Protests by Giant's Causeway's New Visitor Center

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on July 14, 2012

BBC: “Online group calls for removal of creationist exhibit at Giant’s CausewayControversy? What controversy? Giant’s Causeway’s new visitor center becomes target for protest.

Apparently some people are not content with having their views classified as “mainstream science.” They rise up in protest when anyone acknowledges that other views exist, declining to accord other people even a modicum of respect. Such a group has started a campaign demanding the new Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre, just opened in Northern Ireland under the auspices of the National Trust, remove its “creationist exhibits.” Ironically, the new visitors center, which in its interactive audio program graciously acknowledges some people espouse alternative explanations of the Causeway’s origins, does not have any “creationist exhibits.”

“I don’t mind creation stories presented as mythology, but to suggest there is any debate that Earth is 4.54 billion years old is nonsense,” tweeted TV personality Brian Cox. Evolutionist Richard Dawkins criticized the National Trust, saying, “The age of the Earth is a matter of scientific fact, not opinion, and balance and fairness do not enter into matters of fact. The National Trust should not have given any consideration whatsoever to the intellectual baboons of young Earth creationism.”1 Another well-known evolutionist, Jerry Coyne, accuses the National Trust of “lying about this [the 60 million year age of the Causeway] to its visitors”2 by informing them that Giant’s Causeway has been and still is a focal point in the debate about the age of the earth. After all, Coyne writes, “For the rest of the world—including all scientists and people not blinded by faith—that debate was settled decades ago.”3

Columns

Tall hexagonal basaltic columns at Giant’s Causeway, a testament to the catastrophic events during the global Flood about 4,500 years ago. Read about it at Giant’s Causeway of Northern Ireland Image from Answers in Genesis speaker Dr. Tommy Mitchell.

shoreGiant’s Causeway consists of over 40,000 basalt columns containing evidence of 7 lava flows sandwiching sedimentary layers. The formation has various characteristics consistent with eruptions during the global Flood. Image provided by AiG–UK/Europe.

tommy Dr. Tommy Mitchell at Giant’s Causeway during his speaking tour of Northern Ireland in November – December 2011, while the new visitors’ center was still under construction. Note the basalt columns of moderate height to the right and the signage explaining the National Trust’s position on the origin of Giant’s Causeway. Image from Dr. Tommy Mitchell.

sign
sign-right
Note the millions-of-years explanation of the Causeway’s origin in this signage photographed by Dr. Tommy Mitchell during his 2011 visit. Both secularist and creationist explanations note the intermittent tectonic activity that produced multiple lava flows. In the secular scientists’ view depicted on the signage, lava flowed periodically, and sediment-laden cooling water were provided by a river over millions of years. But these million-year dates are based on unverifiable assumptions. See Giant’s Causeway of Northern Ireland to learn about these assumptions and about how the global Flood about 4,500 years ago (as described in the Bible) explains how the Causeway formed quickly. Image of National Trust Giant’s Causeway signage photographed by Dr. Tommy Mitchell, 2011.

orbitOrbit,” the mascot from “Operation Space,” a 2009 Answers in Genesis-produced Vacation Bible School curriculum, here makes his own wish amid the hexagonally cracked memorials to the power of the global Flood—a wish that children and adults worldwide would learn that the things we see in this world (like Giant’s Causeway) really do agree with what we read in God’s Word. Image provided by AiG–UK/Europe, taken during Dr. Mitchell’s 2011 speaking tour. You can follow Orbit’s continuing adventures at www.facebook.com/AiG.UKE.

childBoy makes a wish in the “wishing chair” at Giant’s Causeway in a scene from a 1954 video narrated by Richard Dimbleby. After alluding to the legendary giants credited with the Causeway’s origins, Dimbleby says, “But there are some spoiled sports who say that the phenomena at the causeway are almost identical with those known to be due to shrinkage in recent lava and that a rock which cracks up due to shrinkage on cooling is theoretically bound to split into hexagonal columns and that with little doubt these columns with their predominantly hexagonal form are the result of shrinkage on cooling. It’s easy to understand how this extraordinary formation could have been thought the work of man and not of nature.” Be sure to watch the video with incredible close-ups and beautiful vistas, which lose nothing from their vintage film quality, at www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-18678834.

Responding on BBC Radio Ulster, Causeway project director Graham Thompson indicated that, while the National Trust accepts the 60-million-year-old position, it respects those who have a different point of view and acknowledges that debate over the origin of Giant’s Causeway is genuine. He therefore refused to classify creationists in the category of those who believe in Finn MacCool mythology.4 Thompson said, “It’s a fact today that there is still a series of debates surrounding the formation of the Causeway but the exhibit is about that debate as opposed to how the Causeway was formed.”5

The National Trust is a UK conservation charity whose mission is “protecting historic places and green spaces, and opening them up for ever, for everyone.”6 The Trust’s new underground complex hidden beneath a sloping grass roof, in addition to exhibits illustrating the prevailing view among secular scientists, features “an interactive audio exhibition in which visitors can hear some of the different debates from historical characters.”7 According to a statement issued by the Trust, “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.”8 The audios and displays do not, however, explain the creation science interpretation.

