Evolution: Naming Darwin, Christianity, Your gene journey – celebrating evolution

Evolution Festival

This month the City of Darwin has its own special celebrations to mark the 170th anniversary of the naming of the city.  Elsewhere activity is again building up as the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species approaches in November.

And in Canada, the film Creation, about the life of Charles Darwin opened the Toronto Film festival.

We have some events of our own planned, and we’re also keen to promote all celebrations of Darwin and evolution in Australia over the rest of the year.

Highlights will include hundreds of people participating in National Geographic’s Genographic project; art and science meeting at SuperHuman and the ABC’s very own Gene Pool.

Meanwhile there’s a host of events, conferences and exhibitions including:

  • Noted palaeontologist and committed Christian, Simon Conway Morris, tours Australia
  • Conferences for the Australasian Evolution Society, Christians in Science and Technology and a symposium, theological discussion and scientific meetings in Darwin
  • Two new Darwin exhibitions open: at the Ian Potter Gallery, Melbourne, and the National Herbarium of NSW, Sydney
  • See a first edition of ‘Origin’ at The State Library of New South Wales’s Charles Darwin Down Under, 1836 exhibition or the Mirror of the World exhibition at the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne

More info on the website www.evolutionaustralia.org.au. Please feel free to pass on this information to friends and colleagues.

And please let us know if there are events that we haven’t mentioned. The best way to do that is to register them at www.evolutionaustralia.org.au so we can include you in future bulletins and promotions.

And finally please also include us in your media lists. We will be telling journalists about newsworthy Darwinian activities.

Kind regards,


Niall Byrne for Phil Batterham and the Evolution Festival

0417 131 977



Please let me know by email if you do not wish to receive these emails.

In this bulletin:

Find out the ‘Journey of your genes’ with National Geographic

Simon Conway Morris in Australia

New Darwin website companion to upcoming Darwin TV series

Darwin biopic Creation premieres in Toronto

Evolution events in September and October

Public Lecture: Dr Graeme Finlay, Genetics, Evolution and Christian Faith

Musical performance: Transmutations, Age of Wonders

Workshop: Metamorphosis: Origins and Ancestors

Kids’ Day: Darwin for Kids

Evolution conferences coming up in September and October:

Christianity and the Origin of Species

Charles Darwin: Shaping our Science, Society & Future

Revolution in Evolution

Darwin 200: Evolution and Biodiversity

Evolution09 – the 6th biennial meeting of the Australasian Evolution Society

Symposium on Evolutionary Biology

Ongoing exhibitions

And don’t forget this item from previous bulletins

Social Networking: Gene Pool – much more than ‘survival of the fittest’, sex and scientists

Find out the ‘Journey of your genes’ with National Geographic

Melbourne residents celebrate their Diversity by participating in the genographic project

Your deep ancestry dating back 60,000 years revealed.

Have you ever wanted to know where your ancient ancestors came from – dating back 60,000 years? Now Melbourne residents, who collectively make up one of the most diverse populations in the world, have the opportunity to find out their deep migratory history when Melbourne University hosts ‘The Journey of Your Genes…

The Genographic Project Traces Your Family Roots,’ a special free public event.

On Sunday 4 October from 10am – 2pm, as part of Evolution the Festival, the public will be invited to come to Melbourne University’s Bio 21 Institute, 30 Flemington Road, Parkville. The first hundred people chosen will be guided through a free cheek swab worth over $100 from The Genographic Project – a partnership of National Geographic and IBM with field support by the Waitt Family Foundation.

Testing will be on a first-come, first-served basis and tests limited to one male or one female member from each family. For those who miss out, Genographic testing kits will be on sale and purchasers can choose to have their cheek swab taken on the spot for direct dispatch to the testing laboratory.

Read the full press release here: http://www.scienceinpublic.com/blog/evolution/genographic

Simon Conway Morris in Australia

Professor Simon Conway Morris is an accomplished scientist, a committed Christian and a gifted communicator. First applauded for his work on the fossils of the Burgess shale he continues to research early life on Earth. He has made significant contributions to discussions on the philosophical and metaphysical implications of evolution, and he is a strong critic of materialism and reductionism, arguing that the Creation is open-ended and endlessly fertile.

Professor Conway Morris will be the key presenter at the ISCAST (Institute for the Study of Christianity in an Age of Science and Technology) conference COSAC 2009 which will be held at the Geelong Conference Centre from 18-20 September. “Christianity and the Origin of Species” is the theme for the conference.

He will also be giving a series of public lectures. In his lecture Darwin’s Compass: How Evolution Discovers the Song of Creation, Professor Conway Morris will argue that evolution, apparently driven by random mutations and adaptations, is not as uncertain as it might seem. Constrained by a limited number of possible outcomes it is, in fact, predictable like any other science.

