2
    kieran

    I worked in Northern Ireland for a while and it was a bit of a shock to hear ideas of ID talked about as if they had a point and this was in a university setting!
    The giants causeway has two explainations, one Fionn Mac Cumhiall builds a causeway to take on a scotish giant. When he sees the size of the scots giant he pretends to be a baby and the giant seeing the size of Fionns “baby” runs back to scotland ripping up the causeway as he goes. The second and factual one involves volcanoes,lava flows and other cool stuff.

    Now it’s myth one, myth two and the facts. Kinda sucks really, it being a world heritage site.

  3. 3
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Fuck them. I’ve always wanted to visit Giants’ Causeway. Now, if I manage to do it while this shit is there, I’m just going to get annoyed.

    *mutters*
    Stupid creationists ruing everything.

  4. 4
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Fuck them. I’ve always wanted to visit Giants’ Causeway. Now, if I manage to do it while this shit is there, I’m just going to get annoyed.

    *mutters*
    Stupid creationists ruin everything.

  5. 5
    Beatrice, an amateur cynic looking for a happy thought

    Sorry for the double post, I wanted to fix a spelling error and didn’t realize the original comment was up.

  6. 6
    kieran

    You can visit the site without going to the centre, in fact there is a lovely ice cream shop where you can see parts of the basalt sticking up further down the coast from the main site. You can walk around without going to the visitor centre but I’m not sure if you have to pay for parking as I was working so we approached it from a farm above the rope bridge.

  7. 7
    jt4014

    If you want to contact the National Trust to voice your displeasure feel free to email the following people in their press office

    [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

  8. 8
    DanDare

    This is stupid. Are they honestly saying that any view about anything held by anyone is legitimate? Twits.

  9. 9
    scaryduck

    I’m from Northern Ireland, and – once again – I’m embarrassed for my country.

  10. 10
    jt4014

    Also you can leave comments on their Facebook wall – well for now. Please do for the sake of all of us in Northern Ireland

    https://www.facebook.com/nationaltrust

  11. 11
    kieran

    I think this video is right for this, Mrs Brown’s views on the bible http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QarofaycN3c

  12. 12
    duncanbooth

    It’s not just Facebook where they have a presence. I’ve posted my views to Google plus (including a few NT email addresses as recipients) which should also have gone to their Google+ page. Please feel free to re-share or post your own comments.

  13. 13
    pipenta

    Alas, I can’t seem to vote in the poll.

    Just as well, there is no option for a response that reads: WHAT ARE YOU, FUCKING NUTS?!

  14. 14
    Glen Davidson

    we reflect and respect the fact that creationists today have a different perspective on the age of the Earth from that of mainstream science.”

    I’d be willing to say that creationists have a stupid and dishonest perspective on the age of the earth.

    I most certainly don’t respect that fact, especially not after reflection.

    Glen Davidson

  15. 15
    Alverant

    Anyone else notice how “yes” is checked by default?

  16. 16
    footface

    Different perspective fron that of mainstream science?!

  17. 17
    saguhh00

    “we reflect and respect the fact that flat-earthers today have a different perspective on the shape of the Earth from that of mainstream science.”

    Oh really?

    Do these people know how many mining companies use creation geology in their business? None! Because creation geology doesn’t work!
    The age of the Earth is a piece of information that geologists need to have in order to be able to interpret evidence correctly and find all the minerals and oil that mining companies need.

  18. 18
    truthspeaker

    PZ, I think you should reformat the first block quote such that the Trust’s statement gets its own block quote, with the Mr. Gumby formatting.

  19. 19
    truthspeaker

    DanDare
    5 July 2012 at 7:45 am

    This is stupid. Are they honestly saying that any view about anything held by anyone is legitimate? Twits.

    Absolutely not!

    Any view about anything held by people with a lot of political power is legitimate.

  20. 20
    Matt Penfold

    There is some good news. The NT are getting nothing but complaints on their Facebook entry.

  21. 21
    fredbloggs

    Given that it’s basalt, dating it should be trivial. And I’m sure it’s already been done. No worry searching for igneous layers there!

  22. 22
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    Yes 11.8%
    No 87.8%
    Don’t know 0.5%

  23. 23
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    Unfortunately, it’s a win-win for the creatards.

    If they get their message plastered on the visitor center, they get to brainwash more children.

    If their message is rejected, they get ammunition for their ‘Persecution!!1!’ whining machine.

    They have nothing to lose here.

  24. 24
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    I’m sorry, is ‘creatard’ ableist? It’s meant to imply that the education of creationists was deliberately retarded, but a less charitable reading….?

  25. 25
    Matt Penfold

    The Giant’s causaway is around 50-60 million years old. Which makes claims it is only 6000 years old look rather foolish.

