Controversy? 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
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.”
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, 2012.) Ken will be speaking in Northern Ireland August 5–13, 2012.
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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.