#Creationism to be included in the [#GiantsCauseway] exhibition, as a grant condition.

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The British Humanist Association is reporting that an FOI request by Andew Muir of the Alliance Party suggests that the origin of the creationist content in the National Trusts’ Giant’s Causeway exhibit can be traced back to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment:

… an email uncovered by the Alliance Party, from a civil servant within DETI and dated 9 November 2009, states that ‘I’ve amended draft to take on board NITB [Northern Ireland Tourist Board] comment re National Trust unwillingness to accept Creationism to be included in the exhibition , as a grant condition. Are you content for submission to be submitted?’

This implies that that DETI and NITB tried to make the inclusion of creationist views be a condition of their £10 million grant to the National Trust for the development of the new visitor’s centre. Since 2008, DETI’s Minister has been Arlene Foster, a member of the Democratic Unionist Party.

It was recently reported that the National Trust had amended the exhibition (see Pete’s post here) where the crucial text had been reduced to:

However, not everyone agrees with the scientific view.  There are some people who believe – often for religious reasons – that the earth was formed more recently: thousands of years ago rather than billions. 

So do the e-mails between DETI and NITB suggest that this was a formula – ‘…not everyone agrees with the scientific view’ – is sufficiently vague to satisfy both sides with it’s semantic hint that the scientific view may be incorrect, rather than the fact that it is actually the generally agreed position amongst all those who have studied the geology. As to the statement – ‘often for religious reason’ – there also appears to be intentional wiggle room here (using often rather than solely). It will be interesting to see if any of this surfaces in the FOI requests. Andrew Muir indicates that he will make further requests to identify where the pressure was coming from within DETI. On the Alliance Party’s webpages he says:

“Transparency and openness in relation to this issue is urgently required. I therefore call upon the Department to clarify without delay the role played by previous and current Enterprise Ministers in relation to inclusion of Creationism within the new Giants Causeway Centre.

“Organisations such as Caleb should not be given any undue influence on independent organisations such as the National Trust as a result of the political inclination of government Ministers. Religion and Politics must be kept separate. The place for creationist theories is in Church not tourist attractions such as the new Giants Causeway Visitors Centre.”

Andrew might need to clarify this himself, though, since, just as Creationism is religion and not science, similarly this is a religious rather than political motivation (as opposed to previous ministerial correspondence with cultural institutions under their portfolio which did mix the two).

(h/t to Nevin) Sam McBride also has further details of the News Letter investigation of the same correspondence:

The News Letter contacted DETI on Friday and again yesterday, asking for details of the context in which the email was sent and whether it had ever suggested to the National Trust that including a Creationist viewpoint in the Causeway Centre would be a condition of receiving public funds.

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  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    John, Sam McBride has provided additional detail in the News Letter; he also mentions the Causeway Creation Committee.

  • leftofcentre

    As Gerry Anderson often says, the creation of the world six thousand years ago must have been a pretty big shock to the Egyptians…

  • Neil

    The NT should do the decent thing and spill the beans. At least people would know the NT was under pressure to include a factoid about the crazy customs of the minority of a sect here.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Neil, there’s a statement from the National Trust in that Sam McBride link above.

  • Neil

    Cheers Nevin. On reading that though, you could be forgiven for drawing a line from:

    ‘I’ve amended draft to take on board NITB [Northern Ireland Tourist Board] comment re National Trust unwillingness to accept Creationism to be included in the exhibition

    and the NT actually including Creationism in the exhibit, denials aside. Let’s face it, it’s not a prevalent view, no one expected it at the Causeway, it’s just weird. It seems like there must be some kind of reason for the Creationist view being there.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Neil, I don’t know whether or not this is relevant but the NT excluded NITB top brass from this Royal line-up at the Causeway in June 2010.

    The heavy redaction of FoI material is something I’m very familiar with. This trivia about Creationism is a useful distraction from the much more serious business of the dramatic reduction in information content in official minutes during the past few years. The MSM seems very reluctant to challenge the authorities about the consequences for accountability.

  • Greenflag

    ‘the creation of the world six thousand years ago must have been a pretty big shock to the Egyptians…’

    Indeed . I imagine a big hey presto or abracadabra and suddenly tens of thousands of Egyptians are standing there stupified looking at the Pyramids asking each other ‘Now who the f *** built those yokes oh and where did we come from -I was’nt here a few minutes ago -Now how did that happen ‘?

    ‘It seems like there must be some kind of reason for the Creationist view being there.’