  26. 26
    Rip Steakface

    Just because idiots disagree with science doesn’t mean there is a serious debate.

    This is a terrible problem with media these days. The fairness bias (no, not the fairness doctrine) has become a deep-rooted part of modern journalism that is not helping in the least to inform people. The news will always try to simplify or construct two sides for an issue, even when there’s five sides or one correct answer (the former would be economic policy, the latter would be whether evolution is true).

    The new HBO series “The Newsroom” actually rails against the fairness bias for a couple minutes and I was grinning the whole time. Out of the two episodes that I’ve seen, it looks like a promising show.

  27. 27
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Unfortunate, disappointing comment, hyperdeath. Not funny.

  28. 28
    barrymeehan

    I was genuinely shocked by this. I’m from the Republic and down here we don’t really have any creationist talk. I thought it was just an American thing. I guess that it’s a problem with evangelicals all over.

    I suppose the only reason we don’t have any of that 6000 year old world stuff is that Catholics have contorted themselves into a position whereby they think that there is no conflict between evolution and Catholicism.

  29. 29
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Stevarious, thanks for asking.

    Yes, it’s ableist. There isn’t a noun form of *tard which isn’t ableist; we don’t say that “Bob is a retard because he received a stunted education.”

  30. 30
    robro

    Well, the good news is that there’s a strong sentiment that this is stupid.

    @berrymeeham #28 — Young earth creationism is associated with protestant evangelicals. From what I gather, they have made inroads into the UK. Given that the Republic is dominated by the Catholic church, they probably aren’t as effective, but I wouldn’t congratulate myself yet. Rome made it’s peace with evolution, but the position of the Church with respect to creationism is nuanced at best. It is certainly Church dogma that God created the universe, life, and humans, as a special creation. They just aren’t as hung up about the timeline.

  31. 31
    Sastra

    Rip Steakface #26 wrote:

    This is a terrible problem with media these days. The fairness bias (no, not the fairness doctrine) has become a deep-rooted part of modern journalism that is not helping in the least to inform people.

    The way I read it, the National Trust of Northern Ireland is going beyond the journalist’s desire to frame everything in terms of a controversy and fairly represent both sides. The wording of the statement smacks of an over-sensitive desire to respect the identities of all minorities by identifying identities with a “point of view.”

    It’s as if they’re tiptoeing around a marginalized culture which has suffered from a history of abuse. Or, perhaps, a kid who’s been picked on because they’re different. “Some people” don’t agree with the age of the earth and thus we need to “reflect and respect” how the world looks from someone else’s perspective. You wouldn’t like it if the exhibit failed to acknowledge how YOU think and feel about things, now would you? So let’s all put on our “Caring Caps” and agree to play nice. We all have the right to be proud of being who we are.

    They’re not being journalists; they’re being kindergarten teachers.

    They’re certainly not being scientists.

  32. 32
    raven

    During the Bush Catastrophe, they did something very similar at the Grand Canyon.

    They were selling books in the visitor’s center written by creationists about how the Grand Canyon was carved by the Flood during the Big Boat Genocide 4500 years ago.

    They may still be doing that.

  33. 33
    ChristineRose

    What is the creationist position on these columns anyhow? They can’t be trying to blame this one on a flood can they? I know next to nothing about flood geology but even I can tell you that flood = piles of crushed columns, not gradual erosion into ultra-cool shapes.

  34. 34
    raven

    “In this exhibition we also acknowledge that for some people, this debate continues today and we reflect and respect the fact that creationists today have a different perspective on the age of the Earth from that of mainstream science.”

    The same magic book also says the earth is Flat and orbited by the sun and planets.

    This wouldn’t be quite as loony if they mentioned that creationism is a religous Presuppositional doctrine held by some Xians and Moslems.

  35. 35
    frog

    Now I want to come up with a good term for Stevarious to use in similar circumstances, to convey the actively stunted ignorance of creationists. Creatignoramus?

    ——

    Beatrice@5: Maybe you just are secretly hoping the creationists will get on with ruing their idiocy. I know I wish they would.

    ——

    It’s been 12 years since my visit to the Giant’s Causeway, but one of the things I loved about it (and other sites in both N. Ireland and the Republic), was that they let you interact with it. In the USA something like that would be roped off and you could only look from a distance.

    Whereas at the GC there was a sign at the head of the path that listed all the dangers, from (paraphrased) “that cliff above you still erodes and drops hard rocks on people’s heads” to “sometimes the ocean has big waves that will pluck you right off the rocks and drown you or smash you to pieces.”

    They expected the visitors to use their brains and not get themselves killed.

    Is it still that -ahem- assuming of intelligence on the part of visitors?

  36. 36
    raven

    Renewed Concern About Creationism at Grand Canyon National Park
    ncse. com/…/renewed-concern-creationism-at-grand-canyon-national-…

    Reports of the National Center for Science Education (RNCSE) …

    review of a creationist book sold at the bookstores at Grand Canyon National Park.

