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Nat Trust Re Creationism

Nat Trust Re Creationism

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Published by David John Snowden

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Published by: David John Snowden on Jul 10, 2012
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07/10/2012

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Dear Mr SnowdenThank you for your email.The National Trust has recently released a statement regarding the informationprovided at the Giants Causeway.I have provided a copy of the statement and FAQ’s that my be relevant to you. If the information is not of relevance, please contact the regional office direct atni.customerenquiries@nationaltrust.org.ukwhere a member of staff will helpaddress your concerns.The Giant’s Causeway visitor centre provides a state-of-the-art exhibition areawhich showcases the science and the stories of the Giant’s Causeway.All of the information presented to visitors in relation to how the Giant’sCauseway was formed, and how old it is, clearly reflects mainstream scientificunderstanding that the Causeway stones were formed 60 million years ago.For centuries the Giant’s Causeway has prompted debate about how it was formedand how old it is.One of the exhibits in the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre tells the story of thepart the Giant’s Causeway played in the historic debate about how the earth’srocks were formed and about the age of the earth.In this exhibit we also state that for some people this debate continues today.A National Trust spokesperson said: “The interpretation in the visitor centreshowcases the science of how the stones were formed, the history of this specialplace and the stories of local characters.“We reflect, in a small part of the exhibition, that the Causeway played a role inthe historic debate about the formation of the earth, and that for some peoplethis debate continues today.“The National Trust fully supports the scientific explanation for the creation of the stones 60 million years ago.“We would encourage people to come along, view the interpretation and judge forthemselves.”FAQsQ. Is there a debate about the age of the earth - why is NT suggesting science is upfor debate?
 
A. No, there is no debate on the age of the earth. The National Trust fullysupports and promotes the science in relation to the formation of the Giant’sCauseway and the age of the earth.All of the information presented to visitors in relation to how the Giant’sCauseway was formed, and how old it is, clearly reflects science and that theCauseway stones are 60 million years old.Q. What does the controversial interpretation refer to ?A. In summary, one of the exhibits in the Giant’s Causeway visitor centreinterpretation tells the story of the part the Giant’s Causeway played in thehistorical debate which took place about how the earth’s rocks were formed andabout the age of the earth.The detail of the exhibit which sparked the discussion consists of five differentaudio samples triggered by buttons. It is designed to give a flavour of thehistorical debates there have been over the Causeway’s formation – starting witharguments between Sir Thomas Molyneux and a mystery correspondent (probablyGeorge Ashe) over whether the columns were fossil or mineral. The next clip setsout a flavour of the argument between Vulcanists and Neptunists. The next clipdetails how James Hutton’s work opened the way for definitive proof of anancient earth. The forth clip mentions a theory published in the 1800s that theCauseway was fossilised bamboo. Then the final clip states that Young EarthCreationists wish to continue the debate today, as they believe the earth is only6000 years old. The National Trust does not support this view.Q. What is in the visitor centre ?A. We have an amazing visitor centre with fantastic facilities, walking trails, andthe interpretation includes many themes and topics. These include science,geology, wildlife, history and myths and legends and stories of local characters,past and present. Please see the attachment of the Welcome Leaflet on the email body.Q. Will we be changing the exhibition?A. The entire interpretation in the Visitor Centre has just been installed. We haveno plans to change this exhibit at present.Q. What is the National Trust’s relationship with the Caleb FoundationA. Caleb is an organisation which expressed interest in our plans for the VisitorCentre interpretation. As part of the consultation process on the development of the Interpretation we met with a wide range of groups – international visitors,community, funders, scientific community and Caleb was only one of thosegroups. We met with Caleb and discussed our plans for visitor centreinterpretation as we did with many groups.
 
Q. Did the National Trust receive any funding from Caleb?A. No.Q. Did the National Trust take any wording from Caleb ?A. None of the language in the interpretation came from the Caleb FoundationQ. Why did you only consult with Caleb groups as your religious group ?A. We did not only consult with Caleb in the process. The consultation processwas with a wide range of stakeholders, including radio and press adverts tostimulate awareness. Caleb responded in the consultation process. We simplyreference in a small part of the interpretation that they hold a different view fromscience but the National Trust does not support or endorse this view.Q. This interpretation makes the Visitor Centre unsuitable for children/educationvisitsA. All of the information on how the Giant’s Causeway was formed and how old itis reflects science: i.e. that it is around 60 million years old. The interpretation inthe Visitor Centre is very child friendly and suitable for education visits. TheNational Trust fully supports and promotes the science in relation to theformation of the Giant’s Causeway.Q. Does the National Trust have any plans to change interpretation at other sitesto reflect the Creationist perspective?A. No. The exhibit at the Giant’s Causeway is specific to that site and tells thestory of the part the Causeway played in the historical debate which took placeabout how the earth’s rocks were formed and about the age of the earth.Q. Was the National Trust under pressure from political parties to includeCreationist perspective in the centre ?A. This is not a creationist exhibition. We undertook an extensive consultationprocess with a range of stakeholders, including the local community, internationaland domestic visitors, the scientific community and political stakeholders. Theseconsultations informed the National Trust’s decisions on the interpretive contentof the entire exhibition. We the National Trust took the decision to include theexhibit in question in the interpretation.Q. Was funding for the Creationist perspective funded by government money ?A. It is not a creationist representation within the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre– we simply reference that Creationists have a different perspective – we do notexplain, support or justify those views. The £18.5 million project for the newfacilities, interpretation and trails was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund

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