The Caleb Foundation and the Giants

The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland: either 60 million or 6000 years old
The Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland: either 60 million or 6000 years old

If you look for the signage at The Giant’s Causeway – a bunch of basalt columns in Northern Ireland that attracts basalt-column-loving tourists from all around the world – you won’t just get a scientific explanation of its origins, you’ll now get the Creationist view as well:

The National Trust in Northern Ireland has shocked some people by opening a new visitor centre at the Giant’s Causeway that includes the creationist account of how these marvellous basalt columns appeared (God did it, miraculously) alongside the scientific one.
– Andrew Brown, “What made the creationist footprints in the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre?”, The Guardian, 6 July 2012

The National Trust decided to include creationist views about the Giant’s Causeway out of respect and tolerance and a genuine concern for ticket sales. This wily pandering to those whom the irrepressible Richard Dawkins described as the “intellectual baboons of young Earth creationism” followed some concerted lobbying from The Caleb Foundation – a conservative evangelical “umbrellaorganisation” in Northern Ireland.

As a bunch of purportedly “academic” Christian publishers have recognised in recent decades, there is an easy dollar (or pound) to be made in flogging off to the masses popular prejudices dressed in the thin guise of “scholarship“. The same opportunity for making money at all costs seems to have convinced the National Trust to attract the Creationist dollar:

As an umbrellaorganisation which represents the interests of mainstream evangelical Christians in Northern Ireland,we have worked closely with the National Trust over many months with a view to ensuring that the new Causeway Visitor Centre includes an acknowledgement both of the legitimacy of the creationist position on the origins of the unique Causeway stones and of the ongoing debate around this. We are pleased that the National Trust worked positively with us and that this has now been included at the new Visitor Centre.

We fully accept the Trust’s commitment to its position on how the Causeway was formed, but this new centre both respects and acknowledges an alternative viewpoint and the continuing debate, and that means it will be a welcoming and enriching experience for all who visit….

We feel that it is important that the centre, which has been largely funded out of the public purse, should be inclusive and representative of the whole community, and we have therefore been engaged in detailed and constructive discussions with the Trust in order to secure the outcome we have today.


All this makes great fodder for the Guardian‘s indignant readers. But what hasn’t been noted is the strange conjunction of Caleb and Giants. Compare Numbers 13.30-33:

And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. But the men that went up with him said, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

Spooky, possums, just spooky. And it gets spookier.

The Giant’s Causeway (Clochán an Aifir) is also called the Causeway of the Fomorians (Clochán na bhFomhórach), named after the Fomorians, which count orcs and goblins in their number. If you’re into painting miniature figures, you will be pleased to know that you can buy this set of three Fomorian sirens to paint, for only £4.00 :

Fomorian sirens three-piece blister pack
Fomorian sirens three-piece blister pack

The end-results are well worth the effort (well, compared to tiling the floor, that is):

Fomorian siren - lovingly painted
Fomorian siren – lovingly painted

According to legendary beliefs which are not in the Bible, the Giant’s Causeway was built by Fionn mac Cumhaill, known in English as Finn McCool. (McCool! McCool!!) The Giant Fionn mac Cumhaill led a band of warriors known as the Fianna, the name of which was adopted by the Fenian Brotherhood, also known as Fenians, along with members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and fairly much anybody else in Ireland not interested in kissing the Queen’s arse.

The chairman of The Caleb Foundation is Wallace Thompson, a former adviser to the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) deputy leader Nigel Dodds. The major opponents of the DUP are Sinn Féin, the successors to the Fenians, and often labelled Fenians by their opponents. Again: it’s Caleb versus the Giants!

Dilligent readers will no doubt recall at this point that the founder of Sinn Féin, Arthur Griffith, and other Fenians or “Sinner Feins”, appear in James Joyce’s Ulysses, in the “Cyclops” chapter  – that is, the Giant Cyclops.