21 October 2012


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This lovely babbling brook runs through the tiny Co Antrim village of Glenoe in the hills above Larne. It leads on to a beautiful waterfall. These are the things you really only find if you're on your bike, and there's no better place to bike than these hills.

03 October 2012

Causeway Calamity for Caleb!

Victory for the forces of reason.
Oh no! The National Trust has reviewed the wording of a controversial (if tiny) section of it explanatory guide to the Giant's Causeway. Following worldwide protests at the apparent appeasement of biblical hyperliteralists, the NT has done the decent thing and altered the section to make it more accurate. It is significant in a number of ways. Firstly, it acknowledges that some people don't accept science. That's fine. Secondly, it does not use the word "creationist" - that's better. Thirdly, it states that people who claim a "young" date for the Causeway do so "often for religious reasons". Again this is correct, although I might have altered that to "exclusively for religious reasons".

This is another major fiasco for creationist groups such as "Answers in Genesis" and the "Caleb Foundation". It joins a list of prominent failures by this small, if enthusiastic, band of pseudoscientific crackpots:

  1. In 2010, Minister Nelson McCausland failed in his efforts to get the Ulster Museum to "reflect a creationist viewpoint". The museum simply ignored him.
  2. The Intelligent Design Creationist pressure group "Truth in Science" sent copies of their highly misleading and error-strewn text "Explore Evolution" to schools throughout the UK in 2009, including Northern Ireland. This was treated with derision by schools, and the Departments of Education in the devolved regions of the UK all emphasised that the curriculum was based on science, not on misrepresentation and religiously inspired pseudoscientific nonsense. Even schools affiliated with churches took the same view. The creationists were left with serious facial egg.
  3. Lisburn City Council in 2007, at the instigation of Councillor Paul Givan of the DUP, wrote to all schools in the Lisburn area demanding they state what provisions they were making for teaching creationism. The schools wrote back, often including clergy members of the Boards of Governors, telling the Council that their schools taught the curriculum, and in science classes, science would be taught, not creationism.
So things are not looking good for the creationists. Despite several members of the notorious Caleb Foundation being in powerful positions in the government of Northern Ireland, people power has held them to account, and prevented the rot from getting too far.

Not that we should be complacent - if our chirpy little creationist pals have taught us anything, it is that they are persistent. Constant vigilance and ridicule are necessary, because, sadly, they have proven time and time again that they are completely immune to scientific reasoning, and the only thing that counts is a naive, rigid, and historically and scientifically absurd adherence to their very narrow and specific interpretation of Genesis Chapter 1.