    There is -it’s to make some evangelical creationist American tourist retards leave a few dollars behind and feel good about the ould sod and the land of some of their ancestors . Educated Americans will be less appalled than British or European or Irish tourists as they are used to wacko ‘beliefs’ across much of the southern USA . :(

    The NT should be ashamed of itself for not standing up to ignorance . The ‘creationist ‘industry could have sought permission to set up their own side show at another site close by for those who believe mythology is a more ‘scientific ‘ than geology !

  • Dec

    Hate to say I told you so but I posted this in early October:

    ‘‘ I would have preferred them to issue a stronger statement saying they will not entertain any notion of creationism with regard to the formation of the causeway, citing “a body of techniques for investigating phenomena”.’

    I would point you to the £9.25million funding the centre received from the DUP controlled Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment. This might explain why the NT seems determined to reference ‘alternative views’.

    And this in July:

    ‘That campaign, along with indications of assent from the then NI Environment minister, the DUP’s Arlene Foster, ‘

    Not to mention the £9.25 million her Department provided…

    Congratulations to Andrew Muir for uncovering the smokng gun though.

  • Jack2

    What can be done now?

    Is using public money to push a fringe religious view illegal?
    Is awarding public money based on religious content illegal?
    Is not awarding public money based on religious content illegal?

    Just because you have been entrusted with the purse strings doesn’t mean you get to push your own personal agenda.

    I like a head to roll if the article is correct. What is the lever to get it done?

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    What is the lever to get it done?

    In a “normal” political society, the lever would be for the First Minister to sack a Minister who acted so egregiously. We all know that such a happening in N.I. is not in the least bit likely.
    Perhaps honour would lead to some other political leader(s) speaking up in condemnation. Again, unlikely in N.I.

  • Glenn B

    Anyone who has visited the center knows the ‘creationist’ view point is but 1 small part to the wider presentation … It’s not promoted or highlighted over or above science, merely a wee add on, put in place to satisfy the DUPciples of the 1 true God, Allah…. whoops I mean Jehovah, sorry ‘The Lord’

    Those really interested in challenging this should now be organizing our 2 largest communities (the Chinese and Indian) to be demanding their creationist view point for inclusion.

    Indian scripture was recorded 10000 years ago (ish) so automatically puts the Jew-Christians out and it clearly explains a process of evolution….. Om Shanti, Shanti, Om Shanti, Shanti, Om…..

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Not just the Egptians. A couple of years back, near Scarborough, a site dated back 8,500 years was excavated. Probably the cricket club changing room.

    Remind me, does Newgrange get under the limit? I doubt that all the crannogs do.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    The ignorant will never admit their stupidity; not in 6000 years.

  • Mick Fealty

    Does it strike anyone else as odd that a government party has to use FOI to get a clean answer on a clear question from a ‘partner’ run govt department?

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    True, Mr Fealty @ 8:43 am. But that is only one oddity, perhaps the least outré, in this whole bizarre saga.

    However, if one were at all self-conscious (or do I mean capable of conscious thought?), and convinced the earth was created at 6pm on 22nd October, 4004BC, would not one need to invoke official protection and discretion, lest the men in white coats arrived at one’s ministerial door?

    I’m just hoping that, post 6 November 2012, magic underpants and the planet Kolob don’t achieve orthodoxy.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “Neil, I don’t know whether or not this is relevant but the NT excluded NITB top brass from this Royal line-up at the Causeway in June 2010.”

    CORRECTION

    I’ve been told that the line-up for the Royal visit was arranged by others so my apologies to NT. I’ll now make whatever changes are necessary to that NALIL blog item.

  • Mick Fealty

    It may be just a detail, but it’s a fairly significant one. A question over the Executive table one Thursday should have secured an answer, surely?

    The danger in achieving orthodoxy does not arise from a department taking it’s directives from a political master as such, but how other more august bodies with a wider remit (like the NT for instance) may have lent it some credence by going along with what amounts to a political conceit.

  • galloglaigh

    Mitt Wrongney made a lot of Fossil Fuels in his debates. How does that stand with his Creationist fellow travellers?

  • Greenflag

    Malcolm Redfellow@ 10.31 pm.

    Remind me, does Newgrange get under the limit? I doubt that all the crannogs do.

    Newgrange was built around 3200 BC during the Neolithic period. thus it gets under the limit or misses the cut by 788 years .

    Earliest evidence of human habitation in Ireland at present shows 9,700 years or 3,700 years before Archbishop Usher’s /Creationist Centre’s date as per this link .

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_and_islands_by_first_human_settlement

    ‘Ireland 7,700 BC Mount Sandel Carbon dating of hazel nut shells reveals this place to have been inhabited for 9,700 years or 1,200 years before that ‘cricket field at Scarborough ;)

    United Kingdom 41,500-44,200 BP Kents Cavern Human jaw fragment found in Torquay, Devon in 1927.

