The evolution vs. creationism debate in the US is now so contentious that the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York has been unable to find a sponsor for its new exhibition detailing the life and discoveries of Charles Darwin.
With American companies apparently unwilling to be seen to be taking sides, the whole of the $3m bill for the exhibition has been met by donations, large and small, from private individuals, The Telegraph reports.
The Museum will not reveal which companies it approached for sponsorship. It says it sent a list of forthcoming exhibitions to a range of potential sponsors, but that none expressed an interest in backing the Darwin exhibit.
New Yorkers are not impressed. A trustee of another city museum told the Telegraph: "It is a disgrace that large companies should shy away from such an important scientific exhibition. They tried to find corporate sponsors, but everyone backed off."
The wide berth given to the exhibition is being widely interpreted as an indication of just how powerful the creationist movement is becoming in the country. Growing numbers of Americans support the idea of teaching creationism in schools, and in a recent CBS News poll, 51 per cent of respondents said they rejected the idea of evolution*.
The AMNH said that one of the exhibition's goals was to redress the balance between the science of evolution and the creationist movement. "This is the evidence for evolution," said Nile Eldredge, the exhibition's curator. ®
*Yes, we realise that statistically, a news poll like this can't be interpreted in terms of major national trends etc.