In the 19th century, Adelaide was nicknamed “the City of Churches,” not so much for its many houses of worship, but for its variety of beliefs and denominations. Adelaide was established by Protestants who wanted to be free from the clutches of the Church of England, and they understood that others might like the same freedom of conscience.
It’s fertile ground for atheists, who find both a climate of relative tolerance and a population still largely in the throes of superstition.
Enter Atheists SA (South Australia), an organization of rationalists founded by Brian Morris. He’s already made enough waves that Britain’s the Guardian newspaper gave the group some lovin’ a couple of weeks ago.
This week, Morris and his godless compadres are back in the news with a small victory: they’ve been pressuring the South Australian Museum to bring back a display on evolution that quietly disappeared five years ago — and after three years of talking to foot-dragging museum officials, they’ve finally prevailed.
“The display was dismantled in 2008 and never put back,” says Morris. “[Adelaide's] is the only state capital museum in Australia not to have a display on evolution.”
Or rather, was, he told me in an e-mail:
“After five years they conceded it’s not a bad idea, so [over the weekend] they installed a small display, just one meter by three meters. … Better than nothing.”
More good news may come down the pike:
“We’ve been told this interim museum display is a precursor to a more substantial exhibition on human evolution. Let’s hope it’s not another three years before the South Australian Museum comes into line with other Australian museums on this important subject.”
According to a national study, almost 1 in 4 Australians (23 percent) reject Darwinian science and the human fossil record.
A museum exhibit probably won’t change that, but neither will it let Creationism go unchallenged.
(cartoon by Jos Valdman)