    The jaw fragment found in Torquay is believed to have been a direct ancestor of Sybil Fawlty (renowned English actress Prunella Scales ) the arch nemesis of Basil .The evidence for this is however circumstantial .Apparently when unearthed by the diggers the jaw fragment was seen to be moving of it’s own accord not unlike the Ballyspittle moving statues of the Virgin Mary phenomenon back in 1985 .

    The Ballinspittle statue was damaged in a fit of anti religious/pro religious fervor (take your pick ) by a gang of hammer-wielding Pentecostalist protesters against idolatry (or mariolatry),

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moving_statues

    If Harry Flashman is out there he might want to check out that link as there is a possibility that the real reason for the ‘fall of the Soviet Union and Communism ‘ was due to a Marian moving statue believer and I quote from the above link

    ‘Though the moving statue phenomenon quickly faded a few small ‘cults’ persisted for some years after the peak activity of 1985 and one set off by road to convert Russia.

    Is there any end to the gobshittery of some people :(
    Creationists , Mariologists , Witnesses , Mormononics , Scientologists , Voodoo intoners etc

    Apparently not :(

  • Greenflag

    Ooops I omitted the ‘Trickledownnowyouseeitnowyoudonteconomikers ‘ favoured by Mr Romney , and both burning ‘Bushes ‘ and Mr (I’m so sorry I got it so wrong about bankers ) Greenspan and his Church of Mammon a.k.a the Ayn Rand Foundation :(.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    The various bodies and organisations named here are not wholly independent of one another. NI is a very small place and decision makers will meet one another on a fairly regular basis as well as move from one to the other. The key exchange of ideas and suggestions pertinent to this issue may not even be on the public record.

  • galloglaigh

    I watched a programme on BBC 3 – Conspiracy Roadtrip: Creationism. A young Ulster man is on it. It’s an interesting watch, and very interesting is the attitude of said Ulster man.

    There was also a show on the other night; something about a World without religion. I missed that one but it looked good.

    Enjoy ;)

  • Greenflag

    @ galloglaigh ..

    Lest we forget the world of ‘religion’ here’s a reminder

    http://www.npr.org/2012/10/17/163022615/double-take-toons-malala-recovering

    And well done the UK on this issue . The Taliban , Creationists , Scientologists et al they are just scam merchants and some are blood thirsty nut jobs who belong in the Middle Ages :(

  • galloglaigh

    Religion is a farce. Creationism is a farce. You’re right GF, they belong in a time they don’t believe in…

    I found it strange though that some Muslims are Creationist. Didn’t know that.

    Speed that link on to about 42 mins., and see how being allowed to have incestuous sex was allowed by ‘God’, until he thought we were too close genetically and disallowed it.

    You couldn’t make it up, or can you :) :) :)

  • andnowwhat

    Gallog

    You should check out the programme that was on BBC3 about cynicism. One of the people was a Muslim and various other people of faith, including a Christian from here.

    All took on board what they learned to one degree or another except for guess who?

  • galloglaigh

    It’s not only in the wee six, that these people think everyone is against them.

    Something about a cul-de-sac, and its form as a mentality :)

  • John Ó Néill

    Malcolm:

    As Greenflag points out, Newgrange, at a meek 3300 BC or so falls inside the line for Creationists.

    Crannogs are a bit messier – the term tends to refer to any lake settlement on an artificial platform and some of these have been found dating to the Late Mesolithic like the early phase at Moynagh Lough (a chunky 5000-4000 BC, give or take) or the Early Mesolithic site at Lough Boora (a very Creationist unfriendly 6800-6500 BC).

    There are a handful of Palaeolithic finds from Ireland that are of contested origin (e.g. that they were dredged up from the sea bed by that glaciation prior to, ahem, 9000 BC), at least one of which is about 200,000 years old.

    Of course, the daddy of them all is that unfortunate Belfast long chronology of tree rings dating back nearly 8000 years.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    I’d forgotten there was dendrochronology that far back: nice one, John Ó Néill @ 8:56 pm!

    Now for the bonus question: what about the unicorns? Do fundies accept the Shel Silverstein/Irish Rovers song as canonical? Do they feature at the Causeway Centre? If not, I claim the marketing opportunity.

