A human evolution exhibit in Israel

The biological anthropologist Israel Hershkovitz has a nice essay in Nature discussing a new exhibit at the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History’s Dan David Center for Human Evolution and Biohistory Research at Tel Aviv University: “My hopes for Israel’s human-evolution gallery”.

Hershkovitz helped to create the exhibit together with his colleagues Hila May and Rachel Sarig.

As have other Western countries, Israel has seen conservative religious values increasingly clash with secular ideals. Last year, public schools saw a reduction in teaching hours in science, technology, mathematics and English, but not in Jewish studies. Evolution by natural selection is rarely taught to students at public schools, let alone in the many religious schools. In a poll of Israeli adults run by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz last year, 37% said they don’t believe that humans and apes share a common ancestor. Even more disturbing: that percentage grows to 50% among those aged 18–24, highlighting the increasing hold of conservative religion on Israel’s youth.

The essay gives some perspective on religious creationism in Israel, as well as some of the strategies the team used to communicate some important aspects of human origins.