Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Revisiting my support for the National Trust

Yesterday, I posted in support of the National Trust over the "Young Earth Creationism" controversy. I stand by what I wrote yesterday but, as I acknowledged yesterday, I have not visited the centre and assumed that the National Secular Society had put the worst quotes etc. in their article opposing the exhibit.

It has since been drawn to my attention that they may not, in fact, have highlighted the worst aspect and that the audio - which clearly refers to "the debate" only being ongoing for "some people... based on a specific interpretation of the Bible" - is triggered by a button that simply reads "The debate continues".

Context is everything, and the key thing (for me) here is where does this button sit? If the context, like the audio transcript, makes it clear that this is not a scientific debate, then I still have no real grounds for complaint that I can see - the text in the transcript is true. If, on the other hand, the implication of the display (as opposed to the audio) is that it is a scientific debate, then this is very different.

The YEC versus science debate is one of whether a specific interpretation of an ancient text is a legitimate source of truth, even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary. There is no scientific debate.

As I have made clear all along, if the National Trust exhibit says otherwise, I will complain as a National Trust member and a scientist. The National Trust quote indicates that they do not feel that they are not challenging the science:
"We reflect, in a small part of the exhibition, that the Causeway played a role in the historic debate about the formation of the earth, and that for some people this debate continues today.

"The National Trust fully supports the scientific explanation for the creation of the stones 60 million years ago."
I have been sent a link to one picture but, unfortunately, I cannot really see the context of the display.

Given the clear possibility that I am wrong, I think I will write a letter to the National Trust anyway but not accuse them of anything but just make it very clear where, as a scientist and an NT member, I think the line should be drawn. Rather than remove the mention of YEC, I would personally prefer it if they strengthen the clarity with which they present the fact that it is a religious, not scientific, position and is unsupported by science. (Not "mainstream science"... science.)

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