Recent news reports have suggested that the National Trust in Northern Ireland has repudiated traditional “millions-of-years” geology and converted their new Visitors’ Centre at the Giant’s Causeway to creationism.1 As is usual with such hype, nothing could be further from the truth.
The Giant’s Causeway is one of the geological wonders of the world. Its peculiar hexagonal blocks of stone are situated on the northern coast of the Province of Northern Ireland, in the United Kingdom. I have visited this remarkable site many times, during preaching tours of the Province. The recent news reports have suggested to me that an article about the formation of the Giant’s Causeway would be in order, and I will produce that shortly.
Examining the Facts
In the meantime, we should examine the facts. The old Visitors’ Centre, with which I am familiar, was inadequate for its purpose, as it could not handle the number of tourists who come to see the stones. So a new center was planned. Now, Northern Ireland is unique among the constituent sections of the United Kingdom because of its higher-than-average percentage of Christians, particularly those prominent in public life. On a number of occasions in recent years, I met with senior politicians and other opinion-formers, who were interested in seeing that the new Visitors’ Centre acknowledged the existence of alternative viewpoints of the formation of the Causeway. In common with other interested parties, I offered advice on what could reasonably be expected. At no time was it ever thought that the Visitors’ Centre would eliminate references to traditional old-earth geology, and nor has it. The overwhelming majority of information points in the Visitors’ Centre and at the Causeway site still proclaim the traditional evolutionary “millions-of-years” story. There is, however, one display which acknowledges that there are some people who disagree with this interpretation. Even the most diehard evolutionist ought to admit, if they have integrity, that their view might be a majority view, but not a unanimous view.
Not Everyone Believes in Evolution
However, integrity is not the most obvious quality associated with the more famous popularizers of evolutionist faith. In comments reported by the Belfast Telegraph, for example, Richard Dawkins has described creationists as “intellectual baboons.”2 It is remarkable that Dawkins has such a low opinion of those delightful apes, which he considers share a common ancestry with him! This, despite the fact that he must remember a brief radio debate involving Dawkins and myself on BBC Radio Ulster, during which an atheist listener phoned in to comment that he had never heard the creationist viewpoint so well put, or the evolutionary viewpoint represented so badly. Indeed, another nationally known atheist (in Britain) confided to me that he considered Dawkins to be a “loose cannon,” whose views were an “embarrassment” to atheists. It is certainly notable that Dawkins repeatedly demonstrates that he prefers using insults to rational argument.
Representatives for the Caleb Foundation—a non-political group of Christian opinion-formers—have a rather different take on the matter. Of course, the Caleb Foundation does not pretend to be unbiased. As biblical Christians from a variety of denominations, they hold to a literal reading of Genesis, as I do. Reading some reports would suggest that it was a crime to hold biblical and Christian views. For example, the involvement of my friend Mervyn Storey in the Caleb Foundation was criticized in the Belfast Telegraph, despite the fact that his views have been known throughout several elections, and that he represents the area where the Visitors’ Centre has been built in the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly.
The Caleb Foundation members acknowledge that National Trust officials do not share their views, by stating:
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.3
I have often met evolutionists, who hold their views with integrity and scientific respectability. Those responsible for writing content for the National Trust are clearly such people. They must be irritated to know that the newspaper headlines do not read “National Trust Knows that Not Everybody Believes Evolution!” which would have been as dramatic as “Minor Earthquake—No One Hurt!” But integrity is usually not as exciting as hype.
- See, for example, Causeway centre gives creationist view, Ulster Television website, July 4th 2012, < http://www.u.tv/News/Causeway-centre-gives-creationist-view/530750a4-b3bb-4c0e-baf1-4cc65e7e6652 > ↩
- Richard Dawkins: Creationism at Giant’s Causeway ‘is intellectual baboonism’, Belfast Telegraph, July 7th 2012, < http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/richard-dawkins-creationism-at-giants-causeway-is-intellectual-baboonism-16181959.html#ixzz209GTy2Vw > ↩
- Caleb Foundation Welcomes New Visitors’ Centre, July 3rd 2012, < http://www.calebfoundation.org/ > ↩