    … facts about the canyon’s age of geology effectively, especially when faced with park visitors …

    What next. A NASA exhibit about how the moon is a self illuminated glowing disk like it says in Genesis and which a lot of xians believe. Despite the fact that not that long ago, people walked on the moon and never saw that.

    Hitchens: Religion poisons everything.

  37. 37
  38. 38
    cyberCMDR

    Found out that the poll does not work if you use the Chrome browser (unresponsive), but it works fine with Firefox.

  39. 39
    joefogey

    The National Trust isn’t the government – it’s a charity that owns a lot of historic and scenic property in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. I volunteer for them at a local peregrine nest site, protecting the nest and showing the birds to the public. Venting here is fine and understandable – it upsets me that the Trust has given in to creationist nonsense, and (I suspect unwittingly) fallen for the lie that there is a scientific controversy about the age of the earth.

    As a charity they are dependent on membership and on visitors to their properties, so it’s important to let them know that their pandering to pressure from creationists is more likely to deter potential members and visitors than it is to encourage them. AS well as the addresses Lamanga has posted above, the Trust press office can be contacted here: http://ntpressoffice.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/giants-causeway-visitor-centre-interpretation/

  40. 40
    barrymeehan

    @robro

    Ya I totally agree. Catholic dogma is only very slightly less damaging in this regard and probably worse when it comes to some other issues.

  41. 41
    bigdavesb

    The best bet is to voice the displeasure, and to shwo how this could affect their income.

    Given that it is a world heritage site, it atracts international visitors, so even if you’re not from the UK, do lend your voice of displeasure!

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

  42. 42
    Duncan

    This is a day of shame for both the national trust and Northern Ireland. Moreso for the national trust than for NI which has form for this sort of shit.

  43. 43
    unclefrogy

    I also deplore the language from the national trust and the preposterous claim of legitimacy by the fundi but it may not be so bad in the end.
    If the original mythological story is also (still) included in the visitor center as well as the scientific description then the end result might be a further discrediting of the religious by the association with the heroic mythology.
    As in here is the Giants Causeway, here is the story of Fionn Mac Cumhiall, here is the christian story, and here are the scientific facts.
    just a thought

    uncle frogy

  44. 44
    hyperdeath

    life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ:

    Unfortunate, disappointing comment, hyperdeath. Not funny.

    Sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.

  45. 45
    conway

    I just got from the Memphis Zoo, which is awesome. They have an exhibit of animatronic dinosaurs, which was great, but I was appalled by one of the displays. On the plaque discussing why the dinosaurs went extinct, the theory that the dinosaurs were all drowned in a world-wide flood 4,400 years ago was given equal weight along with the asteroid impact and climate change theories. It really made me sad.

  46. 46
    stonyground

    I dipped into the comments at the linked article and was encouraged. I was preparing to dive into a sea of idiocy but all of the comments that I read were against the creationist position.

    I also noticed that the poll defaulted to the pro-creationist position, when I visited the poll was about 90% against them so that hasn’t helped them.

    It does need pointing out as often as possible that the Bible says that the Earth is flat, is at the centre of the universe and doesn’t move. It also has ends, corners, foundations and pillars holding it up. The creationists don’t mention this because there are limits to the stupid things that they can persuade idiots to believe and quislings to endorse.

  47. 47
    NitricAcid

    @29

    “Bastard”?

  48. 48
    fernando

    Religion: making people dumber since 300.000 years ago.

  49. 49
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    @life is like a pitbull with lipstick ॐ

    Stevarious, thanks for asking.

    Yes, it’s ableist. There isn’t a noun form of *tard which isn’t ableist; we don’t say that “Bob is a retard because he received a stunted education.”

    Thank you for clarifying. As they say, intent is not magic, and while I had no intention of offending, that’s no excuse at all for doing so. (The intent was more ‘Bob’s education was actively retarded by terrible teachers’ using the classic verb form of ‘retard’ as “To delay or hold back in terms of progress, development, or accomplishment”, but that’s really not how the word is used anymore and I’m not trying to use that as an excuse for my churlish comment, for which I now humbly apologize.)

    @frog

    Now I want to come up with a good term for Stevarious to use in similar circumstances, to convey the actively stunted ignorance of creationists. Creatignoramus?

    Howabout Creatoads? Or Creaturds? Creationiods? Creashitheads?

    Ooh, we could say they are suffering from Creasciolism, which is spot on, but obscure enough to make them have to look it up to realize they’ve been insulted, which of course compounds the insult.

    Maybe PZ could do a poll and we could all pick our favorite word to insult creationists with that doesn’t cause collateral damage. Or maybe PZ already HAS a favorite?

