Creationists and their critics in Australia: an autonomous culture or 'the USA with Kangaroos'?
Ronald L. Numbers
Historical Records of Australian Science
14(1) 1 - 12
Published: 24 June 2002
No country outside the United States has given creationism a warmer reception than Australia, which has spawned an internationally successful creationist ministry and at times even welcomed creation science into the classrooms of state-supported schools. A half-century ago, however, when organized anti-evolutionism first appeared in Australia, it attracted virtually no attention, and for over three decades thereafter it remained isolated on the far margins of Australian society, too obscure and impotent to warrant public concern. As late as 1984 one of the best informed students of Australian fundamentalism predicted that `because of the different national traditions and educational systems, the [creationist] controversy is not likely to become as intense in Australia as in USA¿.The following decade proved him a false prophet. The most intense creation-evolution debates in the world have occurred on Australian soil, and Australian creationists have insinuated themselves into the religious, scientific, educational, and political life of the country. In this brief history of creationism and anti-creationism in Australia during the past half-century or so, I highlight two distinctive (though not unique) characteristics of the Australian encounter: the efforts of both sides to tar the other with a `made in America¿ brush and the contribution of anti-creationists to the success of the creationists. Paradoxically, by hounding and ridiculing creationists, the critics significantly boosted the visibility and viability of creationism in Australia.
Full text doi:10.1071/HR02002
© Australian Academy of Science 2002