    That bit may not be wholly serious; but it’s simply my intro to the meme about Mitt Romney’s unicorn-powered tax cuts that will magically be revenue neutral and still cut the deficit. I saw that on the Guardian running blog on the overnight debate. I liked it, only to find the reference has a history, going back — if not the the creation, at least nearly half-a-year. I enjoyed this (from Timothy Egan in the NY Times, 25th May):

    We interrupt reality to bring you Arizona, once known as the Grand Canyon state. So glorious, this home to sublime cacti and ugly javelina, an outdoor stage for the high histrionics of geologic time, but so very, very crazy. Even a spate of recent temperatures in the 105-degree range cannot explain the latest doings of government by crackpots.

    Let’s start with the secretary of state, a wide-eyed fellow named Ken Bennett. He is Arizona’s chief elections officer. He is a Republican. He is also co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s campaign in Arizona. Recently, a few hundred people who probably spend their lives searching the Internet looking for proof that the moon landing was fake asked Mr. Secretary of State to investigate the birth certificate of the president of the United States.

    Bennett got right on it. He put the full force of his office to work on a nonissue that was resolved for all but the looniest of tunes months ago. And, at the height of his “investigation,” just last week, he threatened to keep Obama off the ballot if his questions were not answered to his satisfaction.

    In response, more than 17,000 people this week put their names on an online petition asking the secretary of state to investigate whether Mitt Romney is a unicorn. Surprisingly, Bennett has not been sniffing around rainbows, nor recruiting maidens with expertise in medieval folklore to crack the unicorn question.

    Ok, OK! Way off-topic (I’ll take my yellow card like a real mensch), but it’s fun and more convincing than the brain-rot in the other room: Dallas on Channel 5.

  • galloglaigh

    Be careful John, we might hear tomorrow that tree rings represent one and a half years. According to ‘Creationist scientists’ of course!

  • abucs

    So what is the explanation for the Giants’ Causeway to be created within the last 6000 years?

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    The explanation, for what it’s worth (nothing) is that Archbishop Ussher said so.

  • http://redfellow.blogspot.com Malcolm Redfellow

    Hasn’t abucs @ 8:21 am neatly proposed the way to subvert this fundie exhibit?

    Locate it in a corner, adjacent only to a display featuring the Fionn mac Cumhaill and Bennandonner myth! I do hope the simpleware shop is well provided with suitable Gonk dolls. If not, I again claim a royalty.

    Mister_Joe @ 8:43 am provides another helpful hint. While we scorn the fundie interpretations, what James Ussher was about was valid, even progressive for the time. That time was Cromwellian; and the rest of the world (well, the thinking bits of it) have moved on away.

    Ussher was a remarkable early historian — compare his painstaking scrutiny of “world history” to the rubbish the average chronicler was churning out: puffery and plagiarisms that sadly persist into contemporary school “histories”. And which Micky Gove, Opposition Leader in waiting, seems intent on perpetuating in the English school curriculum.

    The good Archbishop was commendably ecumenical in his contacts: he corresponded with the Four Masters in Donegal Town, for example, in a period when inter-faith dialogue was as advanced as it remains in those same fundie quarters.

  • carl marks

    It’s really very simple; creationism is a load of nonsense designed o keep the ignorant ignorant (see some of the bullshit used on our very own slugger to try and prove this foolishness) and the preachers in pocket money (ever seen a broke preacher).
    The Dude (from here) on galloglaighs link was a classic, Bossy (tried to stop people talking about things he didn’t like), Mopeish (your bullying me by asking questions I don’t like) and finally refusing to talk to anyone who didn’t agree with him. He even got so paranoid that he questioned church members as to wiether the church a gay church because he believed the media was trying to set him up.
    Now doesn’t that sound like a certain” Christian” organisation that we see on our streets during the summer?

  • carl marks

    MR
    Hasn’t abucs @ 8:21 am neatly proposed the way to subvert this fundie exhibit?

    “Locate it in a corner, adjacent only to a display featuring the Fionn mac Cumhaill and Bennandonner myth! I do hope the simpleware shop is well provided with suitable Gonk dolls. If not, I again claim a royalty.”

    That is indeed where this silliness has been located since the opening of the new centre, between a man who thought the causeway was fossilised bamboo and another who thought it was one giant fossil.
    The small corner it is in (beside the rubbish bins) could be called fools corner and it most certainly is not treated as science or indeed the truth about the causeway.
    No gonk dolls but I am working on a grow your own universe in seven days kit,

  • http://nicentreright.wordpress.com/ Seymour Major

    I have just stumbled upon this blog, 33 comments after it was posted. I wont joke, since commenters before me have used up the quota of fun. I have enjoyed reading it though, particularly the comments about the Egyptians.