  50. 50
    strange gods before me ॐ

    hyperdeath, thanks. I know you just wanted a reductio ad absurdum; it’s just frustrating when that’s the absurdum.

    +++++
    NitricAcid,

    “Bastard”?

    Mustard!

    Contextually, it should be obvious that I’m talking about this form and its derivatives.

  51. 51
    strange gods before me ॐ

    Thanks, Stevarious.

    I really like creasciolism/creasciolist. Exquisite. :)

  52. 52
    frog

    @Stevarious:

    Well, you made me look it up! Fortunately, I’m of the group that enjoys looking up stuff and learning new things.

    Creasciolist is a terrific neologism.

  53. 53
    Random Mutant

    The trust said that the exhibit gives recognition to the fact that, for pedophiles, the debate about having sex with children is still ongoing.

    FIFY!

  54. 54
    Stella

    I have absolutely no problem with an exhibit that talks about myths relating to natural phenomena – just as long as it labels them as such. But to say:

    In this exhibition we also acknowledge that for some people, this debate continues today and we reflect and respect the fact that creationists today have a different perspective on the age of the Earth from that of mainstream science.

    is just the same as saying that for some people, the debate about whether vaccines cause autism continues and we reflect and respect the fact that anti-vaxers have a different perspective from that of the medical proffession.

    Also; creasciolist is the most awesome word of the day ever.

  55. 55
    chrisreynolds

    I have been a member of the NT for many years and logged into the Giant’s Causeway page to see what it said (it said nothing about the content of the exhibition). However as I logged in I was invited to fill in a questionnaire about the site when I left it – so I did.

    When asked why I had visited the site I wrote I was horrified to hear that the exhibition at the Giant’s Causeway has an exhibit which presents the Young Earth Fiction as a valid alternative to the clearly established view of its formation millions of year ago by well-established geological processes. I had always considered the National Trust an organisation who took care to be accurate n the information presented on its sites and in its literature and if it is true that its standards have dropped this low I will seriously be considering cancelling my membership. Needless to say the site was unhelpful on this matter so I will be looking for evidence elsewhere.

    The nature of the questionnaire means that it is anonymous. Other may like to try complaining along this route.

  56. 56
    madscientist

    I’m very disappointed. I would have expected the Irish to present the creationist view in a way that would have everyone crying with laughter. Let’s put Dara O’Briain in charge of the site.

  57. 57
    empiricallyyours

    Follow up article:

    http://www.u.tv/News/Trust-defends-NI-creationist-exhibit/9b201da2-f371-49b1-9dea-ab59b9a4405e

    It would seem the creatard votebots are hitting it too.

  58. 58
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    It would seem the creatard creasciolist votebots are hitting it too.

    FTFY.

    What?! It’s my word! I can force people to use it if I want to!

  59. 59
    montanto

    In a further statement on Thursday, the National Trust stressed that such views were only presented in a small part of the exhibition and reflected both historic debate and the views held by “some people today”.

    Sigh! only if it’s a little poster in the front showing the quaint story of Finn MacCool and then a bigger sign saying something to the affect of “As wonderful as these traditional stories are the reality is far more amazing” and leading to the actual exhibit. Sort of like the way the Visitor’s Center of the Devil’s Tower has a painting of the Giant Bear climbing up the tower scratching the ridges in as it tries to capture the siblings it is pursuing.

  60. 60
    jefferylanam

    The other end of the Giant’s Causeway is the Scottish isle of Staffa, which can only be reached by a small boat from Mull or one of the other islands. I took the trip last summer. No creationist blarney on the way there, only the story of Benandonner and Finn McCool. You get off the boat and up a rickety stairway, climb along the side of a basalt wall with occasional handholds, and make your way inside Fingal’s Cave inches from falling into the Irish Sea. Quite an experience.

  61. 61
    jefferylanam

    I should add that the scientific explanation was mentioned as well on the boat trip. No objections about blasphemy that I heard.

  62. 62
    Crissa

    34.5% Yes
    65.2% No
    0.3% Don’t Know
    10941 votes

    It seems to be tossing around quite a bit. It was 36% Yes last I looked at it.

  63. 63
  64. 64
    The Swordfish, Ambulatory Memory Leak

    Anyone who’s having trouble voting: copy the link and paste the URL into your address bar instead of clicking on it. The sneaky bastards (or should I say mustards? :P) appear to be checking the referrer address and hiding the voting interface if it’s coming from Pharyngula.

  65. 65
    A Hermit

    Speaking of polls…John Loftus has one up…

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.ca/

    Concerning The Thunderf00t Debacle at FtB? (Choose all that apply)

    It makes atheists look very bad 20 (40%)

    FtB will be back stronger than ever 4 (8%)

    It’s unfortunate and I wish them all well 14 (28%)

    This silences future dissent from FtBlgers 26 (53%)

    Thunderf00t had it coming 11 (22%)

    PZ and Ed should apologize 26 (53%)

  66. 66
    Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^=

    I visited the Giant’s Causeway twelve years ago. The only mythology in evidence then was the Fionn mac Cumhaill story (I bought the book, both in English and Irish, for the kids). Everyone knows that it isn’t in competition with the facts.