Date: Wednesday 16 September 2009 at 7.30pm
Venue: Stanley Burbury Theatre at the University of Tasmania.

Date: Thursday 17 September 2009 at 8.00pm
Venue: Glen Waverley Anglican Church, 800 Waverley Road, Glen Waverley
Cost: $15 (or $12 concession for ISCAST members, pensioners and students).

Date: Monday 21 September 2009 at 7.30 pm
Venue: Wesley Centre, 220 Pitt St, Sydney
Cost (on entry)
: $20 (or $15 concession for pensioners or students)

The media release is at http://www.scienceinpublic.com/blog/evolution/conway-morris and you can read more about ISCAST at http://www.iscast.org/

New Darwin website companion to upcoming Darwin TV series

Screen Australia Digital Learning have recently completed a website in conjunction with the Australian National Maritime Museum and University of Sydney historian Iain McCalman (author of Darwin’s Armada: How four voyagers to Australasia won the battle for evolution and changed the world).

The site is Charles Darwin – the Australian Connection and can be found here: http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/learning/charlesdarwin/

It allows users to follow the voyage, explore learning activities or access additional information. Among other things it addresses:

  • how Darwin confirmed his theory about coral reefs formation
  • how Darwin developed his ideas about the evolution of life
  • how longitude measurement helped safe navigation
  • how Captain FitzRoy learnt about air pressure and weather.

The site is also the companion to a 3 x 1 hour drama-documentary TV series about how the Southern Hemisphere gave birth to the most controversial idea in science: evolution by means of natural selection. The series is an Australian and Canadian Co-Production and will be broadcast on the ABC coincide with the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’.

Darwin biopic Creation premieres in Toronto

Creation, starring Paul Bettany as Darwin, opened the Toronto Film Festival last week. The film is a portrait of Darwin the man and chronicles not only the authoring of On the Origin of Species but also his family life. Reviews have been positive.

Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the film has yet to secure a US release.

It appears we in Australia will need to wait till 2010 to see the film. In the meantime the trailer is here: http://creationthemovie.com/trailer/

Evolution events in September and October

Public Lecture: Dr Graeme Finlay, Genetics, Evolution and Christian Faith  

Sydney 17 September

Dr Finlay obtained a PhD in cellular immunology in the Department of Cell Biology at the University of Auckland in 1980. He has worked for 20 years in cancer research. He is currently Senior Lecturer, Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology, teaching cancer biology and scientific pathology. He has a theology degree from the University of South Africa. Dr Finlay is also a committed Christian who affirms evolution. He has written various articles and booklets on the topic. He has a clear passion for teaching on the interface between theology and science

Date: Thursday, 17 Sep 2009 at 7:30 pm
Venue: Common Room, New College, at the University of NSW
Cost (on entry): $15 (or $10 concession for pensioners or students)

Musical performance: Transmutations, Age of Wonders

Darwin 22 September

The Darwin Symphony Orchestra is commissioning a piece of music which will form the fourth part of a group of works called the Age of Wonders, by UK composer Michael Stimpson. The musical element of the HMS Beagle Ship Bell Chime artwork announced by Darwin City Council will be woven into this specially commissioned piece of music.

Workshop: Metamorphosis: Origins and Ancestors
Darwin (Various Locations Including Yirrkala Community) late September 2009

A Nomad Art project which will focus on cross-cultural and interdisciplinary responses to Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species. Australian artists, including Judy Watson, Fiona Hall and John Wolesley, have been invited to participate in a workshop with artists from Buku Larrnggay Mulka at Yirrkala in Arnhem Land.

More information here: www.nomadart.com.au

Kids’ Day: Darwin for Kids

Melbourne 6 October

Darwin for Kids will feature a Kids’ Activity Day for primary-school aged children, to be held at the University across displays in the Baillieu Library, the Ian Potter Museum of Art, and The Physics Department of The University of Melbourne.

Events will include:

1. Primate workshop for kids to be run by artist Lisa Roet.

2. Talk on Australian megafauna by author and biologist Danielle Clode

3. Special show by the Melbourne University Physics Promotion, Education & Teaching Services (MUPPETS).

4. Knowledge trail between the Baillieu library, Ian Potter and participating departments.

Evolution conferences coming up in September and October:

Christianity and the Origin of Species

Geelong 18-20 September

ISCAST, Christians in Science and Technology, present COSAC 2009 – the seventh biennial conference on science and Christianity.

The keynote speaker is Simon Conway Morris, Cambridge University, an accomplished scientist and committed Christian. Conway Morris is also giving public lectures in Hobart (16 September), Melbourne (17 September) and Sydney (18 September).

