04 July 2012

National Trust succumbs to creationist lunacy?

The Giant's Causeway
Oh dear - it looks like I will have to investigate this. The UTV News are reporting that the new Visitor Centre at Northern Ireland's top tourist destination and UNESCO World Heritage Site is giving credence to the ridiculous and antiscientific creationist group, the Caleb Foundation. As everyone knows, the Giant's Causeway is a wonder of the natural world - a landscape of mainly hexagonal basalt columns, formed as an enormous lake of lava cooled about 60 million years ago.

Wallace Thompson is a chirpy wee puppy from this Caleb Foundation outfit, who are basically a Christianist pressure group set up to promote an ugly right-wing version of extreme Calvinism in a society that is actively trying to move on from the sectarianism of its past. He's delighted that the National Trust have included creationist material in the interpretative centre, despite the fact that the Causeway is not mentioned in the Bible at all. Wallace and other creationists feel that the Universe (that's your home, folks) was created about 6000 years ago, because they adopt an astonishingly naive view of Hebrew folklore, and reject the findings of biblical scholars, geologists and biologists alike. On the day when science unveiled the Higgs boson, boyos like Wallace are attempting to drag us into a world of fantasy and dragons.

[UPDATE 6/7/2012]
It has gradually become clear that the National Trust have been somewhat hoodwinked by the Caleb Foundation; it seems that all the NT were trying to do was to be "fair", while maintaining their position that the science behind the Causeway formation is firm. They were simply trying to acknowledge that creationists exist and have the views they do. On the face of it, this seems fair enough. However, what they failed to consider was how the creationists would use this little acknowledgement. It is born of naivety, not of malice.

The Caleb Foundation have used their inclusion to claim that the NT have recognised the "legitimacy" of their views, and therefore that there is a valid "debate" to be had; this allows them to claim that they are THE "umbrella group representing mainstream evangelical Christians", and by extension that Creationism is THE mainstream view of evangelical Christians, rather than the view of a crazy fringe.

The National Trust need to be very very clear on where they go next. They must immediately remove all references to creationist views from the material relating to the Causeway. If, upon review, it is felt that creationist views need a nod, this must be very clearly placed in the "Mythology, Folklore and Legend" section, along with the old stories of Finn MacCool, and alongside my personal favourite of the Giant Lava-secreting Bees. It is quite inappropriate for the National Trust to give the impression that this category of "explanation" is worthy of consideration as an "alternative" to a scientifically valid model.

I am very happy to discuss this with the National Trust if they'd like to get in contact (I'm @shanemuk on Twitter); I would suggest they engage the services of competent scientists who have expertise in dealing with creationists to assist in developing  their materials. Remember, organisations like Caleb are dishonest; they are pushing the Wedge Strategy, in order to foster the illusion that there is a genuine debate ongoing in the scientific field. Don't let them away with this. And, National Trust, we know you are honourable and have nothing but good intent - and that you have developed a world class visitor attraction. Let's work together to bring the wonder and glory of Northern Ireland's amazing geological heritage to  the world.

15 comments:

  1. It's not clear from this if you have checked what the NT actually cover or if you are going by the UTV report. In my view the creationists lied about what the NT have done (surprise, surprise) and the UTV just believed them.

    Have a look for yourself;

    http://bcseweb.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/national-trust-and-creationism.html

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  2. Yes; or, rather, I made the update after reading the BCSE post. I agree that the NT have not said anything incorrect as such, and the the Caleb Foundation have grossly distorted the situation. But this is something that we (those of us who have understanding of how groups like Caleb work) could have told them would happen, and they perhaps should have been a bit cannier. Is this something we should just let lie? I'm not sure that it is. I don't feel there is any need whatsoever to acknowledge creationist "views" in the Causeway materials.

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  3. Read the facts from the NT. It is we who've been gullibly trolled by the creationists, not them, and the NT deserve some apologies not condescension.

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  4. Other Pete, thanks for the comment - I don't altogether disagree with what you say; indeed, I think it has a lot of validity. But it shows very clearly how devious creationists are. I did acknowledge (and I hope others do too) that the NT acted in perfectly good faith.

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  5. Hi Shane,

    Well there are certainly some lessons for the NT - they should have expected the creationists to lie about what was done - they lie about most other things after all.

    I have also seen a quote about the "debate even continuing today" but I need to find the source - surely this whole shebang shows that people should always check their facts!

    And this just in;

    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/politics/2012/07/creationism-and-political-power-northern-ireland

    Cheers,

    Psi

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  6. "the NT deserve some apologies not condescension"

    Nonsense. The NT may have been hodwinked into 'teaching the controvesy'. Something they belatedly appear to recognise.

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2012/07/06/giants-causeway-interpretive-centre-the-national-trust-fully-supports-the-scientific-explanation-for-the-creation-of-the-stones-60-million-years-ago/

    Or there may have been political influence brought to bear.

    http://sluggerotoole.com/2012/07/05/giants-causeway-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/

    Pete Baker

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  7. National Trust also tell the story of Giant Finn Mccool creating the Causeway and tell Ghost Stories at other locations....

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  8. In Richard Dawkins' book "The Magic of Reality" he tells traditional myths about various things and then points out what science says. This man is clearly a gullible traitor to the atheist cause.

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  9. I think there is more nuance here. The problem is not the actual myth, but the theocratic motivation behInd the pushers. These are not nice people; they're on a mission.

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  11. The bottom line is, that people (especially children) should easily be able to distinguish between fact, theory and myth.

    Thanks for posing this.

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  12. Shane

    You know as well as I do that Caleb don't represent the mainstream of evangelical Christianity. Now, stop and think for a wee mo...

    Caleb are celebrating the inclusion of an "alternative viewpoint" - yea, like the one the centre already has - the big Finn boyo.

    So, Caleb have managed to have the bible equated with the story of Lough Neagh and the Isle of Man - I'd call that 'shooting yourself in the foot'.

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  13. Peter, good points; this is probably the strategy we should adopt - equal legitimacy between Finn MacCool and Noah. Meanwhile the real explanation lies in the science.

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  14. Thing is, in a way Finn MacCool is more legitimate than creation stories, because no-one has claimed recently that Pagan mythology is literally true; only that it is a metaphor for physical and psychological processes. Also, the Finn MacCool story is presented as mythology, not as "an alternative scientific theory". Therein lies a world of difference.

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  15. The main argument is that the display uses the phrase "The debate continues today" when it manifestly does not, and that only one religious view, a minority one, has been given exposure. It's either all the major ones, or none (except Finn McCool, due to the direct folklore connection).

    National Trust are claiming the Caleb Foundation had no direct input on this display, while Caleb imply they had everything to do with it.

    There's a full audio recording of the offending exhibit, the one about the contemporary 'debate', in the Files section of the Facebook campaign for it's removal: https://www.facebook.com/groups/263351503764526/

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