    It is very disappointing if the National Trust is giving traction to creasciolist* myths because a few delude people think that they are in competition with the facts.

    *Looove that word! =^_^=

  67. 67
    tommccann

    To someone who is a black-hearted baby-eating atheist, the Giant’s Causeway is the closest thing I have to a ‘sacred site’. As a Northern Irishman I regard it as the symbol of my country. I was already appalled that the National Trust have effectively desecrated the site by placing their bus stop in amongst some of the stones.

    The NT spoil most of the sites they look after by taking pristine landscapes, country houses, etc, and then ruining them with the obligatory car parks, gift shops, tea shops, etc. I wouldn’t give them the time of day, except you are mugged for lots of money if you want to go and see what should be yours for free. English Heritage or the NI Dept of Environment are a much better model of how to preserve the sites you are supposedly looking after.

    It doesn’t surprise me that the NT are stooping as low as to appeal to creationists; anything for a buck!

  68. 68
    chrisreynolds

    I have posted a complaint on the NT Press office Blog http://ntpressoffice.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/giants-causeway-visitor-centre-interpretation/.

    Simply saying we don’t like Young Earth Creationist rubbish is not going to carry much weight when the Young Earth Creationists will come in with large numbers of protests putting the opposite (invalid) argument. If you are protesting it is likely to carry far more weight if you relate it to the Northern Ireland religious divide and the general view most people have of the objective approach taken by the National Trust on other sites. A strong argument against what has happened is to point to the fact that once the National Trust opens the door to one-sided religious or political views without being openhanded to dozens of other other opposing minority groups (some of which will be down-right crazy) it is sliding down a very dangerous slippery slope.

    For those unfamiliar with the Hadrian’s Wall situation, it was a major defensive work and World Heritage Site which was built nearly 2000 years ago as a barrier between what was then the Roman part of the British Isles and Scotland. Because the Roman army recruited from all over the Roman empire there are many surviving tombstones of people which come from parts which the various UK Fascists parities would designate as the homes of “Bloody Foreigners” who ought never to have been allowed into England. In the USA the equivalent example would be to say that the K.K.K. had the sole right to post nigger hating posters on any historical monument because some people still hold such views.

    What I wrote was:

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

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

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

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

  69. 69
    petzl20

    Saw this comment on the northern ireland http://www.u.tv site:

    C. McEoighan in ayrshire wrote (14 hours ago):

    As a scientist, I am pleased to see an alternative opinion on the subject. All scientific views should be shared and debated, and yes the creationists use the same science as the non-creationists. They just interpret the evidence according to their own view (as do many scientists). Some of the comments so far show very little understanding or tolerance – which is what the inclusion of this material is trying to promote.

    LOL @ “as a scientist.” Although, the entire comment is lol-able. Clearly, the guy is christian school science teacher or something equivalent.

  70. 70
    kangxi

    Sciolist is a fine, fine word: I first came across it in James Branch Cabell’s introduction to Jurgen. And creasciolist is a brilliant neologism.
    But let’s not forget the jewel in the crown of terms for creationists. The beauty behind this word is that its backstory tells you all you need to know about these agenda-driven, lying, manipulative, amoral, hypocritical, hate-filled hucksters: the word is, of course, Cdesignpropentsists. (Another word that conveys the same depth of contempt we hold for them is, of course, christian, but use this with caution as they themselves are unable to see the true meaning of this word and bear it as a label of pride & honour.)

  71. 71
    nopeter

    The poll at http://www.u.tv/News/Causeway-centre-gives-creationist-view/530750a4-b3bb-4c0e-baf1-4cc65e7e6652
    gives now
    44.6% yes (pro creationist)
    55.2% no (pro science)
    0.2% undecide
    out of 15847 votes

    Note multiple voting is possible!
    Get the out vote going!

  72. 72
    tommccann

    @chrisreynolds

    For years Northern Ireland has been in a state of turmoil, because different groups of Christian could not agree on their interpretation of the bible

    I’m not sure you’ve got this right. A small number of people in Northern Ireland are at odds with each other because they are either Republican (wanting a united Ireland) or Unionist (wanting to be ruled by Britain).

    It just so happens that religion is a useful marker. Unionists tend to be protestant (for historical reasons) while native republicans tend to be catholic.

    I see little evidence of people arguing about an interpretation of the bible. Also, unless I have misunderstood it, your post seems to be arguing for balance. PZ’s original post, and most of the comments in this thread are making the point that in this instance ‘balance’ is inappropriate.

