Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Sometimes People Can Surprise Me

When the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) announced that they were bringing the Darwin exhibit to Toronto, I remember being hopeful that its presence would show Canada to be a tad more forward about behaviour towards evolution than, say, our southern neighbour (for regular examples, see Pharyngula. Just about any day, sadly). But that wasn't looking all that likely at first, as I recall reading a review of the show in the Globe & Mail that stated that the ROM was having trouble finding corporate sponsors to help underwrite the cost of the show.

It's disappointing that no major corporations were willing to come through: no Rogers, Bell, RIM, Canwest Global, or anything else. All a bunch of chickenshits, apparently, unprepared to deal with hard line Christians who insist that if you're going to support that godless Darwinism you're going to pay for it.

I see that some sponsors have stepped up to the plate, though, and I'm quite surprised and even pleased to see what they are. No shock, I suppose, to see that the Humanist Association of Canada is tops on the list, although while this show might be in their purview, the fact that they are not actually a corporate citizen (as much as such an entity is possible). Good for them, though. The big news, at least to me, is that the two "Exhibit Patrons" are a school and a church publication.

Although I now live my life quite happily as an atheist, I did grow up in the United Church of Canada, and my parents are still involved with it. If any Christian group would be able to justify complete support for the teaching of evolution, the United Church would be it. It's liberal enough that many fundagelicals believe its adherents to be, at best, severely misguided, and at worst on their way to hell. And to see a school in there, even an apparently elite private academy, is a pleasant surprise, with all the news these days of schools either teaching mis-named versions of creationism or else people working hard to force schools to teach it and to try to show that evolution is a false doctrine.

As I write this I find an article from late last month about this very thing, here in the National Post, and another in the Star. I don't know if the theme of sponsorship saving the show is overstating the case, especially since it made its way in the US without any sponsors. But these shows are expensive to run, and so it's good to know that strange bedfellows can come forward to help make these things, if not possible, at least easier.

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