Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Editor's Viewpoint: Visitor centre has to find a balance

Most people will welcome the decision by the National Trust to review the controversial Giant's Causeway exhibit featuring creationist views.

While the myths and legends surrounding the Causeway are entertaining folklore they bear no relationship to how or when the geological wonder was formed. And it is a positive move that the Trust now states unequivocally that it is not debating the scientific evidence relating to the Causeway's formation.

There are people who subscribe to the creationist theory which dates the world as only 6,000 years old. They are perfectly at liberty to hold such views, but that does not give them any added credence. They are still way out of step with current scientific evidence which is compelling by comparison.

It is unfortunate that the creation of this new tourism facility should have been dogged by controversy over one small part of its exhibits and, hopefully, the promise of a review will put the issue to rest.

For the new Causeway visitor centre is a welcome addition to the province's tourism facilities and a vital part of the whole visitor experience of that area. The Causeway continues to be the province's premier tourist attraction and its unique basalt columns are among the most readily recognisable natural features in the world. Already more than 25,000 visitors have come to the centre since it was opened at the beginning of this month and the Trust expects that total to rise to around 700,000 in the next 12 months.

That shows the huge interest in the Giant's Causeway and the demand for an entertaining and educational interpretative centre where the scientific and mythological explanations for the natural phenomenon can be outlined. The Trust has a delicate balancing act to perform in outlining the very much minority creationist viewpoint without appearing to endorse it in any way. It has now made its position on the issue clear and all that remains is to find a formula for introducing the creationist point of view to visitors without overstating its importance.

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