Belfast Telegraph

National Trust's decision to review Giant's Causeway creationist exhibit welcomed

By Linda Stewart

The British Humanist Association has welcomed a decision to review a controversial Giant’s Causeway exhibit which features creationist views.

The National Trust will review the exhibit — insisting it wants to make sure there is “absolute clarity” that there is no debate in science as to the age of the stones.

Since opening its new visitors centre earlier this month, the Trust was accused of caving in to pressure from creationists to include their view that the Earth is only 6,000-years-old.

Among the critics were leading evolutionist Professor Richard Dawkins and TV science broadcaster Professor Brian Cox.

Pavan Dhaliwal, of the British Humanist Association, said the Trust “appears to have fallen victim to the ‘teach the controversy’ strategy pursued by creationists”.

She added: “We hope that the National Trust will make it clear in future that the scientific account of the Giant’s Causeway is the only legitimate account.”

Prof Cox said: “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 pure s***.”

Last night, creationists called for a public consultation on any proposed change to the exhibit.

There will be considerable public interest in the outcome of the review, according to Wallace Thompson of evangelical umbrella group, the Caleb Foundation.

It says it worked closely with the Trust for months to make sure an acknowledgement of the creationist position was included. Mr Thompson said: “What we are now doing is asking for some clarification on this review — whether it would involve public consultation. I would be confident that the public would have a fair amount of interest in that review and the outcome of it,” he said.

Mr Thompson said he would not be happy if the creationist material were moved to the Myths and Legends section of the exhibition, as some have suggested.

“We want to see what form that review will take and we are not making any more comment now.”

The exhibit features a debate between historical figures over the age of the Earth, and says that the debate continues today

Yesterday, the Trust admitted this part of the display had caused mixed reactions “mainly from people reacting to media coverage and online discussions”.

The Trust said the intention was to provide visitors with a flavour of the wide range of opinions and views — not to promote or legitimise any of these views.

“Having listened to our members’ comments and concerns, we feel that clarity is needed.

“There is clearly no scientific debate about the age of the earth or how the Causeway stones were formed,” a spokesman said.

“Based on feedback, we’ve decided to review this section.”

The exhibit at the centre of the controversy...

The Ancient Earth or a New Creation? debate between James Hutton and Dr Richardson:

Richardson: Now see here, I am deeply concerned thatoh I do beg your pardon. My name is Richardson — the Reverend Doctor William Richardson. Rector of Clonfeacle.

I am a keen naturalist, so I have every sympathy for open-minded scientific enquiry. But as I say, I am deeply concerned that Mr Hutton may mislead you with his theories on the age of the Earth.

We know from the Bible that the Earth is 6,000 years old! One has merely to count the generations between Adam and the birth of Our Lord. And for all his eminence as a geologist, and his standing with the Royal Society in Edinburgh, that makes Mr Hutton’s theory nonsense!

Hutton: Now, now Dr Richardson, I am well aware that my theory is challenging upsetting to many I myself find it dizzying yet when I look at the evidence, at the slow and steady volcanic formation of rocks — occurring even as we speak! — I am driven to believe that 6,000 years is a mere blink in the life of the Earth — I see no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end!

Richardson: Well, I shall return to Antrim once more, Mr Hutton! I am sure I shall find proof there that all rocks are formed under the sea — and put an end to your theory of an ancient Earth!

Hutton: Indeed? Well I wish you luck, sir

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