Wednesday, 18 July 2012

National Trust to review exhibition at the Giant's Causeway

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Just a quick post to follow on from my recent posts on the the inclusion of creationism at the Giant's Causeway visitors' centre in County Antrim.

Having caused controversy by consulting with the evangelical Caleb Foundation and including a reference to creationist explanations for the Causeway's formation at the new visitors' centre, the National Trust has announced that it intends to review the contents of the exhibition. A post on the National Trust Press Office blog reads:
The National Trust has welcomed over 25,000 visitors through the new Giant’s Causewayvisitor centre since we opened its doors at the beginning of July.

We have been delighted with the positive feedback we have seen and heard from our visitors.

However, one small part of the visitor centre’s interpretive display has caused mixed reactions, mainly from people reacting to media coverage and online discussions.

The display in question focuses on the role that the Giant’s Causeway has played in the historical debate about how the earth’s rocks were formed.

Our intention in this section was to provide visitors with a flavour of the wide range of opinions and views that have been put forward over the years.

Our intention was not to promote or legitimise any of these opinions or views.

Unfortunately, elements from this part of the display appear to have been taken out of context and misinterpreted by some.

A spokesman said: “Having listened to our members’ comments and concerns, we feel that clarity is needed.

“There is clearly no scientific debate about the age of the earth or how the Causeway stones were formed.

“The National Trust does not endorse or promote any other view.

“Our exhibits, literature and audio guides for visits to the Causeway stones and this renowned World Heritage Site all reflect this.

“To ensure that no further misunderstanding or misrepresentation of this exhibit can occur, we have decided to review the interpretive materials in this section.”
This is good news. As I have stated in previous posts, it was always clear that the National Trust never intended to endorse creationism, or present it as a serious explanation for the Causeway. But by consulting with the Caleb Foundation and subsequently referencing creationism, they played into the hands of those who promote a "teach the controversy" approach, allowing them to hail the new Causeway visitors' centre as a victory for their perspective. This was clear from the Caleb Foundation's statement on the subject, which stated that the National Trust had "[set] a precedent for others to follow" in creating educational exhibits. The decision by the Trust to review the contents of the exhibit would suggest that they have learned from the experience, and hopefully means that a precedent for including creationism in exhibits has not been set.
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