by Tas Walker

World-first innovation includes creation explanation

The famous Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland, has a new visitors’ centre that opened on the 3 July 2012. It’s the first permanent home for the tourist interpretive centre since the previous one burned down in April 2000. More than ten years in the planning, the new facility took 18 months to construct and cost £18.5 million. It’s state-of-the-art in many ways.

Architecturally, it is designed to blend in with the environment. The idea is that the building not compete for attention with the natural beauty of the Causeway Coast, but to ‘blend in’ instead. Thus its roof was made to look like a natural extension of the surrounding grassland and planted with seeds from the region in the hope of attracting wildlife. Many local materials are featured in the building’s construction, including 186 hexagonal columns made from volcanic basalt quarried in nearby Kilrea, from the same lava flows that formed the Giant’s Causeway.

Another first for the centre is its treatment of how the Causeway formed—the way it interprets the site. As is traditional, it features the mainstream geological view, which says the lava flows erupted some 60 million years ago. It also features the local mythology, repeatedly playing a two-minute animation about the legendary giants Finn McCool and Benandonner. But the centre has an even more controversial innovation: it includes the creationist view for the Causeway formation, recognizing that the mainstream view is not unanimous.

A report by UTV said:

“The National Trust said it wanted to ‘reflect and respect’ the fact that some people contest the views of mainstream science.

“The trust said that the exhibit gives recognition to the fact that, for creationists, the debate about the age of the Earth is still ongoing.”….

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