Jude Collins

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Did you hear the one about the Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre?

OK. This Boson particle walks into a pub and the barman says “What’s the matter?”  Boom-boom.

I expect you’re falling around on your chaise longue at that one. If you’re not there might be a suggestion you don’t understand what the Boson particle thing is all about .  If you don’t, welcome to the club – I don’t either. But I gather it has something to do with the reason why everything exists when, quite reasonably, things might not exist.

Which brings us to the Giant’s Causeway. The great Dr Johnston, you’ll remember, when asked what he thought of the Giant’s Causeway after he’d been there, said “The Giant’s Causeway is worth seeing, but not worth going to see”. However it’s not its scenic impact that’s up for discussion this morning. It’s that in the new Visitors’ Centre, they’ve an audio presentation that explains the origin of the Causeway in traditional scientific terms and also in creationist terms.

Pleased with that, are you? Or disgusted that Christian fairytale stuff is given equal time with science?

It depends on what you mean by creationism, and how the Visitors’ Centre presents creationism. If it says that the Causeway was created by God via his Flood, and we know this because the Bible tells us Noah had to build an ark, etc, then it’s a bit daft and people in need of a good laugh will head for north Antrim. If on the other hand the creationism version accepts evolution and simply puts the case that the Causeway, like everything else,  is ultimately the product of intelligent design of some sort – what most people call God  - then they’re entitled to have that point of view heard. It’s what Christians believe.

Let’s face it: most people, myself included, have a very shaky grip on science. When we’re told that the universe came into being by way of the Big Bang, we nod wisely, even though it sounds like something from a three-year-old’s picture book. No explanation is given as to why the Big Bang should have happened rather than not happened, or why it was such  a smart Big Bang that it created everything we now have. In terms of religion, people can be literal and gullible – it’s in the Bible so it must have happened. Likewise in terms of science, a lot of people can be literal and gullible – it’s what the scientists tell us so it must be true . Even though science keeps changing and sometimes contradicting what went before.

The world,  the universe is an amazingly varied and beautiful and terrifying place. Maybe the God-made-the-world-in-six-days crowd should be bit less dogmatic and intolerant.  And maybe the rest of us should accept that when we give credence to the scientific community, it’s not because we understand their claims – as with religious belief, we make an act of faith.


  1. Hopefully this will become a bit of a laugh and I might take the trip up myself to take a look myself.

    Two points though:

    1. Science does indeed change its mind and sometimes disprove some laws that went before...that's the beauty of science.

    2 We may take a leap of faith with what scientists tell us but that is NOT what scientists themselves tell us.

  2. Given that its the 'young earth' types, i'm going to suggest that they've just made the national trust, northern ireland and indeed ireland, look rather foolish.

    Here's the thing, humans have had 1000's of religions, each with their own dedicated followers... we look at the previous religions and laugh at how foolish they are, indeed we look at other religions and laugh at how stupid they seem.

    But, Science we CAN believe in. We can prove things are as they are by experiment and re-experiment. Religion should be a personal thing, not forced down the throats of everyone else.

    If the entire knowledge of the human race was wiped out and in 1000's of years humans again grew in technology, Christianity would not arise again. But Science and the same laws of the universe would be discovered time and time again.

  3. "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," Mr Wallace Thompson said."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."

  4. http://www.facebook.com/nationaltrust/posts/181610451968970

  5. Why should they be entitled to have this view promoted when there is as little evidence for it as there is for the Finn McCool version?
    If they are putting it in the myths and legends section fair enough.

  6. Have a look at the Caleb Foundation page on Facebook. Gregory Campbell is there so is Nigel Dodds and Nelson McCausland pretty much the entire DUP party.