Government Creationism in Northern Ireland

A full two years have passed since we wrote Creationism in Northern Ireland: Institutional Insanity. It was about a band of creationists who wanted some kind of control over Giant’s Causeway — a geological phenomenon as important to Northern Ireland as the Grand Canyon is to the United States.

The next few indented paragraphs are the background information we provided then:

Northern Ireland’s culture minister, Nelson McCausland, wants the Ulster Museum to include information about creationism and intelligent design. He says that the inclusion of anti-Darwinian theories in the museum is “a human rights issue.” He’s been exposed to all the world as being raving mad, and now — instead of resigning in disgrace — he wants a government investigation into the “leak” of his letter.

It now appears that McCausland is little more than a useful idiot for his masters at the Caleb Foundation, which seems to be a combination of the worst aspects of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids) and Answers in Genesis. It also appears that the Caleb Foundation are the puppet masters for the DUP — the Democratic Unionist Party, which is currently the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Much has been happening since we last visited this issue — all of it bad. Today, at the website of UTV, part of a media conglomerate in Northern Ireland , we read Causeway centre gives creationist view. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

An exhibit in the new Giants’ Causeway Visitors’ Centre acknowledges the creationist view of how the world-famous stones were formed. The National Trust said it wanted to “reflect and respect” the fact that some people contest the views of mainstream science.

Isn’t that sweet? It’s as if something like Answers in Genesis took over the National Park system in the US. Here’s more:

The trust said that the exhibit gives recognition to the fact that, for creationists, the debate about the age of the Earth is still ongoing. A statement read: “The Giants’ Causeway has always prompted debate about how it was formed and how old it is.

[…]

“This is an interactive audio exhibition in which visitors can hear some of the different debates from historical characters. In this exhibition we also acknowledge that for some people, this debate continues today and we reflect and respect the fact that creationists today have a different perspective on the age of the Earth from that of mainstream science.”

Let’s read on:

The National Trust worked alongside the Caleb Foundation, which represents mainstream evangelical Christians in Northern Ireland, during the development of the centre. Its chairman, Wallace Thompson, said he is pleased with the result of the engagement and the inclusion of the creationist view.

Here’s another quote from Thompson:

“We want to thank senior National Trust officials who have worked closely with us over a prolonged period, and we are pleased that this constructive engagement has helped to bring about such a positive result. This is, as far as we are aware, a first for the National Trust anywhere in the UK, and it sets a precedent for others to follow.

Meanwhile, at the website of the National Secular Society, which describes itself as “Britain’s only organisation working exclusively towards a secular society,” we read National Trust puts creationism on show at new visitor centre. They say, with our bold font:

The National Trust had been under pressure from evangelical Christians to give equal prominence to its religious viewpoint in the new £18.5m (partly publicly funded) visitor centre at the UNESCO World Heritage Site on Northern Ireland’s north Antrim coast.

Creationists believe the stones, which emerged from the sea-bed following intense volcanic and geological activity 60 million years ago, were in fact formed around 4,500 years ago as a result of Noah’s Flood. Wallace Thompson, chairman of the creationist Caleb Foundation said he was pleased with the inclusion of the creationist view:

And they express their disappointment:

Stephen Evans at the National Secular Society said: “It’s extremely disappointing to see the National Trust giving credence to bogus creationist explanations for this world famous heritage site. Visitors, many of whom will be children on school trips, expect to be informed at the new Centre, not presented with religious propaganda.

“We’ve seen how Christian fundamentalists have gained ground in promoting creationist nonsense in the United States; we must be vigilant and not allow those kinds of ideas to gain a foothold in this country”.

They also have some kind of Facebook page where people can express their outrage — for all the good that will do. It appears to us that the government of Northern Ireland is officially committed to young-earth creationism.

Copyright © 2012. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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12 responses to “Government Creationism in Northern Ireland

  1. johnpieret

    It’s as if something like Answers in Genesis took over the National Park system in the US.

    Um [cough] that sorta did happen:

    http://dododreams.blogspot.com/2006/12/canyon-capers.html

  2. …for creationists, the debate about the age of the Earth is still ongoing…

    Another bait-and-switch to watch out for! Some cam artists want you to think that means that “creationists” are “legitimately challenging” mainstream science on that issue. While the statement is technically correct, what it really means is that there is a debate entirely within creationism, and a growing movement, especially among ID peddlers, to cover-up those fatal differences, not just on the age of the earth, where opinions differ by factors of as much as 700,000, but on the age of life, which is much more relevant to both biology and “death before the Fall” –another debate also entirely within creationism.

  3. Stig's Mate

    Voting on the UTV website is currently running at 88% against the creatards.

  4. So, let me see if I have this right: the Irish Minister of Culture insists that alternative explanations be included for a legendary gaelic landmark, as a ‘human rights issue.’ But he’s not pressing for the landmark facilities to include the traditional, gaelic explanation. He’s pressing them to include an imported, 19th century fundie christian explanation.

    Culture – U R doin it rong.

  5. Eric: “He’s pressing them to include an imported, 19th century fundie christian explanation.”

    I bet it’s far worse than that. The 19th century explanation was one based mostly on honest, if mistaken, assessment of the scant evidence at hand. And even then it gradually, if reluctantly, conceded many of the “what happened when” and “which species share common ancestors” to science. If the US in recent decades is any indication, it will be an imported 21st century postmodern pseudoscience where you are free to conclude all sorts of mutually-contradictory (non)explanations, none of which holds up to the evidence, even with aggressive cherry picking.

  6. longshadow

    I’m sorry, but did I miss the part where they use “Creationist Theory” to explain how a flood 4500 years ago is supposed to produce hexagonal rock columns that exhibit radiometric dating characteristics of rocks millions of years old?

    And did I miss how it explains the formation of the Causeway in Northern Ireland, but nowhere else, even though their Flood putatively occurred everywhere on earth at the same time?

    I must say, the old folklore explanation that it was used by the giant Finn McCool to walk to Scotland makes more scientific sense than the Creationist version.

  7. The creationist made false claims about what had happened.

    They are included in the shadow of the mythical giants in a section on wrongly held historical views that points out they have a special biblical interpretation. You can see all this and more on the political muscle of the Caleb Foundation here;

    http://bcseweb.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/national-trust-and-creationism.html

  8. longshadow asks about the creationist explanation.
    That is the question that has been asked about creationism for at least 160 years. See, for example, Herbert Spencer’s 1852 essay The Development Hypothesis

  9. I don’t mean to hijack the thread, but over at Uncommon Descent, Denyse O’Leary has accused Paul McBride of being a liar, because he followed through on the logical implications of Ann Gauger’s claim in the new Luskin & Axe book, that genetic evidence proves Adam and Eve existed.

    McBride cites correct genetic bottleneck data, and this prompts Denyse O’Leary to call him a liar. You might want to pop over and post something in support of McBride. The fascist UD stormtroopers will not publish anything I write, no matter how mildly worded.

  10. I don’t think it’s true to say this is really government Creationism. I didn’t know about the culture ministry. His comments weren’t in other stories I’ve read, but he does sound like a prize tit.

    Still, the National Trust is an independent organisation, which at least means that, so far, the culture minister hasn’t actually landed Creationism in fully government-funded institutions.

    Not a good start though.

  11. jonnyscaramanga says: “I don’t think it’s true to say this is really government Creationism.”

    The National Trust gets some government funding, and the Caleb Foundation has a lot of government influence.