“We fully accept the Trust’s commitment to its position on how the Causeway was formed, but this new centre both respects and acknowledges an alternative viewpoint and the continuing debate, and that means it will be a welcoming and enriching experience for all who visit.”

True to its mission to make Giant’s Causeway a place “for everyone,” the National Trust, which receives no public funding,9 was, according to project director Thompson, “absolutely, categorically” not pressured to acknowledge the on-going debate.10 The Trust received input from a number of organizations and individuals of many persuasions.11 Among those was the Caleb Foundation. Representing many Christians from Northern Ireland, Caleb Foundation chairman Wallace Thompson said, “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.” Thompson added, “We fully accept the Trust’s commitment to its position on how the Causeway was formed, but this new centre both respects and acknowledges an alternative viewpoint and the continuing debate, and that means it will be a welcoming and enriching experience for all who visit.”

In a sense, the clash of worldviews represented by two differing interpretations of the geology along the County Antrim coastline is itself a part of continuing human history. The oldest battle on earth—between the view that acknowledges the authority of God and the alternative view that does not—is key to the Causeway’s history. The global Flood, God’s judgment on mankind’s rebellion, explains the Causeway’s geology.

Giant’s Causeway is comprised of about 40,000 hexagonal basalt columns, some soaring 100 feet (30 meters) above the water’s surface. They are made up of seven separate lava flows interspersed with sedimentary layers. Catastrophic tectonic activity (“the fountains of the great deep were broken up” according to Genesis 7:11) associated with the global Flood provides the framework for explaining the evidence of intermittent volcanic activity seen in the basalt columns. Surges of sediment-laden water that would have cooled the hardening lava and caused it to crack—as seen in the accompanying photos and a classic video at www.bbc.co.uk—would have also characterized the early weeks of the Flood as the waters rose (Genesis 7:17–19). As the narrator of the 1954 video explains, “The phenomena at the causeway are almost identical with those known to be due to shrinkage in recent lava and . . . a rock which cracks up due to shrinkage on cooling is theoretically bound to split into hexagonal columns and . . . with little doubt these columns with their predominantly hexagonal form are the result of shrinkage on cooling.”12 The Flood model, describing the geologic catastrophe that happened about 4,500 years ago, is a biblically and scientifically consistent explanation for the phenomena seen at Giant’s Causeway.

The “Flood model” is not considered “mainstream science” but is just as scientific as the secular version of history. Both creation science and so-called “mainstream” science are efforts to explain a past not witnessed by any scientist and not subject to controlled experimental testing. Both explanations involve worldview-based interpretations, but only the creation scientists’ point of view has an eyewitness account available to guide interpretation of what we see.

Read more about Finn MacCool and Finn Gall, the legendary creators of Causeway, as well as the many evidences testifying to how the global Flood described in the biblical history actually produced those magnificent columns in “Giant’s Causeway of Northern Ireland.”13

And be sure to read Ken Ham’s blog “Refreshing News from Northern Ireland: But Would Secularists in the USA Be This Tolerant?” and learn how to obtain a free copy of Answers in Genesis Giant’s Causeway brochure. (Hurry, the deadline is July 31.) Ken will be speaking in Northern Ireland August 5–13, 2012.


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Footnotes

  1. www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland-creationism-at-giants-causeway-is-intellectual-baboonism-16181959.html
  2. whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/u-k-s-national-trust-promotes-creationism
  3. whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2012/07/05/u-k-s-national-trust-promotes-creationism
  4. www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01kf5vt/Good_Morning_Ulster_05_07_2012
  5. Thompson provided this quotation to clarify some misquoted and out of context quotations that have appeared in the media (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). The context of this statement from the actual taped interview is: “It’s a fact that in the late 17th and early 18th century there were a series of debates about how the Causeway was formed, and it’s a fact that today there is a series of debates about the formation of the Causeway so the area is about the debates as opposed to about how the Causeway was formed” (www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01kf5vt/Good_Morning_Ulster_05_07_2012). He also says, “We have a respectful position, a position which allows people to have debate, allows people to continue to have a certain amount of discourse over a series of things” (www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01kf5vt/Good_Morning_Ulster_05_07_2012).
  6. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/what-we-do
  7. www.u.tv/News/Causeway-centre-gives-creationist-view/530750a4-b3bb-4c0e-baf1-4cc65e7e6652
  8. www.u.tv/News/Causeway-centre-gives-creationist-view/530750a4-b3bb-4c0e-baf1-4cc65e7e6652
  9. www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01kf5vt/Good_Morning_Ulster_05_07_2012
  10. www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01kf5vt/Good_Morning_Ulster_05_07_2012
  11. www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01kf5vt/Good_Morning_Ulster_05_07_2012
  12. www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-18678834
  13. www.answersingenesis.org/articles/wog/giants-causeway

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