A new visitor centre has opened at the Giant’s Causeway, after an earlier centre burnt down a few years ago. The Giant’s Causeway is an impressive site: thousands of basalt columns formed millions of years ago. Wikipedia has a succinct overview of the geological origins of the causeway:
Some 50 to 60 million years ago, during the Paleogene period, Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds to form an extensive lava plateau. As the lava cooled rapidly,contraction occurred. Horizontal contraction fractured in a similar way to drying mud, with the cracks propagating down as the mass cooled, leaving pillarlike structures, which are also fractured horizontally into “biscuits”. In many cases the horizontal fracture has resulted in a bottom face that is convex while the upper face of the lower segment is concave, producing what are called “ball and socket” joints. The size of the columns is primarily determined by the speed at which lava from a volcanic eruption cools. The extensive fracture network produced the distinctive columns seen today. The basalts were originally part of a great volcanic plateau called the Thulean Plateau which formed during the Paleogene period.
Unfortunately, news from Northern Ireland seems to be suggesting that the local evangelicals have got their teeth into the National Trust and have their ludicrous creationist misinformation incorporated in an audiovisual display. There’s little information as yet on how prominent this is, but it has the potential to be rather a shameful embarrassment for the National Trust. The Caleb Foundation (“Promoting the Fundamentals of the Historic Evangelical Protestant Faith”) are proudly proclaiming their success in inserting their dodgy version:
As an umbrella organisation which represents the interests of mainstream evangelical Christians in Northern Ireland,we have worked closely with the National Trust over many months with a view to ensuring that the new Causeway Visitor Centre includes an acknowledgement both of the legitimacy of the creationist position on the origins of the unique Causeway stones and of the ongoing debate around this. We are pleased that the National Trust worked positively with us and that this has now been included at the new Visitor Centre.
I’ve blogged previously about the Caleb Foundation -The Caleb Foundation; More creationism in Northern Ireland; Creationist Claims in Northern Ireland (UTV News); Creationist claims in Northern Ireland (The Guardian), and the BCSE has a couple of articles about the Caleb Foundation – Part 1 and Part 2.
At this stage, it’s not clear quite how the evangelical and creationist viewpoint is projected, but it has received some media attention. Ulster TV reports Causeway centre gives creationist view. The National Trust come across as rather naive in that report:
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.”
It appears that the Caleb Foundation “worked with” the National Trust to ensure that misinformation was presented at the Visitor Centre. This is potentially an astonishing and appalling lapse on the part of the National Trust.