  73. 73
    Mak, acolyte to Farore

    The poll previously displayed on this page was removed on Friday 6 July 2012 at 11am (BST) due to obvious irregularities in the voting pattern. The irregularities were the result of a spam attack which threatened site performance. As a result, the poll has been removed.

    Oh shucks.

  74. 74
    benfromca

    From the poll web site:

    “The poll previously displayed on this page was removed on Friday 6 July 2012 at 11am (BST) due to obvious irregularities in the voting pattern. The irregularities were the result of a spam attack which threatened site performance. As a result, the poll has been removed.”

    Hooray for Pharyngula! Shut down another senseless poll.

  75. 75
    raven

    I see little evidence of people arguing about an interpretation of the bible.

    Way to miss the point.

    Religion is a tribal marker. It divides people and then one tribe kills the other and vice versa. It happens everywhere. What is the difference between a Sunni and Shi’ite anyway and who cares.

    Different causes get tacked onto tribal warfare. No point in wasting a perfectly good mass murder or genocide.

    Would the warfare in Northern Ireland occur if they were all Catholics or all Protestants? No, it wouldn’t.

    From our viewpoint in the USA, it all looks incomprehensible. Intermarriage between Catholics and Protestants is very common and my extended family is half and half. We have far more important things to worry about!!!

    For example, the predominant American tribe, called “xians” hates Moslems, atheists, scientists, women, gays, and Democrats. Why hate another group of xians when you can hate most of the world’s population?

  76. 76
    Paul Durrant

    I’m glad to say that the NT have obviously been getting a lot of negative responses about this part of the exhibit. I’ve just received an email reply to my response pointing me to an update:

    http://ntpressoffice.wordpress.com/2012/07/06/an-update-from-the-team-at-giants-causeway/

    Which tries to show that the creationist bit isn’t important because of the large amount of good info in the exhibit.

    Hopefully they will shortly come to their senses and remove or amend the offending audio:

    “The Debate continues today

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

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

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

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

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

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

    For further information on this exhibit, please speak to a Range”

  77. 77
    chrisreynolds

    tommccan says

    Also, unless I have misunderstood it, your post seems to be arguing for balance. PZ’s original post, and most of the comments in this thread are making the point that in this instance ‘balance’ is inappropriate.

    If you want to get the National Trust to change its policy you need to understand who you have to influence, and ultimately this will be the board. I wrote as someone who has been a non-executive board member of a major UK charity (but in a very different areas to the National Trust) and who has been an official public observer (with speaking rights) on a number of other boards involving expenditures of hundreds of millions of UK pounds. My post was meant to be an example of what I felt was the kind of letter that could influence the board in the right direction.

    The first thing to realize is that the operational details of the display were almost certainly a local decision, and the current public reaction could well be the first the Trust Board members learn of the controversy. I don’t know the Trust’s internal guidelines – but the matter may be quietly corrected because the display is “out of order” by the Trust’s own rules and perhaps even a matter of internal discipline. If not the matter could well end up as an agenda item at a board meeting. I don’t know the composition of the Board but as a member of the National Trust for many years I know that board members will have an interest in history, architecture and tourism, with specialist knowledge of real estate management and finance. Most are likely to be either Christians or at least have a Christian upbringing. There may not be a single scientist on the board, and if there is they is likely to have a special interest is preserving/restoration of heritage objects.

    Should the matter come to the Board (or perhaps a local Northern Ireland Board if there is one) there will be a report on the protest. This will include information on the display (perhaps a short film), a summary of the number of letters, emails, etc., received under various headings, a few selected quotes from the more “relevant” letters and possibly some recommendations. If there are 1000 messages saying “the science is right – the creationists are wrong” there will probably be one sample message in the summary seen by the board – with one similar sample giving the pure creationist viewpoint, except that any sumbissions by Government ministers, etc., are likely to be given prominence There would also be extracts of many more letters from those who showed that they had taken some trouble to understand the National Trust business and which had concentrated on aspects of the issues which the board could easily understand as being relevant.

    Because the science representation on the board is likely to be small large numbers of objection which say little more that “science right, religion wrong” are likely to be ignored. In the Victorian period tThere were people who argued that the Giants Causeway was a result of Creation – and you will loose the support of the historians if you insist they must censor the genuinely historical part of the display. Instead you remind them that the religious history of the province suggests that they need to be ultra cautious about the handling of the present day situation – and at the same time address the board members with a particular interest with tourism, who will be well aware of how the number of tourists have varied over the years – and why.

    In my view the most important message to get over is that the Trust must not allow itself to be dictated to give undue prominence to any narrow minded pressure group – and if we can convince the board to make this their official policy, the Northern Island problem automatically automatically solves itself.

