Online group calls for removal of creationist exhibit at Giant's Causeway
- 5 July 2012
- From the section Northern Ireland
An online campaign has begun to remove an exhibition at the new Giant's Causeway visitors centre.
The audio exhibit gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the creationist view of how the Causeway was formed.
Creationists believe the Causeway was formed 6,000 years ago. The vast majority of scientists believe it was formed 60 million years ago.
The £18.5m centre was opened by First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness on Tuesday.
A group has now appeared on the social networking site Facebook called "remove the creationist exhibits at the Giants Causeway visitors centre."
Over 200 people have joined the group in the first few hours of it being set up.
TV presenter Professor Brian Cox tweeted that it was nonsense "to suggest there is any debate that Earth is 4.54 billion years old."
The National Trust has defended its decision to include the references to creationist theory at a new state-of-the-art visitors' centre at the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.
Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster Graham Thompson, Causeway project director said: "Over the past five or six years we have had a thorough appraisal at what should be contained in the Causeway visitors centre, we have a huge range of exhibits, audio tours, films and how the Causeway itself links into history.
"Central to everything is how the Causeway was formed and the National Trust position is that we believe and accept the mainstream scientific idea that the Causeway was formed by volcanic eruption 60 million years ago.
"In the scientific and formation elements we base everything on fact.
"It's a fact that in the late 17th and early 18th century, there was a series of debates about how the Causeway was formed, and it's a fact that today there are still debates about the formation of the Causeway.
"The exhibit is about that debate, as opposed to how the Causeway was formed.
"We have a respectful position which allows people to have debate."
Northern Ireland evangelical umbrella group, the Caleb Foundation, welcomed the inclusion of the exhibit.
In a statement, its chairman, Wallace Thompson, said: "We have worked closely with the National Trust over many months with a view to ensuring that the new Causeway visitor centre includes an acknowledgement both of the legitimacy of the creationist position on the origins of the unique Causeway stones and of the ongoing debate around this.
"We are pleased that the National Trust worked positively with us and that this has now been included at the new visitor centre."
He added: "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."
The Causeway is a Unesco World Heritage Site and features more than 40,000 interlocking basalt columns formed millions of years ago by volcanic activity.