06 July 2012

Idiocy does not deserve respect

There are some pretty awesome rock formations in County Antrim, Northern Ireland called the Giant’s Causeway. Here’s what they look like (click to enlarge):

Photo credit: Andy McInroy

Wikipedia describes how these strange rock columns were formed:

Some 50 to 60 million years ago, during the Paleogene period, Antrim was subject to intense volcanic activity, when highly fluid molten basalt intruded through chalk beds to form an extensive lava plateau. As the lava cooled rapidly, contraction occurred. Horizontal contraction fractured in a similar way to drying mud, with the cracks propagating down as the mass cooled, leaving pillarlike structures, which are also fractured horizontally into “biscuits”. In many cases the horizontal fracture has resulted in a bottom face that is convex while the upper face of the lower segment is concave, producing what are called “ball and socket” joints. The size of the columns is primarily determined by the speed at which lava from a volcanic eruption cools. The extensive fracture network produced the distinctive columns seen today. The basalts were originally part of a great volcanic plateau called the Thulean Plateau which formed during the Paleogene period.

These are the facts. But the newly built visitors centre at the Giant’s Causeway will also include a creationist explanation of the area’s geology. The UK’s National Trust, custodian of landmarks like the Giant’s Causeway, has allowed the creationist Caleb Foundation to promote their religious views alongside the scientific facts in one of the centre’s exhibits. Contradicting the facts given above, visitors will be told that the Giant’s Causeway is a result of the Biblical flood 4500 years ago.

The National Trust said that its decision to include creationist lies was because it wanted to “reflect and respect” the fact that some ignorant religionists reject the findings of “mainstream” science, which refute the teachings of their holy book. It’s political correctness gone mad.

This is a misguided attempt to create ‘debate’ where there should be none. As PZ Myers puts it in his typically forthright manner:

Just because idiots disagree with science doesn’t mean there is a serious debate. There is no scientific argument over whether the earth is less than 10,000 years old or more than 4 billion, just as there is no scientific debate over whether stars are little holes punched in the firmament, or whether the moon is a great wheel of cheese drifting overhead.

Shame on the National Trust for pandering to religious stupidity. By respecting creationist nonsense, it disrespects the intelligent, curious people visiting a remarkable site.


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