    All I am saying is that if you want to make a protest it is not those who shout the loudest who get things changed – it is those direct who their protest to those on the board whose views can be changed by what you say. Messages which give the impression that you are just another of an already well represented pressure group are likely to be ignored.

  78. 78
    bcreason

    Poll has been removed

    The poll previously displayed on this page was removed on Friday 6 July 2012 at 11am (BST) due to obvious irregularities in the voting pattern. The irregularities were the result of a spam attack which threatened site performance. As a result, the poll has been removed.

  79. 79
    geoffshorts

    It seems that other creationists are getting in on the act and are using this charade as an attempt to force their views to get equal weight. Take these druids.

  80. 80
    Tigger_the_Wing, Back home =^_^=

    What druids?

  81. 81
    Johnny Pez

    These aren’t the druids you’re looking for.

  82. 82
    Banned Atheist

    Do we ask astrophysicists to debate astrologers?

    That’s why no self-respecting evolutionary biologist will stoop to debate creationists.

    Same thing holds for climate scientists and deniers.

    There’s no reasoning with stoopid.

  83. 83
    John Morales

    BAtheist:

    There’s no reasoning with stoopid.

    No, but there’s reasoning at stupid for the audience.

  84. 84
    geoffshorts

    Drat. Sorry, wrong link. These druids: http://geoffsshorts.blogspot.ie/2012/07/one-giants-leap-for-creationists.html

  85. 85
    johnmarley

    So Pharyngulation is a type of spam attack now?

  86. 86
    Iain Walker

    Sastra (#31):

    The wording of the statement smacks of an over-sensitive desire to respect the identities of all minorities

    There’s quite a lot of that going around NI these days. The shiny new power-sharing dispensation means that everybody has to be extra considerate to everybody else’s culture, and this may well be a side-effect of this.

  87. 87
  88. 88
    Dr Marcus Hill Ph.D. (arguing from his own authority)

    I suspect that this isn’t some NT people aiming to promote creationism – they have allowed themselves to be manipulated by creationists who had an ulterior motive. If you look at the full descriptions of the displays at the centre and the transcripts of the “debates” section, you’ll see that the part causing all the fuss is a tiny portion of a small part of the exhibit, which is expected to be accessed by a minority of visitors (most are expected only to look at the big introductory display and film, which only talk about the traditional myth and the real science of the formation of the causeway).

    To someone unfamiliar with the tactics of creationists (which I suspect includes the people creating the display – remember, creasciolists don’t have a significant presence in NI), having a few ambiguous phrases in such a small part of the exhibit might seem an insignificant concession.

    The real test is what they do about it now. The creasciolists (loving that word!) have, predictably to those of us who have had dealings with them before, used this “insignificant” concession to claim that a major national institution and world heritage site acknowledge that they may have a leg to stand on. To me, this is what we should be using in our arguments for the Trust to remove or alter that part of the exhibit. They know that science is right and creationism is wrong, and they will point to the fact that anyone visiting the site and viewing the exhibits will come away with exactly that impression. It’s not for the sake of the visitors that the exhibit needs to be changed, it’s because the presence of that small section implying that there is still a “debate” allows the creasciolists to use their classic technique of quote mining to tell millions of people who will never visit the site that the NT says that there is a debate.

  89. 89
    kieran

    http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/the-national-trust-remove-creationist-exhibit-from-the-giants-causeway-visitors-centre-2

    A change.org petition, not a fan of the letter attached so working on my own to send.

  90. 90
    chrisreynolds

    I have drafted a detailed letter to the National Trust at http://trapped-by-the-box.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/national-trust-creationism-and-giants.html

    In it I look at the background to the “fictional” conversation between the Rev. Richardson and James Hutton – and while I don’t have access to the relevant 1802-1812 papers by Rev Richardson – it seems that he “asserted not to subscribe to any theory or belong to any faction” – and I suspect that he may never have explicitly mentioned 6000 years. There were plenty of things the N.T. could have got him to say – but were they presented with a distorted version of his views which they swallowed hook line and sinker.

    I also raise the general issue as one of “product palcement” by a pressure group and ask for clear statements on the N.T policy.

    I have not raised matters which other people have already raised as I feel it more important to concentrate on new objections.

  91. 91
    kieran

    This the cookie cutter reply I got
    Dear Kieran

    Thank you for your email dated 9th July.

    Thank you for your comments and feedback regarding the Giants Causeway exhibit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Below are some Frequently Asked Questions regarding the exhibit:

    Q. Is there a debate about the age of the earth – why is NT suggesting science is up for debate?

    A. No, there is no debate on the age of the earth. The National Trust fully supports and promotes the science in relation to the formation of the Giant’s Causeway and the age of the earth.

