The National Trust is facing criticism for putting creationist views on display in the new visitor centre at the Giant’s Causeway. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, located on the County Antrim coast in Northern Ireland, includes spectacular basalt columns which were formed by volcanic eruptions up to 60 million years ago, and is visited by over 600,000 people every year. However, the new visitor centre features an interactive audio exhibition which also explains the creationist view of the site’s origin. The British Humanist Association (BHA) believes that it should have no place in a display whose purpose is to explain scientific fact.
The exhibition gives equal weight to the scientific and the creationist views of the site’s origin. When creating the exhibition, the National Trust appear to have been under pressure from the Caleb Foundation, a group which represents evangelical Christians in Northern Ireland. The Caleb Foundation say that they ‘worked closely with the National Trust over many months’ on the project.
In 2010 there was similar pressure to include creationist viewpoints in a display on evolution in the recently re-opened Ulster Museum. However, the BHA organised hundreds of its supporters to write to their MPs in opposition to this, which resulted in 87 MPs signing an Early Day Motion arguing ‘that the teaching or promotion of religious beliefs should be separate from the teaching or promotion of science.’
BHA Head of Public Affairs Pavan Dhaliwal commented that ‘Putting creationist views on display in a National Trust site gives them an unfair appearance of legitimacy. It is false to claim that there is still a “debate” going on over the origins of the Giant’s Causeway, because the creationist viewpoint has no scientific evidence to back it up, and it is completely wrong to portray it on an equal footing with the genuine scientific account. Creationist views should not be included in a display whose purpose is to educate the public about science.’
For further comment or information, please contact Pavan Dhaliwal at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07738435059
The Ulster TV news article about the new visitor centre: http://www.u.tv/News/Causeway-centre-gives-creationist-view/530750a4-b3bb-4c0e-baf1-4cc65e7e6652
An article from the New Humanist blog about the centre: http://blog.newhumanist.org.uk/2012/07/creationist-view-on-show-at-new-giants.html
The Early Day Motion on the Ulster Museum Exhibition: http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/185
Read more about the BHA’s work on creationism: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/religion-and-schools/countering-creationism
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.