    On a less jolly note, I visited the Giant’s Causeway a few weeks ago. What I found shocking was the repulsive red and yellow markers planted all over the rockhills in front of the shore. I dont know what their function is. I could not even make an educated guess (maybe someone can help me there). Whatever the reason for their presence, they have completely scarred an otherwise beautiful land/seascape.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    SM, here you are.

    The project cost £150,000, shared equally between the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

    Kathryn Thomson of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board said the Flags installation would “create new and iconic images for us to broadcast to a global audience”.

    The good news is that they will be gone by November 4. Funny thing is the old and young earthers don’t seem to have noticed them – or the dramatic reduction in free toilet facilities.

  • carl marks

    Seymour Major (profile)
    18 October 2012 at 2:35 pm
    Seymour Major
    I have just stumbled upon this blog, 33 comments after it was posted. I wont joke, since commenters before me have used up the quota of fun. I have enjoyed reading it though, particularly the comments about the Egyptians.

    “On a less jolly note, I visited the Giant’s Causeway a few weeks ago. What I found shocking was the repulsive red and yellow markers planted all over the rockhills in front of the shore. I dont know what their function is. I could not even make an educated guess (maybe someone can help me there). Whatever the reason for their presence, they have completely scarred an otherwise beautiful land/seascape.”

    Those red and white flags are believe it or not supposed to be artwork. They turn in the wind and reflect the ambience of the bay (artists words not mine) the cost (borne between the NITB and the Olympic committee) was £150,000 pounds, perhaps someone could ask how this waste of money was approved by the NITB.
    Within a week of being installed the causeway itself give its opinion when a storm destroyed nearly half of them, the artist a German was asked to make them good and replied that they couldn’t be damaged by wind as they had been tested on the German coastline and no damage done, it was pointed out to him that the North Atlantic was not the German coastline.
    Hope that Helps

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Apologies. Perhaps someone can correct the hyperlink closure.

  • Nardac

    The “dude from here” is Phil Robinson. He gets a fair bit of airtime on the BBC. More on him in this report, which should make worrying reading for anyone concerned about cretaionism in NI.

  • Nardac

    The “dude from here” is Phil Robinson. He gets a fair bit of airtime on the BBC. More on him in this report, which should make worrying reading for anyone concerned about cretaonism in NI.

  • Nardac

    *creationism*

  • carl marks

    Nardac (profile)
    18 October 2012 at 3:28 pm

    *creationism*

    ?

  • carl marks

    Sorry Nardac just read your prev post

  • Greenflag

    @ nardac ,

    Spell checker ? Cretinism perhaps?

  • Greenflag

    @ carlmarks ,

    ‘No gonk dolls but I am working on a grow your own universe in seven days kit,’

    Seven days is too long considering the original took about the same time as it takes to make a sandwich ;)

    You need to step up to the marketing plate ‘

    Heres a handy slogan

    ‘I want a universe and I want it now ‘

    Perhaps our ‘universe ‘ is the product of the whining offspring of a galactic who would’nt stop whining until the Supreme Maker of Universes finally caved in to the brat’s pleadings and tossed it a ‘ ‘universe ‘ made in the brats image , likeness and character ?

    Could be an explanation for the bankster brats of Wall St and the City of London ?

  • BluesJazz

    In the BBC3 documentary, Phil is seen at home with a fetching heart shaped Union Jack pillow on his sofa.

    Bless him.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    Greenflag, the @ before a name in this exchange is, er, superfluous. :)

  • carl marks

    Greenflag

    will make it a six days and rest on the seventh kit. The deluxe version will have unicorns, trolls, and wizards plus a fifty foot tree that looks like a piano. That’s see them make a religion out of that.
    .

  • carl marks

    BluesJazz (profile)
    18 October 2012 at 4:11 pm

    In the BBC3 documentary, Phil is seen at home with a fetching heart shaped Union Jack pillow on his sofa.

    Bless him.

    Since he probably set up the room for the Interview you have to wonder why he thought it important to include said pillow.
    Why did he think it was necessary to include it to impress us with his Britishness in a program on creationism maybe our friend is also a British Israelite.
    .

  • andnowwhat

    Hey Mister Artist, could you create some artwork for the giants causeway?

    Sure I could.

    Mister Artist, could it be something unusual for Northern Ireland?

    Yep. I already have an idea.

    How exciting. What is it?

    Flags!

  • carl marks

    andnowwhat (profile)
    18 October 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Hey Mister Artist, could you create some artwork for the giants causeway?

    Sure I could.

    Mister Artist, could it be something unusual for Northern Ireland?

    Yep. I already have an idea.

    How exciting. What is it?

    Flags!

    many a true word spoke in Jest