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

    Q. What does the controversial interpretation refer to ?

    A. In summary, one of the exhibits in the Giant’s Causeway 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.

    The detail of the exhibit which sparked the discussion consists of five different audio samples triggered by buttons. It is designed to give a flavour of the historical debates there have been over the Causeway’s formation – starting with arguments between Sir Thomas Molyneux and a mystery correspondent (probably George Ashe) over whether the columns were fossil or mineral. The next clip sets out a flavour of the argument between Vulcanists and Neptunists. The next clip details how James Hutton’s work opened the way for definitive proof of an ancient earth. The forth clip mentions a theory published in the 1800s that the Causeway was fossilised bamboo. Then the final clip states that Young Earth Creationists wish to continue the debate today, as they believe the earth is only 6000 years old. The National Trust does not support this view.

    Q. What is in the visitor centre ?
    A. We have an amazing visitor centre with fantastic facilities, walking trails, and the interpretation includes many themes and topics. These include science, geology, wildlife, history and myths and legends and stories of local characters, past and present. Please see the attachment of the Welcome Leaflet on the email body.

    Q. Will we be changing the exhibition?

    A. The entire interpretation in the Visitor Centre has just been installed. We have no plans to change this exhibit at present.

    Q. What is the National Trust’s relationship with the Caleb Foundation

    A. Caleb is an organisation which expressed interest in our plans for the Visitor Centre interpretation. As part of the consultation process on the development of the Interpretation we met with a wide range of groups – international visitors, community, funders, scientific community and Caleb was only one of those groups. We met with Caleb and discussed our plans for visitor centre interpretation as we did with many groups.

    Q. Did the National Trust receive any funding from Caleb?

    A. No.

    Q. Did the National Trust take any wording from Caleb ?

    A. None of the language in the interpretation came from the Caleb Foundation

    Q. Why did you only consult with Caleb groups as your religious group ?

    A. We did not only consult with Caleb in the process. The consultation process was with a wide range of stakeholders, including radio and press adverts to stimulate awareness. Caleb responded in the consultation process. We simply reference in a small part of the interpretation that they hold a different view from science but the National Trust does not support or endorse this view.

    Q. This interpretation makes the Visitor Centre unsuitable for children/education visits

    A. All of the information on how the Giant’s Causeway was formed and how old it is reflects science: i.e. that it is around 60 million years old. The interpretation in the Visitor Centre is very child friendly and suitable for education visits. The National Trust fully supports and promotes the science in relation to the formation of the Giant’s Causeway.

    Q. Does the National Trust have any plans to change interpretation at other sites to reflect the Creationist perspective?

    A. No. The exhibit at the Giant’s Causeway is specific to that site and tells the story of the part the Causeway played in the historical debate which took place about how the earth’s rocks were formed and about the age of the earth.

    Q. Was the National Trust under pressure from political parties to include Creationist perspective in the centre ?

    A. This is not a creationist exhibition. We undertook an extensive consultation process with a range of stakeholders, including the local community, international and domestic visitors, the scientific community and political stakeholders. These consultations informed the National Trust’s decisions on the interpretive content of the entire exhibition. We the National Trust took the decision to include the exhibit in question in the interpretation.

    Q. Was funding for the Creationist perspective funded by government money ?

    A. It is not a creationist representation within the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre – we simply reference that Creationists have a different perspective – we do not explain, support or justify those views. The £18.5 million project for the new facilities, interpretation and trails was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (£3million), £9.25million from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board with support from the European Union Regional Development fund and £6.25 million from the National Trust. Our interpretation was supported within this overall package.

    Q. Why is the Creationist perspective used in the centre ?

    A. It is not a creationist representation within the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre – we simply reference that Creationist have a different perspective – we do not explain support or justify those views One of the exhibits in the Giant’s Causeway 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, audio exhibit in which visitors can hear a flavour of some of the different debates from historical characters. In this exhibit we also acknowledge that for some people this debate continues today, and we simply reference the fact that Creationists have a different perspective from that of science. We do not support or endorse their views.

    Q. Were the funders aware of this inclusion ?

    A. We kept all the funders abreast of the full interpretative approach and content during its development.

    Q. Can I still access the stones for free ?

    A. Anyone entering the site on foot has free access to the stones and linked path network.

    If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us

    I thanked them for their copy and paste reply pointed out that it didn’t cover my concerns, the use of creaionist language and the elevation of one religious view over other under the Belfast agreement which does have a freedom of religion clause.

    I then linked to the creationists sites now using their exhibition to further their cause wonder will I get another copy and paste or will the actually respond.

  92. 92
    chrisreynolds

    Just had an email from the NT, – which needless to say did not even acknowledge my question about whether the National Trust had a policy for dealing with pressure groups which are looking for free publicity om National Trust sites. I was wondering whether to add a note here and when I loaded Pharyngula – there was a whole series of adverts suggesting that I joined the National Trust!

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