The Giant’s causeway is one of the most beautiful examples of columnar jointing in the world, formed during the Tertiary igneous activity in the UK. It was formed during the Tertiary, and whilst there are a few ongoing questions about it’s tectonic history, generally it is held to be the prime example of it’s kind.
Here is the problem. In response to pressure from the religious group the Caleb Foundation, the National Trust has included references to creationism in it’s information center at the Giant’s Causeway.
I have no idea what the National Trust were thinking. It seems that this problem first became apparent in 2008, when my colleague Jan Zalasiewicz first wrote a letter in the Geoscientist about this. It’s here http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/gsl/geoscientist/page3473.html .
If you look at the foot of the article, it seems that the Geol Soc intended to publish an official rebuttal. But as hard as I google I can’t find this. Perhaps it was left on the scrapheap, for whatever reason, but regardless, beguilingly the National Trust has still gone and done it, so we seem to be back to square one.
I’m hoping that it’s something that somebody has included somewhere along the line without realizing the rammefications, and that it will quickly be taken down. Here's the first draft of an email I'm planning on sending to them; I want to form an official pettition, so let me know in the comments if you want your name added.
Dear Sir/Madam,I recently became aware of the presence of a new information stand at the Giants Causeway that includes a creationist viewpoint as part of a discussion on its origins.
Speaking as both a paleontologist and a member of the National Trust, I am, frankly, appalled to hear this. I understand the intentions of this were to cater for an alternative viewpoint, but this viewpoint is one embraced by no scientist, and therefore it is a mistake to include it here. Indeed, the sentence “…has always prompted debate about how it was formed and how old it is” is, at best, grossly misleading, and at worst, an outright lie.
Frankly, I find the implication that creationism deserves equal credence to mainstream science incredibly offensive, as do my colleagues, as would scientists around the globe. I write articles on creationism regularly, and I firmly believe that it is a debate needs addressing. However, it is a religious issue, and it needs addressing in a religious context. It is not a debate that has occurred in science, ever, contrary to what has been stated, and so to present it as such is an outright falsehood, and gives credence to what is essentially an religious extremist viewpoint.
I understand that these actions were taken under pressure from a religious group, the Caleb foundation. I am disappointed that the National Trust has bowed to the demands of a religious group that is interfering in sites of scientific interest, where it does not belong. Moreover, it represents the opinions of a group that represent a minority of views of Northern Ireland.
Please could I have your assurance that all references to creationism at the Giants Causeway Information centre be removed? Creationism is very much a minority viewpoint, and so I think you fill find that it is also very much the opinion of national trust members also.
I will be posting a copy of this email to my website, as well as any replies that I receive.
Oliver Knevitt (University of Leicester)
Rebecca Williams (University of Leicester)
Laurent Darras (University of Leicester)
Laura McLennan (University of Leicester)
Joe Keating (University of Bristol)
Department of Geology
University of Leicester