For more information: http://www.iscast.org/cosac_2009

Charles Darwin: Shaping our Science, Society & Future

Darwin 22-24 September

Themes include:

  • Brave new world? What is Darwin’s legacy in the era of modern medicine and technology-based societies?
  • Understanding the controversy between Darwinian science and religious reactions
  • Social Darwinism and indigenous nations: The origin of socio-political policy

For more information: http://www.cdu.edu.au/cdss2009/index.html

Revolution in Evolution

Darwin 25-27 September

A follow on from the main symposium, Revolution in Evolution will be a great opportunity to continue some of the conversations from the previous days as well as a chance to think more deeply about questions asked of religion by evolutionary theory and some leading theologians and thinkers.

For more information: http://christchurchcathedral.org.au/revolution-in-evolution-september-25-27-2009/

Darwin 200: Evolution and Biodiversity

Darwin 25-28 September

Darwin 200 combines the Australian Entomological Society’s 40th AGM and Scientific Conference, the Society of Australian Systematic Biologists and the 9th Invertebrate Biodiversity & Conservation Conference.

For more information: http://evolutionbiodiversity2009.org

Evolution09 – the 6th biennial meeting of the Australasian Evolution Society

Canberra 29 September – 1 October

Australian National University, Canberra

Plenary speakers include:

  • Simon Ho, ANU – Rates of molecular evolution;
  • Hanna Kokko, Helsinki University – Eco-evolutionary feedback
  • Daniel Ortiz-Barrientos – Uni of Qld – Evolutionary genetics in plants

For more information: http://aes.eriophora.com.au/events/Evolution09/index.html

Symposium on Evolutionary Biology

Perth 17 October

Jennifer Arnold Lecture Theatre, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia

One day symposium on Darwinism and various other aspects of evolutionary theory. Organised by Royal Society of Western Australia.

Members Free, Non-members $60.00, Students $30.00

Contact: Keith Oliver k.oliver@murdoch.edu.au (08) 9360 1291 http://www.rswa.org.au

Ongoing exhibitions

  • Reframing Darwin: evolution and art in Australia is at the Ian Potter Gallery, University of Melbourne, 12 August – 1 November 2009 A major exhibition of more than 120 items dedicated to exploring the lasting legacy of Charles Darwin in art, science and culture in Australia For more information: http://www.art-museum.unimelb.edu.au/art_exhibitions_detail.aspx?view=149&category=current
  • Darwin’s Descendants: 200 years of scientific adventures is at the Red Box Gallery, National Herbarium of NSW, Sydney, 3 August – 24 November 2009: An exhibition showcasing the ongoing achievements of some of Darwin’s intellectual descendants – the Botanic Gardens Trust scientists. For more information: http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/darwin

One of the 1250 copies of the first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is among many rare, beautiful and significant books on display at the Mirror of the World exhibition at the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne.

Darwin to DNA at the Melbourne Museum explores the discovery of evolution by Darwin and his contemporary Alfred Russel Wallace including specimens they collected. It then takes you further into the genetic mechanisms of DNA, and how we can use DNA to examine questions about evolution. Until 23 May 2010

Darwin himself was wary of the impact he knew his theory of evolution would have. The events and influences shaping Darwin are explored in Charles Darwin: the reluctant revolutionary at the Queensland Museum, Brisbane, until 31 December.

Crocodiles and their kind are an evolutionary success story – they have been around for the past 200 million years. See one of the largest crocodilians that ever existed in Supercrocodilians – Darwin’s ultimate survival story at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, until 29 November.

Find more exhibitions in your area in September at our website.

And don’t forget this item from previous bulletins

Social Networking: Gene Pool – much more than ‘survival of the fittest’, sex and scientists

Contribute a poem, story, photo or tribute, or perhaps a home movie or mini-documentary, a piece of music or field recording. Or create your own mash-ups from other people’s contributions and ABC archives. All work submitted by 2 October 2009 will be considered by ABC Radio National’s All in the Mind and The Night Air for special Gene Pool broadcasts. Audiovisual entries will go in the running to be publicly exhibited in Melbourne in November 2009, as part of ANAT’s Super Human: Revolution of the Species suite of events.

Gene Pool is a joint initiative of Pool, ABC Radio National, Australian Network of Art and Technology (ANAT), RMIT and Evolution: The Festival. Check it out at http://pool.org.au/genepool.

Read more on these and other events at http://evolutionaustralia.org.au

The Festival team acknowledge the support of our major sponsors, the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, the State Government of Victoria and the University of Melbourne.  We are also supported by Museum Victoria, New Scientist, the City of Melbourne and Cosmos.


Niall Byrne

Science in Public

Ph. +61 (3) 9398 1416 or 0417 131 977


Full contact details at www.scienceinpublic.com/blog